(Urban Heat presents: “Artist Spotlight” – A monthly in-depth feature highlighting artists locally and around the globe who excel in the Arts.)
When it comes to nail art, Bernadette Thompson has it NAILED! The world-renowned nail art manicurist has been a driving force and trendsetter in the fashion and beauty scene for over 25 years. Her nail art has been worn by many of today’s most high-profile celebrities such as: Beyonce, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Rihanna – and that’s just to name a few.
Bernadette has become one of the most sought-after nail artist in the industry with her work gracing the covers of almost every major fashion magazine in circulation: Vogue, Elle, Allure and Essence to name a few, while also working closely with iconic fashion designers Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton amongst many others.
The Bernadette Thompson Nail Collection – her trending colorful line of nail polish with catchy names as: “Effortless Beauty”, “Say My Name”, “Leap of Faith” and “Orange You Lucky” all have their own unique and significant meaning behind each radiant color. Recently being honored by the Museum of Modern Art as part of their current exhibit “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” (on exhibit through January 28, 2018) are Thompson’s “Money Nails” (created in the mid 1990’s) which debuted in a Vogue magazine photo shoot and later worn by Bad Boy artist Lil Kim and inspired from her Junior Mafia single “Get Money”. As a very close friend of the Urban Heat Advisory family for many years, we affectionately know her as “Bern” – a truly creative artist with a beautiful spirit and personality and we’re honored to have her take time out of her busy schedule to give us the opportunity to present her as our featured artist in the spotlight.
While working in her Yonkers, NY nail salon back in 1992, Bernadette had just finished up a nail manicure and polish on her childhood friend LaTonya. LaTonya’s sister whom happened to be recording her first album at the time excitedly asked LaTonya ” Who did your nails?” and when she responded “Bernadette”, the artist excitedly asked “Bernadette from Yonkers? Get Bernadette over here!” That up and coming artist working on her first album (LaTanya’s little sister) happens to be current nine time Grammy winner Mary J. Blige! A limo was sent to pick Bernadette up from her salon and she recalls spending three days at her home talking, laughing and doing nails. From that moment on, Bernadette was regularly manicuring and polishing Mary J Blige’s nails weekly and after introducing her to Sean “Diddy” Combs she became a regular manicurist for Diddy’s label artists. Combs would soon refer her to internationally acclaimed photographer Guzman opening the door for Bernadette Thompson to receive her first major photo shoot assignment for a Louis Vuitton ad campaign which would last another six years.
Soon after the ad campaign with Louis Vuitton, Bernadette Thompson quickly became a highly sought after nail art manicurist for some of the top names in both the fashion and entertainment industry. Her skillful artistry was soon showcased on centerfold covers in Allure, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Essence and so many other fashion circulations. Her nail expertise and skill quickly became a must have for fashion designers like Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, and Hugo Boss. Whether on the set of a movie, on tour with a major recording artist, part of the make-up team for a celebrity wedding, or providing nail services on the set of a major fashion show photo shoot – Bernadette’s beautifully crafted nail art was now in high-demand and brought forth a new respect for the nail artist profession while justifying how having perfectly manicured and polished nails can be just as important as the make-up applied or even the outfit worn. Now, more than ever, nail art is a big business that is rapidly trending in the fashion and entertainment industry, a skill that requires commitment and passion which Bernadette exemplifies in her exclusive works of true artistry.
“As a result of my runway and editorial work, I have the privilege of being actively involved in the creation and interpretation of fashion trends before they hit the streets,” – Bernadette Thompson
Back in the mid 1990’s while working on a Vogue magazine shoot, Bern created a unique nail design replicating actual dollar bills printed onto the nails as part of the design. Soon after, while working with hip-hop artist Lil Kim aka “Queen Bee”, Bernadette used Lil Kim’s newly released single w/ Junior Mafia titled “Get Money” as her inspirational theme and re-created the “Money Nails” nail art. The end result creating a buzz and fashion trend for years to come.
