Interview with Carolina Herrera: The legendary American designer reflects on her 35 in fashion
Fashion

Carolina Herrera Celebrates 35 Years With a New Book

After more than three decades in the business and with a new commemorative tome by Rizzoli out, Carolina Herrera takes a little time with us to reflect
Reading time 3 minutes

American charm and impeccability come rich and plenty in the form of Carolina Herrera, the grande dame of fashion among ladies who lunch. The designer’s new coffee table book, Carolina Herrera: 35 Years in Fashion, is as much a celebration as it is a treat for the eyes, with words by veteran fashion writer JJ Martin and art direction by Fabien Baron set to archival images and new photos revisiting work from her debut to the present. 

 

 

What was it like when you first started designing clothing?

My first idea, in fact, was to design fabrics. When I presented the idea to my friend Diana Vreeland, who was the Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue at the time, she suggested I design a collection instead. I showed my first collection in April 1981, and still remember it like it was yesterday. 

 

35 years in, you’ve likely seen trends come and go full circle. Your thoughts?

I try not to follow trends because seeing everyone in the same thing isn’t amusing. And fashion needs to be fun – it has to be! I always try to add something new and modern in my designs to surprise with.

 

What do you think of the many changes in the fashion industry since you started?

Colours, shapes and even fabrics are always changing but the timings of today’s fashion have transformed the industry completely. Despite all that, I maintain a constant touch of sophistication and elegance with a modern twist to my designs, no matter the trends of the moment.

"I have a responsibility to the women who buy and dress in Carolina Herrera – to make them feel confident, modern and, above all, beautiful – no matter their age."

How do you balance that fine sense of reality and fantasy in your designs?

When designing, I have a responsibility to the women who buy and dress in Carolina Herrera – to make them feel confident, modern and, above all, beautiful – no matter their age.

 

Does art inform your work?

For sure! For instance, I love the use of red in A Young Woman and Her Little Boy by Italian painter [Agnolo] Bronzino. There are many paintings that I love, but lately I’m obsessed with El Jaleo, [John Singer] Sargent’s great artwork of Spanish flamenco dancers painted in a very elegant way during the time he lived in Spain.

 

If you hadn’t become a designer, what else would you have done?

I love literature and often say that if I weren’t a designer, I’d be a writer.

 

What is your secret to staying inspired?

It can be a beautiful painting, a walk in the street or looking at the people in the area. It can be a conversation or a book that I’m reading. You have to have your imagination going at all times – and you have to be curious to discover new things.

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