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I'm what you might call a nail polish fanatic -- drawers at home overflowing with colors and top coats, stashes of bottles in bags littered around my apartment...and even a few options at work in case of chipping or general manicure malaise. So it was with great and probably an inordinate amount of pleasure that I agreed to join the Creative Nail Design (CND) team backstage at Monday's Monique Lhuillier Fall 2011 show to get a good look at the models' fingertips before they hit the runway.
Co-founder Jan Arnold broke down the "Shady Lady" design, which involved Silver Chrome, Desert Suede and Deep Amethyst, noting, "In talking to [Lhuillier] about the collection, she explained that she's always very elegant in her designs but there is a major gothic, sort of goth twist to it, of mystery. And in my mind, when she described it, it reminded me of Angelina Jolie in 'The Tourist.' Sort of a Bond Girl, but with a lot of mystery shrouded around her. So what we wanted to do is do this absolutely perfect nail plate but it had to have an edge to it. You know, a little cold edge."
The nails were all prefabricated at CND's studio and attached to the models hands as they had their hair pinned up and their faces painted. The girls' toes were done on the spot, like a fast-paced pedicure.
Arnold believes that people are paying more and more attention to nails these days. "No question about it," she said. "I think the reason for that is you really don't have to be a certain size to have great nails."
All went as planned at the Lhuillier show, however, things haven't always gone so smoothly. Arnold told me, "Fifteen years ago when we first started, I'll never forget, the technology was kind of new and we had these nail tips at a show and little did we know that the designer told the models to grab their skirts and can-can on the runway. It was Betsey Johnson. And the nails went flying! It looked like it was part of the show, like confetti flying. It's not happened since that show. We learned quickly."
Check out the CND team at work and all that goes on in hair and makeup before a runway show. And peep Lhuillier's full looks -- leopard print, lace, polka-dotted tights and bursts of red.
Backstage images by yours truly. All runway shots by AP or Getty.