An audience with OPI’s pioneer of polish

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Last week, courtesy of Coty and OPI, I made a flying visit to San Francisco – via Madrid. The Spanish city was the setting for the launch event of OPI’s Fall/Winter 2013 San Francisco collection, which will be available from August.

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OPI’s Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, the First Lady of Nails

The line is said to deliver street chic style with West Coast flair. The palette features sky and sea-coloured hues of blue and grey, reds, burgundies and browns – all inspired by some of San Francisco’s most iconic elements, such as Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Embarcadero. Texture also plays a key role, thanks to three Liquid Sand shades of taupe, blue and grey.

After the presentation, media guests were invited to sample the new shades via a bespoke manicure. Then, selected journalists were granted an interview with OPI Executive VP & Artistic Director Suzi Weiss-Fischmann.

Gulp. For those in the know, Weiss-Fischmann is a legend; the global go-to nails authority; a pioneer of polish. Known as the “First Lady of Nails”, it is she who creates each and every OPI nail lacquer shade, in line with each season’s fashion and beauty forecast. She is also responsible for OPI’s quirky, signature shade names.

Personally and professionally, I am an unashamed champion of the nail category which, though making progress, is still woefully under-represented in travel retail. Meeting Weiss-Fischmann, then, was A Very Big Deal.

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OPI and cupcakes. Talk about a dream team.

On no level did she disappoint. On the subject of nails, she is entertaining, informative and passionate. She doesn’t mince her words – her opinion of LAX, for example, is unprintable; doesn’t take orders from anyone (she waves away the PR who tries to end the interview before she’s good and ready); and loves eating. Girl crush? You betcha. There is nothing not to like.

Not only does Weiss-Fischmann give great copy – a rarity in a business that is increasingly dominated by pre-approved questions, corporate same-speak and the dreaded ‘fact-check’ – she is genuinely engaging and inspiring. Her vision, drive and work ethic command utter respect. Her commitment to improving the lives of others, and women especially, is equally commendable.

That package is capped with a wicked sense of humour, an eye for beauty in all its forms, and an opinion on just about everything, from copycat competitors (again, unprintable) to James Bond actor Daniel Craig (“so cute”). Small wonder then that Weiss-Fischmann has played such a pivotal role in the evolution of OPI – a position she has no intention of relinquishing, even post-Coty acquisition.

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Madrid Mann-icure…My chosen shade? Peace & Love & OPI

Encouragingly for travel retail, Weiss-Fischmann is a fan of the channel, generously acknowledging the role Coty has played in this arena, and describing the brand’s recent progress in travel retail as one of the biggest benefits to date of the Coty acquisition. “Coty is doing such a great job and we are very happy,” she underlines. “The team is incredible.”

All of which means the foundations are laid for the next stage in OPI’s development. Weiss-Fischmann’s goal? “To build and connect an inspiring world full of colour for women increasingly looking for new experiences, which allows them to feel beautiful, creative and unique.”

I’d say Suzi’s well on her way to nailing it.

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