From dashing to multiple photo shoots to personally tending to her roster of star clients, manicurist Deborah Lippmann has a schedule that’s a handful on all its own. “It’s very challenging for me, as my brand has grown, to continue to be on every shoot I’m asked to do,” says Lippmann, who moved to New York City to pursue a career in jazz before she realized her passion for nail care. “I used to never say no, but now I work in different cities around the world and have to think about how many days to be in the office and in the lab—it’s difficult to do without getting a case of FOMO! Every single day, there are demands that seem insurmountable.” Insurmountable, perhaps, but she somehow manages to get it all done. Below, she takes us through a day spent running her ever-expanding empire.
When I wake up, I try not to check my email in bed (that is a hard, bad habit to break!), and instead I meditate for about 15 minutes. It really gets my mind in the right place for the day. Then I check my phone for emails, watch the news to know what’s happening in the world, and usually finish up a load of laundry. My go-to coffee order from Starbucks is a large iced Americano with extra, extra ice. I try my best to work out every morning—if not, I do it in the evening. I love training with David Vargas, who pushes me to my fullest. Otherwise, I may just go to Equinox or a boxing class.
My husband [and business partner] Jude and I recently got a maltichon puppy named Zeke, and he is a dream come true! I enjoy walking him on the West Side Highway path, since it’s close to where we live. I’ve wanted a dog for 20 years, which is another thing to handle in an already busy day, but the love he gives is everything. Once I’m home, I’ll shower and do my morning La Prairie routine, which includes products from the White Caviar collection—their skincare is just so luxurious. I get so many compliments on my skin, and, really, no one guesses how old I am! Then I’ll throw on something black for fashion week: comfortable pants that I won’t care if they get spilled on, a tank top, a long-sleeve shirt, and a sweater around my waist. It can be either super hot or freezing backstage, so layers are key!
Time to touch base with the team to run through my shows for the day. My schedule is constantly changing, so I have to stay organized. Sometimes I’ll have multiple shows with photo shoots and other hair and makeup tests scattered in between. New York Fashion Week is always a busy time, but I try and fit in as much as I can. And don’t be fooled by the name—it’s more like “fashion three weeks” with all the preparation, meetings, and tests that go into planning the final beauty look for a show. Often, I’ll receive inspiration boards or clothing fabric samples in advance to get my creative juices flowing, but the real magic happens at the test, a few days prior to the show. Sometimes I walk into the test completely blind, so I’m carrying an entire nail salon in my Tumi bag just in case! My inspiration comes from my travels; friends who are designers, stylists, photographers, and customers; and everyday life in New York City. I love spending time with the creative geniuses behind these collections and the process of dreaming up looks to complement the gorgeous clothing they conceptualize. Each fashion week is different, depending on the shows and designers, but it’s always a joy to be able to collaborate with all these talented men and women.
Call time for artists is usually four hours prior to the show. I always have an iced coffee, a green juice, and Lärabars with me in case there’s no time to stop and eat during the hustle and bustle. Backstage can be really fun when you’re working with your friends. I love seeing other artists, like Tom Pecheux and Orlando Pita, and catching up with Karlie Kloss, Gigi and Bella Hadid, and Joan Smalls while “holding hands” with them—that’s what I like to call it when I’m working on their nails. I have been blessed in my work as a manicurist to hold hands with at least five women on the day they won their Oscar. I consider award shows to be like a wedding day for these actresses. They are so careful about who is in the room with them.
Once most of the [runway] looks are ready, the models will rehearse. That’s when backstage press interviews take place, and I get to explain my inspiration for the nail look. Tons of pictures and videos for social media are being taken—it’s a very hectic atmosphere in which to get everything done before the show starts. Not to mention that I need to look my best while I juggle working on nails with creating content for my own brand channels.
The show begins! Usually they last less than 10 minutes. It’s crazy to think so much time and energy and creativity have been put into something that is over the second I have a chance to breathe backstage, but I absolutely love the adrenaline and seeing the final look. In the past, I’ve had the pleasure of working with designers like Jason Wu, Mark Badgley and James Mischka, Victoria Beckham, Brandon Maxwell, and Narciso Rodriguez.
I pack everything up, and, sad to say, I’m usually too tired to go to the after-parties! When I get home, I soak my feet in lavender, hot water, and sea salt to relax. I meditate again and practice Harmonyum healing from what I’ve learned working with Renata Spironello at Naam Yoga. Let me tell you, self-care is real! Last, I have to completely rearrange my kit—which can look like a bomb went off—to start fresh the next day. I spend about a third of the year traveling, whether it’s for HSN; to Europe for my retailers; to Miraval in Arizona, Austin, and Orange County, where I have my own Deborah Lippmann Nail Salon; or to Los Angeles for editorial shoots or red-carpet season. It’s always different, but that’s what keeps it so interesting and fun. I look forward to New York Fashion Week every time, because I get to stay and work in my home city!