People have loved getting their nails done for a long time. It has been estimated that nail polish itself has been around for at least five thousand years. There is evidence of its use for manicures and pedicures that goes back as far back as 3,000 BC in China. In ancient Egypt, different classes of citizen wore different colors. People who made less money preferred they polish be lighter and sometimes opted for nudes. On the other hand, more well to do people went with more reds. The ingredients of early nail police were gelatin, bees wax and egg whites.
Many people love to get manicures but it takes a special one to wind up in the Museum of Modern Art. Recently, the Washington Post took a look at the road that Lil’ Kim’s nails took to get to the museum.
It all started in the 1990s. Lil’ Kim was well on her way to becoming a superstar in the Hip Hop ad fashion world. She was working with Bernadette Thompson to ready herself for a fashion shoot. The designer felt pressure to create a look that was unique and special for the singer’s nails. The shoot that led to the iconic manicure was for a denim company. At the same time, Lil’ Kim’s work on the hit, “Get Money.” This song became Thompson’s inspiration for the signer’s new look for her nails. Thompson took pieces of U.S. currency and affixed it to Lil’ Kim’s nails and a new look was born.
The manicure started with just the dollar bills but Thompson kept upping the ante. First she made the switch from dollar bills to hundred dollar bills. She was forced to use fake bills when she was reprimanded by the United States Department of the Treasury. Even if you own the money, they do now allow you do “defame” the currency by using it on nails. Thompson made additional upgrades to the look when she began to incorporate different kinds of currencies long with talons and faux gemstones. The trend of “money nails” finally became a thing.
Recently, the look has made its way to the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition called, “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” Included in the exhibit is a compilation of at least 111 accessories and clothing items whose impact has lasted over the last 100 years. in addition to Lil’ Kim’s manicure, they have Converse All Star sneakers, the pencil shirt and iconic little black dress. The museum is seeking to shine a spotlight on how trends in fashion and spa services have impacted society, culture and politics over the years. Other beauty products includes are Chanel No. 5 and red lipstick.
The exhibit is also looking to showcase the impact of black culture on society and fashion in general. Thompson commented, “Black girls always added things to nails, like they added things to clothes.” She is herself African American and hails from Yonkers, New York. She has commented that services at spas are a lot less pricey than some fashion accessories such as a Hermes or Prada bag. She added, “It was huge in our community. I am not the first to create nail art. I have been around a whole bunch of creative nail artists who are Hispanic, black.”
“It was huge in our community. I am not the first to create nail art. I have been around a whole bunch of creative nail artists who are Hispanic, black,” says Thompson.
At the start, Thompson’s manicures were mainly confined to the world of Hip Hop. It did not take long for the various styles that were popular among Hip Hop fans to make the move to more traditional fashion. Thompson had started her life thinking she would become a lawyer but was naturally drawn to beauty products, hair and nail fashions. In addition to working with Lil’ Kim, she also helped Mary J. Blige and Sean Combs. She also did some work for Luis Vuitton, she created a look for nails that used the bags’ monogram.
Whether you listen to Lil’ Kim or not, her nails are unique, fun and unforgettable. They look great at the museum.