by Rachel Felder
Modern times (the president talking to Cuba, Twitter superseding newspaper's popularity) call for modern nails, like Knock Out Cosmetics new capsule collection of flat, matte nail polishes that has been selling out at Henri Bendel and Liberty in London. With the powder-coat look showing up on Chanel runways and elsewhere, the ultimate symbol of a perfect manicure—an ultra-glossy top coat—suddenly looks totally passé.
The oddly sophisticated look is smooth and buffed, a bit like a matte lipstick from the 1940s. Knock Out's white shade, Powder, looks more like an elegant marble floor than the white-out of high school days. And, like a crocodile bag after a few years of regular wear, the longer it's worn, the more each shade takes on a slight hint of a glossy patina.
The brainchild of makeup artist Mike Potter—best known for working on Hedwig and the Angry Inch—Knock Out started with two extreme colors, black and white. He's just launched a rich old-school red (named Karen, after the Yeah Yeah Yeah's front woman who's a fan of the brand) that looks as appropriate with Balenciaga as it does with a pair of battered black jeans—or maybe with all of the above. With such bold colors on offer, it's worth mentioning that Knock Out lasts longer than traditional nail polish, staying chip-free without a top coat for around a week to ten days.
And if you swear by your own favorite nail polish shade, Knock Out also offers a matte top coat, Flatte Top, which will give its distinctive finish to any color that's already in your makeup bag. Although it's fine on dark shades, the finish Flatte Top adds works particularly well over softer colors like pale gray and sheer pink.
Knock Out just might be the most original nail polish that's come out since the mid-nineties phenomenon of Chanel's Vamp. Each bottle runs about $20, to purchase by mail, contact Henri Bendel's concierge.