Nina Garcia, the fashion editor and Project Runway judge, invites AD into her family’s stylish Manhattan home. Nina Garcia has had to do quite a bit more than click her vertiginous Tom Ford heels to make herself feel at home. For years she was too busy juggling the roles of mother, fashion director of Marie Claire, and judge on the popular reality show Project Runway, now airing its tenth season, to focus on creating a stellar personal haven. But with help from the right designer, it finally came together.
After weeks of attending fashion shows in Paris or Milan, along with the affiliated cavalcade of dinners and parties, the New York City–based Garcia prefers to retreat into a private world where the volume is dialed all the way down.
Seven years ago she and her husband, David Conrod, a managing partner and co-founder of G2 Investment Group, purchased a three-bedroom apartment in a 1908 building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The space, once part of a larger flat, was a tangle of small rooms, but with work dominating their lives at the time, it was more than adequate. Then, in 2006, as real-estate fairy tales so often go, shortly before Garcia became pregnant with the couple’s first child, Lucas, the adjoining unit came on the market. (Another son, Alexander, followed in 2010.) That apartment was their residence’s missing half, and the pair pounced on it and started making plans.
Initially, the renovation and decoration of the now-four- bedroom abode proved to be “slow, expensive, hit or miss, sometimes a nightmare,” Garcia says. On one of her Paris trips she spotted a set of Carl Malmsten klismos-style chairs that haunted her on the flight back to the States. A friend suggested she might find something similar at the SoHo decorative-arts gallery BAC, which is owned by Cuban-born designer Carlos Aparicio and known for fine midcentury works.
The chat was fruitful, and a bond was formed. Aparicio soon took over the Garcia-Conrod project, which included restoring architectural details, as well as enlarging the living room so the couple could entertain more comfortably. Meanwhile, architect and client explored their shared affinity for French and Scandinavian furnishings of the 1930s and ’40s.
While visiting Milan, Garcia wandered into Galleria Nilufar and fell in love with the chic emporium’s early-20th-century Swedish carpets—a passion of Aparicio’s, too. Often with long piles and vivid hues, the floor coverings recall the weavings of lesser-known Berber tribes, and it’s easy to imagine their unusual charms appealing to style-setters who have embraced neutral, diamond-motif Beni Ouarain carpets in recent years. Aparicio, for his part, thrills to the clash of the shaggy Scandinavian textiles against all that polished minimalism.
The living room, with its blue, beige, and chestnut palette and low, laid-back furnishings, communicates its personality most vigorously through textures: the iron of a Jean Royère lamp, the raw silk of the sweeping curtains. That muted scheme continues in the master bedroom, though the materials become more sumptuous; the curtains, for instance, are gray cashmere. There, Garcia cobbled together a combined workspace and vanity by teaming a Frank desk with a standing triptych mirror made for fashion designer Geoffrey Beene.
Garcia’s dressing area, however, is a no-mans-land, a spacious sanctum where she carefully assembles each season’s wardrobe, drawing from storage units she maintains elsewhere. Lately, she has been gravitating to jackets and cigarette pants. It had better work because Garcia acts as her own stylist on Project Runway. The stardom that has come with the show, she confesses—with “all the tweeting and blogging and talking to the camera”—has pushed her completely out of her comfort zone as a magazine editor. But Garcia has learned to embrace change.
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Inside Project Runway Judge Nina Garcia’s Manhattan Apartment | Celebrity Homes | Arch Digest