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Five minutes with: Jin Soon Choi

By Milly Nolan

When M.A.C Cosmetics and renowned nail artist Jin Soon Choi came together, it was a true meeting of trendsetting minds, interview on MiNDFOOD.

After 20 years of working in the fashion and beauty industry, Jin Soon Choi is one of the most influential nail stylists in the business. Choi chats to MiNDFOOD about collaborating with M.A.C for their Nail Trend F/W ’09 Collection.

M.A.C seems like such a natural match for your first-ever brand collaboration. How did the collaboration come about?

It was important for me to partner with a brand that embraced bold trend-driven colours and had a strong tie to fashion – and M.A.C is all about that. From the beginning everything flowed naturally, and there was a real connection in the development of this collection. As soon as we started working together, I was able to unleash my vision and really express myself through these fashion-forward colours. M.A.C really got the direction I was going in and encouraged me throughout the whole process.

What was first on the agenda with this collaboration?

I’ve opened three Jin Soon Hand and Foot Spas in New York City over the last 10 years, with that I have a direct connection and knowledge about the colours and textures real women want for their nails. In the past couple of years women have forgone beige, neutral colors and instead, opted for colours that were once thought of as experimental, shades only a celebrity or model would wear – I’m talking about blues, blacks and deep purples.

Now, women are pushing the envelope even further when it comes to nail colours. I wanted to take that one step further and expand the colour range with this collection, giving women even bolder nail colour choices.

Mission accomplished with these colours – what inspired the range?

My husband is an architect, and I am constantly drawing inspiration and colour ideas from his creations. I also have tons of exposure to fashion trends through my work at the fashion shows and on magazine shoots. I wanted to create colours that were not only incredibly fashion-forward and edgy, with an editorial feel to them but also were totally wearable for the everyday women. I love all of the colours but am especially excited about the green hues: Dry Martini and Beyond Jealous. I think green is going to be the colour.

Beyond Jealous is the green shade we saw on the models’ nails at the Doo.Ri Fall/Winter 2009 show?

Yes, straight from the runway. Doo.Ri wanted a strong, tough look to go with the collection so that’s how we chose the colour. The green on the nails made a strong statement and was the perfect compliment to the collection. It looked beautiful.

It’s obvious fashion-forward colours were important to you; what else were you setting out to do with this collection that would make it a must-have for women?

I was determined to create a polish with enough texture and colour payoff that one coat of polish was enough. I wanted saturated, shiny colour with this collection. I’ve worked with many polishes out there, and when you apply one coat, you can barely see the colour – it’s streaky and inconsistent. Those polishes don’t work for real women in a hurry, on editorial shoots or at fashion shows when time is at a minimum.

One coat of any of the six colours is all a woman on the go needs. I hear it all the time on shoots and at shows – women want something beautiful but functional for their nails; sometimes, they don’t have time to sit there for two coats. The texture of these polishes covers the entire nail evenly in just one coat; finish with the Overlacquer as a top coat, and you’re out the door.

Your thriving salons are a testament to the fact that nails are an important part of a woman’s appearance. How has the world of nails evolved since you started decades ago?

Nails used to be very understated – they played a secondary role to makeup and hair. Now, women realise that nails can act as an accessory – an easy way to add colour to their look. It’s also a way to express individuality without making a commitment. Nail polish isn’t a tattoo – it’s only temporary – so I always tell my clients to have fun with their colour and be adventurous. It doesn’t hurt that women are much more fashion-savvy and educated these days, experimenting with an adaptation of what they see on fashion shows on TV and on models in print and working that into their look.

Is a woman’s nail look completely independent of her make-up look?

Make-up and nails definitely go together but they shouldn’t match. It’s more about contrasting colours that work together and work for your skin tone. If you wear red lipstick, wear something on your nails that goes with red – like a black polish. The whole look has to work together – make-up, nail colour, fashion – but a bit of contrast brings out the best.



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