the insider: katie hughes

Butter London’s new pro talks nail art and nude polish.

by rebecca willa davis

There's a reason why everyone wants to know what nail color was sent down the runway at Marc, Chanel, and Thakoon: While you have to wait until next year to get your hands on designers' spring '13 collections, you can start wearing the It nail color right now. Which means that the people painting nails behind the scenes are, in many ways, deciding the instantaneous direction that fashion and beauty trends will be going. It puts someone like Katie Hughes, Butter London's new Global Color Ambassador, in a serious position of power. She's overseeing a range of shows, from Erin Fetherston to Altuzarra to the Row, mixing up the very colors that we'll be obsessed with before September's over.With this being her very first season working backstage at New York Fashion Week, NYLON spoke with the Brit to find out what she's expecting to see--and why you should never, ever throw out your old makeup brushes.

What, exactly, does a Global Color Ambassador do? My role within the brand is obviously heading up Fashion Week, going on any shoots that the brand has put together--I'll be the one that goes and does the nails--and then I also get to go to [Butter London's] head office five or six times a year to do product development. What I am most looking forward to is custom-blending backstage; it's really fun and makes Butter unique. We literally just have existing shades and loads of empty bottles lined up, and I literally go for it!

Any colors you think we'll see a lot of for spring '13? I think we're going to see a lot of a flat nude nail--that concept of the foundation nail--I think that's really going to come hard, people are going to start embracing it. I think the round shape is going to be really big as well. You'll see soft colors as well, like candy colors but soft versions.

Sell us on the nude nail--why are you into it? People always say, 'Oh I have short, stubby fingers,' and it really elongates your hands. Think of it like a nude pair of shoes for your hands. Obviously everyone's skin tone is different so there is a different nude for everybody. I like one that almost makes my fingers look longer. If it enhances your fingers, then that's the perfect nude.

What about nail art? Oh definitely, 100-percent. but i think it's getting easier. Nail art is less silly, it's more grown-up. People who never wear it are starting to deal with it, 'Oh I want to wear nail art by just doing a stripe down the nail.' Jessica Biel the other day wore this amazing dress and had nude nails and orange on the corner--it looked so grown-up!

So what's the key to getting grown-up nail art? Keep it simple. First of all, if you'e never done it before, i would opt for colors that wouldn't scare you. So use a neutral and a bright instead of two brights mixed together. The other thing is old makeup brushes that you no longer use anymore, use them and dip them into nail polish remover. You can literally fine-tune your manicure. That's what I do on every single shoot, it's what I do when I do my own nails, it makes it oh so much more professional. Never, ever use a q-tip, because it has lint and it will stick to the nail. And never ever use heat--it will make it tacky! You need cold air or cold water. The best thing to do is go driving or just run the tap and hover your hands underneath for 10 seconds each.

If you could only own one color, which would it be? One of my favorites is Macbeth. It's a bright pink, coral-raspberry…it's really hard to describe because it looks different when you see in real life. It's just that perfect, really really fun red. It's one of the ones that I fell in love with. And for a really awesome neutral, Yummy Mummy--we sell thousands of them, it's [Butter London's best-selling shade.

Get more info on Butter London here...and then keep checking for more beauty reports from the runway.