MAKE BEAUTY. ICONIC Deborah Lippmann


Shop Deborah Lippmann here.

Celebrity manicurist and fixture at Fashion Week, Deborah Lippmann started out as a jazz singer in New York, doing nails to make ends meet. Now a pillar in the beauty industry, Deborah Lippmann divides her time between launching beautiful nail lacquer collections, celebrity manicures for red carpet season, designer collaborations for Fashion Week, and finding time for family.

Learn more about the brains behind the brand, and why we've named Deborah Lippmann our next beauty icon.

Want to know what Deborah Lippmann is LOVING? Shop her favorite beauty picks here.

Q: How and why did you first start doing nails? Who was your celebrity client?

A: I moved to New York for jazz and went to cosmetology school, deciding to specialize in nails, which was smart because I could sit during the day and stand at night in heels, singing, so that was how it started. I worked at Frédéric Fekkai at Bergdorf Goodman, and I noticed a hole in the marketplace.  If you were a luxury shopper, you couldn’t find everything you wanted for nail care from one brand. Chanel, Dior, YSL had nail shades, but not everything you needed for nails from a base coat and top coat, to cuticle oil and color. It didn’t exist in the luxury sector. When working in a salon with fancy ladies, they knew about hair and skin, but when it came to their hands, they didn’t know about nail care. There was a hunger for education. People have so many questions about their nails. It’s exciting for me to educate women – it’s something that hasn’t been done.

Q: What inspired you to create your own line of hand, nail, and foot care products?

A: I’m a jazz singer with a college degree in music. When I moved to New York to pursue singing jazz, which I still do today, I couldn’t make the kind of living that I wanted to and I was not successful at waiting tables. I had to pay the rent and wanted to live in a nice place, so I pursued my second love, the beauty industry, and went to cosmetology school. I started working with celebrities on photo shoots, and one thing led to another and before I knew it my brand was born.

Q: How do you predict trends, select shades, and pick names for your upcoming launches?

A: Everything in life inspires me – it could be anything from a rock in the street and people that I meet, to art, fashion and design. Traveling and seeing the world is a definite source of inspiration, but it could also come from something as simple as a saltshaker on the table. Inspiration comes from the funniest places. I also get inspiration from my customers and clients.

When I was getting ready to launch my brand, figuring out how to name the shades, I considered the products that I personally buy. For me, as a consumer, I’m super visual but I also found that the name of a shade could make or break whether I bought a product or not. If the name didn’t match my perception of the shade, I would get confused and wouldn’t buy it. I decided to name my shades after song titles because I’m a jazz singer and so passionate about music, and I felt strongly that the names should evoke a feeling rather than a specific shade because we all see color differently.  Whether you know the song or not, the names are just fun! I reference a lot of jazz music on my playlist and we reference our favorite songs.  Brainstorming is a lot of fun at our office! Sometimes we’ll pop open a bottle of wine, and get four or five people around computers looking on iTunes. We’ll also review customer suggestions – so many people will email us song titles for potential colors.  While we do have an ongoing list of songs, the color always comes before the name. 

Q: What is a typical day in the life of Deborah Lippmann?

A: There is no typical day!  My schedule widely varies throughout the year depending on if it is Red Carpet season, Fashion Week, advertising campaign season, if I’m doing editorial covers … all the while managing my brand. When I can, I try to grab a moment to focus and do the Julie Wilcox Method of yoga to center myself.

Q: What is the most memorable experience you have had as a celebrity manicurist?

A: I’ve had the privilege of working closely with incredibly talented artists and have collaborated with a number of them on nail lacquers.  I worked with Cher to create her own lacquer called Believe, Mary J. Blige to create No More Drama, Pat Benatar to create Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and more. I’ve worked with Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Lupita for the Golden Globes and Oscars. It’s just an honor to be part of such special moments in each of my client’s lives.

The collaboration that we did with Sarah Jessica Parker will always be a lasting memory for me.  It was the first time that a celebrity had a vision of a shade, and we worked together to create exactly what she wanted.  We named the shade Sarah Smile, and it’s still a very popular, super-chic neutral.

Q: How would you describe your personal style? What are some of your favorite wardrobe pieces in your closet?

A: You will usually see me in black jeans or Lululemon.  Something that is comfortable since I’m running around all the time for work  – and then hopefully over to the gym!

Q: What are you reading?

A: 50 Shades of Grey

Q: What trips are you looking forward to this year?

A: Phoenix, Arizona, where I grew up. I love being there with my mom and old friends who I grew up with. It really keeps me grounded, catching up on real life, coming home.  I love to hike Squaw Peak.  It’s so beautiful there and I miss seeing the sunsets – they’re unbelievable! Then of course, I’ll also take a side trip to Miraval Resort & Spa, where I just opened my first Deborah Lippmann location!

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

A: If I ever have a free moment, I love nothing more than spending down time with my husband Jude.

Q: Who/what inspires you?

A: Everything … everywhere.  Right now my apartment located on the 58th story, has the most remarkable windows and I can see as far as the water to the park.  I love being in this apartment. My inspiration is also always changing – it goes along with the trends, what I see around me, music that I am listening to, the people I am with. For example, my Spring Reveries collection was sparked from a friend’s garden. The colors of the flowers were so ethereal and poetic in color and it felt so on trend with where I thought nails were going in the upcoming season. My summer collection, 80’s Rewind, came from a different place. It is an ode to the decade – bursts of loud, exciting colors that radiate. These colors take me back to this amazing time in my life and are named after some of my favorite songs. No matter what the inspiration, it is always very personal, that is always the most important thing for me.  

Q: What makes you feel empowered?

A: Doing something I love every day

Q: Who are your personal and professional icons?

A: Karlie Kloss, Inez, Lara Stone, Narcisco Rodriguez

Q: What's next for Deborah Lippmann? What can we expect to see this year?  

A: Stay tuned! It’s our 15th anniversary of the brand this year!

Want to know what Deborah Lippmann is LOVING? Shop her favorite beauty picks here.

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