I Shadowed the Essie Nail Team During Fashion Week — Here’s What I Learned

February 16, 2018
Marisa Petrarca
By: Marisa Petrarca | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
hand with nails painted black and finger touching person's bottom lip

When you see a really great beauty look on the runway or even on Instagram, you don’t always know how much work went into it behind the scenes. This Fashion Week, we had the chance to shadow Essie nail artist Rita Remark to experience the trials and tribulations of what it takes to create a nail look — from the initial nail test to the actual presentation.

The Nail Test

I walked into the Alice + Olivia showroom for the first time and was overwhelmed by its chicness. Floor-to-ceiling windows opened up to a breathtaking view of Manhattan, with intricate, playful clothing hanging delicately from racks.

The reason for our congregation in this beyond cool setting was to go over the nail look for the Alice + Olivia fall presentation — to share with (and get the final approval of) CEO Stacey Bendet. Rita sat with the work she had to present to the Alice + Olivia team: three different nail options — all of which had a base of jet black polish with silver or black glitter artwork. I asked which look she was hoping for, and she told me she was “extra smitten” with the two black glitter looks.

“They asked for a black reflective glitter nail, but I wanted to show comparisons. I added silver, slightly black and blackest black.”


An hour into the discussion, the silver nail look was out of the equation and Rita was asked to present a few more dark glitter looks. Faster than it takes me to brew a pot of coffee, the Essie artist came up with five new nail options that had less and less dark glitter, with the final one just two coats of the Essie cult fave shade, Licorice.


“She wants this one,” exclaimed an Alice + Olivia rep (what felt like hours later) as she pointed to the look that required the least amount of effort and absolutely no black glitter. Just two coats of jet black Essie nail polish FTW.


Upon entering the Alice + Olivia backstage craziness the following week, my eyes were immediately drawn to Maybelline makeup artist Erin Parsons who was creating a dark, glitter smoky eye that was surely worth a double-take. In that moment, I understood why the jet black nail look didn’t need glitter — it paired perfectly with the makeup look.

“The nails feel like patent leather,” Remark explained. “The collection is Rococo meets rock ‘n’ roll. So think Marie Antoinette sweetness meets Kate Moss edge. Since the glitter from the makeup adds a lot of glam, the high-shine nail adds that a darker touch — not just the color but with the emotion.”



The Show

Backstage madness transformed itself into presentation perfection at “Alice + Olivia University.” The space was divided into different rooms, my favorite being the rainbow library, which was stocked with color-coordinated books from the floor to the ceiling (my dream situation) with models showing off the season’s newest looks featuring — as always —  texture, playfulness and a whole lotta color.

While I admired the looks in their totality, something that Remark said to me truly resonated: “The dark nail keeps the eye drawn from the face to the garments, to the hands to the ground. It guides your eye really naturally down the entire look,” she explained. The nail artist was right — from start to finish.

And that, my friends, is how a nail look is born.


Get the Look:

You’ll Need:Essie First Base Base Coat, Licorice and Speed Setter Top Coat.

Step 1: Apply First Base Base Coat.

Step 2: Apply two coats of Licorice.

Step 3: Finish with Speed Setter Top Coat for high shine that dries in less than a minute.

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