Movieline Talks to Nina Garcia About Project Runway's New Season and Most Brilliant Moments Ever


Nina Garcia not only toughens the Project Runway judging panel, but she alone makes the group fearsome. The Marie Claire fashion director has spent six seasons (some better than others) sitting alongside Heidi Klum and Michael Kors, heralding and haranguing the work of amateur designers, and questioning the taste levels of everyone in sight. Season two's legendary Santino Rice found his greatest skeptic in Garcia, and season four's Christian Siriano found his greatest admirer. Movieline talked to the 44-year-old fashionista about the new season, her favorite memories on the show, and the "stupid" challenges that turned out to be legendary.

When was the first occasion in your life you honed your critical skills and enjoyed being opinionated?

I've always been opinionated, unfortunately, to my mother's disappointment. But I never thought all that opinion would do me any good until this show. I've always spoken my mind. There's no reason not to!

You've said that this season will be "fashion insider-y." Can you elaborate on that? Will it be different from seasons past?

I think some of the judges that have come to be on the show this season are maybe not as well-known to everyone, but are very important and successful designers in themselves. It's great that we got them. It's great that they wanted to be part of the show; that's the whole "fashion insider" thing. And they're not all from New York; a lot of them are international designers. They're not names not known to everyone, but they're very influential at the moment.

You've expressed relief that the show is back in New York. Can the show ever leave its headquarters again? Where would it go next?

I don't think it should leave New York, to be honest with you. I think we could do little trips, short trips, but I don't think it should leave New York. New York is the capital of fashion, and it's where the show belongs. I wouldn't move it out of New York.

I've heard you'll be in every episode this time around.

Yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes!

Can you talk about the bond (or lack thereof) you form with a designer after seeing a season's worth of their looks?

You know their body of work. You understand their progress, and you can follow their progress. When you're not there, you don't know what they two episodes ago. There's no follow-up. With this, you can see if they're making any progress or if they're not. The judging is easier and that's the way it should be, because you know what's been happening, you know what they can do, you know what their weaknesses are, you know what their strengths are. You get to know their body of work. It's much like what happens when you're an editor: You see what the designers do season after season. You get to know them -- so I think it's important to be there every week.

Do you have a favorite moment when you disagreed with the other judges?

A long time ago, I think we disagreed on some "green" outfit. And there was a split between the guest judge and myself, or Heidi and Michael, or vice-versa, I can't remember anymore. Later, we were like, "What were we thinking?" Sometimes you disagree! And it's usually two against two. I can't remember what season it was, but we have done a lot of green challenges. Also, it becomes contentious at the end, because then it's all about the winner, and then we don't always agree.

Who's been your favorite guest judge?

I thought Victoria Beckham was really fantastic; she was great. She was one of our best judges. She was opinionated, she gave good advice, she did the research. She was really good. And I also think Diane von Furstenberg has been very good. Usually I think what makes a good judge is when they tell them honestly what they think. Some people get frightened to say that, or think they're hurting their feelings, or they're being too tough. I mean, I don't know -- it's hard to do it and be in front of the camera, I understand.

Tim Gunn always talks about how relieved he is not to be a judge. Turning that around, do you think you could ever play the mentor role?

Oh, yes! I would love to. Yes, it's lovely! I mean, why not? But I'm not. I think it'd be lovely to be a mentor.

How would you handle the role differently?

Oh, I wouldn't. He is fabulous at what he does. He is fabulous. I don't think I could be as good as him. I might be too opinionated, or I might be too critical. It's the nature of who I am. Tim is just fantastic.

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  • Victor Ward says:

    I am so cripplingly jealous of your getting to speak with her. However, this is probably a great example of why I would be an awful journalist, because, though I would have a million things to ask her about, it would end up just coming out as I LOVE YOU BUT WHY DIDN'T LAURA BENNETT WIN WTF and then gay panic would set in.