"I can't do this backstage normally because it's really time-consuming," said the nail artist and Sally Hansen Global Color Ambassador Madeline Poole, looking up from the stool she was crouched on while sketching dusky silver lightning bolts (Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Gilty Party) onto a model's nails. "If this was your typical backstage, I would have to use appliqués or something to apply the lightning bolts. Hand-painting the sharp lines is quite difficult."
There's some variation in what the backstage of a fashion show looks like, based primarily on how much space there is and how frazzled the prep teams are feeling, but "typical" means getting through hair, makeup and nails on at least a dozen models under the pressure of a very hard deadline. This — the set of the shoot for Misha Nonoo's "Insta-show," for which Poole had designed the nail look — was about as relaxed as a Fashion Week affair can get. It was a week before New York Fashion Week began, and a full day had been allotted to shoot Nonoo's spring 2016 collection on three models. In lieu of a proper runway show or presentation, the images would go live on Instagram on Saturday morning.
To complement the collection, which was inspired by the work of Donald Judd and 1960s minimalism in the art world, Nonoo said she wanted the beauty look to be unfussy, verbally checking the "mussed-up" hair and "easy, flawless skin" that are the pinnacle of modern coolness. ("Who doesn't want to be her?" Nonoo said, pointing at a street style photo of the model Mica Arganaraz dressed in a collared shirt and blazer, curly bangs lifted slightly in the breeze.) The nails, however, offered an opportunity to punch things up. In addition to the lightning bolt design (painted on Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Red My Lips) Poole created an almond-colored nail (Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Almost Almond) with a silver star icon for the two other girls.
Across the room, hairstylist Orlando Pita was busy cutting false bangs for one of the models, whose agent had nixed an on-set haircut. One of the others had taken the plunge and was now sporting some freshly cut baby bangs.
"The look is quite like a young, urban girl," Pita explained, stepping away from the chair. "I would say she's a creative type that doesn't follow the rules, even though our models do. She'll cut her hair really short in a fringe and she works with her natural wave. We see a return to natural hair being cool again, but I think you have to do certain things to natural hair to make it edgy."
"If you have wavy hair, maybe straighten or blow-dry the first six inches, and then let the rest wave. This short fringe gives the undone hair a look. Gone is the day of really working it, putting a lot of product in, blow-drying, silicone and all that stuff, because young girls don't want to look like their moms."
The Nonoo girls certainly didn't look like anyone's mother. What they did look like was, well, cool. And while it's hard to recreate their glowing skin without a great deal of disposable income or a strong dedication to water and dark, leafy greens, the nails, at least, are highly achievable.