Who’s Behind OPI’s Punny Polish Names?
by Allison Ford
Known as the “First Lady of Nails” and the woman responsible for such classic polishes as I’m Not Really a Waitress and Tickle My France-y, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann is the Executive VP, Artistic Director, and all-around creative force behind OPI’s legendary and coveted nail lacquers. She does it all—from creating the shades to bestowing on them their unique monikers, that, let’s face it, keep us coming back for more as much as the new colors do. We caught up with Suzi for a Q&A about choosing collections and names, as well as which polish is her all-time favorite.
More: So, a true story: When I was a little girl, my dream was to be the person who named the lipsticks and nail polishes. Did you have the same childhood dream, or did you discover your passion for beauty another way?
Suzi Weiss-Fischmann: I discovered my passion for beauty when I was ten years old, growing up in Hungary. I told my mother that I wanted to tease her hair; it was a style that was no longer relevant, but I was excited about beauty and experimenting with different looks. Growing up, I had a good sense of style and a love of fashion. Even if I had only three outfits in my closet and my friends had dozens more, I was the one looking at the designers and trends.
More: What’s the process of deciding on a theme like? How and where do you get your inspirations?
SWF: OPI’s seasonal collections are always destination-based. Drawing inspiration from my travels helps determine the next geographic location. With destination collections, women can travel to places they might only ever imagine.
More: Once you have a theme, how does it inform the color-creating process?
SWF: Fashion is a major factor when it comes to creating new lacquers; I take a close look at runway trends, prominent color palettes, and textures. In cities around the world, I draw inspiration from people on the streets, food, music, movies, and more. I note the average woman as my muse; her style will help decide which colors turn into bestsellers.
More: Over the past few years, nails have become a much more integral and high-profile part of beauty and fashion. Has the new excitement changed at all how you’ve approached creating polish collections? What’s your favorite new development?
SWF: Shatter is my favorite new development. Nail art has been a hugely popular and quickly growing trend, however many nail art designs require extensive time and precision. Shatter makes nail art uniquely customizeable and accessable to everyone.
In creating colors today, I find women willing to embrace these new trends and wear them in ways that are both edgy and chic. Even just five years ago, I would waver on introducing certain colors to the consumer, but now, nothing is taboo.
More: OPI is well-known for the creative, wacky, punny names of its polishes. Is that a reputation that you consciously set out to create, or is it something that just developed along the way?
SWF: Yes, I wanted OPI names to be part of the total brand experience and brand culture. Not only are the names something the consumer will remember and discuss, they also offer something women can identify with; whether times are happy or sad, there’s a name to perfectly fit the occasion.
More: What are the name-brainstorming sessions like? Is there a lot of booze involved? Have you ever come up with a name that you loved but just couldn’t use for some reason?
SWF: There is a group of six people, including myself, who go behind closed doors for six to eight hours to brainstorm and decide upon new names for the lacquers. For destination-based collections, which are launched twice a year, the group will play upon unique, interesting, or noteworthy elements from the country or city in question to come up with hundreds of names for consideration. No booze—but lots of food! Often there are names we love but can’t use, for many different reasons.
More: OPI has done several celebrity-themed collections in the past year, and the new Nicki Minaj collection is coming out in January. How involved are the celebs in the color-creation or naming processes?
SWF: OPI’s celebrity partners are very involved; it’s important that the colors in their collections are ones that they themselves would want to wear. Celebrities approve all names and final shades.
More: Are there any other celebs with whom you’d like to work, or who you think have the kind of personal style that would translate into a great collection?
SWF: I consider many celebrities as trendsetters or icons in their own right; I don’t have one specific person in mind at the moment, but I hope to collaborate with more exciting people in the music and entertainment industries in the future.
More: Another true story: My signature OPI color is Aphrodite’s Pink Nightie. Of all the colors you’ve created, what one stands out as your personal favorite?
SWF: Lincoln Park After Dark is my personal favorite; I call this shade a game changer. At first, women primarily wore seasonal trend colors (light or bright in summer, deeper as the weather turned), but after introducing Lincoln Park After Dark, everything changed and rules were broken. Dark nails became chic and wearable year-round.
More: What’s next for OPI? A line of decals? Special effects polish?
SWF: OPI strives to be a leader and innovator in the industry. Right now, our research and development in this field is looking at new science for the next big thing!