Exceptional books, excerpted

Nails: The Story of the Modern Manicure

This lively, colorful, and wide-ranging exploration of the evolution of the painted nail places a fascinating aspect of cultural history at your fingertips. The manicure as we know it has been around for less than a century, but it’s become a major presence in the culture of fashion, with its own trends, fads, and fringe aspects. This first definitive history of the manicure looks at the myriad ways in which the adorned fingernail has served as an expression of the individual and the times. Author Suzanne E. Shapiro traces the origins of the modern manicure as a radical gesture in style and follows it through today’s culture of ubiquitous nail salons and edgy experiments in nail art, showing how at every turn the manicure has reflected larger style trends as well as changing ideals of femininity. Nails draws on an incredible range of popcultural images, from early 20th-century beauty manuals and classic Hollywood glamour shots to hip-hop music videos and fine art. It also features gorgeous nail-centric images from iconic fashion photographers including Nickolas Muray, Richard Avedon, and Helmut Newton.

(, 176 pages; hardcover)
Subject(s):  / ,