To go backstage during New York Fashion Week means you are in a chaotic, creative mix of models, designers, beauty pros, and press. The makeup artists, hairstylists and manicurists work in small spaces on tight timelines to turn out finished models, then run off to start on their next show. Manicurist Julie Kandalec headed up seven shows during February’s New York Fashion Week and she shares her secrets for leading a team and steaming ahead through some very busy days.
What was your favorite show this season during NYFW and why?
There were two I especially loved--Thom Browne and Herve Leger. At Thom we used only acrylic paint, no polish at all, so that show was done on my own; I didn't have a polish sponsor. It was my third season leading the nail team at Thom Browne and his shows are a true art show, with no detail left out. Thom and his team are the nicest ever and he has such a calm and gentle way about him. Backstage is busy but never pandemonium. And he lets me really step outside the typical nail.
I also loved working with Herve Leger, one of my favorite designers. We did a cool, yet simple nail in a semi-sheer mauve cashmere with matte finish. And the clothes - so incredible! What an honor.
What do you always keep in your kit?
Double-stick tape. Additionally, If I'm working with a celebrity, I always make sure to have non-acetone remover in my kit, They wear gel polish a lot and after the shoot I need to remove the color that I did to get them back (especially if they are in the middle of filming).
What is the most spontaneous thing you have had to do backstage, in terms of nail design? And what kind of non-traditional materials have you used in your designs?
Backstage at a show last season we had three different nail looks and 30 minutes before the girls hit the runway. At the last minute, the designer pulled one of the looks and we had to change all the girls who already had that finished look!
At Thom Browne last season, we attached nails to couture latex gloves. And this season for Thom, I mixed up a charcoal water-based acrylic paint for all 10 male and 37 female models to paint their entire nail and fingertips. My team and I even applied it using mini canvases and paintbrushes.
What qualities should you have to lead a show?
You have to be a team-player, comfortable on camera, easy-going and really, really nice!