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The Nail Files – Behind the Scenes at NYFW with CND

In this installment of the Nail Files, I’ll be taking you on a three part journey behind the scenes of the craziness that is New York Fashion Week. Each season CND dominates the backstage nail scene, collaborating with some of the biggest fashion designers in the business to bring their nail vision to the fashion world. Spearheaded by Co-Founder and Style Director Jan Arnold, CND has been a presence at Fashion Week for almost ten years now.

Every season the CND team creates nail concepts for Fashion Weeks across the globe. And with each passing year, their client roster continues to grow. In New York alone, they work on over sixty shows. Can you imagine what goes into planning that kind of operation? Well, last February I was at NWFW and had the chance to find out first hand.


In addition to going backstage and seeing the artists at work, I had the opportunity to meet with CND Education Ambassadors Kristina Baune and Shelena Robinson. Kristina and Shelena work in the CND production suite at a hotel near Bryant Park where they create all the custom tips and colors used at the shows.

Three days before Fashion Week begins, Shelena and Kristina arrive in New York to begin production, working non-stop throughout the week. Often sleep deprived from all-nighters or eighteen hour workdays, I met them mid-FW insanity and they were so charming and friendly. Though it’s not all work and no play, they do have some downtime to watch a movie and relax.

I learned that in the beginning CND did all their production in advance, out of state. But due to a shipping error a few years back, the tips for Baby Phat, Heatherette and L.A.M.B.’s first FW show didn’t arrive. So after scrambling to NYC nail supply stores and pulling an all-nighter to replace the tips, they wisely moved production onsite.

To cover all the shows, CND puts together three or four backstage teams armed with 6 bottles each of their current collection, the “popular” core collection colors, including nude favorites Serenity and Negliee, and their upcoming line in addition to any custom colors the designer may have requested. They have to be prepared for any last minute color changes. And even though there are designers that don’t want any polish on the nails, CND artists are still on the scene providing manicures/pedicures and nail treatments.

For Fall 2008, Jan Arnold and the CND team dubbed their color concept “Neutrals of the Night” with two sides of the story, Techno Chic and Savage Chic.

Techno Chic is futuristic and cool toned. Consisting of gray, black, gunmetal, silver, leather-like texture and stone looking adornments. Savage Chic is warmer and earthier with more natural tones. Gold, copper, feathers and pearls. Texture is a big trend they’re seeing for fall with a lot of designers wanting a matte finish. At the moment, CND doesn’t make a matte top coat but I hear it’s in the works. Tip: use the gray side of their girlfriend buffer on a dry top coat to give a matte look.

I had such a great time chatting with Kristina and Shelena. They are artists in the truest sense of the word. And meeting all the backstage team members was fantastic. The entire CND team was so accommodating, making my first FW experience a memorable one.

Now you all have heard me raving about the amazing dove gray in CND’s fall collection. Let’s get real, I’ve been raving about light gray in general. But what spawned that love was seeing the CND version on a member of their PR team. Unfortunately that collection is one we’ll never see but don’t despair because I will show you how to recreate it yourself so stay tuned.

In the next part of The Nail Files series we’ll be looking at the custom tip process and all the amazing concepts Kristina & Shelena come up with.

Be sure to check out Part 2 & Part 3 in this series.

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There Are 7 Brilliant Comments

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  1. jdbsusanna says:

    The Times has a behind-the-scenes article with CND today too!

  2. CincyFan says:

    Hey Jbdsusanna! I did see the link and posted about it. Thanks!

  3. ocelot1 says:

    i cnt believe theyre not having a fall collex! arg.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand, if CND is and has been such a dominating presence during fashion week, why do they seem to be pulling out of the retail market, reducing their core line and not releasing new seasonal collections? Seems strange.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What? Why on Earth won’t we be seeing it, especially if they’ve already actually thought up the colors???? THINK, CND! You’re losing money here!

  6. gymnastgirly says:

    What I’d love to know is how CND is so prominent at Fashion Week when their polish just never dries! They have some gorgeous colours, but I avoid them because my mani is always destroyed since it never dries properly.

  7. Anonymous says:

    i lovvvvvve the white all the way to the left, anybody know any dupes?

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