Office Hours with Elle’s Nina Garcia
Since taking the reins as Elle’s editor-in-chief in September, Nina Garcia has settled into her 24th-floor office in Hearst Tower, surrounding herself with her favorite books and career mementos and replacing furniture with pieces better suited to her style.
“I got rid of the big, clunky wooden desk and brought in something lighter, brighter and more inviting,” says Garcia, referencing a large white oval table hugging the far wall of the sunlit space. “I encourage all my editors to just walk in, and I wanted a collaboration space. This is really where everything happens.”
With designer accoutrements and nods to industry collaborators thoughtfully arranged throughout, the room reflects Garcia’s positioning as an arbiter of taste. In addition to her day jobs in fashion publishing, she’s served as a judge on “Project Runway” since its premiere season and written four books on the art of style.
Atop a handful of shelves behind her desk are fashion and art books by friends, including stylist Carlos Mota and photographer Mariano Vivanco, who shot Garcia’s second Elle cover, for the April 2018 issue featuring Kim Kardashian. The top shelf houses gifted photos by fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon, including a self-portrait and a shot of street art featuring Che Guevara. Propped on a window divider is a giant pair of red lacquered lips sent to her by Yves Saint Laurent at the time of designer Stefano Pilati’s first collection for the house in 2004.
“Everywhere I’ve gone, those lips have come with me,” says Garcia, who served as fashion director at Elle from 2000 to 2008, then creative director at Marie Claire, until she returned to Elle last year.
Propped against a wall is the first inspiration board she created for Elle since her return — one image features a woman on the beach; another shows a woman sailing. “I want to bring in a little bit of the past and look toward the future,” she says. “The Elle woman is bold, dynamic, colorful, full of energy — plus she’s interested in all parts of the world and how it’s changing. It’s time for us to deliver that.”
She acknowledges that digital and social media have “changed the game” since the start of her career, but says print will continue to be important. “It’s print’s role to set the tone for all of the brand’s many extensions, and to be Instagrammable and coffee-table book worthy,” she says.
Indeed, along with an orchid and some Venus et Fleur boxed roses, one of the few items on her clean desktop is the latest Elle issue, featuring model and Instagram star Kendall Jenner.
“I like to keep my office organized. When this is organized and clean and streamlined, my thoughts are organized, and everything kind of falls into place. Other people might like a lot of layering, but for me, this works.”
“Chanel sent me this unbelievable set. I’m usually very low-maintenance when it comes to beauty; if I have bronzer and a little lip gloss, then I’m happy. But if I am ever in need of more, I have it all here.”
“This is a photograph by my really good friends and collaborators François Nars and Patti Wilson, who worked on this incredible shoot we did together overseas. I have a great admiration for their work. Afterward, François gave me this picture. It’s makeup, and it’s fashion — it was for Marie Claire, but I just couldn’t part with it.”
“My guilty pleasure. At around 4 o’clock, I’m always like, ‘Does anybody have some chocolate hiding?’ So, [my assistant] Ali got me these Hershey’s Kisses. I love them. You only need one. Or two.”
“I got these at the [Museum of Modern Art’s] gift shop, which I really love. They’re like my worry beads. When I’m thinking or worrying or waiting for a call, I’ll stack them or play with them. I just love the simplicity of them.”
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