Boca Raton’s Mizner Park was fashionably crowded October 9 as Lord & Taylor celebrated its grand opening—its only location in Florida—with a VIP party that drew more than 2,000 guests. Among the partygoers sipping, strolling and shopping throughout the two-floor store was Nina Garcia, the creative director of Marie Claire magazine and a judge on Lifetime's Project Runway. Dressed in a strapless blue Valentino jumpsuit, she mingled with guests (including designers Joseph Abboud, Mark Badgley and James Mischka), smiled for pictures and, of course, talked all things fashion. Known for her straightforward critiques on Project Runway, the fashion journalist shared with PBI her take on South Florida style, upcoming trends and experiences on TV—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 and Boca. 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!