From the Runway to the Big Screen, This Is the Most Iconic Nail Polish Ever

For many of us, doing our nails has become our preferred pastime. Who didn't try out some nail art during lockdown? But as the saying goes, a person is only as good as their tools, and if you're not coating your nails with the absolute best polishes, chances are you're finding that your handiwork isn't holding up the way you'd like it to (or, indeed, the way you'd expect it to when you have it done in a salon). 

We decided to do a bit of research (otherwise known as Instagram scrolling) to see which nail polishes our favourite nail artists use on their talons. And, as it happens, their brand of choice is one whose bottles will look incredibly chic lined up on your dressing table, too.


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

Betina wears Chanel Le Vernis in Rouge Noir. 

If you haven't tried one for yourself, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the appeal of Chanel nail polishes is their designer name, but that's not the case. The preferred lacquer of countless session and celebrity nail artists, Chanel nail polishes are known for their ultra-glossy finish, quick setting times, and hard-wearing durability. But which are the best Chanel nail polishes to invest in, and which are the most popular? To find out, we reached out to Chanel and big names in the manicure world who use them daily to find out. 

Direct from Chanel HQ, we quickly learned that Rouge Noir is indisputably its most popular and iconic nail shade. Chanel launched Rouge Noir, a very dark reddish-black, at its A/W 94 show in Paris. The colour was virtually created on the runway, as beauty guru Heidi Morawetz mixed black and red to create the effect she was looking for. After its debut, the shade was then worn by Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, which inevitably sent its cult status rocketing. Since its launch, Chanel's sales of nail enamels have increased manifold.


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

Betina wears Chanel Le Vernis in Ballerina. 

With such an iconic origin story, it's little wonder that Rouge Noir is the Chanel nail polish of choice for the pros. Jenni Draper is a celebrity and session manicurist whose work has elevated the fingers of Dame Helen Mirren, Lily James, Gal Gadot, and Anya Taylor-Joy. She reveals, "Of all the products and all the colours in my kit, the ones that I have to replace the most often are two classic colours from Chanel: Rouge Noir and Ballerina. They are always referenced on shoots simply because they are classic colours that suit everyone. I was on the waiting list way back when Rouge Noir came out. It was a kit must-have then and still is to this day! It's such a statement colour—you mean business when you wear it. It looks incredible on everyone, all skin tones, and oozes luxury. In my opinion, it's a hard-to-beat colour, and I make sure I have bottles of it in my kit at all times."


(Image credit: @imarninails)

Imarni wears a colour similar to Chanel Le Vernis in Rouge Noir. 

You may have noticed that Draper named Ballerina as her other go-to Chanel shade. This comes as no surprise, as Chanel revealed that, along with the taupe-like Particulière, Ballerina is a top-performing colour in its polish roster. 

"Ballerina is a gorgeous natural pink," continues Draper. "If used with one coat, it gives the nails a healthy glow. Two or more layers give the nails an understated, 'there but not there,' and natural manicured look."


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

Betina wears Chanel Le Vernis in Ballerina, Black, and Pure White. 

Imarni of Imarni Nails is a London-based manicurist and nail-art maverick whose clientele includes Hailey Bieber, FKA Twigs, and Alexa Chung to name a few. But which are her go-to Chanel polishes? "Emblématique and Mythique are two of my favourite Chanel shades. They're just a tad lighter than Rouge Noir but really rich colours and très chic on short, natural nails." 


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

Betina wears Chanel Le Vernis in Emblématique. 

So there you have it. When it comes to the best Chanel nail polish, Rouge Noir undoubtedly leads the pack, with Ballerina, Particulière, Emblématique, and Mythique also proving popular amongst those in the know. Scroll below to shop these hero hues, and get ready to take your at-home mani game to the next level. 








Next Up: These Are the Only 2023 Nail Trends That You Need to Know

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.