NYFW: Downtown Nail Designer Emily Nails It at Fashion Week

Neroli Salon and Spa is all over New York City for Fashion Week. Between attending runway, exclusive access to backstage shows, shopping (lots of shopping!) and covering the latest looks in between shows– we are beyond excited to give our readers the exclusive first-look access to all things trending.

At Neroli Salon and Spa, we pride ourselves on being guest and style focused. We are devoted to creating and maintaining a team of some of the best hair designers, massage therapists, estheticians, and nail designers in the area. Our team members are extremely talented and have an incredibly unique sense of creativity and direction.

We are proud to highlight one of Downtown Neroli’s very own nail designer, Emily Castillo! Emily was flown out to do nails for Milwaukee native fashion designer Elena Velez’s fashion show at New York Fashion Week. We wanted to highlight Emily’s journey and how just an average Thursday turned into an experience of a lifetime!


During a seemingly normal Thursday, Emily showed up ready to slay her nail looks for the day as she does every day. Emily began providing her client with a gel enhancement service as a last-minute touch before her client left for New York. During a normal conversation, she was able to uncover details that would completely change the direction of her life.

Her guest, Elena Velez, was moving to New York to continue her career as a successful fashion designer. Before she left, she wanted to treat herself to a full-set as a final touch-up before taking on this completely new adventure. Through casual conversation about travel, fashion, nails, and interests—an idea was born.

Q: How Was Working with Elena During New York Fashion Week?

“Elena is honestly the sweetest person ever! She is so down to earth and listens to everybody to make sure that their vision is coming to life with her vision. It has been such an experience to be able to work with her.”

Q: Can You Share with Us the Details of the Nails You Created?

“We had four different looks. We created a hardware nail look which is a darker and bulkier look and contains literal hardware nails build into the nail. We had a plaster nail which used plaster from the forms that we incorporated into the nail. We had an iron shaving nail which uses black iron shavings in the nail and is more of a darker look as well. Lastly, we have a spiral nail which is just wire that we molded to the model’s nail.”

Q: Tell Us About Your Experience During the Show Premier? How Was That Day?

“My day was incredibly busy. It was fun though! Everything was done that same day so everything that I did for the show was done during 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. It was really busy and definitely a lot to take in, but rewarding and fun.”

Q: You Mentioned During Your Pre-Interview That Nails Do Not Get High Exposure on the Runway. Seeing The Final Look, Do You Believe That Nails Are a Key Part of a Person’s or Stylist’s Look?

“I definitely see nails as a key component. Before coming into this, we all knew that this vision was unique. This idea was stapled to the whole entire vision. Speaking with another person backstage, she voiced to me that the nails was what made her look at all the other details of the outfits.”

“Elena’s show was in a presentation mode. It was like a museum of models and you walked through in order to see everything. I think that approach was really cool because then you could just sit there and look at every single part of the whole outfit. I really respected that and I think that it brought the show to a whole new level.”

Q: What Was the Most Unique Experience You Had At New York Fashion Week?

“My ‘wow’ moment really hit me was during the first walk through. I was gluing on nails until the second that we opened the door. Seeing everything come together was a moment of ‘wow it is actually done’ and I cannot describe how that felt. Even the night before– designing all the looks, being in the studio, and seeing everyone else working around me–and how involved I was with the process as well, it was a truly remarkable experience”

Q: Has Working During New York Fashion Week Met Your Expectations?

“Oh my goodness! New York Fashion Week has exceeded any expectations that I had. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but everything was so amazing and everyone is so nice. Being able to work with so many creative minds it has been so rewarding and fun.”

Q: Reflecting on Your Overall New York Experience, What Knowledge Can You Bring Back with You to Milwaukee?

“It is never that chaotic here as it is in New York which I am so thankful for because that was intense! It is so inspiring there though. I actually met this makeup artist and she came and worked at Fasion Week through a specific program that she was involved with. She was only 19 years old and working in fashion week. Talking with her and her experiences, she taught me that if you just go for it and work for it– you can do anything. That mentality is probably the biggest knowledge takeaway that I am bringing back with me to Milwaukee.”

Q: How Has This Experience Impacted You as a Nail Designer?

“It is honestly all coming around full circle. This all started with me doing someone’s nails. I was just doing my job and now I am here. This has expanded and created such a creative portal in my mind to be creative and to work so much harder at my job and my abilities.”

Q: Plaster and Hardware Nails May Not Be an Everyday Look for Some, But What Nail Trends Did You Experience?

“I actually saw a lot of natural nails. However, my perspective was a lot different because what we did was crazy and so unique that looking at everything else—it was not as emphasized. The nails just were not emphasized the way we emphasized it as an accessory. I think staying with those fun designs on the nail is a great way to go.”

Here at Neroli Salon and Spa, we are so proud of Emily and all her accomplishments! Her creations were absolutely stunning and truly a work of art. We are so inspired by her creative process and how she turned a vision into a reality. Follow Emily’s journey on Instagram @emcastnails and book your next nail appointment with New York Fashion Week’s finest Milwaukee Nail Designer, Emily!

For more Fashion Week updates follow us live using #nerolisalonspa. We will see you there!