Nina Garcia speaks! The 'Project Runway' judge sounds off on this season's controversial judging

Nina-Garcia-Project-Runway_lIf you’ve been watching Project Runway this season, you know that the judging has been — ahem — problematic, due to the inexcusably long absences of judges Nina Garcia and Michael Kors, a.k.a. Señora Don’t Bore Me and Sir Quips A Lot. Frau Klum did her best anchoring the Runway ship by herself all those weeks, but she can’t do it alone. Nor should she have to! Without the continuity of perspective that the regular judging trio offers week after week, the show suffered…big time. Need I remind you of some of this season’s most egregious judging atrocities? Ra’mon went home, Nicolas won a challenge, Logan’s crappy pants got a pass, and Epperson got the Oktoberfest boot. Not. Acceptable.

But at long last, Nina’s back tonight — and she’s here for the rest of the season, folks! In honor of her return, the irreplaceable Marie Claire editor (pictured on the show) chatted with us about the problematic  judging … and how one designer’s auf’ing broke her heart.

Entertainment Weekly: We’ve all been missing you terribly this season. Where have you been for the past five weeks?

Nina Garcia: Oh! Well, thank you for missing me! It’s surprising — I didn’t really think it was going to be noticeable. You know, when the move to L.A. happened, the [production] dates changed. We usually film in June in New York. Michael is around and so am I. But this time they filmed end of September, beginning of October — the months when the fashion shows happen in New York, Milan, and Paris. I had to go do my job as an editor and cover the shows, so that’s where I was. It was really out of my control. And I can’t change my life entirely. I have another job, and Michael has a business, which is even more serious. It’s unfortunate, but it was just timing.

EW: There is a consensus among fans that your absence, as well as Michael’s, has hurt the show. What do you think?

NG: I think that we make a really good team: Heidi, Michael, and myself. We have a really good rapport in terms of deliberating. And perhaps that’s what is missing. And we all bring different things to the table. It’s a combination of personalities that works.

EW: Okay, let’s talk about the judging. I personally can’t believe that you would have allowed Nicolas to win the movie genre challenge with his Ice Queen costume—

NG: [Laughs]

EW: Or that you would have sent Ra’mon home.

NG: Oh, Ra’mon! That upset me. Cause I thought Ra’mon was very talented. He was one of my favorites, actually. When I came back from Europe, he was the first person I was looking forward to seeing. And when I didn’t see him, I was like, [outraged] “Who ousted Ra’mon?! Who did it?! Who killed Ra’mon?!” [laughs] You get attached to some of them. You can’t help it. And that’s the problem with having so many people [filling in on] the show. When you’re there all the time, you know what’s consistent. I know what Ra’mon has shown before. I have it in the back of my mind. Even if he has a bad challenge, I know what he’s capable of. But when I’m disconnected for a few weeks, it’s harder for me to connect with the history of what he is doing. And the same goes for the judge that comes in. They’re really judging them on that particular date.

EW: The lack of continuity has been hard for the designers. It puts them at a disadvantage, I think.

NG: Right. Yeah, I agree. I do agree with that. The only person that has been consistent is Heidi.

EW: You laughed when I mentioned Nicolas’ Ice Queen outfit. So, would you have put that thing through?

NG: [Laughs] I can’t comment because it’s somebody else’s decision. It’s done. But yeah, I would have done things differently. Some things would have been different.

EW: Are you going to tell me which ones?

NG: [Laughs] No.

EW: What about Epperson? Another controversial elimination!

NG: Oh…I do agree with the decision to eliminate him.

EW: Even over Logan’s hideous pants?

NG: Ah… Well, you see, I don’t know. [Laughs] You know… that’s hard. Yes, maybe not over Logan. I wasn’t there and I saw it on video, but it’s not the same as when you experience it sitting there in person.

EW: Moving forward into future seasons, will you try to make a point to be there as much as possible?

