Venezuelan born Carolina Herrera began her career as a style icon when her friend Count Rudi Crespi and fashion bastion Diana Vreeland introduced her to design. Now an American citizen, based in New York since 1980, she is not only world renowned for her creations but she is known also for her sense of style, having been named as one of the best dressed women in the world.
Her elegant, classic taste has made her a firm favourite on the social circuit, and her designs are known for their opulence and luxury. Her use of fabrics – and especially furs – prove her expertise in manipulating fabrics and materials, always achieving an effortlessly chic look to which her global audience of fans remain loyal.
But it is perhaps her clientele list which speaks the most for her pedigree as one of the top international fashion designers. Oscar winners and famous musicians alike have been dressed by Herrera, but perhaps her most revered creation was for the legendary Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Today, Herrera’s empire includes ready-to-wear seasonal collections, global stores, fragrances, the CH Harolina Herrera brand, and six flagship boutiques, the most recent opening in her home town of Caracas in October 2011. Her collections have earned her the respect of designers working in both women’s and men’s fur fashion worldwide, but her aspiration has not come at the expense of her family. Herrera has four daughters, with two from her first marriage to Guillermo Behrens Tello and two from her second marriage to Vanity Fair magazine’s special-projects editor, Reinaldo Herrera Guevara.
Throughout her career, Herrera has won her fair share of awards, honours, and glory. Remaining a celebrated designer as well as a Goodwill Ambassador for IIMSAM to this day, she won the “Mercedez-Benz Presents” award for her Spring/Summer collection in 2011 and was named Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2004. Receiving The International Centre in New York’s Award of Excellence as well as Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, perhaps still yet more prestigious was the Spanish Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts, presented by the King of Spain in 2002.
“I love the idea of elegance and intricacy, but whether it is in a piece of clothing or a fragrance, the intricacy must appear as simplicity,” Herrera is known for once saying. And never more is this so readily displayed than in her own exquisite creations.
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Hannah J Kale