10 Questions With.... Nina Garcia!

Andy Cohen chats with Project Runway's Nina Garcia.

Forget El Nino. In fashion, La Nina rules the RUNWAY review! Garcia is direct, honest, and smart. (And beautiful.) She's a native of Colombia, has lived in the States since she was 15, and is dialing in from fashion central right now!

CIAO, NINA GARCIA!
Ciao, Andy! How did you survive the snowstorm!?

LOTS OF MIDDAY CHAMPAIGN, A FIRE, AND A STROLL THROUGH THE WEST VILLAGE. WHAT ABOUT YOU?
I hung out in Central Park for hours! It was glorious!

OK NINA, LET'S GET TO IT. FIRST OF ALL, WHAT THE HECK DOES IT MEAN TO BE FASHION DIRECTOR OF ELLE MAGAZINE - WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY?
I interpret the season's direction for the ELLE reader. The ELLE reader is all about personal style and I am finding new designers, looking for the trends, who's hot, who has a great collection, who's the next person we want to promote. It's a little like what I do on the show - choosing the designers that work, editing the collection to what works best, finding the top looks for the season, and emphasizing what we believe in for each season.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?
I always knew I wanted to be in fashion. I thought I wanted to be a designer at the beginning. I went to FIT and realized it was hard to be a designer and that I wanted to understand the business aspect of it more. I did an internship with Marc Jacobs when he was at Perry Ellis and saw the other side of the business - dealing with the editors. I was packing the boxes that were going to HARPERS, ELLE, and VOGUE. I would see the editors and I said 'that's what I want to do - I want to be an editor!' It all fell into place in that internship. My suggestion to anyone looking for a career is to do as many internships as you can to see what's out there. It's hard to break into the business - that's one of the reasons that PROJECT RUNWAY is so fantastic.

I FEEL LIKE YOU'VE EXPLODED ON RUNWAY THIS SEASON...WHAT'S LIFE BEEN LIKE FOR YOU AND WHAT DO THE FASHIONISTAS SAY ABOUT THE SHOW?
It's flattering to be recognized and that people like the show. The fashionistas are obsessed - did you see the front row of the finale? There were editors from some other big magazines - which I won't mention - and some serious fashion insiders. It's a finicky business and the fashionistas are tough judges. This show is a birds eye view of what happens in fashion - it touches people both in and out of the business. I think it's fantastic because this show has put fashion in the forefront - into everyone's homes and made us realize how obsessed people are with fashion. I am all about promoting the business of fashion. It's a big business for America, which we should support and promote. Fashion gives a lot of jobs to a lot of people. For me it's been great for people to put a name to a title.

THERE WAS A LOT OF BACKTALK ON THE RUNWAY THIS SEASON. IS IT EVER SCARY TO GIVE YOUR HONEST OPINIONS WHEN YOU KNOW YOU'RE GOING TO UPSET SOMEONE?
No it's not scary - it's part of my job. It's my job to give my honest opinion. I see a lot of shows, designers, collections and I am going to give you an educated opinion. Was it scary that Santino got nuts? Yes considering he's 6'4 and I'm 5'4! I don't mind saying what I feel. People think I come off mean sometimes but I am trying to be fair and honest. The bottom line is that this business is harder in real life - this show may seem like we're tough but it's harder in the real world.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF YOUR CONSTANT BACK AND FORTH WITH SANTINO?
Crazy Santino! I think he is one of the best creative thinkers from this group. He thinks out of the box, he has ideas that are great, but his problem is in his attitude. And the fashion industry can be a humbling experience. I sometimes felt like shaking him and saying "Just listen!" He's very defensive and a little angry and it's not about that. He is surprisingly so smart and articulate and prepared but so, so stubborn!

THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT TWO CONTROVERSIAL JUDGMENT CALLS THAT HAVE KEPT SANTINO IN THE GAME - THE LINGERIE CHALLENGE AND LAST WEEK'S JUMPSUIT. CARE TO ELABORATE ON THEM?
With the lingerie, he took risks. He thought outside the box. I need to applaud creativity. It fills me with joy to see that. It was ugly though, and needed a softer hand to make it ok. But I didn't think that was reason to get him out that time. I applaud creativity and just hoped he would listen. I don't regret my voice in that and wouldn't have taken him out at that point. In terms of the jumpsuit - I did think it was really badly made! The sleeve was falling for god sake! But he thought outside the box and brought out something different in Kara that we hadn't seen before - sexy Kara. So I gave him points for that. I thought there were worse culprits - Chloe looked terrible.

EXACTLY WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR AS A JUDGE?
Somebody that's creative yet practical, always professional, versatile with a point of view, great attention to detail, focused, and someone who works well under pressure.

WHAT DRESSES HAVE YOU LOVED THIS SEASON?
I loved Chloe's "clothes off your back" dress. I like Daniel V's garden party dress - he used flowers and gave it color and it was harmonious in its design. I loved Emmett and Chloe's Banana Republic outfit. And Daniel V's orchid dress...

WE'RE DOWN TO FOUR DESIGNERS... LET'S PLAY WORD ASSOCIATION WITH THEM...I NAME A DESIGNER AND YOU TELL ME WHAT COMES TO YOUR MIND:


DANIEL V:
gentle, dark horse

CHLOE:
minimalist, professional

KARA:
vivacious personality

SANTINO:
fashion rebel

WHAT DESIGNERS ARE YOUR FAVORITES...WHO DO YOU WEAR?
I love Balenciaga and Prada.

AND THEY LOVE YOU! THANKS, NINA!

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