Read Nina Garcia’s CFDA Fashion Award Speech for Best Media Honor

At tonight’s CFDA Fashion Award ceremony, ELLE Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia, dressed in Michael Kors Collection and Boucheron jewelry, took the stage to accept the organization’s Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard. In a candid speech, Garcia thanked Emily Ratajkowski, who introduced her on stage, and then reflected on her journey in fashion as a Latina editor and her decades-long work championing more diverse voices and stories in fashion journalism.

“As I started out in this industry, I was one of the very few Latinas,” Garcia said. “Today, I am one of the editors-in-chief, and I am proud to see so many faces like mine in this room today. To see more diverse voices reflected in fashion media. And to see more talented individuals being given the space to tell their stories.”

“My mission is so clear,” she continued. “Now, more than ever, it is important to use our platform to tell stories that uplift other women and to have conversations that might not be so comfortable. We must be bold; we must be courageous; and we certainly must herald in a new age of fashion, one that is transparent, responsible, and representative.”

Read Ratajkowski’s introduction of Garcia below:

It is my pleasure to speak tonight about my dear friend, Nina Garcia. I first met Nina years ago. We instantly connected, talking about our mothers, love of art, and experiences in the industry. Nina was an inspiration for me about what a strong, fearless woman in fashion looks like.

Nina is a genuine trailblazer. In 2017, she became the first Latina to lead a major American fashion title, and at ELLE, she directs the largest fashion media brand in the world.

ELLE has always embraced diversity, but Nina has taken this commitment to another level. She puts fashion in the context of culture and is fiercely devoted to giving a platform to new voices, including emerging creatives from underrepresented and marginalized communities. For her two biggest issues of 2021, Nina used her platform to spotlight important issues. In the March Issue, FKA Twigs bravely discussed her experience with intimate partner violence, and ELLE opened a portal to donate to organizations that provide support for domestic abuse survivors. For this work, Nina received WomanKind’s 2021 Phoenix Woman of the Year in Media Award. And then in September, ELLE launched the Latinx Issue featuring Selena Gomez. Nina and ELLE partnered with the CFDA to provide webinars for emerging Latinx designers, showing that her magazines extend beyond the pages.

Nina will always use her power and her platform to stand up for women. And she is willing to open up about her own experiences as well. Two years ago, Nina shared her story about her preventative double mastectomy on ELLE.com. Putting a spotlight on her own journey, Nina helped other women with theirs, and since that moving piece, Nina has devoted herself to advocating for breast cancer awareness and research, helping other women through charities like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Nina, thank you for your vision and your fearlessness, and it is my great honor to present Nina Garcia the CFDA Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard.

And Garcia’s full speech that followed:

Emily, thank you so much for your kind words and congratulations for the release of your new book, My Body, congratulations. It’s really amazing. What an honor to be on this stage with all of you tonight.

My love affair with fashion and media started in the coastal city of Barranquilla, Colombia in my mother’s closet. Her closet was her sacred space. It only belonged to her, and she wouldn’t let us inside very often. My mother was a size 16 in a world of a size 4. But, every time she emerged from that closet, it was a bold declaration that fashion belonged to her too. That was a big lesson for me. She taught me that fashion can be transformative.

Throughout my career, the connection to my roots has been very powerful and a source of my strength. Looking back, I see myself as a ten-year-old in my hometown, scissors in hand, cutting up and creating my very own fashion magazines as my mother looked on. I was so lucky to know back then that this was my passion, and I never thought in my wildest dreams, that the little girl from Barranquilla would be on this stage, accepting this award.

As I started out in this industry, I was one of the very few Latinas. Today, I am one of the editors-in-chief, and I am proud to see so many faces like mine in this room today. To see more diverse voices reflected in fashion media. And to see more talented individuals being given the space to tell their stories.

My mission is so clear. Now, more than ever, it is important to use our platform to tell stories that uplift other women and to have conversations that might not be so comfortable. We must be bold; we must be courageous; and we certainly must herald in a new age of fashion, one that is transparent, responsible, and representative.

I want to thank the CFDA, Tom Ford, Steven Kolb, my family, my wonderful husband, Hearst which has given me this incredible platform, and certainly my incredible team at ELLE. I would not be here today without each and every one of you in this room. This recognition travels straight to my heart. I am so honored. Thank you so much.

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