Tell us about the shows you worked on for spring/summer 2012?
I was asked to do a lot of neutral looks for the shows this season – everywhere from Victoria Beckham to Calvin Klein. We’ve worked with Victoria since her first show and she loves the brand as it’s pregnancy-friendly (all products are free from known toxins) so she wore a lot of it herself when she was expecting. I custom-made a matt beige for the Matthew Williamson show from two different shades, which is something I do a lot. I think for him this season he was trying to make a big statement with the clothes so he wanted to keep the nails really subtle, so as not to detract any attention. But the nails I most enjoyed creating were for Yigal Azrouel’s Cut25 presentation, where I did a kind of crazy ombre effect of pink, turquoise and pistachio shades.
What made you start working with nails?
Well, I left America to follow a boy to England when I was 18, and after hanging around doing not much for a while I thought I’d go into nails just because at that point – 15 years or so ago – there was literally nowhere to get your nails done in England! So I got an agent and started doing session work on magazine shoots. At the time there were virtually no exciting colours around – just reds, pinks, the usual suspects – so I started mixing my own. Before long I was custom-mixing colours for fashion editors, and then I was lucky enough to be pretty much adopted by Rankin, who more or less paid my bills for years. Miles Aldridge then took me under his wing as well, so I was really lucky in that I got introduced to all the right people, and have never stopped working since.
What’s the process for creating a nail look backstage?
Well it differs from designer to designer. A lot of designers will send fabric swatches, mood boards – a lot of pretty confidential information, really. Some of them will have specific colours from our range in mind, like Victoria Beckham did this season. Some really give you free rein though – like Yigal Azrouel who basically said “what do you want to do?” The thing is, nails are there to accentuate and complement a collection, not to steal the limelight. Your job backstage is basically to stay out of the way! What’s really unbelievable is that I used to do a whole show’s-worth of nails on my own, before nails became the big thing they are now. Twenty or more models, all on my own. Luckily I’m really fast, but I work with a team of technicians now which definitely helps.
What trends do you think will be biggest for spring/summer 2012?
For me it’s demi-neons – a kind of sophisticated, intense colour that is almost neon but not quite – we don’t want to look like we’re stuck in the Eighties. So like Butter London’s new Trout Pout shade which is a kind of cantaloupe-y salmon shade, or a bright, very intense turquoise or fuchsia. Another big trend for spring/summer 2012 was matching manicures and pedicures. I haven’t been asked to do that for seasons and seasons, but I did so many shows – Calvin Klein, Matthew Williamson, Victoria Beckham – and the only one that didn’t actually do a matching manicure and pedicure was Clements Ribeiro, where we did a different pedicure for every different shoe colour. It has to be an edgy colour though – doing it in red looks dated.
-Words by Lisa Niven, courtesy of vogue.co.uk