FASHION FILES: ‘The Art of Nails’ exhibit opens at Oceanside Museum of Art
Published - 11/19/19 - 09:00 AM | 4883 views | 0 0 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A sampling of nails in the ‘Tiny Canvases’ exhibit.
A sampling of nails in the ‘Tiny Canvases’ exhibit.

The Oceanside Museum of Art is currently presenting two fashion exhibits. The first one is called “Tiny Canvases: The Art of Nails.”

The exhibit takes you through the history of nail adornment dating as far back as 3200 B.C. In the past, long nails showed elite status and meant that you were not a worker. Colored nails came in vogue during the 20th century. By 1932, modern nail polish was born when Charles Revson, of Revlon, began using opaque pigments instead of dyes. Oceanside chemist, dentist, and inventor Dr. Stuart S. Nordstrom founded Creative Nail Design (CND) in 1979. The invention was a patented, cross-linked polymer resin product. Nordstrom’s daughter, Jan Arnold, is the co-founder and style director of CND and has transformed the family-owned company into a cutting-edge business. CND is known as “the brand of firsts” and is now the most technologically advanced in the global industry. CND is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

My favorite room in the exhibit had a wall covered with Phillipe Blond’s “Fashion Illustration” wallpaper. This was from The Blonds’ fashion collections using markers, watercolor, and colored pencils. The room showcased nails from the CND archives. The piece de resistance was The Blonds’ ruby corset that paid homage to CND’s 40th ruby anniversary. The corset was made of hundreds of hand-painted nail tips. It was constructed with CND shellac in wildfire and then Swarovski crystals were hand-placed on them. This piece of art walked The Blonds’ fall/winter 2018 runway in NYC. 

After seeing this exhibit, you might decide that nails are your favorite form of beauty adornment. Each one of these canvases is a work of art. In the exhibit, there are 10,000 tiny canvases from 25-plus years of CND work at fashion weeks around the globe. Don’t miss this inspiring exhibit that presents CND’s work from the first show on the runway in 1995. The exhibit runs through Feb. 9.

Dress Rehearsal” is another exhibit showcasing 13 artists who combine art and fashion to represent dresses in sculpture, painting, photography, collages, and installations. Marina Debris is one of the designers featured that uses refuge found on the beach. She hopes to raise awareness about ocean and beach pollution. Gwen Samuels sewed childhood photographs into tea bags to create an amazing garment. Alexandra Dillon paints acrylic faces on vintage dresses. David Connelly and Zoey Taylor collaborate in Dosshaus hand-painted repurposed cardboard, which appears to be a dressing room for a theatrical performance. This exhibit runs until Jan. 19.

Two other exhibits are concurrently running: “Brian Kesinger: Dream It Yourself” and “Six-Word Story.” For more information, visit



Thursday, Dec. 5 — Winter Wonderland Fashion Show & Luncheon presented by Leonard Simpson at the U.S. Grant Hotel beginning at 10:30 a.m. The event is benefiting The Arc of San Diego. For more information, contact Jennifer Navarra at 

Wednesday, Dec. 11 — ’50 Fabulous Years’ luncheon to celebrate Zandra’s “50 Fabulous Years in Fashion” book at the L’Auberge Del Mar. There will be an auction for some of Zandra’s historic pieces and a private viewing and sneak preview of the film, “Zandra With a Zee.” For details, email


Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned couture milliner based in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at

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