Over the years, the French manicure has a received a pretty bad rap since the style peaked in the ’90s—adorning the fingertips and toes of mall rats, pop stars, sorority sisters, and soccer moms across the nation. For many, it was a coming-of-age symbol that was proudly sported while reading from the Torah at a Bat Mitzvah, or a few years down the line at a homecoming dance or junior prom. Thick layers of acrylic and airbrushed white stripes that ultimately ravaged the natural nails below were the epitome of chic (after all, Cher Horowitz had a French manicure in Clueless)—and the most the accessible form of “sophisticated” and “French” style for those of us confined to suburbia without a clue.
But with every rise of a trend there is an inevitable downfall—which for the French manicure came in the form of televised New Jersey housewives and unsupervised teens “down the shore.” Rising from the ashes like a phoenix, however, the ’90s nail look has experienced a resurgence on the runway at shows like Hood By Air, Jason Wu, Michael Kors, Topshop Unique, and even as recently as Guo Pei’s Fall 2017 couture catwalk where nails were edged with classic white, gold, and 24-karat flakes. “Clean 90’s French manicures done by ‘the girl’ at home before a night raving at the Haçienda,” polish pro Jenny Longworth explained of the look she crafted at Topshop Unique.
And after Rihanna (one of Longworth’s loyal clients) stepped out on the red carpet last night for the Valerian premiere with pointed French tips and a frothy Giambattista Valli Couture confection, we imagine a lot more teens with European dreams will be DIYing the iconic style before sparking up a doobie and getting laced at parties. We may just take a trip down memory lane—and to Paris via the corner nail salon—ourselves.
Long before RiRi, Cher Horowitz proved nothing pairs better with millennial pink than a French mani
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures