Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Women We Love: Carolina Herrera

Carolina in her signature white shirt

Amid the mess and moxie of New York Fashion Week Fall 2013, one lady did not disappoint. She still remained a lady. Carolina Herrera has been turning out refined looks for 33 years, since launching her fashion line in 1980.

Lucy Liu's gown at the 2013
Golden Globes in typical
ladylike Herrera style

In the beginning she was treated as a marginally talented dilettante, a lady-who-lunched while keeping an eye on what other ladies-who-lunched were wearing. Her collections were at first grudgingly praised. Not only has her career stood the test of time, she became quite the business woman, developed a following and— perhaps greatest of all— garnered raves and respect from the fashion chroniclers. When I found out she is 74, after declaring "I'll have what(ever) she's having", I realized my praise (at least) is long overdue.

Carolina in the jet-set days

There was no reason Carolina Herrera needed to become a fashion designer. She was born into a wealthy, socially and politically active Venezuelan family. She married well twice, first to a Venezuelan landowner and has been married since 1968 to Reinaldo Herrera Guevara (a television personality and son of a marquis). She led a jet-set lifestyle for years and could undoubtedly have chosen her wardrobe from any of the world's top designers. What made her enter a business that doesn't suffer fools lightly?

Carolina became known for her elegance and style. She was thinking of starting a line of textiles when her friend Diana Vreeland, the legendary editor of Vogue, encouraged her to become a fashion designer. Although she began in a small way (selling exclusively in a New York City boutique), her looks sold and were eventually declared by the New York Times to be "elegant and worldly without ever being fussy". Not surprisingly each collection features a play on a particular textile theme. Today Carolina Herrera is a family business encompassing fragrance, a lifestyle brand and Carolina Herrera boutiques around the world.

"Four daughters, 12 grandchildren, three
great-grandchildren and many, many shirts"

Carolina is her own best model. She would like women to feel they too can be glamorous and elegant, yet prides herself that she can get ready for a ball in ten minutes. She fears women consider being called elegant to be old-fashioned but believes elegance is not an old fashioned idea.

Did I mention "Carolinia Herrera by Carolina Herrera" is my favorite perfume? I wear it so often people think it's Me. I'd like to think it's Her.


  1. I loved reading your blog. I've loved her clothes since I can remember. It's wonderful to see a designer who creates beautiful and feminine things for a real woman, not just a young female stick figure.

  2. I've always admired her elegant, non-fussy style. And Lucy Liu's gown is one of the best I've seen in ages.