>> We've all heard the drama surrounding Nina Garcia's abrupt exit from Elle in April, but Nina herself says that she saw it coming as far back as 2006. This week's New York Magazine takes an in-depth look at the former Elle editor who has built herself into a brand and compares her with current Elle editor Anne Slowey, pitting the old guard Elle reality star against the new guard Elle reality star hopeful.
Ninotchka "Nina" Garcia learned how to deal with adversity at a very young age.
The summer after she turned 16, Ninotchka “Nina” Garcia found herself in the crossfire of a mafia shoot-out. She was eating a late dinner with her friends at a trendy restaurant in Barranquilla, Colombia . . . The bullets started and stopped so quickly she didn’t realize what was happening until she was crouched beneath the table.
“It was the Wild West back then,” she says. “Some mafioso upset at having to sit in traffic—you know, like road rage, but with guns. Or quarreling mafia families. No one dared ask.” Her voice is resigned. “You just learned to be low-key and not flashy.”
Anne Slowey, meanwhile, deals with the adversity of those ten pounds that just won't go away.
She has tried steroids, supplements, pills, a sort of detoxifying electroshock therapy she calls “Frankenbutt treatments,” and an on-again, off-again commitment to juice fasts. To motivate herself, Slowey buys her fashion-show ensembles, tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of Lanvin and Prada and Balenciaga, several sizes too small. Once, she decided to read Ulysses and practically locked herself in the house for a week, reading it in the bathtub. “I lost eight pounds,” she recalls wistfully.
On fame, fortune, and getting frozen out »
Nina says she "never wanted to be famous," while Anne, she was always looking for attention.
[Anne] possesses an acute allergy to discretion. She was famous in the Elle offices for sharing — often in her “outside voice” — the details of her marriage (to architect Rodger Fairey) and sex life with even the greenest of interns, while keeping the office busy with an endless swirl of healers, alternative-medicine practitioners, and feng shui consultants. “Anyone who works with her thinks, how does this woman not have a show?” says a former Elle staffer.
In the late nineties, Anne and Nina "were smoking buddies" at Elle, but the two were caught between warring factions within the magazine — creative director Gilles Bensimon and editor-in-chief Roberta Myers.
Garcia, who had been in the fashion department since 1995, was something of the empress of Bensimon’s ruling clique. (And as such, she paid little heed to Myers — to Myers’s occasional annoyance.) Slowey, having been hired in 1998 in one of the few fashion-personnel decisions made by Myers’s predecessor, Elaina Richardson, was decidedly not.
Garcia was known for having the fashion-house connections to finagle important dresses from collections Anna Wintour had put on reserve, and being able to move a $10,000 dress from Zimbabwe to the Caribbean for a photo shoot tomorrow. Slowey was more in the Myers camp — a theatrical, thrift-shopping East Village dweller from Indiana who was more interested in writing about fashion than living in it.
Once Gilles Bensimon was demoted in late 2006 to make way for current creative director Joe Zee, Nina saw it coming.
The Elle staff . . . had turned against Garcia. It seemed that creative director Joe Zee was freezing her out, holding fashion meetings at 9:30 AM without telling her, and “forgetting” to invite her to a lavish dinner in Milan during the fashion shows. “They all hate her,” says one recently departed staffer of office sentiment toward their former fashion director. “And no one really knows why. They just call her, like, ‘the evil one’ or ‘the monster.’ ”
As for Anne, she's not too worried about Stylista's reception.
“I don’t even know what reality is anymore,” she remarks . . . The fact that the early trailers have been panned for being schlocky seems to have surprised Slowey, who hoped viewers would get that the whole thing is a joke — just her and Elle creative director Joe Zee having a laugh. But whatever. She professes to be “somnambulant” regarding the public’s perception of her. There are too many immediate tasks to accomplish, she says, decisions to make, stories to read, and at the end of the day, too much vodka to drink.
But Nina's not out of the running just yet — she's got her spot as Project Runway judge, her fashion director post at Marie Claire, and there's even talk of a Project Runway spinoff, featuring Nina and the Marie Claire staff.