Missy Elliott's VMAs Nails Took 3 Hours & Over $350 Worth Of Swarovski Crystals To Create

If you're still on a high after watching Missy's Elliott's epic performance at the MTV Video Music Awards — we're not judging, because we are, too. The rapper's playlist was on repeat this morning while we made our way to work, and we're still in awe of how amazing Elliott looked on stage. Between changing into different looks, posing for photographs, and delivering a touching acceptance speech, her hair and makeup remained on point.
However, you may have missed out on one supa-fly detail of Elliott's entire night, and no, it wasn't Alyson Stoner's dance break (though that was epic). We're talking about the rapper's nails. Her manicure was iced out, in true Missy fashion, and worth zooming in on.
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Elliott is no stranger to cool nails. After all, she is the artist who gave us the ultimate post-salon Instagram caption: "If you're a fly gal, get your nails done, get a pedicure, get your hair did." But her nails for the VMAs had to be extra special, because at the end of the night, Elliott would be holding the Vanguard Award. "Nails are often overlooked, but when you're performing for an award show, you're holding a mic and accepting a trophy, so nails are important," Elliott's longtime nail artist, Bianca "Beedy" Williams, tells Refinery29.
Photo: Courtesy of Bianca Williams.
Photo: Courtesy of Bianca Williams.
For the 2019 VMAs, Elliott requested crystallized tips. One one hand, her middle finger had the word "Icon" in Old English lettering. (Williams used decals from Artistik Koi to get the text perfect.) On the other hand, her middle finger had a chrome-colored drip. "For the most part, Missy gave me free rein to be creative with her nails, which I love," Williams says. "Her one request was that there be a lot of bling."
While Elliott took a three-hour nap, Williams created the iconic design. She used DND Black Licorice gel lacquer on her accent nails and topped off everything with Poochiez Nails clear topcoat. "Missy loves super-glossy polishes," she says. Each tip was decked out in over $350 of Swarovski crystals in various shapes and shades. When Elliott woke up from her snooze and looked down at her nails, her first reaction was "Ooooh," according to Williams. We said the same thing when we saw them against her black bedazzled microphone.
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Like Elliott's fashion style, her nail preferences have evolved throughout her career. Williams, who has been working with Elliott for about four and half years, tells us that when she first started working with the rapper her preference was short and square. "Now, she loves slim coffin-shaped nails, high-shine polishes, and plenty of bling."
Those themes were also present in Elliott's recent music video drop. "For her Throw It Back video, Missy wanted us to do something noticeably out of the box," says Williams. "So we referenced her lyric 'middle-finger flip, get up off my hip,' and I created 'M' and 'E' initials for Missy and her dancers using Swarovski pieces provided by Angel Crystals." The entire process took Williams five days to prep with the help of her sister Nikki Da Nail Trapper. "It took a lot of hard work, but it was so worth it and so Missy," she says.
Elliott's nail selection for the VMAs proves that, like everything the rapper does, her beauty choices — from her hair, makeup, and nails — are well though-out, creative, and incredibly authentic. "Everything Missy does tells a story," says Williams. "That's just how she rolls."
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