What it’s really like to work at London Fashion Week
By Scratch Staff | 07 March 2020 | Feature, Tech Talk
Session nail stylist, Jennie Nippard, shares her tales from behind the scenes at London Fashion Week…
My alarm was set for 4.45am, which can only mean one thing… it was time for London Fashion Week!
I headed into London to the Serpentine Gallery where Vivienne Westwood was shooting a lookbook and holding a presentation. I adore the Westwood shows as you just never know what you’re going to get! Vivienne’s creative mind is incredible; both she and the lead stylist love alternative nail looks, which is always so much fun for us, as a nail team.
When we arrived at the test the previous day, we had walked into an eclectic den of clothes and accessories, and I instantly knew that the show was going to be great fun. For the show look, we created trashed black polish smudged red with black detail, liquid gold and gold foil using Peacći polish. Westwood likes to break boundaries and rules with her fashion and styling.
The set for the show has a political theme, full of signs hand painted by Vivienne herself (she stayed up till midnight the night before painting them). Her political message is as strong as ever this season. She is encouraging people to support her friend, Julian Assange.
We got to work painting the nails of all of the models in preparation for their lookbook shoot, they all have a random selection of smudged, chipped and metallic chips, on both the male and female models. The backstage area was fairly tight so we had to squeeze in amongst the hairdressers and make-up artists to get the look complete.
With this done we hotfoot it across town to our hotel, in Euston, ready to start the nail factory, for the nails for the Halpern show tomorrow.
The nails for Halpern are stunning as ever. Michael Halpern and Patti Wilson, the stylist, are very passionate about nails and their attention to detail is incredible. To accentuate the stunningly beautiful collection, they opted for long, coffin shaped nails in matte black, matte blue and some beautifully painted 3D flowers.
We needed to create sets of nails for 30 models so Charli Jepson, Amy Oldale, Veronica Westin and I set to work. We have to make between 14 and 16 tips per model so that there are a selection of sizes available and so we can ensure the tips fit perfectly, so it’s quite a task.
At 3.30pm, Marian Newman and I headed back to the Serpentine for the start of the Vivienne Westwood presentation.
Vivienne and her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, were present to meet and greet guests. The collection includes tartan suits, beautiful fitted dresses with bold prints, loose fitting suits fabulously styled with platform shoes, boots or chunky trainers.
After the presentation, we headed back to the hotel where the rest of the team had completed the Halpern nails. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed to bed – ready for a full on day to follow.
The next day…
We headed to the Roland Mouret test and met with Mouret and Sophia Nephitou-Apostolou, the stylist for the show. The collectin is beautiful and elegant and Sophia is very specific about her colours. She chose a beautiful classic CND Vinylux shade called Oxblood with metallic gold little finger accents. The show also sees Sam McKnight on hair and Lucy Bridge on make-up.
At 11am, we dashed across town to Victoria Beckham’s beauty test. Victoria decided on short natural child like nails, beautifully manicured to compliment this seasons chic look.
We didn’t have long to stop, as we had to be at the Halpern show for 1pm. The show was at The Old Bailey, so security is very tight! It was quite surreal to wander down the corridors of a place I had heard so much about.
Once in the backstage are, we applied the long coffin shaped nails we pre painted in Vinylux. Specific models need specific nails to go with their outfits, so we had to be on the ball. It was all a bit manic and a few models were late so we just got our heads down and got to work.
Team Marian Newman is used to working under pressure, so the nails of the models are adhered in record time. With nails this long we had to be on guard as we didn’t want to risk anyone loosing any tips. The team is stationed in line-up, just incase any nails needed replacing at the last minute.
Marian and I have to leave the team to finish the show as we head back across town to the Tommy Hilfiger beauty test at 6pm. For this season’s show the team chose an array of neon colours from Peacći for the models, both male and female. This is great news for us as the nails will get a lot of attention.
It’s a 5.40 alarm call, ready for the Victoria Beckham show. We beautifully manicured the models creating clean childlike nails using Peacći products. It was a calm atmosphere backstage and Victoria was joined by her husband David, their four children and both their mothers.
Victoria’s beautiful collection consisted of tailored culottes and tweed skirts with hem lines on the knee, which is a change to her usual style, pie drill collar blouse and velvet blazers. These were teamed with thigh high boots for a sexy but tough look.
As usual we have a clash with shows, as it was a 9am call time for the Roland Mouret show, so Rachel Furr got the team started, painting the nails with Vinylux and applying gold minx to the little fingers. Marian and I arrived shortly after. The backstage area at the National Theatre is fairly spacious which is a great help. There are few late arrivals which means we have some last minute painting to do, but thanks to our secret weapon, The Ultimate Fix Fast Drying Spray, there weren’t aren’t any smudges.
The collection is a stunningly elegant array of beautifully cut dresses, slouchy double breasted jackets, loose fitting trousers and fitted tops. Some of the models wore scarves with ‘Your Lies Are Not my Dreams’, in reference to Thatcherite Britain in the eighties, which is also sums up how many felt post Brexit. The show walked just after 1pm.
Next stop was Tommy Hilfiger. This show consists of around 90 models so we have a large team. Four of us were required at the venue, the Tate Modern, early as prior to the show they shot a look book. The venue has a really large backstage area as such large teams for hair make-up and nails are required.
Armed with our super bright neon colours we crack on getting the models nails done. The model list is huge with many celebrities, including Naomi Campbell who is opening the show, Georgia May Jagger, Jourdan Dunn, Alessandra Ambrosio, Pixie Geldof, Jodie Kidd, Winnie Harlow, Candice Swanepol, and many many more.
This show is Tommy Hilfiger’s latest collaboration with Lewis Hamilton, TOMMYNOW. Over 75% of the collection is made with 100% organic cotton, recycled materials, low-impact denim options and down alternative down.
The collection consists of street wear, tracksuits with neon elements and nautical motifs. Due to the high profile of the show the backstage area very quickly becomes extremely busy with many photographers and journalists. There is also an area where Mr Hilfiger interviewed Lewis Hamilton about the new collection.
With so much going on around us it’s so important to remain focussed on the job we are here to do, without getting distracted, but being backstage at huge shows like this do bring a few ‘pinch yourself’ moments as it’s such an incredible experience.
The final day…
11am saw a clash of shows, so Rachel Furr led the team for Christopher Kane at the Old Sorting office, where the models will get beautifully elegant, manicured natural nails.
Marian and I headed over to Olympia, the venue for the Burberry show. Security was super tight and at check in our mobile phones are put into plastic bags so that we couldn’t take any pictures. The show is styled by Ricardo Tisci and the model list contains many high profile names such as Kendall Jenner, Bella and Gigi Hadid and Joan Smalls. The backstage area was huge and it is a nice calm environment to work in. The team perform beautiful natural nail manicures on the models, ensuring everyone is finished with an elegant but classy look.
5pm saw show time, and as we get into the car to leave, hoards of photographers can be seen trying to catch a glimpse of the celebrity guests.
London Fashion Week passed in a whirlwind of shows and tests. During the weekend, I buzz from the adrenaline but when it stops I need of a very good night’s sleep! One week back home in my ‘normal’ working life and then Paris called for Paris Fashion Week and it all begins again…