Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

STYLE: Leaders of the Pack : Southern California Trendsetters: Portraits From the Creative Edge : In Good Hands: Suzi Weiss-Fischmann

March 13, 1994|LESA SAWAHATA

Los Angeles is manic about manicures. A quick survey of the hands around you will reveal fingernails that have been artfully sculpted in acrylic, wrapped with silk, tipped with plastic, mended and extended, varnished, jeweled, French-tipped and even (believe it or not) left natural. And the woman who has shaped the way we do nails is Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, vice president and creative director of OPI Products.

Fingernails were certainly not foremost in Hungarian-born Weiss-Fischmann's mind when she and her brother-in-law, George Schaeffer, started a dental-supply business in North Hollywood in the early '80s. "All these nail salons were popping up, doing acrylic nails, which use a similar material to that used in making dentures," she says. So with a slight chemical revision, three products--a nail primer and a liquid and a powder blended to create an artificial nail--were packaged "and we went up and down Ventura Boulevard trying to sell them," she recalls. Unsure how the sideline business would fare, they hung on to their logo--OPI stands for Odontorium Products Inc.

That was in 1982. Since then, OPI has gone international, producing professional and consumer cosmetics, including elegantly packaged Nail Lacquers and, new this spring, matching Lip Colours. Weiss-Fischmann watches the fashion runways to create her twice-yearly "collections" of colors (such as "Pompeii Purple" and "Whole Lotta Seoul").

As important as product is education. OPI employs 150 educators across the country, former nail technicians who teach proper manicure techniques and in-salon retailing. The emphasis is on professionalism because Weiss-Fischmann disapproves of nail shops with lax sanitation and service. "You can't hide a bad nail job," she says.

Why are nails so dear to the hearts of Californians? "It started with the glamour of the movie industry in the '30s," Weiss-Fischmann says, "and here, our hands are constantly exposed." She credits the abundant natural light and our local love of sports with two major nail trends: natural, sheer pink and peach nail lacquers; and the resilient, active-length nail she calls a "squoval"--squared-off with rounded edges.

"The nail industry is the fastest-growing part of the beauty business. It's an incredible phenomenon," she says. And what is OPI's contribution? "There's no more Madge the Manicurist--we've legitimized the nail industry."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|