Nailing it

Charlotte Knight, founder of nail polish brand Ciaté, is taking the world by storm via Dublin and Sephora in the UAE


Nails are setting the style agenda. Detail, flair and fashion nouse are crucial. When Adele walked the red carpet sporting Ciaté’s ‘Louboutin’ nails – a sparkly silver top coat with signature red shining underneath – it was decided. The mani-pedi as we know it is dead.

Ciaté’s founder and creative director, Charlotte Knight, is leading the renaissance, crafting subtle yet transformative designs in all colours of the rainbow. Charlotte set up the brand at the age of 21 in Dublin, Ireland, and masterminded her journey from session nail technician to high fashion celeb manicurist and dedicated mother.

It’s no surprise that model and socialite Olivia Palermo is working with Charlotte on a new line of sophisticated Ciaté polishes exclusively available in Sephora, which includes rich red hutch, coral Nantucket and nude Sundays colours. Time Out caught up with Charlotte to ask her how she juggles her business in nails with her everyday life.

How did Olivia Palermo become guest creative director?
I have always admired Olivia’s style and her ability to accessorise her outfits flawlessly. It seemed a natural progression for her to create a line of nail colours and make-up – the most popular way to accessorise a look. She came with a vision very similar to ours, choosing every colour and finish and naming each product after eclectic touches from her own life.

How did you go from setting up salons in Dublin to working with designers including Alexander McQueen?
When I moved to Ireland, I really struggled to find somewhere quick and easy to get an expert mani-pedi and the nail bar scene was just hitting London so it felt only right to bring this much-needed concept to my new home in Ireland. The hype and excitement surrounding the new salon was really getting us noticed and I soon became a regular on the morning chat shows and fashion TV programmes such as Off the Rails. From this, I began to work with leading magazines, which led to working at Fashion Week with the likes of Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and Alexander.

Tell us about hand mixing your nail polishes – how do you know what to do?
When I was working backstage, nails would be styled in the same way as hair and outfits would be. So if I didn’t have the colour, I would have to mix it. Sometimes I would think I knew what I was looking for, but there was a lot of trial and error. I started playing with more and more textures, and things you couldn’t imagine on nails, with more of a ‘why not’ attitude.

Describe your daily routine.
My day starts at around 6.30am, prepping for the school run. The mornings are pretty frantic, we are often searching for a missing school book or swimming goggles before dashing out the house for the school run. The drive is really important to me as it’s a good chance for me to set my daughter up for her day – we have a good chat finished by a little car dance and sing along, and a big kiss and cuddle. I am then on calls all the way to the office and, before attacking the day, I need to work out to get focused. My day spent in the office will be a very mixed schedule from product development meetings to board meetings, to sales and marketing think tank sessions – I do not thrive on monotony. Evenings are spent helping Gracie with her homework and tending to our rescue horses. And at night, I always sleep with a notepad by my bed so I can jot down any inspirational thoughts or ideas that come to me.

We know all about your nails, but what are your favourite pieces in the wardrobe?
My Valentino Rock Stud heels, my Burberry trench and I love mixing with statement pieces from places such as Zara, lots of accessories and a beautiful clutch.
The SS15 Olivia Palermo collection is available in Sephora, various locations including The Beach, JBR,

Ciaté: the acronym

Where would you paint more colour in the world?
We believe as a brand that you should spread love, dare to play and live in colour, and I think places like corporate environments need to embrace this more and not be afraid to stand out as a result of what people wear…

What do you believe is the greatest innovation in fashion?
Denim jeans – where would we be without jeans?

What is your greatest aspiration?
To be happy, to be surrounded by love and to laugh every day.

What Ciaté trend is next?
Our beach to bar bronzing story for beautiful dewy skin, South Beach Socialite.

What is the most extraordinary experience you’ve ever had?
Having my daughter Gracie and watching her grow into a beautiful young lady.

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