NG: Yes, yes. Moving forward, it’s back to New York and we’re all there. And we’re all happy to be there! We’ve finished season seven.

EW: And you don’t have any long stretches of absences?

NG: No, none of us! We’re all there the entire time. We’re all there. Nobody missed anything. Nobody was even sick. Nothing!

So there you go, Runway fans. Nina was pretty honest, no? Tell me what you think in the comment section. But before you do that, be sure to click below for the second episode of Project Runway Talk, in which Epperson vents about the suckosaurus season six judging too!

[ewbrightcove “44767338001”, “44414532001”, “525”, “365”]

Photo Credit: Mike Yarish/Lifetime

Comments (84 total) Add your comment
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  • SA Girl

    I am so glad to have Nina Garcia back. You have no idea how much she has been missed this season.

    • James

      Sorry, but I have been liking the rotating judges. I seriously question Nina’s taste about 70% of the time (and don’t even get me started on Michael Kors) so I have been welcoming the alternate judges. Plus, I like that the contestants don’t know who they are designing for – that’s the way it should be so that we truly see what their vision is. If they know that Nina or Michael are looking for specific things (which they always are) it makes it too easy for the designers to create something specifically for Nina & Michael. And sorry, but Ramon should have been booted for that HORRID maternity bowling bag case he designed. His ego was so much bigger than his talent.

      • actingup

        I TOTALLY agree 100%.

      • azshadowwalker

        Agreed. I think the idea of letting a horrible design get through because of past work is nonsense. Each challenge is supposed to be, well, a challenge. It’s not supposed to be an excuse for the judges to play favorites and invent reasons to keep their favorites in. If they fail the challenge, they should go. I don’t care what they’ve done prior to.

  • Fatima

    I’m glad she knows there have been some bad decisions. I usually love this show but I find myself getting mad at the judges way too frequently. I don’t think I know fashion better than them, but if it were up to Heidi, I think every challenge would be about ready to wear items and she’d pick navy blue cocktail dresses every time.

  • Holly

    Finally! Please Project Runway don’t shoot in the fall ever again! This season has hurt badly without Nina and Michael. So glad to hear that all is back to normal for the the remainder of the season.

  • Mandi

    Ra’mone was a heart break. Epperson’s was better over Logan’s design in the showdown; and Christopher who is also very talented will probably get the boot, Nina and Kors there or not. My bet is Nicolas will win. Why? Because its a sponsored reality show.

    • Kimmy

      I so hope Nicolas does not win. I think that one of the ladies will take it this year. I really like Irina but the other ladies are very talented too.

  • JP

    It was nice at some points to have newer judges it keeps the shows fresh and the judges from getting academic. On other shows your work is for the betterment of the community, SYTYCD & Top Chef, and not for the enjoyment of the audience. Yet at the same time you begin to wonder who is ranking where and why hasn’t some one been raked over the coals yet

    • Kat

      I liked having different judges to some extent because like you say it keeps things fresh, but I preferred the way it was handled in previous seasons; they left the core panel alone 99% of the time, and if there was a guest judge, it wasn’t someone like Lindsay bloody Lohan. They added a fourth person to The Big Three without disrupting week-to-week consistency in judging for the designers as well as the viewers. I think that worked better, although in a way it’s also nice to have experienced this different strategy, just for kicks.

  • crispy

    The judges haven’t been all bad. They got rid of the crackhead.

    • oliver c.

      ugh, yes. he was so gross.

    • MultiPass

      Laugh O L. Right you are! He was a mess. I think it’s good people when people get off meth, don’t get me wrong, but unfortunately it screws your head up for life. They are always emotional basket cases.

      • azshadowwalker

        Personal experience? I always wonder about people who go off on topics about which they know nothing. So, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you have…experience.

    • Kristy

      Are you kidding me? The best judges are Nina and Michael.

  • kjw

    Did Nina really say the show is moving back to NYC? Can the show also move back to Bravo? I find this season unwatchable. It looks awful when it isn’t in hi-def and the revolving judges is dreadful. Bring Ra’mon and Epperson back!

