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YOU'RE EITHER IN, OR YOU'RE OUT OR YOU'RE NOT: Take Nina Garcia, Elle, "Project Runway," Lifetime Television and Bravo and what do you get? A Gordian Knot of relationships that have to be unwound, rewound, reconfigured and just plain figured out. Yes, as reported on WWD.com Friday, Garcia was let go from her position as fashion director at Elle and, yes, the magazine is now scrambling to find Garcia a place — albeit a symbolic one — on the masthead as editor at large. Why? Because of "Project Runway," which has made Garcia a household name and raised Elle's profile.
It's all a bit of a mess, especially since some Elle staffers have been itching to say "auf wiedersehen" to the editor for years. Sources close to the magazine said Garcia would have been shown the door a while ago, but her rising profile associated with "Project Runway" gave Elle a reason to keep her. And it may do so again.
The hiccup is season five of the program, which was up in the air last week after The Weinstein Co. decided to take "Project Runway" to the Lifetime Network from Bravo because it would be paid more money. Many at Elle assumed that would mean Bravo would likely drop season five — the last the magazine was contracted to be involved in as a partner. But — surprise! — Bravo decided to push ahead and, suddenly, Elle needed Garcia again — just as she needs the magazine.
According to sources close to "Project Runway," Garcia's future with the show depends on her decision to stay at the title. If she chooses to stay on as a contributor, she will serve as a judge on the show through season five. The show is currently holding castings for its season five contenders, and will begin taping this summer. The last episode will air after September's fashion week in New York.
If Garcia completely severs ties to Elle, sources say it will be difficult for her to remain as a judge during season five. But that equally would be a blow to Elle, since finding another editor to replace Garcia for what might be only one season would be a challenge. While fashion news director Anne Slowey has substituted for her on the show several times in past seasons, she is filming her own reality show along with Elle creative director Joe Zee and other staffers, "Fashionista." That show will air on CW in the summer, right around the time "Project Runway" starts its final season on Bravo.