Legs crossed tightly, pen in hand, she mentally critiques the contestants on Project Runway with a keen eye and an intricate sense of humor. We watch as she gently tucks her hair behind her ear, the other side falling in front of her eye as she chooses her words carefully and what we realize quickly is that we are in the audience of a style genius. We originally sought her out for this interview because, to us, she is the epitome of class. We only know what we have seen on our television screens and what we’ve read in her four books, the most recent, Nina Garcia’s Look Book, having just been published in 2010. Colombian born, educated in the United States at both Boston University and the Fashion Institute of Technology as well as being a world traveling connoisseur, she is a woman who apparently can float through time and space, continent to continent and yet retain the wisdom and beauty hidden in the small crook of her slight smile. Previously, she was the fashion director of Elle magazine and now holds the same position at Marie Claire magazine, allowing her to literally hold the ultimate position of directing the pulse of fashion and style to her readers. She has also been a judge on eight seasons of the award winning, fashion reality show, Project Runway. Not only does she hold hold these powerful positions, but she is also the wife of David Conrad and the mother of two sons, Lucas Alexander, born in 2007 and Alexander David born last November 29th, proving that actually, you can have it all. Her official website, Nina Garcia, presents with the same class and whimsy that she seems to carry from videos of fashion shows, notable and epic quotes, her favorite posts and of course style and fashion commentary. As she moves forward, family and fashion, we will continue to watch and relish the small intricacies, such as her hidden smirk and wildly gorgeous hair, which makes us love her so…
1. When looking at a new fashion designer, what are some things you look for that set one designer above the rest in being the next to follow?
I think there’s a word for that: “Instinct”. Somebody told me that to be old means to lose the ability to be surprised, and this, to be surprised, to see something unexpected on the runway it’s what sets one designer above the rest. As you can imagine, this is a very primitive instinct (that not only happens in fashion but also in movies, art, music), where you just feel that what’s happening in front of your eyes is something exceptional. I would have loved to be, for example, in 1863 at the Salon des Refusés where the first impressionist paintings were introduced to the world or when Picasso presented Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to the world. The same can be applied when the old Alexander McQueen presented his collections in Paris: we all went to his shows willing to be surprised.
2. How does your Colombian heritage contribute to your innate, fashion sense and success in the fashion industry?
Colombian women believe that physical presentation reflects the person you are on the inside. Women put a lot of time and effort into the way they present themselves. Growing up I was constantly surrounded by incredibly vibrant, confident, feminine women, women who knew who they were and what image they wanted to convey to the world.
3. Current fashion trends are displaying polka dots and color palettes. What are some current trends you think are overplayed and what trends have you been excited to see?
Overplayed: the 80’s!! So overplayed and done with.
Excited to see: anything except the 80’s please!
4. What do you believe will be the next, big fashion trend?
I think for Fall we will see: polka dots from spring will carry into fall, mod’s making a come back, long tail, minimalist.
5. How important do you think presenting ready to wear versus couture design in a runway show is to a fashion designers success?
It all depends on what you define as “success”. For some people success is equal to the number of sold-out items of your collection. For some other, “success” is defined by how many times your couture outfit has been seen in a magazine cover or by the blooming reviews your collection has got. “Success” as you can imagine is a very tricky word. I will say: it doesn’t matter to me if it’s couture or ready to wear if a designers conceives a great collection, that makes fashion move forward.
Photo Credit: Mark Abrahams
6. As one of the most well known fashion journalists, what is the best advice you can give to someone entering or trying to improve their career as a fashion journalist?
Always be on your toes, always be in the know. You never want to be the last person to hear about the news… always be ahead of the game.
7. In styling for a fashion show, what are the five most important things a stylist should consider?
1.) know your models: take down every measurement because you have to figure out which model should wear which look!
2.) always have a really well stock prop kit
3.) cohesive collection: there’s an inspiration so everything should all be a cohesive presentation
4.) do a pre-show run thru! Things may work out in your head but it might not always look the same in real life
8. What is essential in making an iconic, fashion model and who are three current models you would consider iconic?
unique look, recognizable face that becomes popular, personality, world renowned.
Newest ICONS: Lara Stone, Karlie Kloss, Freja Beha Erichsen, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Natasha Poly…
ICONIC: Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bundchen, Daria Werbowy, Karen Elson, Angela Lindvall, Natalia V, etc etc….
9. Who are three fashion designers who’s careers you would recommend to fashion students as impressive role models for success in the fashion industry?
Classic role models: Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent
More recent role models: Michael Kors, Prabal, Alexander Wang
10. What does a designer need to strive for to be on the cover of Marie Claire magazine?
Be daring! Be bold! Understand the woman’s body!
11. For any person, fashion noteworthy or not, what defines individual style and how can someone find their own individual style if they don’t feel they have one?
Individual style comes from within oneself. Being comfortable in your own skin, loving and owning your own body, being confident with who you are both inside and outside will help you define your own personal style. There are no rules, no seasons, it’s all about you. It’s how you feel its what you personally love and making it work for you!
Be Yourself. Be Fearless. Be Your Own Unexpected Luxury!
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