London Fashion Week: Backstage with the nail team for Edward Crutchley
By Rebecca Hitchon | 22 February 2022 | Feature
Outside of the Bargehouse, a four storey industrial warehouse space next to the Thames, Storm Eunice is battering London. With a red weather warning and everyone advised to stay inside, the streets are empty, helping to provide an eery but fitting atmosphere for British designer, Edward Crutchley‘s autumn/winter 2022 show taking place on London Fashion Week’s opening day, Friday 18 February.
Backstage, one of his friends tells me that the theme for this season is ‘gothic and vampire-esque’, blending regal, decadent Tudor styling with modern textiles and silhouettes (think cut-out bodycon outfits and leather platform boots).
Intertwined is Crutchley’s focus on queerness and androgyny, blurring the binaries of gender not only with the clothes but also the models’ nails.
Lead session manicurist, Marie-Louise Coster, is in charge of the nail looks, sponsored by Light Elegance, for the show’s 18 models. With four hours for the hair, make-up, nails and styling to be completed, as well as rehearsals and photographs, the nail team – made up of Marie-Louise, Nicolette Safar-Manesh, Tomoko Komiya Kuroda and Zaida Ibrahim Gani – proudly tell me that it has taken them just two and a half hours to finish all of the styles.
However, Marie-Louise admits that the hardest work didn’t happen on the day of the show. A natural nail look is created for the first models, with the team shaping their nails into a round shape then applying Light Elegance’s cuticle oil and Q&Lu Bamboo Lotion. The styles then gradually get bolder, transitioning into ready made, natural length, purple, black and pink press-ons, before the final three models sport extreme length, twisted press-ons in the same colours.
Making the extreme length press-ons was time-consuming and even slightly dangerous, explains Marie-Louise. Created in her shed, the tech used a blow torch to twist and shape the tips before using gel colours to paint over them (and any singed areas – as she chuckles telling me that they had a tendency to set alight!) The manicurist took inspiration for the distorted nail look from the woman who holds the Guinness World Record for the longest nails.
The only sticking points she faces on the day of the show are filing down the press-ons to each model’s nails and speedily reapplying those that fall off last minute.
The shades used, all of which are available via Sweet Squared, are:
- Light Elegance’s Buttercream Colour Gel in All Hands On Deck
- Light Elegance’s P+ Gel Polish in Black Tie
- Light Elegance’s P+ Gel Polish in Fuchsia Fantasy
Marie-Louise tells me that she and Edward Crutchley have a long history of working together, with the designer being the first to make her a lead manicurist at a fashion week show. The session nail tech has been working with him ever since, tallying eight fashion seasons together. With the pair getting on so well, the process behind thinking up the nail looks is a personal and collaborative experience. Edward comes to Marie-Louise with themes for his collection and she then suggests nail styles for them to discuss (nail styles which always include black, she reveals).
Watch the Instagram video about my backstage experience, featuring Marie-Louise talking through the different nail looks, here.
Official photo credits
- Runway photography: Chris Yates
- Backstage photography: Elena Molina
- Director of photography: Fran Gomez de Villaboa