It was also during her work with Louis Vuitton that she created a nail art design matching the Louis Vuitton monogram commonly seen on their handbags. Bernadette’s creativity and innovation in fashion combined with the demand for her nail art and manicuring led to her successfully launching her own signature nail polish line in 2001 – The Bernadette Thompson Nail Collection. Offering a wide variety of beautifully radiant colors in her collection in which each individual color has it’s own unique meaning and explanation of the mood it sets when applied. With colors themed “Bern Baby Bern”, “Dare Me”, “Slowly But Shirlee”, and “Tainted Love” you’re able to customize your nails to match the occasion and mood. Her “Justice” themed color is a beautiful dark red and Thompson explains her inspiration for this particular theme as a result of her own desire to help produce substantial change in the community and more importantly demonstrate compassion. Proceeds from the sales of the “Justice” polish are used to help members of our society to rebuild their lives after being affected by tragedy and social decline. She stresses that the root of many of the social problems we face today stem from a lack of compassion and unification.
“I’m not the first to create nail art. But I introduced it to fashion.” -Bernadette Thompson
“There were alot of people on photo shoots who knew about fashion and beauty, but they didn’t really know that much about nails. So they left it up to me.” – Bernadette Thompson
After 25 years on top of the nail art industry and continuing to remain a pioneer of her craft, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) recently honored Bernadette Thompson as part of it’s exhibit “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” on display through January 28, 2018. The exhibit showcases 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries – and how fashion significantly affects our politics, culture and identity . Bernadette’s “Money Nails” are displayed on exhibit with fashion pieces such as the Levi’s 501s, the Breton shirt, the always popular authentic fitted New York Yankees baseball cap, stilettos, and Ray-Ban avaiator sunglasses. An honor that is truly fitting and deserving of Thompson’s reign in nail art in the fashion industry. The “Money Nails” wardrobe application can be purchased at The MoMA Design Store.
Urban Heat Advisory travelled to the MoMA Design Store in New York’s SoHo district of Manhattan to attend an open panel discussion featuring Bernadette Thompson, nail artist Sarah Nguyen, and Vogue magazine Senior Beauty Editor Laura Regensdorf. The panel host, Kristina Parsons, is a Project Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Well attended by fashion and beauty experts, the discussion proved very informative as both Thompson and Nguyen detailed how they both began their careers in nail art and how much of an impact nail art has developed in the fashion industry. Sarah Nguyen, who moved from Southern California to NYC four years ago, is a trending conceptual nail artist who incorporates jewelry into her sculptural nail art and has worked with Katy Perry amongst many others becoming another well sought after industry nail artist. Nguyen recalled her early humble beginnings as a nail technician in Southern California and explained how she incorporated jewelry into her sculptural nail art. Both Thompson and Nguyen also discussed a recent NY Times article “The Price of Nails” – that details the unfair working conditions of nail shop workers in New York City nail shops. A disturbingly growing trend as the market for nail services skyrocket across the country. Thompson also spoke on her ongoing push to see that nail art gradually receives its deserved recognition in fashion. It was Bernadette Thompson who opened the door to nail art and led the push to see that manicurist are routinely credited in fashion shoots. Her beautifully created nail art has graced the runway at top fashion shows from Paris to New York while continuing to be a mainstay in many urban nail salons in most inner-cities. Her career relies on taking risks and being a trendsetter in a constantly changing fashion world. And her professional and personal uplifting spirit is just as bold and radiant as the colors that are part of her nail collection. That explains her motto, “I live in Color!” We salute you Bernadette Thompson, Urban Heat Advisory’s Artist in the Spotlight!
-Jamaal Bailey (Urban Heat Advisory)
The Bernadette Thompson Nail Collection is available online @: http://www.bernadettethompson.com/products-page-2/bernadette-thompson-nail-collection/