Thursday, Aug. 29, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
Toss out those bottles of boring beige, plain ol' pink and run-of-the-mill red nail polish cluttering your cosmetics caddy.
It's time to let your fingers really do some talking.
Shouting is more like it, thanks to the rainbow of oddball nail colors that are all the rage now.
Pewter gray, metallic gold and rusty copper. Baby blue, minty green, soft lavender. Dirty orange, army green, eggplant purple.
These are just a few of the 35 kooky colors in a line produced by the Los Angeles-based company Hard Candy.
But don't let their names -- Trailer Trash, Tantrum, Pimp, Porno -- dissuade you. It hasn't kept Madonna, Alicia Silverstone, Sigourney Weaver or Dennis Rodman from sporting the stuff (available at Neiman Marcus, $12).
Or teens, their mothers or grandmothers for that matter, says Janet Sewell, director of marketing for Hard Candy. "It has transcended age groups.
"The nail polish industry has really been knocked off its feet with the introduction of so many exciting colors."
Hard Candy, however, isn't the only company chipping away at nail polish's popularity.
In fact, Sewell credits Chanel's Vamp, a line introduced last year featuring deep red and purple paints ($15 at Dillard's), for sparking the trend.
So does Jean Godfrey-June, beauty and fitness editor for Elle magazine. Vamp, she says, "gave women the idea of playing with their nail color in a way they hadn't before."
She speculates as to why the bizarre colors caught on in the first place: "Your fingernails and toes are a place to be dangerous."
Polishing "doesn't really change the way you look all that much, so it's a way to walk on the wild side without really shocking people and liking what you see in the mirror."
Susan LeClercq-Gonzalez, a manicurist at Nail Shack, 6120 W. Tropicana Ave., says 75 percent of her customers request the bold colors.
"I think it's a resurgence of the '60s and '70s," says LeClerq, who's been doing nails for 16 years. "What's popular now is just a new spin on what we used to wear."
That's the idea, Sewell says. When Hard Candy unveiled its pastel colors (including Frigid, an icy blue hue) last summer, powder blue and pale purple women's retro fashions were peaking.
Talk about good timing. "We're really considering it more of a fashion accessory," Sewell says, noting that some Hard Candy wearers go so far as to match the polish to their purses and shoes.
"They're pretty on the nails and it becomes something that the women can identify with."
Even MTV correspondent Tabitha Soren digs it. "She called me before the MTV Awards (last spring) saying, 'I must have some of that blue Hard Candy,"' Godfrey-June recalls.
"The pastels were all right," LeClercq-Gonzalez says. "They didn't make as big of an impression as the neon colors," which were popular a few years ago.
Dark metallics, though, made a big splash this summer: gloomy yet shiny tints, like forest greens, warm browns and deep bronzes, which are definitely weird but ultimately cool.
"It's kind of like an 'Independence Day' thing going on -- very alien looking," LeClerq-Gonzalez says.
Colors called How to Jamaica Million and Take it for Granite -- both steely gray blends -- have been big sellers for O.P.I., another LA-based polish manufacturer.
"These colors are hot and are worn by everybody," says the company's executive vice president, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. "We were surprised to see ... women in the workplace wear these colors."
Just in time for fall, O.P.I. has released its Rocky Mountain collection, comprised of similar quirky colors.
Gold Diggers Delight, Pikes Peek-A-Boo Purple, Jasper Jade, Cheyenne Pepper and Grand Teton Topaz are available at J.C. Penney, Saks Fifth Avenue and various salons ($5). Lip liner and color can be purchased to coordinate with three of the polishes.
Sounds right up 18-year-old Danyelle Rust's alley.
"I'm not too crazy about the blues or the pinks," says the Community College of Southern Nevada student, flashing her burgundy manicure. "I like dark reds and dark browns. It grabs attention."