In an era that finds nail art functioning as one of the ultimate vehicles of aesthetic expression, a standout manicure is a sure means of pulling focus on the red carpet. Just look at Best Actress nominee Cynthia Erivo, whose polish job at the 2020 Oscars was a combination of shine and storytelling—and held a subtle, special meaning.
The Harriet actress’s signature silver buzzcut was enough to steal shine, but one glimpse of nail artist Gina Oh’s Instagram capture proved that Erivo’s manicure was her most striking beauty statement of all. The polish job offered a duet of allusions, one hand illustrated to capture Vincent van Gogh’s iconic “Starry Night” painting, the other an homage to the night sky navigation that abolitionist heroine Harriet Tubman relied on when she fled for her own freedom while leading other slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
“When she told me she wanted to do Harriet Tubman and constellation-inspired nail art, I immediately thought about Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night,'” explains Oh. “We went back-and-forth with ideas and she really fell in love with the opalescence flakes, and loved the idea of a contrast of two different designs.” The takeaway? A manicure that’s creative, referential, and narrative is one worthy of the biggest night in film.