My Fashion Week Diary

When I went online to check out the winners of the CND Nail Style Competition, I had to doublecheck the name of the first-place winner. When I confirmed that it was really my name, I just started jumping and screaming — I’d just won an all-expense-paid trip to New York Fashion Week!


When I went online to check out the winners of the CND Nail Style Competition (which ran from mid-October to mid-November of 2009), I had to doublecheck the name of the first-place winner. When I confirmed that it was really my name, I just started jumping and screaming — I’d just won an all-expense-paid trip to New York Fashion Week! Later that day, I got a phone call from CND co-founder and style director Jan Arnold and education ambassador Roxanne Valinotti to congratulate me personally. I was so thrilled to have won, especially out of the more than 650 competition entries!

One of my biggest work inspirations comes from designer clothing collections, so, when I entered the contest, I thought it would be fun to apply fashion to nails in a creative way. I really got to experience that at a new level at Fashion Week.

Day 1: NYC Arrival

I was met at the JFK International Airport by a CND-provided driver and taken to the Courtyard Marriott New York Manhattan/Fifth Avenue. In the evening, I attended a welcome reception at the CND Fashion Week nail studio in the hotel. I was greeted with a beautiful bouquet of roses and met many members of the amazing nail design team. I was shown some of the nails for the upcoming shows, learned about the process of creating them, and saw tools the team uses for fashion shows and for traveling. The festivities were capped with a toast, then I went to dinner with CND’s vice president of marketing Kim Natale and director of marketing Elyce DeBrown.

Day 2: First Day of Fashion


At 3 p.m., we arrived at the Altman Building for the Karen Walker show. I went backstage for the first time, and my eyes didn’t even know where to look because there were so many things going on. The room was full of lights, and there were different tables set up for hair (done by Bumble & Bumble), make-up (done by Shiseido), and nails (CND). The CND tables had the company’s Colour & Effects polishes ready to go. The models had their hair done first, then moved on to make-up and nails (sometimes at the same time).

It was here that I met CND’s Jan Arnold for the first time. She was definitely one of the most fashionably dressed people there, really standing out in the crowd. I was nervous meeting her, but she made me feel comfortable and told me that everyone was excited I would be part of the Fashion Week team.

It got increasingly more crowded as photographers and press arrived. I kept busy taking pictures, videos, asking questions, and observing everything. The models’ nails were done with Rose Water polish and Air Dry Top Coat to create a clean look that Jan called “liquid shine nails.” The make-up was mostly natural with accenting bright red lips. The hair was styled into teased ponytails.

Then it was time for the show to start. I felt like a celebrity sitting in the first row with Jan, watching the models walk down the stage. Jan and I put on our huge Karen Walker sunglasses (part of our goodie bags), and we looked like fashionistas. During the show I could feel the exciting energy coming from the runway. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. It was so great to watch so much hard work come together and to see how much everyone was enjoying it.

After Karen Walker, we went backstage at the Twinkle by Wenlan show, which was at one of the big white tents in Bryant Park. Here I got to apply my first set of nails to a model’s hands — a rounded, medium-length shape. The nails were predesigned nail tips with Dark Ruby and softened by Super Matte. The make-up, done by MAC, looked natural, with an accent on the eyes. The Redken hair team styled the models’ hair into low buns.

I got to sit in the first row again with Jan Arnold and RedPR president Julia Labaton (who handles PR for CND). The Twinkle collection turned out to be my favorite collection of the entire week. After the show we dined at Koi in the Bryant Park Hotel. Even the delicious Japanese food was presented in a stylish, arty way.

Day 3: More Shows + Showroom Shopping



At the Diego Binetti show, the predesigned nail tips had clusters of jewel-like accents — made of crystal clusters, sequins, and plastic gems — on Blackjack enamel. It looked so rich and sparkly. The make-up was done by Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics and accented both the eyes and the lips. The hair was done by the Nick Arrojo team and had height on the top and either a twisted or braided ponytail in the back.

After the show Jan introduced me to Diego Binetti. I was so excited to shake the hand of the designer that created such a gorgeous collection of clothes, and I was hoping that some of his creative energy would pass along to me.

Backstage at the Herve Leger by Max Azria show, the hair was styled into ponytails with fine fishnet-like black hair bands on top. The make-up was again natural with accents on the bright red lips. The nails were done with Super Matte and Solar Oil, and toes were painted with Desert Suede enamel and Air Dry Top Coat to give a natural look.

That evening I went private showroom shopping at Aysha Saeed with Julia, Elyce, and the CND nail team. We got to try the designer’s clothes and buy whatever we liked at a special price. I got a cute, body-hugging short black dress with ruffles on the bottom. What a great ending to the day!

Day 4: Nail Design Creation

I was asked if I could do some nails for tomorrow’s The Blonds show, so I was up early to go to the CND nail studio to create some designs. It was a fun process of coming up with ideas and asking the opinions of Kristina Estabrooks and Shelena Robinson — some of CND’s Fashion Week veterans. I came up with two designs. The first one was an animal print inspired by golds and the second an albino alligator inspired by white and silvers.

Day 5: My Runway Nails




Of course I had to be at the show for which I created some of the nails. The Blonds showcased masterful drama in everything, including hair, make-up, and clothes. I got to do the nails again and to observe everything. CND created nails in zebra prints using Blackjack and Brilliant White, red nails with Scarlet Letter, and marbleized Gold Chrome. Even designer Phillipe Blond had his nails done in Scarlet Letter with lots of glitter on top. The hair was braided and a blonde hair chignon was placed on top of each model’s head.

This was my last amazing experience at Fashion Week. It was sad to leave, but I know I’ll be back!  

Visit to view Nelson’s winning nail design, plus the designs of the five runners-up.

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