Nina Garcia is a Columbian fashion journalist, considered to be an authority on high-end fashion and all things related to it. She has been a judge of the Lifetime reality television program ‘Project Runway’ since its premiere season and rose to prominence for being a no-nonsense, strict, and highly knowledgeable judge. The show which was telecast in over 13 different countries around the world established her reputation as a fashion critic internationally. Born into a wealthy home to an actress mother, she was exposed to fashion from an early age. Being raised by a beautiful and glamorous mother ensured that Nina developed a keen sense of aesthetics that would eventually shape her future career. She traveled a lot as a child and learnt about the various cultures around the world. Her invaluable childhood experiences made her a very confident, outspoken and knowledgeable young woman. She chose to study fashion education at college and began her career under head designer Marc Jacobs. She moved on to become a fashion journalist and soon established herself as an expert in fashion. She is also a New York Times bestselling author of four books on style and as a fashion writer she aims to encourage women to transform their lives by transforming their style.
Childhood & Early Life
She was born on May 3, 1967 in Barranquilla, Colombia to wealthy parents. Her father was a very successful importer and her mother was an actress. Nina was exposed to fashion and glamour at an early age by her mother.
Her mother loved to dress and was gifted with a profound sense of aesthetics. She was a full-figured curvy woman, very beautiful and elegant in her own way. Nina learnt many nuances of beauty, style, and fashion from her mother.
She traveled all around the world as a child with her parents each year. Her traveling experiences exposed her to the culture and fashion in cities like Paris, London, and New York.
Her hometown, Barranquilla, was increasingly becoming violent with mafia shootouts frequently taking place. Her parents worried for her safety and sent her to the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
In spite of having traveled widely in her childhood, Nina experienced a severe cultural shock on arriving in the United States. Eventually she settled down in her new environment and graduated from the school.
She studied liberal arts at Boston University and then pursued a course in fashion education from l'Ecole Supérieure de la Mode in Paris and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
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She acquired an internship through her college in the public relations department of Perry Ellis under head designer Marc Jacobs. At that time Jacobs had a grunge collection which was very popular and Nina was in awe of him.
During her internship she discovered a lot about the fashion world and also realized that she wanted to be a fashion journalist and not a fashion designer as she had previously thought.
She forayed into the world of fashion journalism when she accepted a position as assistant stylist and marketing editor at the women’s magazine ‘Mirabella’.
She left ‘Mirabella’ in 1995 and joined ‘Elle’ magazine. Here too she displayed her acute understanding of fashion and was promoted to the position of fashion director in 2000.
During the initial years of her career she shied away from spotlight and preferred to work behind the scenes. But she was thrust into the spotlight when she was chosen to serve as a judge on the American reality television series, ‘Project Runway’ in 2004.
The show in which contestants compete with each other to create the best clothes in order to win the prize money of $100,000 to start a fashion line, garnered popular as well as critical acclaim, and made Garcia a famous figure.
She received much acclaim for her constructive criticism, unbiased appraisal, and fashion advice that she gave to the contestants. Already a well-known name in the fashion circuit, this show established her as the undisputed authority on fashion.
Her popularity as the judge on ‘Project Runway’ led to more television offers and she also made appearances on ‘The View’ and ‘Today’ show as a fashion expert. She also served as a judge for the Miss Universe competition in Mexico City in 2007.
She left the Fashion Director position at ‘Elle’ magazine in 2008 and became the Fashion Director of ‘Marie Claire’. She oversees the magazine’s fashion coverage and runs the fashion department. She also covers the international fashion markets of New York, Milan, and Paris. In 2013, she was promoted to Creative Director at ‘Marie Claire’.
She has authored several books on fashion and style including ‘The Little Black Book of Style’ (2007), ‘The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own’ (2008), and ‘The Style Strategy: A Less-is-More Approach to Staying Chic and Shopping Smart’ (2009).
Awards & Achievements
She was honored with the 2010 Oracle Award presented by the NGO Fashion Group International (FGI).
Personal Life & Legacy
She is married to David Conrod, a managing partner and co-founder of G2 Investment Group, and is the mother of two boys, Alexander and Lucas.