Nina Garcia

Marie Claire’s fashion director Nina Garcia established herself as a fashion expert by serving as a judge on the television show Project Runway for all seven seasons.


Nina Garcia was born on May 3, 1967, in Barranquilla, Colombia. She traveled the world as a child and studied fashion in Paris and New York City. Her first a job was at Perry Ellis. In 2000, she became the fashion director at Elle magazine. Garcia served as a judge on the reality television show Project Runway and became known as a fashion expert. In 2008, she became the fashion director at Marie Claire.

Early Life in Colombia

Fashion journalist, writer, and TV personality. Born Ninotchka Garcia on May 3, 1967, Nina Garcia grew up in the city of Barranquilla in northern Colombia. Her father was a wealthy importer and her mother was an actress. It was a highly fashionable and cosmopolitan family, and Garcia's parents took her out of school for several months each winter to travel the world. She returned each spring with the latest fashions from Paris, London, and New York, but very behind on her schoolwork. When she complained to her father about missing so much school, he replied, "You saw the world. There's always time to get caught up on long division!"

During Garcia's childhood, the city of Barranquilla—the birthplace of such notables as Sofía Vergara and Shakira—increasingly fell under the control of drug lords. "It was the Wild West back then," Garcia recalls. But after one too many close calls in mafia shootouts, Garcia's parents decided to get their daughter out of Barranquilla by sending her to the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Despite having traveled the globe as a child, Garcia experienced severe culture shock when she arrived in the preppy American town of Wellesley. She remembers strutting onto campus wearing "a short skirt, high heels and rabbit fur" only to discover herself sticking out like a sore thumb amidst a sea of girls wearing blue jeans and L.L. Bean duck boots. However, Garcia says she learned an important fashion lesson from the girls in Wellesley: "Blue jeans and a white shirt can be the most fabulous outfit. It's all about how you wear it."

Elle Magazine

After graduating from the Dana Hall School, Garcia went on to study liberal arts at Boston University. She then embarked on a course of fashion education, studying at l'Ecole Supérieure de la Mode in Paris and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Garcia got her start in the fashion industry in the early 1990s, working in the public relations department of Perry Ellis under head designer Marc Jacobs. She then moved into the world of fashion journalism, taking a position as assistant stylist and marketing editor at the women's magazine Mirabella. In 1995 Garcia left Mirabella for Elle magazine, where she rose to the position of fashion director in 2000, and eventually to the position of editor-at-large.

It was during her tenure at Elle that Garcia rose to prominence and fame within the fashion world. During her first years as editor, Garcia avoided the spotlight, working behind the scenes while her colleague Anne Slowey made Elle's television and publicity appearances. "I never wanted to be famous," Garcia says. However, when Elle publisher Carol Smith devised the idea for a reality TV show to boost the magazine's popularity, Garcia was thrust into the national spotlight. In 2004, she was tapped to serve as a judge on Bravo's Project Runway, a show that pits aspiring fashion designers against each other in a competition for $100,000 to start a fashion line. The show became a sleeper hit, garnering popular and critical acclaim and receiving an Emmy nomination for outstanding competitive reality series. Garcia became a staple of Project Runway, serving as a judge on all seven seasons. The show, in turn, established Garcia as a fashion authority, and the editor soon began making appearances on The View and the Today show as a fashion expert.

Other Projects

In addition to her work in journalism and television, Garcia has authored three books on fashion. Her first book, The Little Black Book of Style, received critical acclaim from the fashion industry and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list in 2007. She has since written 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). Her fourth book, Nina Garcia's Look Book: What to Wear for Every Occasion, will be released in August 2010.

Garcia left Elle in 2008 to take up the post of fashion director at Marie Claire magazine. She oversees all fashion coverage for the magazine and covers the designer fashion markets in New York, Paris, and Milan. She is married to David Conrad and gave birth to a son, Lucas Alexander Conrad, on March 24, 2007.

Garcia says that her job as a fashion writer is to transform women's style, and by transforming their style, to give women the confidence to transform their lives. Her goal, Garcia writes, "is to inspire you and make style fun. And if it changes your life along the way, well, don't say I never did anything for you."

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