Orly’s Jeff Pink created the French manicure nearly 30 years ago

Many people would no doubt be surprised to learn that not only is the French manicure nearly 30 years old, it’s actually American and was invented by a gentleman. We sat down with its creator Jeff Pink, the founder of Orly International nail care, to get the inside track.

Jeff Pink, the owner of Orly International and the creator of the French manicure. Ringo Chiu / Zumapress.com
Powered by automated translation

The last time Jeff Pink stepped foot on UAE soil was close to two decades ago. Like the country’s landscape, Pink’s business has evolved greatly in that time. His story is fascinating – one that starts on the sets of classic Hollywood movies and continues in beauty salons across the world today.

How does it feel to be back in the UAE?

I’m thrilled to be here. I came here first for the first Beauty World Show 18 years ago. The change and growth in Dubai is amazing – it has grown to be a very sophisticated and cosmopolitan city.

The UAE has a very strong mani-pedi culture – does that distinguish us much from other markets?

I think the mani-pedi culture is universal to women who understand that nails are the ultimate expression of personal style and impeccable grooming. So women of the UAE are not different in that respect.

Has Orly developed any colours specifically for the region?

Not specifically, but we launch seasonal colour collections each year that are on-trend in the beauty and fashion world. We work with top trending colour houses and tailor collections for each season so that we’ll have an offering even for our most discerning customer.

If you were to develop a range just for the region what might it look like?

It might be a beautiful selection of deep reds.

The story of how the brand came to be is a fascinating one – tell us more.

I started in the early 1970s, supplying beauty products to professionals and television and movie studios. At that time, I saw a niche in the nail-care market. I listened to the needs of the technician and, being a person who likes a challenge, I set off to deliver the best solution.

The French manicure was one such solution?

Well, one of the challenges I was faced with came from a film director who asked me to come up with a colour for an actress that looked good with each costume change. A style and colour to match all dresses. Many dresses meant many polish changes and this was before the time of quick-dry drops or LED light to speed up the process. Time spent with the crew waiting for polish to dry meant production was at a ­standstill.

I used to sell white pencils to women for them to use under their nails to give them a clean groomed look. While the colour was good it lacked crispness and would wash off too easily. So, I started thinking the colour needed to be on top of the nail – on the tip. I called a supplier and asked for it.

This was unheard of as the colours around that time were reds, browns, mauves, etc. Nevertheless, I got one gallon of white polish for the tips and pink, beige or rose for the nail.

I called the invention “the natural look” and the studio loved it. The director commented that I should get an Oscar for saving the industry so much money.

How did it go global and assume its new name?

A friend asked me to go to Paris for one of the many catwalk shows. If you think that actresses change their clothes a lot, models do it even more. I introduced the natural nail look to the catwalk shows and again, they loved it.On the way back to Los Angeles, I was thinking that the name was more descriptive than snappy. So, I decided to call it the French manicure. For many years, people thought it was French but it is an American invention.

• For more information, visit www.orlybeauty.com