Did You See Chappell Roan’s Nails? That Was @NailsByJuan.



Juan Alvear (@NailsByJuan) is the artist and architect of the hottest nails in town, from Sabrina Carpenter’s studded green talons, as seen in our Winter issue, to Charli XCX’s subtle, pearlescent almond nails at the Met Gala. Last week, our editor-in-chief Mel Ottenberg met up with Alvear on set to take a non-smoking smoke break and dish on the details of his latest creation: quill-like, plumed nails for “your favorite artist’s favorite artist,” the already-iconic Chappell Roan, to complete her Black-Swan-meets-Harry-Potter moment on Jimmy Fallon. Alvear’s nail philosophy is simple: “I’m sick of things that are too expected or on the nose or things that are a little bit too classic,” he says. We couldn’t agree more. Below, he and Mel delve into the Brat phenomenon, phenomenally hideous nails, and what exactly it takes to be a duck girl.


MEL OTTENBERG: We don’t smoke, but we’re taking a smoke break.


OTTENBERG: Hey, Juan. How you doing?

ALVEAR: I’m good, how are you?

OTTENBERG: Those nails on Chappell Roan were so great.

ALVEAR: Thank you.

OTTENBERG: What was it? Feathers? String?

ALVEAR: I basically plucked feathers off of a large ostrich plume.


ALVEAR: I put them onto a long base and on the base, it was basically a gradient of white to a jelly yellow to give the effect of like a full, what is it? Now I’m forgetting. What’s the word?


ALVEAR: No, like a…

OTTENBERG: What the fuck are you talking about?

ALVEAR: Like, the tip of a feather. A quill.

OTTENBERG: Oh, a quill.

ALVEAR: Yes, a quill.


OTTENBERG: Okay, got it. What color is the nail? White?

ALVEAR: It’s like a creamy white to yellow gradient and it’s translucent with little striations inside of it. So it looks up close like the tip of a quill.

OTTENBERG: Well, they’re causing a sensation. They’re the hottest nails in town. Are jewels still in?


OTTENBERG: And what about duck?

ALVEAR: Duck is a tricky one. Like, I can get into a duck, but it has to be in the right context.

OTTENBERG: Blindly doing duck, no?

ALVEAR: No, maybe not.


ALVEAR: Unless that is your go-to shape all the time and you’re just like, a duck girl I feel like—

OTTENBERG: It’s out.

ALVEAR: Yeah. Or unless you’re doing it a little ironically.

OTTENBERG: What are you sick of in the world of nails, babe? You’ve done so many gross nail walks. What do people copy the most from you?

ALVEAR: I feel like there are a lot of references. I feel like every time I post something, people get inspired.

OTTENBERG: That’s cute.

ALVEAR: Yeah, I don’t mind that. I think I’m sick of things that are too expected or on the nose, or things that are a little bit too classic. I think a red carpet can use a little excitement. Why not?

OTTENBERG: I’m into really boring nails right now, or really atrociously NAF nails like you did last night, which is fantastic. Meaning, no gels, no nothing.

ALVEAR: Like a nude. Like a classic. Like an actress.

OTTENBERG: Like, no one would ever remember her nail was there or something so beyond special.

ALVEAR: Like a Natalie Portman nail?

OTTENBERG: Yeah, like Natalie Portman rehearsing in Black Swan, or your Chappell Roan nails last night. I’m fine with both.

ALVEAR: I do a really simple dancer nail. Sometimes I get some basic nail requests.

OTTENBERG: But you don’t get upset.

ALVEAR: No, no. That’s fine.

OTTENBERG: Okay. We’re on the set of a major pop star right now and we were listening to Brat. Is that the thing that every pop girl is listening to right now?

ALVEAR: I feel like everyone is listening to Brat right now.

OTTENBERG: Every person on earth.

ALVEAR: We can’t name one person who’s not.

OTTENBERG: What’s the hottest color right now for nails, says you?

ALVEAR: Honestly, I think any color that clashes with whatever else you’re wearing. You’re wearing purple eyeshadow. You can go with a Brat green on the nails.

OTTENBERG: Okay, okay. I’m wearing a blue polo shirt. What should it be?

ALVEAR: I see a black nail for you.

OTTENBERG: Oh, sweet. Your nails are so ugly. What did you do to them to create this phenomenally hideous look? I think they’re so good.


ALVEAR: Thank you.

OTTENBERG: Are these gels?

ALVEAR: Mm-hmm.

OTTENBERG: They don’t look like gels. They just look like you’re one hard bitch with long, hard nails.

ALVEAR: Exactly.

OTTENBERG: All right, I’ll let you go back to set. Thanks, babe.

ALVEAR: Thank you. Bye.