The scene: Aloft New York Brooklyn, a new, hip boutique hotel on a bustling street in Brooklyn. It’s the first day of New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015, and the room is filled with women sporting perfectly tousled hair, jeans distressed just so, and de rigueur leather jackets (despite the 90 degree temperature outside). Welcome to the epicenter of cool-girl style.

The focal point in the bright lobby is the exuberant Miss Pop, the go-to nail artist of the moment. As she paints the nails of fashion star Olivia Palermo, the two discuss strategies for surviving a solid week of shows, parties, appointments and fittings. They agree on one non-negotiable item for looking your best through it all: amazing nails. But that means much more than a simple mani-pedi.

Art Appreciation

Today fingers and toes are canvases for some of the most creative and technically savvy artists around. And New York City-based Miss Pop (aka Simcha Whitehill) is chief among them. Since arriving on the NYC scene more than a decade ago from Miami, she began creating looks for clients like Bergdorf Goodman, Elle Magazine and too many designers to mention.

The moniker “Miss Pop” makes her an ideal choice to collaborate with Coca-Cola and OPI on their nine-polish collection, “Icons of Happiness.” But there’s more: Like her partners, Miss Pop’s creations are examples of iconic design. Retro red—specifically Coca-Cola Red—is her favorite hue, and her work consists primarily of classic, clean lines. Think Art Deco, not Hello Kitty.

“Although in school, my least favorite part of Art History class was architecture, now I am obsessed with it, especially the New York City skyline,” she says. Another huge influence of late is the Jeff Koons exhibit at the Whitney Museum. This unique cocktail of classic and cool is clearly a winning combination.

Ladies in Red

When Palermo — a fashion tour de force with almost 1.4 million Instagram followers — sits down across from Miss Pop, she instantly reaches for Coca-Cola Red.

“Red is my signature color. I experiment but always come back to a red manicure and pedicure. It just makes me happy,” she says. “I’ll go with different shades depending on the occasion and time of year. If I am a little bit bronzed I’ll choose more of a fire-engine shade. During the holidays I’ll pick a deeper crimson.”

Miss Pop chimes in: “I would normally suggest trying something more unexpected than matching your toes to your nails. Olivia is the exception of course,” she laughs, adding, “Actually, anything goes. What matters is that you’ve expressed yourself. It’s just that you’re using polish rather than paint.”




Master Class

This “no rules” policy is one that Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder and executive VP of OPI, (she’s often called the “The First Lady of Nails”) can get behind whole-heartedly.

In her 32 years in the industry, she has seen polish choices go from exclusively red, pink or buff to the endless possibilities and combinations that exist today.

Weiss-Fischmann agrees that nail color is now seen as an accessory — and, like all accessories, it says something intimate about the wearer. “My 21-year-old daughter and 91-year-old mother often discuss their polish choices, which is just so great. Although they gravitate toward different looks — my mom doesn’t do graphic blue with gold glitter accents and my daughter loves edgier designs — they agree that nails change not only your look, but your outlook.”

Weiss-Fischmann points out another interesting aspect to picking a polish that suits you: While flattering makeup and a great hairstyle make you look fabulous, amazing nails are something you see all day as you drive, type or gesture. It’s something you can do just for you. And that’s rare.

One thing that style-conscious women will be able to admire on their own nails this fall is metallics, according to Miss Pop.

She points out that everyone looks good in jewelry. A silver shade such as “My Signature is DC,” which is inspired by Diet Coke, is a bit edgier than gold or bronze, and it happens to be an ‘it’ color for Fall. She recommends that you wear it alone or mix it with any other shade, like black, eggplant or grape, for a decidedly modern result.

What’s in a Name?

Just as with all other OPI polishes (which have names like “I’m Not Really a Waitress”) many of the names of the Coca-Cola line also show a whimsical flare: You’re So Vain-illa (inspired by Vanilla Coke), Get Cherried Away (inspired by Cherry Coke), Today I Accomplished Zero (inspired by Coke Zero), Green on the Runway (inspired by Sprite), A Grape Affair (inspired by Fanta Grape) and Orange You Fantastic!

So we asked the fashion stars at the event what nail polish they would create and what they would name it. Palermo chose red, of course. And she would name it after her mother’s interior design company, “Hutch.” Yet another example of how picking a polish is deeply personal.

And Miss Pop’s choice? “My best friend calls me Pop Tart, so there you go. I’m not sure exactly what shade it would be, but I know it would make me smile.”