There is no greater bond than between a celebrity and their glam squad and, as manicurist Tom Bachik (he counts Jennifer Lopez and Selena Gomez as clients) and Hailee Steinfeld recently displayed at a dinner for the launch of Tom Bachik x imPRESS Manicure Holiday Collection, that also involves a lot of back-and-forth on the creative brainstorming.
Are press-on nails a regular part of the rotation?
Tom: I’ve been doing press-on nails for about 20 years. I used to go run to the store and grab the KISS natural tips so that I could create designs. It basically started back with New York Fashion Week. We had to be able to get the looks on and off the models. Then working with my clients for music videos, red carpet events. They’re filming a movie, but they’ve got a red-carpet event and the look’s completely different, so we would create a press-on set for them to walk the carpet with, or music videos where we wanted to do quick changes. We didn’t have time to sit down and do a full set of gels or acrylics, et cetera, et cetera.
Hailee: Nobody got time for that. [laughs]
Tom: Nobody got time for that. We actually collaborate ahead of time all the time. Hailee sends me her looks, we’ll talk about what the vibe is , and then I can start creating looks and bring them to set, to the video and then we’re ready to go as we shoot.
Hailee: It makes life so much easier.
How can the rest of us “normal” people without glam squads get the look?
Tom: That’s the best thing about imPRESS is because one, they have what’s called a pure-fit technology. The material itself is super thin, so it’s actually more versatile, where the old-school press-on tips were set and they would only fit certain people. With the pure-fit, it actually flexes in and out, so if you have more of a curved nail or a flatter nail it works on multiple types. Plus, they have double-adhesive inside, that allows it to really bond and can last even up to four to five days. It’s literally a celeb-worthy manicure in minutes. You just press and go.
How did you come up with the looks you’ll do?
Tom: For this, KISS contacted me about doing a collaboration together, and I was so excited because I was like, “Wow, we can really take some of the looks that I’ve done with my clients and bring them to the consumer.” When we did this, I wanted really elevated, high-end looks that they would actually be looks I would do. These are all inspired by looks that I’ve done for my clients.
The overall umbrella was holiday, so I went, “Okay. Let’s turn this into a celebration. How do we say Christmas without saying Christmas? How do we have fun for New Year’s?” I started thinking of the world that my clients are around and then I went from there to create the look. I wanted the whole collection to feel like a collection that was cohesive in the sense of, this is the type of woman that would wear them, but yet have their own individual personalities at the same time.
Do you have a favorite look you’ve created together?
Hailee: I do. I have a top three, maybe two. I can narrow it down to two. [laughs] One is, well, I think we refer to them as the candy-wrapper nails….
Tom: For the Met Gala!
Hailee: Yes! When the theme was camp. We talked about those nails for weeks and we went back and forth with a few different sets. We started with the look, and then we took the time to figure out the glam. I’m obsessed with nails and I’ve become more obsessed with nails through working with Tom—I feel like nails are the perfect finishing touch to a look, always, every time. Whether it’s the most simple look or it’s a huge statement, nails can absolutely take a look over-the-top. Then the last Met Gala that we did the really long, pointy nude nail. I’d never done the shape before, and I was a little nervous. Let me tell you, when I saw them laid out when Tom presented them to me….
Tom: There was a big, “Um.”
Hailee: I was like, “I’m not going to question it,” but I did have to ask, “How long can I keep these nails on?” They were so long, they were so pointy, they were dangerous! But they were perfection.
Tom: They were very alien-esque, triple extra-long stiletto, sharp, pointed. I was like, “Poor Hailey. As soon as I leave, she’s in trouble.”
How long does something like that take beginning to end?
Tom: The process takes a while because there’s a lot of back and forth, but then when I sit down with all of the information, it takes a couple of times because you’ll put things together and a lot of times what sounds good doesn’t translate on the canvass. It can’t be so small that people are like, “What’s that?” Then it can’t be so big that it doesn’t make sense either. How does it translate? How do the colors work together? Then do we want to add some Swarovski crystals? Do we want to have some gold leafing? What do we want to do to give it even more of that look? I love dimension. I love layering, putting things on top of each other.
I’ll sometimes overplay. Then my wife’s like, “Stop over-thinking.” She’s sending me texts from the other room, “It’s 2:00 in the morning! Stop over-thinking it. Just have fun with it.” I’m like, “Oh, yes. This can go. This can go. They’re amazing.” Then there they are.
Both of you are very busy. How do you unwind after a big show or a long day for self-care?
Hailee: I think self-care is what makes you feel your best self, your truest self, your most confident self, and that can be anything from a manicure which—let me tell you—if you ever have the privilege of getting a manicure from Tom, you’ll know that’s definitely a highlight, a walk outside, a workout. For me, I feel like I practice self-care in many different ways and it changes. It depends on where I am, what I’m working on, but I think, ultimately, it’s about feeling good, feeling rested, and feeling happy and healthy.
Tom: I love that. And I think the same. I think the simplicity of a manicure, there’s just something about it that makes you feel good, a manicure a pedicure. There’s a lot of things happening in life, but if my nails look good and I feel OK, things are going to be OK.
Hailee: But when they start to grow out it’s like when a spray tan starts to come off… you’re like, “It’s all dark from here.” [laughs] Those nails start growing out, we’ve got to get some help!
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