Carolina Herrera was born and raised in Venezuela, and, after gracefully gliding onto best-dressed lists upon moving to Manhattan, she started her own brand with little business experience but the highest of fashion ideals: to bring elegance, colour, and liveliness to women’s wardrobes. The DNA has remained the same since, from dressing first ladies Jacqueline Kennedy and Michelle Obama, all the way through Wes Gordon taking the reins as creative director, after Herrera retired in 2018. From fragrance to fashion to beauty, the brand has become the epitome of an international powerhouse—here are the milestones that have defined its monumental history.
1981 – The First Carolina Herrera Fashion Show
On the suggestion of legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland, Herrera, then an impeccably-dressed figure on the New York scene, launched her very own fashion brand in 1981. The first collection was about 20 looks—a healthy mix of silk and ruffles and big sleeves and Grecian gowns, modelled on the catwalk by no less than Iman—shown at the swanky Metropolitan Club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Carolina Herrera, the company, was an immediate success, in touch with a sense of modern glamour that was refreshing and relevant to a contemporary woman.
1988 – The First Fragrance, Carolina Herrera
A canary yellow fragrance held in a handsome Art Deco bottle shaped like a drop of gold, Herrera’s first eponymous fragrance was a tribute to her own sense of personal style and taste. With refined hints of tuberose, apricot, sandalwood, and jasmine—the flower and scent she most associates with her childhood in Venezuela—it would set the tone for countless Herrera fragrances to come: a mixture of ladylike and lush, refreshing and full of life, graceful but entirely down-to-earth.
2001 – Launch Of Carolina Herrera CH
In 2001, the brand launched Carolina Herrera CH, a casually elegant lifestyle collection with ready-to-wear and accessories for women, men and children. Since then, CH has birthed a number of iconic handbag styles, including the sumptuous Blason, the playful Martryoshka, and the elegant Initials Insignia, which is Carolina incarnate, complete with a shiny metallic CH clasp as fine as fine jewellery. Craftsmanship has always been the CH calling card, with handbags handmade in the brand’s leather atelier in Spain. And today, CH offers customers a little bit of everything, from high heel pumps to rose quartz earrings to polka dot silk ties for men.
2001 – Launch Of 212
A nod to the area code of the brand’s native New York, 212 was an entirely new universe of fragrance for younger audiences. Launched in a minimalist bottle with rounded edges, it was also the first project worked on by one very special addition to the Herrera team: Carolina A. Herrera, Mrs Herrera’s beloved daughter, now the Creative Director of Beauty and Fragrance. A fresh, sensual scent with gardenia and musk, the 212 collections has expanded to include an exciting array of different variations.
2016 – Launch Of Good Girl
It’s the flirtatious fragrance in the iconic high heel bottle, in just about five years, Good Girl has become a signature at the House of Herrera, known globally for its irreverent image, its sculptural bottle, and its association with supermodel Karlie Kloss, who has been its face since the very beginning. The scent is feminine, with notes of jasmine, and alluringly mysterious, with hints of cocoa, almond, tonka and coffee. Its appeal is universal, a smashing success the world over.
2018 – Wes Gordon Becomes Creative Director
It was a match made in Manhattan heaven—with the retirement of Herrera, the young New York upstart Wes Gordon took the reins, with designs that honoured the brand’s heritage while blazing new artistic trails for the future of fashion. Exuberant, and playful, Gordon’s work marries an uptown grandeur with a downtown panache, all the while celebrating the house codes of ravishing ruffles, big bold sleeves, and bright red and pink. He has said his most important mission is making customers smile. “In a grey, uncertain world,” he once said, “Herrera should be that rainbow in your wardrobe.”
2020 – Launch Of Herrera Beauty
Herrera Beauty was tailor-made to instantly stand out from the crowd. So what exactly is the unique Herrera approach to the magic of make-up, you wonder? Herrera Beauty is entirely and excitingly customisable, with playful cases that make it possible to wear lipsticks, powders, highlighters, and mattifiers like fine jewellery. You pick the shade and colour, then select the cap or case, and finally, load it up with charms and tassels that surprise and delight.
Photographs courtesy: Carolina Herrera
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