    • EEKstl

      The show is moving back to NYC but will remain on Lifetime.

      • jared

        PLEASE. It looks awful when it isn’t in hi-def? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard today. Who cares what next network it’s on? It’s the same show, minus the great judges.

      • Kristy

        Thank goodness it is moving back to NYC.

    • omitommi

      I completely agree with you about the hi-def. To those of us who watch everything in hi-def, when one show is on a lower resolution channel, it is remarkably unwatchable.

      • Joy

        I get Lifetime in Hi-def.

      • azshadowwalker

        Talk about spoiled. No hi-def?! It’s just unwatchable! No wonder people hate Americans. How have a I managed to get through 38 years of my life without hi-f’ing-def?

  • babe

    What’s left to judge???? all the better designers has been booted out! big mistake!! the ones that are left are lucky leftovers!

  • Siansonea

    ENOUGH with the damned intrusive POP UP ADS! What is the DEAL? YOU ARE ANNOYING YOUR READERS!!!!

    • Elle

      Get a pop up blocker

  • Well that sucks..

    Poor Ra’mon!!! And poor us!! If Nina and Micheal just would’ve been there so would he. I know Logan’s cute but enough already. His clothes ain’t! I think it will be Christopher, one of the blondies and Irina in the end. So predictable…ugh.

  • samantha

    Nice video! I’m glad the judging will go back to normal next season…they have made so many bad choices this year. Nicholas is still around, they got rid of Epperson over Logan? And Louise should have been eliminated at the movie challenge, and I felt if Nina had been there she would have because Nina hates boring designs. Finally, I agree with another viewer: please move it back to Bravo! Watching lifetime makes me feel like a 50 year old single woman :(

    • hamster

      Hooray..back to “normal” soon! I don’t think this season’s problems can be blamed on the actual Lifetime Channel. They’re more due to the show’s production time and venue. Lifetime has some interesting shows, like Drop Dead Diva. They’re not all “women-in-peril” movies. You say 50-year-old single woman” like it’s a bad thing! Watch any channel you want. I watch shows on G4, and I’m not an 18-yr.-old boy.

    • azshadowwalker

      Yes, give me more commercials for those “high class” shows like The Real Housewives. Elitist nonsense. Bravo is as much of a lowest-common-denominator channel as any on television, yet so many Internet posters think they’re “above” Lifetime. So, watching the channel that gave the world a show about trying to trick a gay guy into falling for a straight guy was so much more sophisticated? The network that gives us “Work Out”? Please. Before NBC-Universal got its hooks into Bravo, it was a high-class channel. Now, it’s a parade of cookie-cutter reality shows and shallow fame-whores. Lifetime isn’t great, but it’s no worse than Bravo.

  • Kristina

    Yeah, Epperson was totally robbed over the Movie Genre challenge. That outfit was GORGEOUS! Love him! NICOLAS needs to go.

    • Topanga

      I couldn’t agree more!!! I loved his piece. That horrible rip-off of the Narnia Queen costume was a travesty. Nicolas needed to go weeks ago, and Logan is right behind him.

  • KD

    You and Michael have been TOTALLY missed, Nina! (I have also missed hearing Heidi introduce you because I love the way she says your name like it’s just one word with this sort of nasal twang. :)

    I’m glad you’ll both be around all next season!

  • Mr. FAMU

    Miss You Nina.

    In all honesty I don’t even bother watching the show anymore. I tried to give this season a chance but everything just seems so cheap. I mean Project Runway used to be special. How can a show that gave us Christian Siranio, Chloe, Korto, Michael Knight, Laura, Uli, and Jeffrey become the laughing stock that it is now?

    They really need to reclaim their winning formula. Because at this rate the show will be off the air soon.

  • emilyr17

    YEAHHH! I am psyched to see her back on the show! It feels different w/o her.

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