The attention to detail that goes into just a single look headed down a runway is astonishing. Although it’s ultimately the designer who gets top billing for what we see on Fashion Week models, it takes a village to assemble what they’re wearing from head to toe — or rather, from head to fingers. Because even though it’s the tiniest aspect of the overall look, a lot of thought and talent is dedicated to model manicures.
Backstage at the various show locales, many of the most celebrated nail artists in the business are teamed with some of the biggest nail polish brands to create manicures that complement the makeup, hair, and, most importantly, the clothing being sent down the catwalk or displayed in live presentations to help fully realize designers’ visions. And while they make up mere centimeters of the final look, you can bet we’re zooming in on fingertips to get inspiration for our next trip to the nail salon.
Keep scrolling to see how artists like Miss Pop, Mei Kawajiri, Julie Kandelec, Jin Soon Choi, and Rita Remark worked their manicure magic backstage to add the finishing touches — from subtle to bold, classic to creative — to the fall/winter 2019 collections
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Although all the models in the Prabal Gurung show wore the Zoya nail polish shade Vanessa, Miss Pop gave some of the manicures a negative-space twist. With a fine nail brush, she created a diagonal line from the top left part of the nail to the bottom right, filling in just the top with the berry-red color.
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Alice + Olivia
This especially dreamy manicure fluttered down the runway thanks to Gina Edwards, who started off by giving models an Impress press-on manicure in black, burgundy, or the sparkly white Stace Face set from the brand’s collaboration with Alice + Olivia. She then attached hand-painted acrylic butterflies to pointer-finger nails, some of which were adorned with Kiss’s Real Crystals.
Nail artist Tracy Lee didn’t limit her Kaimin manicures to just the models’ nails. To create a cyborg look, “Every model had a different- and extreme-shaped thumb nail painted with liquid silver and with skin partially painted in metal,” she told her Instagram followers. Practical? No. But so damn cool.
Inspired by the monogrammed luggage of the suffragette era, Rita Remark created simple yet lovely nail art by first painting models’ nails with Essie’s pale pink Skinny Dip polish and then, using a fine detail brush, painting a K on the index fingernail with Essie’s Licorice.
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Gina Edwards might have started out with blank sets of Kiss Salon Acrylic Natural Nails, but that’s definitely not what went down the runway. Using the Kiss Fan Brush, she painted a wash of color in yellow, green, silver, or pink polish, starting at the base and making it fade toward the tip. As a finishing touch, she added a silver accent line with the Kiss Nail Art Paint.
Jin Soon Choi created an unexpected combination of muted brown and sparkling silver to accompany Tibi’s collection. The bottom half of the models’ nails were painted with the nail artist’s own Glitzy, a silver glitter polish; the top was painted with the taupe-y shade Dulcet. To really enhance the contrast, Dulcet was sealed with a matte top coat.
Pearls were all over the Adeam runway, from the clothing to the inner corners of the models’ eyes — and the nails were no exception. Mei Kawajiri alternated base colors between two OPI shades, a deep blue and an ethereal pink. Once the topcoat was dry, she glued one large pearl close to the cuticle and smaller sizes throughout.
Black was a significant color in nearly every look in Proenzer Schouler’s presentation, so it only makes sense that Rita Remark would choose Essie’s Licorice to complement the collection. The glossy, jet-black enamel was seen over and over throughout Fashion Week, proving that black nail polish is always chic.
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Julie Kandelec created this “second-skin glitter” manicure with Essie’s Summit of Style nail polish. However, to get the most minimalistic look, she first wiped the brush completely clean, dipping it back into the bottle ever so carefully to pick up just a few flecks of the bronze pieces. She then lightly dotted them across the nails.
Rita Remark used roughly 110 grams of Swarovski crystals alongside Essie’s jet-black Licorice nail polish to create what she calls an “eclipse of crystals.” She told Allure the idea was inspired by one of the shoes in Siriano’s collection: “a patent black pump with a stripe of aurora borealis crystals across the toe.”
The models at Chromat all wore different nail looks, but they had one thing in common: vibrant, abstract splashes of color. Multiple shades were sponged on for an artsy but totally DIY-able effect.
Tomo’s fall 2019 collection was full of color and texture, so Jin Soon Choitook the nails in the opposite direction with a soft and subtle nude look. She used her own brand’s shades Demure, Pinky, and Sandbar for a manicure that would look lovely in any season.