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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.
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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 Gabriel García Márquez 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."
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.
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