Fashion Week means we’re inundated with trend reports about the freshest hairstyle ideas, coolest makeup trends and the most unique manicures. And even though it all can be very overwhelming, every new look holds a special place in our heart – especially when Essie nail artist Julie Kandalec is involved.

Kandalec has not only been Essie’s lead nail artist for dozens of New York Fashion Week shows, but she’s also the creative director at Paintbox Nail Studio in NYC – an amazing spot that offers runway-inspired (and totally Instagrammable) designs. And when she’s not crushing Fashion Week or designing nail looks for Paintbox, she’s working as a freelance manicurist in the beauty and fashion industry.

We pulled Kandalec aside behind-the-scenes at the Tanya Taylor presentation to learn more about her career and the look she created for the show:

Why nails? Why are they your calling?

Oh my god! Nails called me 20 years ago, and I’ve been doing nails ever since. I loved manicures, and I love painting and so I just combined them. I love to travel, so now I can travel with it and it’s just a combination of all of my loves.

What is the highlight of your career thus far?

Fashion Week. I always wanted to do it.

Can you tell me about the nail look you created today for Tanya Taylor?

We’re doing two different looks on the girls and both of them are inspired by Tanya Taylor’s art installation at the show. Some of the girls are getting a tonal design and others are getting this addition of red. We wanted it to replicate a piece of ribbon or fabric so it’s going to continue across the nail. It’s not done randomly – it’s done with a lot of thought to continue across all ten fingers. For example, the white will pick up in the same place where it drops – continuing across all ten fingers. Everyone is getting Between the Seats and depending on what they’re wearing, we’re either doing Blanc or Fifth Avenue – a beautiful orange-red.


A post shared by Julie Kay 💅🏼✈️🌮👗☀️💖 (@julieknailsnyc) on

How to Get The Ribbon Look:

What You’ll Need: Essie First Base Base Coat, Fifth Avenue , Allure, Between the Seats and Speed Setter Top Coat.


1. Start with First Base Base Coat
2. Swipe a wave-like line of orange-red Fifth Avenue across each nail so it looks as if you would create one continuous “ribbon” when fingers are lined up side-by-side.
3. Add swaths of Allure above and below the “ribbon,” varying the placement on each nail.
4. Fill in any other open areas with Between the Seats.
5. Finish with Speed Setter Top Coat.


How To Get the Neutral-Toned Look:

What You’ll Need: Essie First Base Base Coat, Allure, Between the Seats, Blanc and Speed Setter Top Coat.


1. Apply First Base Base Coat. 
2. Add two coats of Allure.
3. Stripe a wave-like line of Between the Seats across each nail so it would look as if you would create one-continuous “ribbon” when fingers are lined up side-by-side.
4. Repeat step 3 with Blanc.
5. Add shine with Speed Setter Top Coat.

Hero Image Via Julie Kandalec @julieknailsnyc  

Let's Stay in Touch

Get our top stories straight to your inbox!