Nina Garcia, From ‘Runway’ to J.C. Penney

Posted Aug. 10, 2012, at 7:31 p.m.

As a judge on Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” the fashion director of Marie Claire and the author of four books on dressing your best, Nina Garcia is no stranger to voicing her opinions on what’s in and what’s out. That’s why she’ll fit right in as the new style voice and fashion collector/curator for J.C. Penney. If you haven’t hit up the 99-year-old retailer since grade school, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the ways in which Garcia is lending it her finely tuned sartorial eye.

Q: What exactly does your new role entail?

A: I’ll work closely with the merchandising and design teams, offering them insight into what they might need and what they might want to add that season. I’ll give advice and share the experience I’ve learned after 15-odd years in fashion.

Q: Any particular trends you’re looking forward to this fall?

A: Oh my God. Well, there are a lot of trends going on this fall. Color still plays a major role. Florals and prints are some of my favorites.

Q: What changes can we expect to see at J.C. Penney?

A: I’m excited about the collaborations. We have a new partnership with Cynthia Rowley, Nanette Lepore is launching in February, and William Rast and Marchesa are coming, all at an amazing price.

Q: How has “Project Runway” influenced your views on clothes?

A: Being so close to those designers for so many weeks really puts things into perspective and makes you think how the process starts and how somebody, somewhere is responsible for the design of the article of clothing you are buying. It’s a very personal process that I think we all take for granted.

Q: You’re a mom. You’re maintaining your position at Marie Claire. And now this new gig. Any tips on how you manage to always look so put together?

A: I wish I had more time! I long for those days when I had tons of time! [Laughs] I have a busy life and a family that is a priority for me. But I know what works for me. I try to keep it very streamlined and uncomplicated and add some fashionable items here and there to keep it current. When you’re busy, it’s best to keep it easy. And play with the accessories. That’s the fun part. You plan ahead, you know what works for you, and when I do have the time for a special event, then I’ll have more fun.

Q: You’ll also be hosting social media chats with J.C. Penney customers. Can you elaborate?

A: Social media is such a part of our daily lives, it’s become second nature. It allows me to connect with my audience on a personal level and respond. What attracted me to J.C. Penney was that the company really cares about the customer. It wants the customer to live better and look better — and that aligns very well to what I want. That’s the editor in me coming out.

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