New Elle magazine editor is Project Runway judge Nina Garcia

Ms Nina Garcia at New York Fashion Week last year, when she was the creative director of Marie Claire.
Ms Nina Garcia at New York Fashion Week last year, when she was the creative director of Marie Claire.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK • Ms Nina Garcia will be the next editor of Elle magazine, Hearst Magazines announced on Tuesday morning.

Until now the creative director of Marie Claire magazine, she has a name and a tart take on style known to millions in her capacity as a longtime judge on Project Runway. She is also the author of four books on fashion.

"Look at the issue of empowerment around young working women and the obsession with fashion and beauty. The Elle woman is sexy, passionate, loves her work, is social. She's someone global millennial women aspire to and no one represents that more than Nina," Ms Joanna Coles, the chief content officer of Hearst Magazines, said in an interview on Tuesday with Ms Garcia and Hearst Magazines president David Carey.

"I understand first-hand what the DNA is," Ms Garcia said. "I am looking to amplify the DNA of the brand. It's bold, it's provocative, it's inclusive, democratic, it's innovative. I just want to amplify all those things we know about Elle."

She said she will continue Elle's tradition of celebrating diversity and emerging voices and work closely with the 46 international editions to share talent globally. Her first issue is likely to be February or March next year.

Ms Garcia, 50, has been the creative director of Marie Claire since 2012; before that, she was the magazine's fashion director from 2008 to 2012. Her new post is a return to Elle, where she was the fashion director from 2000 to 2008.

She is likely better (or more widely) known - to "4.5 million engaged followers on social media", as the news release announcing her appointment trumpets - for her life in public: on social media, books and television. She has been a judge on Project Runway, the designer- minting reality competition, since its first season in 2004, when the prize included placement in Elle.

And she was in the vanguard of fashion editors embracing a life outside the velvet-roped world of private fashion shows and showroom visits of the generations that preceded her.

"The fashion editor as it used to be has changed," she told The New York Times in 2010. "Now you have to wear many hats and whoever tells you differently is wrong. Now you're on TV, whether you want it or not."

Operating across platforms, as the marketing-speak goes, has become both standard practice and increasingly important in a challenging media landscape.

Ms Garcia is expected to continue her judging duties on Project Runway, which is in its 16th season and has been renewed for two more.

"Elle, both its brand as well as its content strategies, can cross platforms with greater ease than most of the current media franchises out there," Mr Carey said.

It does not hurt that Ms Garcia has parlayed her TV following into a significant social media following.

"Elle will benefit enormously from that," Ms Coles said.

But asked whether this kind of built-in social following will become a new prerequisite for editors in the years to come, she demurred.

"Not at all," she said. "It just makes enormous sense to put Nina at the helm of Elle. This is the right pairing of the right editor at the right title. This is not a model we would dictate across our titles."

Ms Garcia replaces Ms Robbie Myers, who was editor of Elle for 17 years. Ms Myers pushed the magazine to balance fashion and style with journalism, appealing to all of its readers' varied interests.

"Elle redefined what a fashion magazine can be, by assuming that a cultured woman could be simultaneously captivated by what Raf (Simons) is doing at Calvin Klein and, say, an (exclusive) interview with (United States Supreme Court) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg," she wrote in a note to her staff announcing her resignation on Monday.

Under her leadership, Elle was a finalist for the Ellie Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors for general excellence in the service and lifestyle category this year.

Ms Garcia's ascent comes at a moment of change in the glossy magazine industry. Earlier this month, Mr Graydon Carter, the long-time editor of Vanity Fair, announced he is stepping down and rumours swirl that other changes are imminent at magazines at both Hearst and Conde Nast.

Ms Garcia's first day at Elle is next Monday, when Hearst will be toasting the brand at a gala in Milan. ("Her first day of work will be a black-tie gala at La Scala," Ms Coles said with a laugh.)

Her successor at Marie Claire has not been named.

Rumours have circulated that changes are expected at Harper's Bazaar, another Hearst fashion magazine, but Mr Carey said none are planned.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'New Elle magazine editor is Project Runway judge'. Print Edition | Subscribe