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Top tips for nailing it backstage at Fashion Week

By Scratch Staff | 12 February 2019 | Expert Advice, Feature

Cnd X The Blonds 6938

Fashion Week is nearly upon us, and if your skills will see you secure a stint backstage as a nail stylist, follow these words of wisdom from fellow pros…

  1. Image c/o Kelly Shenton for Manish Arora SS16 with creative nail lead, Marian Newman


“While assisting at Fashion Week, you are there on behalf of the lead session stylist and your work reflects them,” explains Kelly Shenton. “Act professional at all times; you are representing them and your behaviour impacts on them. Never be afraid to ask questions. Each lead works differently and has their own way of doing things.” 

“Follow instructions to the letter,” Liza Smith adds. “Don’t make it up as you go along; ask the lead technician how close to the brief you need to stay and when can you use your initiative.

“Remember that the lead has worked really hard in the years running up to this show. Give them the credit they deserve and always ask permission before sharing any snaps.”


“There should be no social media posts, especially before a show. Always wait until you have approval from the lead nail artist,” reveals Kelly Shenton. “Do not take photos either, unless the lead artist has said otherwise, too.”

Robbie Tomkins backstage at London Fashion Week


“I think a positive attitude, strong work ethic and a good sense of humour are all essential for Fashion Week,” Robbie Tomkins explains. “There really is no room for negativity backstage; it can bring everyone else down.

“Working together as a team is so much easier and much more enjoyable when you are all in good spirits. Leave your ego at the door and, most importantly, have fun… it’s Fashion Week, darling!”

“Try not to be over sensitive and don’t take things personally,” adds Hannah Missen. “I have been told to get out of the way while prepping nails. Backstage can be a fast paced, high intensity environment. You need to take it in your stride, stay focused and get the job done.”


“Working fast to a high standard and being able to work under pressure is essential,” reveals Kelly Shenton.

“Photographers are backstage shooting at all stages and this is where all close-up shots of the nail look will be captured. Any flaws will be picked up by the camera! Smudging happens every show, so check and double check your work.”

Jennie Nippard backstage at a London Fashion Week show


“It is very important to be aware of all the other people working around you, such as the hair, makeup, stylist teams,” says Jennie Nippard. “Ensure you are never in the way.

“Do not get distracted by your surroundings; there are often high profile celebrities in shows or backstage.”

“Don’t be scared to get under a table to do your model’s nails – literally,” laughs Nikki Drury. “You can get fingers and toes done without anyone knocking you and without sitting in a really awkward position!”

Lead image courtesy of CND (Creative Nail Design, Inc.) for The Blonds, SS19, New York Fashion Week.