Mei Kawajiri: Show Your Claws!

The days when subtly manicured fingernails were in fashion, are a thing of the past, and we now see a return to extravagant nail creations, thanks to one person above all: artist Mei Kawajiri, who has conquered the catwalks and the web with her creations.
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Hands-on: Mei Kawajiri is also responsible for the nail design at Marc Jacobs’ spring/summer 2020 collection. Model Gigi Hadid is a fan.

Long, pointed, sparkling, decorated with 3D diamonds, in bright colours, overloaded and extremely kitsch: Mei Kawajiri is not averse to maximalism. No wonder the petite Japanese nail artist polarizes as much as she does. Since she was nineteen, Kawajiri has been completely dedicated to nail design first in her hometown of Tokyo and then with her own nail-salon in the city that never sleeps. A bold and daring step. There is so much more behind the trendy designs than one can see at first glance and Kawajiri brings a lot of fantastic ideas to the Big Apple alongside a lot of hard work. In addition to countless followers on Instagram who storm her @nailsbymei account, this has also brought her many prominent customers. Heidi Klum was the first to find herself in the artist’s living room one day. The first in a long list of supermodels and celebrities who would soon follow suit soon. These now also include Gigi Hadid, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa Karlie Kloss and other loyal fans. Her list of customers reads more like a who’s who of the fashion industry. Not without good reason. In her work she values constant evolution: “It is impossible for me to repeat the same thing. Whenever I am bored, I create new things. It was not for nothing that I moved to New York: I always wanted to be the very best in my field.”

A Knack for Details

She has chosen a di cult area for her artistic realization - not only because of the medium, but also because of its supposed restrictions. In the recent past, long nails were considered vulgar and are only slowly regaining their importance as a status symbol. The rich and powerful already donned long nails with luxurious decorations in gold or silver in ancient China, to name just one of many historical examples. In the United States and Japan in particular, people have been reassessing their social meaning again since the 2000s. It’s clear that Kawajiri’s creations are not necessarily intended for working hands, and their creation takes time and e ort. She does not use stencils or generic stickers, but draws ultra-realistic pictures as if by magic, precisely applies sculptural jewels and realizes even the most unusual of her customer’s requests with great sensitivity. “When I first visited her, I wanted black Victorian nails decorated with 3D roses and lace - based on the work of John Willie. Initially, I was worried that my request would be too complex and the space too small to realize my request. But two hours later I had ten little masterpieces on my fingers,” enthuses designer Olympia Le-Tan, who, like Marc Jacobs and numerous other designers, has long since become a regular customer. No wonder then, that the fashion world literally eats out of her hand.


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