As everyone has now seen, last week at New York Fashion Week, CND’s Fashion Week Design Lab Team created some faux-fur covered nails for the Libertine show. We recapped the nails for that day just like we did for every other day; we added them to our gallery and moved on with our lives. Maybe it’s because we are a blog for nail professionals by nail professionals, but we didn’t give them much of a second thought.
Then the stories hit social media. Facebook, in particular, has been the venue of choice for public comment on these nails. Since Cosmo and Yahoo Beauty wrote solely about the fur nails from the Libertine show, and only showed close-up beauty photos of those nails, there was little to no context given. Should there have been? Maybe, but not necessarily. Most fashion week stories about the nails show backstage beauty images, without the clothing. This is not out of the norm.
To give some background, this exact style of coverage of the nails at fashion week is part of the reason why this blog was created. I felt strongly that the end of season recap blogs on Pop Sugar or Refinery 29 of “the best nails on NYFW runways” left much to be desired. As a session nail technician who has worked NYFW for the past two seasons, I craved more specific info about who created the nails I was seeing on the runway, what colors and brands were used, and what inspired them to create the look they did. Partly in the name of research for my job, and partly out of sheer curiosity, I set out to make that info available in a single location; The Nailscape.
Nails rarely get the airtime, coverage, or weight that hair and makeup do. This isn’t a tale of woe, told by a working nail tech; this is the reality of what goes on behind the scenes. Sometimes nails aren’t necessarily viewed as important in the grand scheme of things. While this is slowly becoming the exception to the rule, attitudes are slow to change. Many shoots don’t have a budget for a manicurist. The nail industry is sometimes viewed as the “red-headed stepchild” of the beauty industry, because you don’t need to be an “artist” to be a nail tech. (We heartily disagree, but that’s a whole other blog post.) While we appreciate the hardworking nail artists and manicurists who constantly elevate our industry backstage at fashion weeks around the world, we acknowledge that there is still progress to be made.
I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to some private events by CND, and it’s no secret what an admirer I am of Jan Arnold, CND’s co-founder and artistic director. At those events, I have heard Jan explain CND’s philosophy behind the fashion week partnerships that CND seeks out, and the guiding principles they live by in those partnerships. While some nail companies use fashion week as a vehicle to paint a nude nail for a large design house’s runway show, and are just happy to be able to offer their sponsorship, CND only works with designers who view the brand and team of nail professionals as true artistic partners. The nails are workshopped with the designers and their vision in mind, but are not dictated by the designer. CND endeavors to create nail looks that complement and enhance the clothing and mood of the show.
While faux fur nails may not be practical for everyday wear, what on the runway is? In both shows that CND partnered with this season, they showed nails that were completely edible, blew real actual smoke from sculpted acrylic lips, lit up with embedded LED lights, dangled jewels and embellishments from long chains, and nails that when put together, formed a complete painted rose. The Design Lab team spent over 900 hours creating these nails, and to dismiss them on Facebook with a single comment like “gross” does our entire industry a disservice.
What we have here, as nail professionals, is an opportunity. Our clients are sharing the story of these nails and opening the dialogue to discuss what IS possible. CND created a set of nails that started the conversation. People are talking about Fashion Week nails! People outside of the industry are interested enough to share and comment! What a tremendous opportunity to educate, share our work, and hopefully capture some new clients out of a truly hairy situation.