Exeter Living Magazine Advertorial – April Edition 2017

NAILING IT

Conjure a contemporary nail salon in your mind and we bet it’s a grimly sterile, functional space. Somewhere that, if you could make actual contact with them you’d see the staff’s eyes brim with zero-hours despair. A place that’s nothing, then, like Exeter’s most welcome new beauty business: the rather divine Dolled Up which, last autumn, rose from the unpromising ashes of a former minicab office in the shadow of the Clock Tower.

Aesthetically, Dolled Up hearkens back to a much more glamorous era, thanks to the inspired vision of local company Ashton House Design.

The black painted exterior with its 1950s-style, circular Dolled Up logo is chic and inviting, and just a hint of what lies inside. Wonders have been worked in the tight space, turning it into a sophisticated, old-style, beauty parlour with modern twists – textured fuschia pink walls, lots of silver and grey, mirrored tiles, stylish retro-modern furniture (we wanted to steal the wing-backed pedicure ‘throne’), white and pink parasols suspended from the ceiling, a cool concave mirror, framed, vintage make-up adverts and fresh flowers.

Mistress of this establishment is the lovely Pauline, whose mini-beehive and warm welcome are equally on-brand. Nail trends follow the seasons, she explains – blingy chromes were huge over Christmas, but currently everyone’s rocking nude shades, ahead of the juicy, jewel tones that will come into vogue as sandals weather approaches.

I’m booked in for an express gel manicure. After a thorough cuticle tidy, Pauline files my nails giving them slightly rounded tips (the completely square nail shape is over, in case you didn’t get the memo) and, from her extensive range of OPI varnishes, we select ‘Rich Girls & Po-Boys’, a pretty Mediterranean blue that not only matches my outfit but makes my hands look slightly suntanned. She applies a base coat, with spells under the state-of-the-art LED dryer between each. I’m a little late to the gel party, I’ll admit – my fingernails look like they belong to a child and tend to see a slick of colour only when I’m off on holiday. But, I must say, I’m tempted to become a whole lot more high-maintenance: the colour is vibrant, the surface diamond-tough; and it dries so quickly I don’t need to do the post-manicure ‘claw’ hand to avoid smudges. As a bonus, explains Pauline, I’m more likely to be able to grow my nails now their new coating is making them harder to nibble. I get to take the big nail file home with me. Three weeks on, my nails are still flawless.

With a pre-party hair-up service due to start – and Pauline also hopes to start offering pre-party make-up – we can see Dolled Up becoming everybody’s go-to for a big night out. And when they do, it won’t be dog-eared loyalty cards in our purses but chunky, branded casino-style chips (also available as gift vouchers). Coolsville. We applaud them – and not just so that we can show off our new nails.