London Fashion Week: Star behind the scenes

ABT Member Marie-Louise Coster shares her backstage secrets to creating designer nails ahead of this year’s London Fashion Week.

Marie-Louise CosterIt's London Fashion Week this month (16th - 20th February). The bits you see on social media, the internet, magazines etc. all look very glam and quite spectacular, but what those pictures don't show you are the hours, weeks and months of prep that have gone in to that 15-minute show that the rest of the world sees.

For me, February Fashion Week starts late November/early December. I am fortunate enough to work very closely with Edward Crutchley, a designer that I have worked with for years now. I love his work and we just seem to ‘get each other' which is great when you are working so creatively.  

At this stage we will have initial discussions. He will show me sketches of the collection and talk to me about the concept and the story behind it. Sometimes he will have a loose nail idea or reference that he likes for me to consider, other times he will have nothing and will just wait and see what I come up with. We are generally always on the same wavelength, which I guess comes from us having worked together for so long now.  

I never take anything for granted and always worry that of course the day may come when the designer wants ‘fresh blood and fresh ideas' so to speak…but so far so good! 

This coming season there was a bit of a nail reference for me to interpret. Once we had our discussions I set to work and made some example nails for Edward to look over. I may need to order specific supplies or find ways of creating something specific. I need to organise a nail sponsor and liaise with them about providing products and tools, and secure a team, who may still let you down come the day!

One season we had twisted, extreme length nails, that I needed to mould. In order to do that I had to come up with a way of melting and moulding them, without breaking them, and still being able to paint them and have them shaped in a way they could still be affixed to the models' natural nails. 

Once I have everything ready and available I will make a selection of styles, colours, shapes, patterns etc. sometimes more than others depending on what I feel appropriate and then I will send the designer the examples to look over and see what he likes, what he doesn't like and if I am on the right track. Usually he loves them and we are good to go, sometimes we combine a few bits from a few of the looks and I will make a new sample(s). Once the look, or looks have been finalised, I set about making them.  

Edward Crutchley SS24 at London Fashion Week. Nails by Marie-Louise Coster.
This is not the case with all designers I work with, some will have natural nails or a chosen colour or simple design on the natural nail, that we carry out on the day. With Edward we generally have a mixture of natural nails and press on, and the press on are usually quite detailed, embellished, long etc., quite the statement, so I make these in advance. 

For February we have 19 models. Currently (around) half of these models are having press ons, so I have started making them already. Whilst making press ons has its advantages, it also brings about a lot of challenges. It doesn't make the actual day of the show any easier. 

Even though you have made half of the models' looks, you have the hours and days beforehand making them, the models' natural nails still needs to prepping, they have to be fitted, they can fall off…so in some ways you have twice as much work or more! 

We have male and female models so nail bed width will vary and we are having three styles of press ons. How many extras should I make for size options, in case one falls off or gets lost or the designer his mind? It is always better to have too many than not enough. 

The nail length is going to vary so adapting the length will need to happen on the day. The remaining models are going to just have natural nail work as some will have hands in pockets.

I absolutely love this time of year, but there is a lot more work involved than it may seem. I will be sharing some exclusive BTS images and videos with ABT on the day so be sure to keep your eyes peeled so as you can see the final look! 

Marie-Louise Coster works as a Beauty Therapist, Session Nail Tech, Trainer and Business Consultant and is owner of All About Mi Skin & Wellness Clinic and All About Mi Training School which is ABT-Accredited.