We talked with the stylist and illustrious Nina Garcia about Project Runway Season 10, whose finale airs tomorrow night (10/17/12) on Lifetime. Conversation veered off to all sorts of fun topics… she even spilled on Project Runway season 11! Plus, you’re not the only one who sometimes is disappointed by the guest judges…

nina garciaNina Garcia Interview – Project Runway Season 10

Jennifer Hudson as the Project Final Guest Judge

“It was great to have Jennifer. She has walked the red carpet many times. And she is coming out of a line of clothes, herself. She’s in that midst of producing clothes and understanding what women need in their wardrobe. I though it was a very timely invitation.”

Is styling a problem that many fashion designers have, or just inexperienced ones?

” That is something real designers deal with all the time.  … The designers that have enough resources use stylists especially for that. Because they will turn out a more polished and concise message. It is hard to do. It is hard to make clothes and then… its a skill-set unto itself.  The presentation of the show. So, it is not just a problem that these designers Project Runway.  …It’s across the board.”

Project Accessory wasn’t entirely well-received. But would PR fans watch Project Stylist? Would she?

In a word: Yes. Hopefully Lifetime will look into this!

What qualities do you the winning collections on Project Runway tend to share?

“It has to be a standout collection. It has to have creativity and wearability. This is something you want to aspire to have but also be able to see yourself wearing it. When I see the winning collection that’s what I am looking for. That it’s creative – meaning I haven’t seen it before… that it comes from a place of authenticity…” She also said that at a glance you should be able to tell who the designer is.” Aside from creativity and werability she said it’s important, “That women will be able to identify with it. Retailers will be able to be interested in buying it. These are clothes that are for a store. At the end of the day clothes are meant to be at a store, not a museum.”

Guest Judges – Always helpful?

Nina admitted some guest judges have been flops. And the reason why? They’re too nice! “Some judges come on and they don’t want to speak their mind. They are skeptical about hurting people’s feelings. But it’s… about giving them constructive criticism and helping them through your observations.”

Project Runway Season 11 – any hints on what there’ll be?

“Well, a lot of surprises. There might be some twists.”

Was there lots of debate over who the Project Runway season 10 winner should be?

I think the pre-show to the finale was a wake-up call to the designers. And what you see at the finale is they really step it up. And there will be a clear and definite winner. And I think it was very unanimous. Yes, it was a struggle because each fo them came back with their best game. But I think there was a real solid winner. It wasn’t so much of a disagreement… for me there was a very clear winner.

On Tim Gunn

“Tim is the perfect mentor.”

Any regrets?

After a long, thoughtful pause, Nina said no. But she then said there’s often a lot she doesn’t know. “We will be at home… and we will be watching a personality that is despicable. And we’ve (just) given them a very good review. As judges, we don’t see what happens behind the scenes. And that might… had I known how this person behaved or what he said, or she said… that would have swayed my perception of them. But in the end, when I think about it, I am only there to judge them on their clothes, not on their personalities or what they do in the work room. So I feel very confident in all the judgements that we have made.”

Want to audition? This is what you should do…

“Put together a very concise collection or portfolio. Be very motivated and focused and articulate when you present it.”

Which alum does she think have done very well?

Christian Siriano. “Chloe Dao has a phenomenal business. …I think there are some that did not necessarily win but have done very well on their own, quietly.”

Favorite season?

The very first! “Everybody was… it was just so unexpected. We were all creating such a phenomenal show without even realizing it. It really came from a place of genuine interest for all of us.”

Does she wear Project Runway alum designs?

Christin Siriano, and of course she wore the winning look for Marie Claire challenge (Kimberly Goldson.) “I’ve worn some pieces here and there.”

Stay tuned to Small Screen Scoop when we cover the Project Runway finale!

Photo Credit: Lifetime