Project Runway's no-nonsense judge Nina Garcia, creative director of Marie Claire magazine, paid a visit to Verizon’s new Mall of America Destination Store over the weekend to ogle tech gadgets and talk about customizing smartphone accessories. If she seems an odd spokesperson for the wireless carrier, consider Garcia’s social media reach: more than 1 million Twitter followers, nearly 700,000 on Pinterest, and 94,000 on Instagram. She manages that network largely on her iPhone, on the go, wherever in the world the next fashion show takes her. We talked about how much fashion, and the job of being a magazine editor, has changed since her early days with Perry Ellis and then Elle magazine.
On being multi-media: “When the opportunity (to do Project Runway) presented itself, I was like ‘no, I’d be terrible!’ But then everything changed, not just for me, but for our entire world. It was a perfect storm: Zara, H&M, all those stores started to appear in America, the TV show was a success, the democratization of fashion happened. In terms of media, it also happened on that level too. As an editor, you were once only expected to do editor functions; now it’s become multi-platform. You’re expected to be on social media, TV, you’re expected to be a personality. Now, it’s every magazine editor.”
Favorite part of the job: “It still comes down to the essence of fashion—seeing the trends, seeing the evolution of what’s happening in fashion. This is a phenomenal moment in fashion. It really is the marriage of fashion and technology. It’s changed the game.
The future of fashion: “The voice of the individual is more present today. Now we can communicate with our customers, followers, readers – so much of what we’re doing today is all about customizing, whether it’s your phone, your experience, your tennis shoes.”
On shopping: “I shop everywhere—online, bricks and mortar, showrooms. I’ll splurge on shoes, and two or three items that are expensive for the season that I know I’ll wear for a while. Then I buy a lot of basics—white shirts, at any price point. Lots of white t-shirts, crew neck sweaters, black pants in very democratic prices.”
On Project Runway: ”I love that whole process of creating. Every season, I’m still very excited to see what 16 contestants are going to come up with.”
On Tim Gunn’s new show (Under the Gunn premieres on Lifetime in January): “I do think there’s room for another (fashion reality) show. I don’t know that much about it, but it will be Tim Gunn doing what he does best: mentoring designers, and being the charming and kind and lovely person that he is. I’d love to see another show with Tim. He’s such a teacher, such a professor, I could see that working.”