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The Best Nail Colors of 2011 (Plus Interviews With Their Creators)

Nails had a major moment this year. From actual chunks of glitter to graffiti inspired—pretty much anything went. Let's hope this craze sticks around. We're still thousands of manicures away from being over our obsessive nail phase.

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"Whether bright, dark, muted or metallic, green was the 'it' color for 2011."—Gina Carney, RGB Cosmetics Founder

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"Metallic green! Let's just say that I hope that Marisa Tomei is out there somewhere being proud of this one."—Gina Carney, RGB Cosmetics Founder

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"It's this perfect sort of mossy green, that can pass as a neutral."—Gina Carney, RGB Cosmetics Founder

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"This is a deep forest green that has nearly replaced the dark reds in my life this year. If you're feeling adventurous—mix it with Camp, camouflage style."—Gina Carney, RGB Cosmetics Founder

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"Red as an accent color was very important this year."—Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI Artistic Director

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"The launch of Shatter gave women the opportunity to easily create their own unique and instantaneous graffiti-inspired nail art."—Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI Artistic Director

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"Neutral hues were a big trend in 2011, starting with soft nudes and tans for the spring, like San Tan-tonio."—Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI Artistic Director

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"Uh-oh Roll Down the Window is a rich and neutral olive hue that complements any look.This noticeable neutral is a nice change from barely-there nudes for colder months.."—Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI Artistic Director

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"A-taupe the Space Needle is a highly-pigmented, deep taupe color. The shade makes a stronger statement for the season than the soft tans seen in spring."—Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI Artistic Director

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"Lady Like, from our fall collection, is an instant classic, inspired by classy women. My absolute icon is Grace Kelly. She is the ultimate in style–very feminine, vintage and retro. And Kate Middleton, who took fashion to the ‘nth degree when she met President Obama wearing a classic beige dress, black heels and matching black clutch. It was just so ladylike. That’s what inspired me with this polish: A look that is classic, fashionable and timeless."—Essie Weingarten, Essie Founder

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"Carry On is another favorite of mine from fall. We all have our own favorite bag, whether it’s the season’s must-have that you add to your collection, a more structured look, a businesslike purse or just a huge carry-on that holds your whole life inside. The bag you carry makes a statement about who you are and the same holds true for your nail polish."—Essie Weingarten, Essie Founder

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"Brooch the Subject, a gorgeous new spin on nude that is creamy with just a touch of shimmer, was one of my favorites." —Essie Weingarten, Essie Founder

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"We saw a lot of excitement around Bobbing for Baubles—the new blue of the season.  So modern and chic!"—Essie Weingarten, Essie Founder

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"Naked is a clean, sheer beige that’s soft and feminine and I think that nude nails feel fresh right now. Beige is the new sheer pink and its popularity is rising."—Deborah Lippmann, Founder

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“Across the Universe was another step in creating a new and sophisticated way to wear glitter.  Sometimes we can’t get the luxury things that we want and I love that nail color has become the new must-have accessory. Nails are a way to express feelings and creativity—it gives people so much pleasure.” —Deborah Lippmann, Founder

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"Happy Birthday, my first chunky glitter, is by far our top selling sku years later. When I started creating my glitter formulas, I had the feeling that we all needed something to help us feel happier, and it really took off in a way that I never expected.  If you decide it’s too much, it’s just nail polish. You can take it off." —Deborah Lippmann, Founder
 

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"Glitter in the Air was used at the Fall/Winter 2011 Badgley Mischka runway show,and helped set the trend for Spring 2011.  I was inspired by Pink’s magical performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards – she was floating through the air and wrapped in a sheer body suit with sparkles. I wanted to capture the ethereal moment, and created Glitter in the Air–a sheer sky blue with flecks of salmon pink and blue glitter. My inspiration comes from my heart, and I never would have guessed that the shade would have become such a cult favorite."—Deborah Lippmann, Founder

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"Space Odyssey (the name and the actual shade) was inspired by the series of Space Odyssey films and novels by Arthur C. Clarke."—François Nars, Founder and Creative Director of NARS Cosmetics
 

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“Right now I’m loving deep shades, like in our fall and holiday color collections. Polishes with shimmer are also festive, especially for the holiday season. Dark, bold nail hues can add flavor in the way a pair of shoes, jewelry or handbags can."—François Nars, Founder and Creative Director of NARS Cosmetics

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"We have always done really fun, bold colors when it comes to nails. Think of Dovima, Jungle Red and some of the older vintage shades like Zulu and Blue Lagoon. Nail Polish is interesting for a beauty brand—it's not exactly makeup; it's more an accessory. Some women want to have fun with color and I encourage that. I feel nails are an important element to a woman’s style... to explore and experiment a little further in a way she might not with makeup.—François Nars, Founder and Creative Director of NARS Cosmetics

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