Just in time for Fashion Week, I have a preview of what we'll be seeing on the runways—well, manicure-wise, at least. I recently talked with Roxanne Valinoti, a lead nail stylist with CND. She's in charge of CND's nail team for Fashion Week, which means that she knows what will hit the runways before most other people. Read on to find out how her team works with designers, how fashionable nails are about to shift their size and shape.

Tell me about the process of working with designers.
We’ve established great relationships with designers. Our artist team collaborates with the designers on what their story is, what their fabrics are, what their colors they chooes to use. Then we collaborate with our artists and they come up with some really cool nail styles and we do sample nails. We go back and forth and decide what the designer feels complements their work the best, and then we go into full production.

How far ahead of the show do you start?
The lead time could be a month out or it could be three days out. It depends on the designer. Some are more prepared and have more advance notice than others. Unfortunately for us, we’re not a hair and makeup team where we can just come in and do makeup or hair. If we’re doing certain designs or they want length and tips, that’s something we have to have prepared well in advance. We need a little more lead time when it comes to actually doing specific designs. Although if it’s just polish, our leads show up to a show and they’re fully equipped with every polish that we make. They have big bottles, so if a designer decides they want a custom color, the girls can mix it right on the spot.

For the rest of the interview,


How many manicurists work backstage?
We have four teams, with three people on each team. They’re super-fast, they’re totally professional, they’re very experienced. They get in, we have a team lead that’s assigned to meet the contact and get the model list, and they go to work. We’re mobile, so it’s a little bit easier for us to get in between the models while they’re getting their hair and makeup done. It’s important to us to get our job done as fast as possible so that the polish has time to dry. That way it doesn’t get on the clothes or the shoes.

You said that sometimes you mix special polishes for a show. Do those ever hit the consumer market?
That’s exactly what happened with Phillip Lim two seasons ago. We did a deep purple. That color wound up becoming a holiday color that we had this holiday season called Deep Velvet. Sometimes it’s inspiration, and sometimes we will actually create one. We work with a trend forecasting company, so we know before Fashion Week what the textures, styles and fabrics are. That’s really what gives us the inspiration to create the color collection ahead of time.

So what nail trends are you seeing for fall 2008?
A lot of the colors are pretty industrial—metallic, there’s a dark black with lots of shimmer in it for texture. I think that is going to be the trend. In fabrics, I've seen deconstructed leather or wool or tweed. The colors are monochromatic, but it’s the texture that makes it look unique. Dark and shiny and architectural are words to describe the trends. The other ones they’re calling savage chic. The colors are earthy and raw and primitive—gold, but weathered. So it’s not perfect, it’s a little rustic.

What about length?
We’re looking at longer nails. The shape is not really so square; it’s more almond.

So now I have to start growing out my nails?!
Normally the trend has been that if you go dark, you should have really short nails. But for me, it’s more chic: The darker the nail, the longer the length. So it’s not really sporty, it gives a little edge to that darkness—but not in a goth way.