She holds the record for having dressed more First Ladies in the White House than any other designer in history,
She was friends with Andy Warhol, who did her portrait in exchange for her gold-mesh-and-diamond Van Cleef & Arpels minaudière (a bejeweled clutch).
Andy took it and played with it all night long. When he returned it he said, ‘If you give it to me, I will give you your portrait in exchange.’ I said, ‘Take it, it’s yours.’ And that was that.
She was photographed by a young Robert Mapplethorpe, who had to convince her to pose,
He would say, ‘You have to let me photograph you,’ and I would say, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because I’m going to be so famous, and you’re going to be so mad you didn’t!'”
Her dresses graced many a red carpet,
and the world stage.
It all began when Caroline Herrara, 42, society swan, style icon, and mother of four, consulted her friend, Diana Vreeland, with an idea of designing fabrics. Fortunately for fashion, she heeded the legendary Vogue editor’s advice:
Oh, that’s so boring. Why don’t you do something else? Why don’t you do a collection of dresses? It’s much more fun.
And so in 1981, Carolina Herrera debuted her first collection at the Metropolitan Club in New York.
They never had a show there before mine. It was a madhouse. I had live music, a pianist playing Cole Porter songs. I thought it was divine, but there were many problems. Some of the models’ looks weren’t even finished. Iman’s hem wasn’t done, so we had to use pins, but she was so happy to work with the pins, and she looked fabulous.
Perhaps in tribute to that first show, Cole Porter was the soundtrack to Herrera’s final show at the Museum of Modern Art last month.
After 72 shows and 37 years, the supremely elegant Carolina Herrera (79) took her final bow after presenting her Fall 2018 collection.
Herrera is steeping into a new role in her eponymous company, that of Global Brand Ambassador. She is adamantly not retiring, but rather, moving forward, by handing over the creative director reigns to 31 year-old Wes Gordon, her creative consultant for the past year.
Her clothes are not street, edgy, hip or cool. She doesn’t do shocking show-your-derriere nude dresses. Herrera definitively does not follow fads. She does, however, make some of the sexiest dresses because she believes in restraint, subtlety, and a little mystery.
For me, fashion is about originality, sophistication and beauty. I’m not in the fashion business; I’m in the beauty business.
Her clothing is contemporary, classic, yet with a modern twist each new season. Her legions of faithful customers always look well-dressed. Her beautiful daughters style their mother’s clothes in disparate ways and show just how versatile the pieces are.
If ever there is a testament to finding your style and staying true to it, it is Carolina Herrera. The daughter of a former Governor of Caracas, Herrera married into Spanish nobility and was a socialite before she was a designer. As she says, her eyes were accustomed to beautiful things. With her impeccable taste and sophisticated fashions, she created many more.
CH ON FASHION
… fashion has changed a lot. What they like now is ugliness. Women dress in a very strange way. Like clowns. There is a lot of pressure to change all the time. But it’s better to wear what suits you. Add something new and you have a great look. Consistency is important.
…a white blouse always fits the bill. .. They go better than anything else with certain outfits, short skirts as well as pants, and even long evening skirts. They’re also very flattering, because they light up one’s face. But they have to look neat, well-ironed, buttons in perfect condition. I’m always saying that about clothes. What good does it do you to wear an expensive dress if one of the buttons is falling off or if it hasn’t been properly ironed? Or to wear really expensive shoes if they’re dusty and scuffed?
~Carolina Herrera, AARP interview
CH ON STYLE
It is difficult to define style.It’s not what you’re wearing but how you wear it. It’s a personal thing and reflected in the way you arrange your house, your taste in books and art—the personal stamp you give to everything you touch.
CH ON AGEING GRACEFULLY
The secret to ageing gracefully is knowing what looks good on you at all ages. If you try to dress in a young way when you’re old, you’re going to look even older. Shorts, for example, are for young people with lovely legs.
~Carolina Herrera, The Wall Street Journal, 2015
THE CH INFLUENCE
Although I’ve never owned any of Carolina Herrera’s clothes (sad face), I love her sartorial ethos—clothes that are smart and elegant and that don’t change with the trends or even the seasons. Timeless classics. I’ve had a black silk ball skirt in my closet for years and years, and now I know what to wear with it thanks to the show finale. Now the only question is the colour of the belt. Red?
WATCH THE CAROLINE HERRERA FALL 2018 SHOW
VIEW THE CAROLINE HERRERA FALL 2018 COLLECTION: Vogue
READ THE BOOKS: Carolina Herrera: 35 Years of Fashion