Nail Files: Entrepreneur Simone I. Smith on Her New Polish Line, and Why Purple Is a Neutral

Smith shares the inspiration behind her new Luxe Lacquer collection and reveals her favorite salon in Queens.

Nail Files is a new series in which Vogue asks creators and enthusiasts to muse on their love of the manicure, from favorite designs to must-follow artists and salons.

The original “Around The Way Girl,” Simone I. Smith isn't new to the lifestyle of looking good. When we meet at the launch event for her nail polish brand S.I.S. Luxe Lacquer, the entrepreneur and wife of hip-hop legend LL Cool J is dressed in a snug black tracksuit and lug boots, wrists lined with gold bracelets from her eponymous jewelry line, honey-blonde braids grazing her thigh. Like her outfit, the French manicure she's getting done on location is impeccable.

“I've been wearing nail polish ever since I was a little girl, my mother used to take me to get my nails done," Smith tells me after the shimmery tips—blue on one hand, purple on the other—have dried. “But I would say it was probably since I was maybe 17 or 18 that I started getting my nails done by myself and wearing extensions. I was a teenager in the 80s when, you know, really, really long nails and big jewelry and all of that stuff came about.”

The era that birthed hip hop was undeniably colorful and emotionally charged. From thick gold chains and Kangol bucket hats to nails you could spot across the street, people didn't just accessorize to be seen, they demanded attention.

“Nails were very important during that time and I used to always have red ones, they just made me feel like I was grown,” Smith remembers. “To me, it was that color that when you was a little girl you weren't supposed to wear because it was for ladies. So when I got to the age I could, that was my thing.” 

Photo: Courtesy of S.I.S.

This story originally appeared on: Vogue - Author:Michella Oré