Beauty Style

AGOLDE Nail Events with Miniature Art Master Mei Kawajiri

Mei Kawajiri is into fingernails the way Michelangelo was into marble muscles. Trained in Japan and currently making house calls to some of New York’s most illustrious bloggers, It girls and fashion photographers, Mei has taken full advantage of the nail art renaissance that fortuitously coincided with her arrival in the States.

Mei x A GOLD E eventWielding a whisper-thin brush and some techie tools you might be surprised to find in your manicurist’s bag (hello, 3D printing pen), Mei offers clients a unique avant-garde art that includes not only an astounding range of freehand illustration but also encompasses the mind-boggling subgenre of nail sculpture—all done on a miniature, moving canvas.

Nail artist Mei KawajiriMei (Instagram @CiaoManhattan2012) has collaborated with Google on finger-themed art for the Android watch (she cheerily points out that when she’s not making art on nails, she’s making art about nails), runway nails for the Nicopanda Fall 2016 show and now she’s lending her talent to the in-store launches of AGOLDE denim at Nordstrom. Impeccable tailoring underpins the artful laid-back vibe of the LA-designed-and-made jeans, making them the perfect pair for the awesomely proficient and gracious Mei.

We chatted with the charming celebrity manicurist at the AGOLDE launch event at our Michigan Avenue store about her tips for keeping your nail art fresh for weeks, her Magic 8 Ball trend predictions and more.

What was the first piece of nail art you did?

I painted fingers on my own nails. 🙂

What is your least favorite nail trend?

I know people love it, but the classic French manicure is just not my cup of tea. I think it makes nails look shorter!

What is your favorite nongel topcoat to ensure a manicure lasts forever?

Seche Vite or butter LONDON Hardwear PD Quick Topcoat.

A GOLD E x Mei event at Nordstrom Michigan Avenue

What are your three favorite nail colors for spring?

CHANEL just came out with the most amazing collection of “long-lasting polish.” I know a lot of brands make that claim, but I tried it on a client and this even keeps that “first-day shine” we all love. It’s amazing! My favorite color from that so far is a gorgeous nude called Organdi. (And no, I haven’t been paid to say this, LOL, it just really works and my clients love it!)

I also love Dolce&Gabbana Lover #630.

For gel, I love Gelish’s Prim-Rose and Proper. It’s the most beautiful nude shade of gel ever!

We know you love butter LONDON cuticle oil, but what other products do you recommend to help keep hands manicure-ready in the winter months?

For daytime: Mario Badescu Skincare Hydrating Hand Cream.

For overnight: Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve. If you put it on at night it creates a protective coating for your hands. You can still feel it in the morning.

Even so, I still recommend putting cuticle oil on before you go to bed (if you don’t have it, try massaging Vaseline or lip balm into your cuticles). I promise, if you make it a part of your nightly routine it will save your cuticles year round and that really helps your nails grow strong and healthy!

Also, if you like gel manicures (as my clients do),  I strongly urge you to check with your salon (and confirm for yourself) that they’re using an LED lamp and not a UV lamp. There’s no reason to use potentially harmful UV lamps when the LED lamps are just as effective, yet completely safe.

A GOLD E x Mei event at Nordstrom
We loved your illustrations for the Google Android watch, and you’ve worked with some pretty amazing teams, like the folks at CR Fashion Book. What or who is next on your dream collaboration list?

That’s a difficult question! With my current projects, now including AGOLDE launching at Nordstrom, I’m honestly living my dreams! I’ve never been to Chicago, Seattle or Orange County, so I’m incredibly excited to experience more of America and to meet wonderful people in the different cities! I’m also working on a project with Stella McCartney that I think will really take my work to the next level and make it more accessible to women all over the world.

My dream client right now is Jayden Smith! I think he’s so cutting edge and I love that he’s not afraid to take risks and express himself.

If you weren’t a nail artist, what would you be?

When I was a teenager I dreamt of being a tattoo artist, but my mother is a nurse and likes things to be more “safe.” I also think being a plastic surgeon must be a fascinating job.

What’s the next big thing in the world of nail art?

Definitely 3D nail art, and I’m really into nail art for men (just one or two fingers), something simple and masculine, almost like a tattoo style of art.

Get your own complimentary custom nail art and polish change by Mei with any AGOLDE purchase at the following Nordstrom launch events:


Downtown Seattle
Thursday, March 10
1-3pm

Bellevue Square
Thursday, March 10
6-8pm

The Grove, LA
Friday, March 11
5-7pm

Fashion Island, Newport Beach
Saturday, March 12
3-5pm

—Hannah Cross