A month in the life of a Session Tech: Milan
Marie-Louise Coster shares her Fashion Week story...
I have been so very lucky that London and Paris have been regular fixtures on my fashion calendar, for many seasons, but Milan was a new one for me, and not only that I had been asked to be lead Manicurist for four shows, plus a special green carpet event.
So, on the Monday night I flew off, alone, to a city I didn't know, to a country where I don't speak the language, not really knowing where I was going. The journey was reasonably straightforward and on the Tuesday I got up early, had a morning of sightseeing and then made my way over to the science museum for my first show ever in Milan, it was for Gilberto Calzolari.
The Gilberto Calzolari Show
The Gilberto Calzolari Show was sponsored by Smith and Cult Italia, who sponsored most of my shows, and the look for the show was a deep forest green.
Milan is much more about sustainability and the effect of the fashion industry on the planet, in London and Paris I don't get that vibe or sense of urgency. The shows I led were much more inspired by the earth and the people on it. For Gilberto the influence was sand dunes, and in particular, how, when you dig deep beneath them, you reach oil. The fabrics used had oil-type patterns and effects, and the green nails were a reflection of that oil.
The Tiziano Guardini Show
My second show was Tiziano Guardini in the museum at the Duomo. Again, sponsored by Smith and Cult, only this time inspired by the sea, water and what mermaids would wear in this world.
The nails were a natural nude colour, that looked really glossy long combined with the beautiful, highly detailed fabrics and clothes. Because Milan is so much more about sustainable fashion, the clothes from the Guardini show were made from recycled plastic and Tencel - wood pulp from trees that are grown on specialised tree farms and produced using recyclable, earth friendly solvents.
After this show I went home back to Bristol. I was desperate to see my daughter, I needed to tend to my business and I didn't have any work in Milan for two more days. It was a long journey but worth it.
Then on the Friday night I travelled back down to Gatwick to board the first flight out to Milan on Saturday morning.
The Stella Jean Show
My show on Saturday was for Stella Jean. This show was a truly inspiring one because she had collaborated with a small embroidery factory from Chitral in the north of Pakistan that was started by a young women - Karishma Ali - in her early twenties, to provide a living for women so they, in turn, could provide their children with education, and things we take for granted in life. Each piece in the collection featured embroidery created by these women.
I was fortunate enough to do Karishma's nails for the show and she really was a marvellous woman, it was clear to see why she was named as one of Forbes 30 under 30.
The nails were quite a feature for this show as Stella wanted them to represent the hardworking hands of these women and how their hands touch the earth, so we painted not only the nail but the tip of the finger, with Smith and Cults Tang Dang.
The Shuting Qi Show
On my final day in Milan I was lead Manicurist for Shuting Qi, and not only that…I was invited to sit front row and watch the show! I always get really emotional watching a show. As a collective team, people have spent months, days and hours preparing and creating what the designer wants, and for the designer this is everything, their baby, all of their creativity laid bare for people to criticise or commend.
The nail look for this was bright vibrant colours, with each model wearing a shade that contrasted with her outfit and make-up look. It was a beautiful show and a great show to end my first Milan Fashion Week on.
It was almost time to go home, just a quick stop to prepare some of Stella Jean's guests for the Green Carpet Fashion Awards and I was away.
Sadly, it wasn't all that straightforward as my plane was delayed which meant I nearly missed my connecting coach from Gatwick to Bristol by seconds…the next one was five hours later and the driver was not happy to let me on, but he did!
I walked back through the door of my home at 4am on Monday morning, and at 3am on Wednesday morning I was off to Paris!