Nina Garcia is not afraid to speak her mind. As the creative director of Marie Claire magazine, judge on Lifetime‘s Project Runway and a New York Times bestselling author for her books on style (The Little Black Book of Style, The One Hundred, The Style Strategy and Nina Garcia’s Look Book), her take on fashion and style trends, and her straightforward critiques with up-and-coming designers has made her a guiding force in the fashion industry. Here, the fashion journalist shared with NI her take on South Florida style, upcoming trends and experiences on television—as expected, sugarcoat-free.
Do you come to South Florida often?
Not often enough. I was born in Colombia, and I grew up coming to Miami. I like it down here. I like going to Bal Harbour, Joe’s Stone Crab, South Beach and going fishing in the Keys, like Islamorada.
What’s your take on South Florida fashion?
The women down here are very feminine. They have more freedom down here—more freedom with color, with experimenting, with trends. There’s beautiful weather here year-round, so women can be sexy and experiment more.
The women in South Florida take pride in the way they put themselves together. They always look fabulous, from the outfit to the hair to the nails to the shoes. They love fashion.
What trends are on your radar this season?
Black and white. Black and white everything: black and white retro, black and white nautical—everything. Also, mixing prints, like florals and stripes.
What trend do you wish would go away?
Angry platform shoes [laughs]. You know what I mean. Take away the anger!
You’ve been on Project Runway since the first season, and you’ve always offered honest, upfront critiques. What do you look for when you judge a garment on the show?
I’ve been dubbed “the tough judge” before. I’m tough because I want to judge in Project Runway with what I’m seeing [in the fashion industry]. And I’m seeing a lot, not just [pieces from] high-end designers but also designers who are just starting out, like the ones on Project Runway. So I like to judge with what I’m seeing. And I’d rather be frank. I don’t want to mislead anybody. I am an editor, so I’m just doing my job.
What have been some of your favorite challenges on Project Runway?
All the ones where they were thinking outside the box, like the hardware challenge, the floral challenge or using car parts [to design clothes]. It shows you have to take chances and think outside your comfort zone.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just arrived back from Paris Fashion Week, and I saw a lot there. There’s a lot going on [in fashion]: a lot of sporty looks, a lot of artsy looks. Look for the return of flat sandals—the anger’s gone!