Becoming the Lead Manicurist for NY Fashion Week
As long as I could remember, I've wanted to do nails backstage at Fashion Week. I thought that it would be the perfect way to combine the three things I adored the most: nails, fashion shows, and travel.
Before I knew how the beauty industry even worked, I imagined Fashion Week worked kind of like how the circus does (LOLZ) where it just traveled all over the world and had hair stylists, makeup artists, and manicurists that travel with it (I was really naïve, okay?). Now I know that it’s nothing like that, and am happy to be doing shows in New York for NYFW, as well as seeing the rest of the world, without 50 lbs of nail polish in tow.
So how exactly did I become the lead manicurist for Essie, going on my 10th season? A little something I like to call “the success from when preparation and opportunity meet”. In a nutshell, I had already been doing nails professionally for 13 years before I moved to NYC. Soon after I landed in the city, I began my journey with Essie, doing manicures at a small event: a release party for an issue of Essence Magazine in a hotel suite in the East Village. Then it quickly transitioned into larger, more lavish events (manicures in a VIP suite all during Fashion Week, desk-side visits for beauty editors), and then onto photo shoots for Essie.com, and finally, the holy (nail) grail: Fashion Week LEAD.
So what’s a "lead"? Well, its the head of the hair, makeup or nail teams for a show during Fashion Week. We go to the designer’s "color test" a few days before the actual show to meet with the designer and, get this: we see the clothes FIRST! It also means that I get to work alongside legendary hair and makeup artists like Tom Pecheux, Orlando Pita, Odile Gilbert, and Jimmy Paul, and together we trail blaze the go-to looks for nails, hair, and makeup for the following season. No pressure.
Being the lead also means that I have to give a LOT of interviews backstage as the models are getting ready. And it’s tiny, hot, and high energy to the point of being chaotic. One time backstage at Nanette Lepore, it was so crazy that I accidentally introduced myself as the lead makeup artist! We all had a good laugh. All of the beauty editors from both print magazines and online sites alike plus fashion and beauty influencers come backstage to chat with the hair, makeup, and nail leads to get the dirty deets on what the hottest trends will be for the upcoming season, and must-have beauty tips (they LOVE beauty tips!) to tell their readers how to get the look at home.
So, what shows will I be leading this season? Will I introduce myself as the designer this time? Stay tuned to find out, plus all of the nitty gritty (pretty) details of backstage life, and what beauty trends will hit the runway for Spring/Summer 2018!