Going Gaga for 3D nails

Incapacitated is the only way of describing my state as I stepped out of L Square Hair and Nails on Soho's Wardour Street. Fumbling with my mobile phone, I tried desperately to make contact with the touch-screen, with no luck.

On the ends of my fingers were 1.5in 3D nails — the latest development in nail art, as seen on the digits of fashion- forward Japanese girls — complete with pop-up flowers, jewels and, of course, Hello Kitty motifs.

Only once I was inside a ladies' loo cubicle did I realise navigating the button on my trousers was going to be an altogether more frustrating problem.

But if I want to be on trend this season, I will have to get used to it, because following the fads for Minx nails, transfers and two-tone tips, 3D nails have hit the London streets — and they're not easy to wear.

It all started on Tokyo's Harajuku scene (think Gwen Stefani's female entourage in 2004), where the cutting-edge young people hang out and display their outlandish styles, and with the Japanese Gyaru, meaning "gals", who dye their hair blonde and adopt a California-girl image.

The nails are often very long — extended using acrylic tips — and then built up in layers using gels, glitters and acrylic pastes to create any design imaginable (or even unimaginable). At London's Nailympics at Kensington Olympia last month, girls had talons with figurines, flowers and fairies attached.

On the street the designs are only marginally toned down, and through New York's Valley salon, where M.I.A. and Katy Perry reportedly go for manicures, and via the nails of the world's most watched woman, Lady Gaga (she has been seen with jewelling and little bows on her nails), 3D nails came to London.

"The Japanese girls who come to get their nails done wear the whole Japanese style from head to toe," says Fiza Sabah, the woman who had enough patience to spend three hours carefully creating my elaborate set of nails.

Powered by RRZCMS