Salon owner Rita Pinto has been preparing to enter the NYC art world with Vanity Projects—her concept space that’s part nail salon, part gallery. Though the doors opened earlier this summer, the big official launch bash for the full-time shop is set for September 20 (earlier this year, Vanity Projects set up a pop-up salon at MoMA PS1 in Queens).
Located on the cusp of the Lower East Side, the venue will give nail art some long overdue respect. A rotating cast of internationally recognized nail artists keep customers on their (painted) toes, as do a talented group of resident manicurists, including Jane Weiner of That Jane Designs, and Raquel Nevarez of Raq Star Nails. During our visit, we were lucky to catch two other featured artists, Britney Tokyo and Spifster, in action! And even though the nail appointments are almost always lengthy, clients won't have trouble keeping themselves occupied.
Enter the gallery, a space in the salon designated to streaming films made by a variety of artists (they run in 6–8 week rotations). Customers are given wireless headsets to tune into the video art during their manis and pedis. And from what I saw, the current exhibition, “Girls Girls Girls,” was as eclectic and intriguing as the nail art.
As for the services themselves, the list didn’t disappoint! Not only are there acrylic and gel options, every design was hard to resist, from abstract patterns to 3-D pizza nails. “People come in to get a regular manicure or pedicure, and only want a design on a single accent nail. But once I get painting, they start wanting three, maybe four nails done,” Weiner explained to a client.
Between the friendly staff, original concept and surroundings, and the passion for dressing up nails, Vanity Projects is easy to fall in love with. I stopped a few customers who were leaving the salon to find out where they were planning to wear their notice-me manis.
How did you hear about Vanity Projects? My sister
What inspired the design? I wanted something for summer. I picked out the colors and Spifster came up with the gradient design!
How did you hear about Vanity Projects? DailyCandy
What inspired the design? I’m going to a theme party and I wanted my nails to match my outfit!
How did you hear about Vanity Projects? By following Spifster online. Once I found out that she was doing a residency here in New York, I booked an appointment!
What inspired the design? I love Spifster’s signature designs, so naturally I wanted a mix of my favorites. I’m so excited to wear these everywhere! I love waking up to nice nails.
Which nail artists do you want to see take up residence at Vanity Projects next?