Backstage with Julie Kandalec and Essie for NYFW

From the time she was a teenager, Paintbox Creative Director Julie Kandalec dreamed of traveling the world doing nails. At seventeen, she envisioned a life of jetting from city to city, chasing Fashion Weeks around the globe for the chance to do nails on every continent. After settling down in New York City and realizing the wealth of opportunity available in just one city, Julie now participates twice yearly in New York Fashion Week. She isn’t shy about sharing that the bi-annual shows are what she looks forward to all year. They’re also what she draws her inspiration from during the months she’s not working Fashion Week.

We went backstage with Julie this season and watched her work her magic on the eight shows she keyed for Essie. Using Essie polish, Julie and her team (many of whom are Paintbox manicurists) created both simple looks and of-the-moment designs in a kaleidoscopic range of spring pastels. As she polished model after model, we asked her about what Fashion Week means to her, her favorite moments from Fashion Weeks past, and trends she’s spotted for the upcoming Spring / Summer 2015 season.

Incredible beadwork on a gown at Naeem Khan; the Khan manicure: two coats of Essie Fiji for a simple, elegant look.

Paintbox: What does Fashion Week mean to you?

Julie Kandalec: I always dreamed of doing nails for Fashion Week. Honestly, at my first show I cried. It was so unreal. Looking up at the tents, getting that backstage pass—they’re still some of my most prized possessions. Back then the shows were all at Bryant Park, and my first show was leading Tadashi Shoji. It’s still one of my favorite shows (and designers). Going to the color test was actually the best part. I got the see the collection before anyone else did.

The collection at Naeem Khan.

Julie backstage at Naeem Khan; the vibrant look at Reed Krakoff—achieved with two coats of Essie Butler Please.

PB: Was your first Fashion Week different than you thought it would be? Many people only see the highly-produced front of house experience. Backstage can be so different.

JK: Most people think working backstage is glamorous. It isn’t! We sometimes work in the smallest of spaces. Timing is incredibly tight when you have models running late from an earlier show. We sit on the floor and squeeze under tables to get models’ toes done. We have 6 a.m. call times and leave shows exhausted but the energy backstage is so addictive that we still can’t wait for next season’s shows.

Backstage and front of house pre-show at Milk Studios.

The two-tone look at Sophie Theallet.

Beautiful florals were seen throughout Naeem Khan's SS15 collection. 

PB: What trends have you noticed this Fashion Week? What will we be wearing on our nails come Spring / Summer 2015?

JK: In terms of color: mint greens, buttercup yellow, and cornflower blue. Blue has shown staying power. It’s been popular for several seasons already, and now it’s here to stay. With designs, definitely minimal looks much like we do at Paintbox. I’m loving seeing negative space manicures, like the look I did for Delpozo using Essie Tart Deco.

Backstage at Costello Tagliapietra: Julie layered Essie Bikini So Teeny and Limo-Scene to create a custom ‘whitened blue’ nail shade.

Models wear the negative space, matte manicure backstage at Delpozo. Julie used Essie Tart Deco and Matte About You for the fresh look. 

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