OPI have nailed the polish puns (+photos)

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OPI Red is a favourite in NZ. Photo / Sarah Ivey
OPI Red is a favourite in NZ. Photo / Sarah Ivey

She travels around the world, seeking inspiration for the latest range of polishes that we'll paint on our nails. She works with colourists to come up with the perfect hue, then sits in a room with five others, eating snacks and brainstorming creative names like Cajun Shrimp (bright orange) and I'm Not Really a Waitress (a vibrant pinky red).

To some, OPI co-founder, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, has the dream job.

"It's not so easy," she says, laughing when I ask her about her enviable position at one of the world's most well-known, and loved, nail varnish brands.

"Sometimes I don't sleep for nights when I'm creating a collection. But somehow I make it work. It's fun. As long as I still think of it as fun."

There's no doubt the popularity of nail polish is picking up. Weiss-Fischmann says it all kicked off about four years ago, when coloured nails started being noticed at international fashion shows.

"This generation realised that this is an accessory," she said from her office in the US.

"It's woven in to our social conscience now.

"It's affordable, you can change it as often as you like, there's no big commitment.

"I really don't see it slowing down."

Weiss-Fischmann co-founded the brand in 1989, taking it from a dental supplier called Odontorium Products Inc, to the internationally renowned OPI, boasting more than 1500 different shades.

"We really made nail polish sexy, we made it fun, we gave it names, we really appealed to the emotional psyche of a woman. We took her travelling, we made her remember the colours, they became meaningful."

Weiss-Fischmann tries to come up with at least half a dozen new collections each year, including seasonal looks inspired by catwalk trends and her travels.

"The way I really do this - I look at trends, trend predictions out of Milan and Paris which are usually a couple of years out, you kind of see different fabrics, textures, colours that will be important, what society is looking for, what's trending - whether it's modern and linear or you are going back to nature. All those things influence the colour choices that I make for a collection," she says.

"I just sit in a cafe and watch people. Everything influences me. The music, the people. I always say the average woman is my muse."

Weiss-Fischmann is never seen without a lick of colour on her nails. At the moment each finger is painted with a different bright shade as she experiments with the latest looks for spring/summer 2012, inspired by Holland. She says oranges and corals are still in favour, glitter is going gangbusters and nail art is going to continue to boom.

The brand also collaborates with celebrities (Nicki Minaj, Nicole Richie) and films (first Legally Blonde and most recently The Muppets). Later this year OPI will launch six sheer shades inspired by the New York City Ballet and the next movie collaboration will be a series of brights tied in with the new Spiderman flick, Weiss-Fischmann said.

OPI are known for coming up with quirky names - My Chihuahua Bites (an orange red from the Mexico collection) is one the most popular, Up the Amazon Without A Paddle (a shimmery orange red from the Brazil collection) is one of Weiss-Fischmann's favourites and I Have a Herring Problem (a shimmery blue) is one she came up with for the new Holland collection "because I happen to love herring, I'm one of the few people".

Other geographically inspired names include A True Ab-Original (a gleaming coral from the Australia collection), Aphrodite's Pink Nightie (a frosty pale pink from the Greece collection) and Austin-tatious Turquoise (a bold blue green from the Texas collection).

Meanwhile, in the most recent range to hit Kiwi shelves, The Muppets movie inspired Gettin Miss Piggy With It (a glitter-laced ruby red), Warm and Fozzie (a honey bronze) and Animal-istic (a shiny, pink red).

So will the OPI paintbox ever run out of colours?

"People ask me how I make a new red. I say, 'like I've never made a red before'.

"How can I have six pairs of black pants in my closet? They're all different."

Check out our gallery of the most popular OPI shades in NZ. What's your favourite?

Nicky Park

Editor of Life & Style.

Nicky lives to wine, dine and thrive. As Life & Style Editor at the New Zealand Herald online, she feels lucky she can call this work. Nicky crafted her writing skills as a cadet for an Australian news wire. Amongst the coverage of sport, news, finance and courts she found a favourite in features. A stint as a foreign correspondent sent this chipper Aussie across the Tasman, covering the big issues of the Pacific Islands. Every single day Nicky relishes the opportunities she has to mix and mingle with interesting people, feast on delicious food, visit new places and write all about it. Nicky wants everyone to make the most of their minutes, learn lots and live their best life.

Read more by Nicky Park

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