“I can’t make it out the door without smudging a manicure,” Ambie Stapleton says by cellphone from Los Angeles. “I never, ever get one.” Not that the style advisor is pining for shiny purple ideas. Stapleton has spent the previous decade in Rick Owens’s orbit—opening his first New York retailer in 2008, advising on archive initiatives, serving to out with subsequent month’s launch celebration for the Birkenstock collaboration—the place a layered black aesthetic leaves little room for decoration. However what if the nails have been tattooed?
That’s the unlikely subject she discovered herself discussing with Christian Boyd, a tattoo artist buddy, just a few months in the past. He’d simply come again from working a Gucci occasion, the place he noticed JonBoy ink a fingernail. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than Stapleton supplied herself as a guinea pig for Boyd’s regular hand, and she or he arrived in Paris for males’s Trend Week with a recent set of digits spelling “Love” in dainty script. The concept for Needle Nails, the duo’s new pop-up enterprise, was born.
“It just piqued everyone’s curiosity,” recollects Stapleton of the quiet fanfare: an incredulous clerk at resort checkout; a flurry of DMs on Instagram, asking, “What do you mean it doesn’t hurt?” (It doesn’t, she reviews, likening the feeling to the hum of a therapeutic massage chair; the needle simply grazes the floor of the nail.) With Stapleton taking part in host and Boyd on the tattoo machine, Needle Nails made its official debut earlier this winter, with an open home on the Bowery loft of the photographer Ellinor Stigle. Two weeks in the past, they hit Los Angeles, with an occasion at MadeWorn benefitting the March for Our Lives. (There, a person received “Fear” emblazoned on one hand—a seemingly uncooked assertion till you notice it’s his daughter’s identify.)
For Boyd, who typically takes house-call tattoo appointments if not at his East Village studio, the shift in medium—from pores and skin to nail—has implications in scale and in approach (owing to a distinction in pliability). After which there’s the dedication: The Needle Nails manicure lasts till the tinted portion grows all the best way out. “Knowing that you have this permanent thing that’s not actually permanent—it’s a little bit of a safety zone,” Boyd says.
That non permanent standing means extra freedom when it comes to design. Stigle’s first spin was a minimalist interpretation of anchors, with the underside curve following the form of the nail mattress. “It was the beginning of the year, and I had so many projects going on,” the photographer remembers. “I just felt like I wanted to ground myself a little.” Helga Davis, the performer, contemplated doing one thing candy; as a substitute, she went with “Pussy” as a result of she wished the message to be robust and confronting. And Boyd lately inked a brushstroke design on somebody’s nail, which despatched Stapleton pulling reference pictures of Summary Expressionism. “The possibilities are endless with the shading,” she says. “I want a Franz Kline or a Motherwell!” In the meantime, Stapleton’s most up-to-date ink remains to be taking part in out. “The Morse code is all on the tips of my fingernails, which I really love,” she says of the growing-out course of. “I don’t want to cut them until it’s the bitter end.”
Such public show of ornamentation is a departure for a girl who was as soon as jokingly known as “a nun with a secret,” on account of her two small, hidden tattoos. (One is a coronary heart in her armpit, “so the only way you’d see it is if I was dancing or happy,” she says; the opposite is a Scott Campbell tattoo alongside her ribcage of her dad’s birthdate.) On palms, although, the ink turns into a communication software—punctuation marks for present gestures. “It’s really expressive,” says Boyd, whom Stapleton describes because the “most careful, methodical, organized” artist. Stigle agrees, musing on her subsequent appointment. “I already know what I’m going to do,” she says, “but I’m going to keep it a secret!”