Last night, on what could have been a relatively low-key post–Fashion Week Thursday evening, Teyana Taylorplayed host to a star-studded dance party at her new Harlem salon, Junie Bee Nails. The invite-only guest list, which included Lil’ Kim, Dapper Dan, and Taylor’s 2-year-old daughter, for whom the space is named, sauntered through the ’90s-theme studio, replete with a boom box playing appropriate hits by the likes of Dr. Dre, LL Cool J, and Snoop Dogg.
Tucked away in a well-lit corner of the shop’s own graffitied subway car, just one of the salon’s many throwback designs, sat rap queen and recording sensation Missy Elliott—accompanied by a mini portable wind machine for her recently dyed sapphire blue curls. As the singer’s glam squad put the finishing touches on her impeccably symmetrical, lemon-hued winged liner, it was Elliott’s intricately designed tips that captured the attention of many a nail-art fanatic in attendance.
Known for her captivating beauty looks over the years, including a series of glossy caramel pouts, longer-than-lifelashes, and game-changing caps, the rapper’s nails have continuously stood in the limelight. “I’ve had these kind of nails since I was 16,” explains Elliott, proudly showing off her Kirakira-worthy acrylic tips. “I just keep redoing them without breaks.” The rapper counts her talented New Orleans–based nail artist Bianca Williams as the pro behind the painstakingly hand-painted digits that often take hours to complete. Elliott’s current set, a coffin-shaped canvas layered with red, purple, and yellow Swarovski crystals gems, shows off the artist’s skills, as each nail is unique and different from the next. Take, for instance, the lifelike miniature rendering of music icon Prince in all his shaggy-haired and goateed glory.
“I just tell my nail girl to do what she knows,” notes Elliott, meaning she gives Williams full creative liberty over the design process, with just one rule. “She knows I would never do nails without some sort of stones on there,” she says with a laugh. The more sparkle, the better to match her jewel-toned jumpsuit, medallion chain necklace and custom, diamond-encrusted ring that spells out “MSE.” With a hit Super Bowl commercial behind her and an upcoming album in the works, Elliott is having her best year yet—proof that all her time spent working it (in and outside the nail salon) was definitely “worth it.”