Imagine the coolest person you’ve ever met. Now double it and you may have a concept of just how cool Blanche Macdonald Nail, Esthetics and Makeup graduate Stefania Flex is. After various projects with local major creative forces and leaving her very distinct mark on Vancouver’s creative scene, Stefania took her boss style, nail art, stunning wit, and blistering sense of humour to Italy in search of high fashion and even more opportunities for a blossoming Nail Artist. With her home base in one of Italy’s most understated cities, Ascoli Piceno – “We have both the third most beautiful piazza and third oldest bar in all of Italy!” – Stefania is only a few short hours from Rome and international fashion mecca, Milan. It’s this proximity, coupled with her stunning skill and undeniable presence that has landed her backstage at Milan Fashion Week F/W 2017 and S/S 2018. Her incredible work there also landed her invites to contribute to London Fashion Week F/W 2017, S/S 2018, Paris Fashion Week S/S 2018 and the VFiles show in New York Fashion Week F/W 2016. With shows like Burberry, Gucci, Moschino, DAKS, and Christopher Kane on her resume, there’s no telling where she’ll go next – or how far her talent will take her!
Let’s start at the beginning. What made you decide to pursue Nails as a career?
It was just after I started the Nail module of the Esthetics program. I’d never even owned a nail polish before that! I just loved the idea of creating art on a canvas so small! Nail art was a challenge to me and I always love a challenge.
You’ve worked quite a few Fashion Weeks now – what is it like behind the scenes of a fashion show?!
Being backstage at Fashion Week is the craziest experience you’ll have! Especially as a nail tech. We are on our hands and knees working around wires, brushes, lights, and everything in between. Usually, there’s a chair for hair and makeup but nails don’t usually get their own station so you’re literally putting yourself wherever you can to get those nails done! But it’s all worth it in the end when they walk out on the runway and you see your work contributing to the whole look. It’s an unbelievable feeling.
And how did those opportunities come to you?
Well, I’d worked on nails for so many fashion shows for Blanche Macdonald while I was in school and even after I’d finished. I’d also done a lot of other projects in Vancouver that gave me some really good experience and training. While I was still in Vancouver, I decided to take the Mastered Nails program to really work on honing my skills and expanding my network. I put my everything I had into my Mastered course and so a lot of the amazing opportunities I’ve had here in Europe are because of that and the people I met through it.
What do you remember about your time at Blanche Macdonald in the Nail program?
I had a great time in the Nail Program! I still use all my training. As time goes on you learn different techniques and use different products but you always come back to your core training. My favorite teacher was Vicky. I always had a lot of fun pushing myself and discovering the local and international nail scenes.
What are some differences in the European and Canadian creative scenes that you’ve noticed?
Italy is more about nice, clean beauty looks for sure. You also get the really high fashion looks in Italy more than Vancouver I think, mainly because of Milan’s influence. Vancouver has a lot of different creatives who have all different ideas of shoots they want to do from editorial to experimental to clean beauty to character or time eras – there’s a lot of variety. There’s more of a grunge scene in Vancouver too.
Do you have a favourite set of nails you’ve done?
I’m never totally satisfied with my work – I’m a huge perfectionist. I always think I can do better, be more precise, be more creative or inventive, etc, etc. The list goes on! If I had to choose, I would have to say my Acid Anarchy nail art look is still my favorite. I had an idea of how I wanted it to look and after quite a few tries (and a mound of cotton balls and q-tips!) I think I got what I had in my head almost exactly onto the nails. Which never happens!
What advice would you give to other people looking to get into Nail Art?
Always be yourself because you’ll fall right where you need to be. Work hard. Don’t get caught up in the gossip and BE KIND. That’s so important.
Finish this sentence: “I always ______.”
Change my hair colour! I can never decide on what colour it should be or what length I want. My favourite hair colour I’ve had recently was blue. Val Garland actually complimented me on my blue hair while I was working at a Fashion Week!
If you could do nails on / for anyone, it would be …….?
Omg so many! Marilyn Manson, Yelawolf, Snoop Dogg . . . This list is too long to continue!
When you’re not working, we’d find you where?
In a bowling alley! That’s my favourite thing to do. ALWAYS.
What’s an important thing to know before getting into Nails?
As nail techs we aren’t treated like the makeup and hair team. We are on our hands and knees picking out toe jam! hah It’s not always fun and games but for me, knowing I had even just a little part of something fantastic, something bigger than me, makes me happy. Every model or client you encounter is a surprise. Everyone has different nails and obstacles to work with.
What are 3 staple products in your kit?
ONLY 3!?! A file, white block, cuticle oil, baby wipes. . . that’s already more than 3!