The ladies who lunch love her. Hollywood’s IT girls go gaga for her gowns. And so do South Florida’s socialites who swoon at the very nuance of her name — Carolina Herrera. For the past 25 years, the Venezuelan designer’s collections are synonymous with impeccable style and elegance. “As a young girl, I didn’t have any idea I’d be in fashion — I do remember always undressing my dolls, maybe I didn’t like what they were wearing?” Herrera laughs.
Clad in a crisp-white shirt, tea-length skirt and Oscar de la Renta heels, Herrera is in town toasting the opening of her fourth freestanding eponymous U.S. boutique in Bal Harbour Shops and showcasing her Spring 2010 collection at the 11th annual Jackson Memorial Foundation’s Guardian Angels luncheon at the InterContinental Hotel. “This Spring collection is inspired by sunsets — luminous colors of oranges and pinks stand out, “ Herrera says.
Success and philanthropy aren’t a far stretch by any means for Herrera. Born in Caracas, Venezuela amongst an aristocratic family, Herrera enjoyed a privileged upbringing, which evolved into hobnobbing with the international scene. She attended her first couture show, that of Cristóbal Balenciaga, at age 13 with her grandmother and eventually at the rouse of fashion legend Diana Vreeland, close friend Count Rudi Crespi and husband Reinaldo, Herrera created a collection in 1980 as a “test.”
Countless collections sold around the world, eight fragrances, a lifestyle line called CH Carolina Herrera, bridal gowns, accessories and several CFDA awards later, it’s safe to say Herrera is a fashion force to be reckoned with. A self professed late bloomer in terms of her career she says, “I started later in life and I love it — you have to do things that you really feel and like in this life. The more I do it, the more I like it.”
Best known for exquisitely detailed suits, dresses and gowns, Herrera hones the ability to appeal to every generation. “My collections are classic with a very modern twist,” she says. “I don’t pay attention to trends because I find them very boring — everybody looks the same. For me, creativity and individuality is key to fashion. Why can’t you be more creative and wear something that nobody else has?” Herrera asks.
Inspired by her every day life — books, movies, paintings — Herrera is most fulfilled by her burgeoning brood. “I am so proud of my huge family. I have four daughters, 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild,” she beams. Spoken like a true lady — and precisely the reason why women worship her.
WE ASKED, SHE ANSWERED:
Travel spots: Venice, Italy and Patmos, Greece
Book: Pride and Prejudice
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
Handbag: CH Carolina Herrera
Designer: Karl Lagerfeld
Guilty pleasure: Chocolate
TV show: Grey’s Anatomy
Musician: The Beatles
Always chic: Annette de la Renta, Alexandra Theodoracopoulos and Diane Kruger
Designer Carolina Herrera, left, with María Celeste Arrarás of Telemundo. Photo: Tomas Loewy