Toronto Fashion Week Spring 2013 backstage beauty: We test drive the 1-and-a-half-inch nails at Ashtiani

Toronto Fashion Week nail art Ashtiani Spring 2013 essie nail polish
Photography courtesy Essie

Toronto Fashion Week nail art Ashtiani Spring 2013 essie nail polish
Photography courtesy Essie

See more of the nail art from Ashtiani Spring 2013 »

Last season I had the chance to work backstage during Toronto Fashion Week with the team from Tips Nail Bar. This season, the tables were turned: Essie invited me to experience what it’s like to be a model (er, nail-wise, that is) by getting the look for Ashtiani Spring 2013 applied on my own nails. Rita Remark, the lead Essie nail artist for World MasterCard Fashion Week, was leading the charge backstage, working with the team from Pinky’s Nails to design and apply creative manicures for seven shows throughout the week. (That’s more than 850 nails that need to be prepped and painted beforehand!)

As soon as I arrive Rita sits me down and gets to work. After all, when you’re backstage it’s all about doing as much as possible as quickly as possible: With a dozen-plus models per show and only a few hours blocked off for hair and makeup, you’ll often find the nail techs squeezed between stations, kneeling at the models’ feet in a scramble to get every last nail finished.


Toronto Fashion Week nail art Ashtiani Spring 2013 essie nail polish

For Ashtiani, the nail look is extremely graphic but still has a softness. “When [Golnaz Ashtiani] told me about the show she said that it was very much inspired by ’60s France,” Rita explained. After looking at images of long, pointy nails they settled on a softer almond shape—though as soon as she applies the first one on my hand it’s clear that this is a very editorial look. The fake nail extends an inch past the tip of my finger. It’s impossible to resist wiggling and I strain to get a better look.

Rita is quick to notice my excitement: “You can’t ignore these nails! That’s the great thing about nails for fashion week, they can be fantasy or they can be everyday,”


Toronto Fashion Week nail art Ashtiani Spring 2013 essie nail polish
Right: Photography courtesy Essie

The nail art that Rita and her team have painted on each fake tip pairs well with the Ashtiani Spring 2013 collection, which is full of pastel and white colour blocking. The base is a mushroom-grey nail polish, Essie “Master Plan” ($10, well.ca). Three skinny stripes of Essie “Fiji” cross the moon of each nail, but the stand-out detail is certainly the oxblood triangle spear, painted in Essie “Wicked.” While it’s meant to evoke the romance of ’60s France, I can’t help but feel there’s something slightly Miami Beach about it too (though stripes of pastel colours will always do that.)


Toronto Fashion Week nail art Ashtiani Spring 2013

I’ve worn fake nails before but never anything that compares to these 1-and-a-half-inch tips. My fingers instantly look longer, but the nails are so exaggerated that they actually cast a shadow over each other when I bend my hand in a certain way. Models are instructed to not do anything once the nails are on—even bathroom breaks require an extra set of non-nailed hands—but I’m on my own. However, the Essie Canada PR team offers to help me into my coat and later I have to ask them to close my camera bag. Typing on my phone is almost impossible: I have to use the sides of each finger and even that has limited precision. Thankfully the Ashtiani nails are affixed with a craft glue dot, making removal as easy as the application. I do a circuit around the World MasterCard Fashion Week tents to show them off, but when it’s time to head home the nails have to come off—but only because there’s no way to get into my purse with them on.