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Tyler Phoenix’s high fashion nails will have you drooling on your keyboard

TextAlex Peters

Those viral Telfar nails are just the tip of the iceberg

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From exquisitely hand-painted miniatures of George Condo and Hajime Sorayama artworks to intricate Asai and Jean Paul Gaultier-influenced designs, Tyler Phoenix’s nails inspire obsession.

An artist’s artist, Phoenix’s range of references is far-reaching encompassing everything from fashion, art, graffiti, and anime. Telfar, Mowalola, Yayoi Kusama, Neck Face, Tetsuo's transformation scene from Akira – it’s an eclectic mix with a unifying thread of all being extremely cool. 

Born and raised in south east London, originally from Vietnam, Phoenix has loved nails since she was a kid watching her sisters working in salons practising their acrylics. “Nails have come such a long way since then but it has always been about expression, telling a story through nails, showing who you are without being vocal,” she says. “Nails have always made women feel powerful and beautiful, that’s why I love what I do.” Here she tells us about Super Mario, Prince and being inspired by Fat Joe music videos.

What’s your earliest beauty related memory?

Tyler Phoenix: I must’ve been seven or eight, my older sisters were learning to do acrylics and designs and I used to steal the design nail samples off the display board and show everyone in my class and tell them I had done them! Also seeing the girls in Fat Joe's music videos with diamante letters spelling ‘Fat Joe’ dangling from their nails. I thought that was bossy.

Which fictional character do you most relate to?

Tyler Phoenix: Sailor Mars! She’s an Aries too and we have the same temper.

What is your favourite beauty look of all time?

Tyler Phoenix: Probably the whole of the Miu Miu AW94 collection, Bianca Jäger in the 70s and 1920s finger wave hair.

When do you feel most beautiful?

Tyler Phoenix: When I first wake up, with the bed hair and sweaty night-before glow, that’s literally my everyday look but done intentionally. 

As a warning to the other members of the resistance your head is to be mounted above the gates of the city. How would you do your make-up that morning?

Tyler Phoenix: I’m very minimal with make-up but would definitely have staple jewellery and 1920s finger waves, possibly a plum or burgundy lip.

You have the ability to live in a video game. Which would it be? 

Tyler Phoenix: I played Super Mario World religiously throughout my childhood and then again when I was 17/18 and decided to finish the entire game, including the star worlds so I'd say that. I mean who doesn't want to spit fire and be temporarily invincible? Plus you get a Yoshi on the way too.

God – or let's just say a higher power of some sort – is only letting who they follow on Instagram into the afterlife. What kind of pic would you put up that perfectly sums you up as the person you were back on Earth?

Tyler Phoenix: My face as the sun in Teletubbies.

You encounter a hostile alien race and sound is their only mechanism for communication. What song would you play to them to inspire them to spare you and the rest of the human race?

Tyler Phoenix: Prince’s “Kiss”

What is the future of beauty?

Tyler Phoenix: To have no beauty standards.

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