In her “uniform” of a crisp, classic white shirt, CAROLINA HERRERA exudes the kind of elegance and easy grace that has defined her fashion label for more than 30 years. She took a final bow last week to step into an ambassadorial role at the company she founded in 1980 and making room for creative director Wes Gordon, who has quietly been designing at her side.

     White jacket–clad members of Herrera’s atelier, who watched the show from the museum’s mezzanine level, joined the designer on the runway for her bow. It was a moving scene. Then Gordon arrived and presented his boss with two dozen (three dozen?) red roses and a kiss on the cheek. A graceful handover if ever there was one.

      Herrera’s rise to the top of the cutthroat world of fashion started in 1981 when she launched her flagship Carolina Herrera brand in New York. Today, her empire encompasses the signature fashion collection, a bridal collection, fragrances, and accessories. Herrera has more than 280 stores in 104 countries and all this brings in billions of dollars.

       Herrera says she was more interested in horses than fashion growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, where her father was Governor. But adds that she was lucky to always be surrounded by exquisitely dressed women. Today, the women in her life include her four daughters, two of whom also work for the Carolina Herrera brand.

        Her parents named her María Carolina Josefina Pacanins Niño. She is the daughter of commander Guillermo Pacanins Acevedo, governor of Caracas between 1950 and 1958, and María Cristina Niño Passios. Belongs to a wealthy Venezuelan family, accustomed to parties and galas.
          The designer found her first love at age 18 and for her misfortune, it was an unhappy marriage with Guillermo Behrens Tello, with whom she had her first two daughters.


            In 1969 she married the Venezuelan aristocrat Reinaldo Herrera, where her famous name comes from, Carolina Herrera. He was editor of Vanity Fair magazine, who is said to have been a lover of Onassis’s first wife. He was also a friend of the Rothschilds, the Agnelli and several royal families. With Reinaldo she had two other daughters.


              Esta foto da Carolina Herrera no verão de 1971 é vintage.(foto: arquivo It Mãe) in Vogue Carolina Herrera with her daughter Carolina, Caracas, 1971
                1978 LEGENDARY ANDY WARHOL POLAROIDS series

                  Mrs. Herrera, with Bianca Jagger at Studio 54 circa 1979, before she started her career as a fashion designer. Credit Robin Platzer/Getty Images


                  Frequently associating with Mick and Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol, at Studio 54, she became well known for her dramatic style. She first appeared on the International Best Dressed List in 1972, then was elected to its Hall of Fame in 1980. That year, her friend Diana Vreeland, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue suggested that Carolina design a clothing line. She did so, having samples made in Caracas, and showed them in a friend’s apartment in New York. A well known Park Avenue boutique, Martha’s, agreed to showcase her clothing in their prominent windows. Upon this initial success, she returned to Caracas and raised capital to fund a more formal launch. Her first runway show in 1980 included future supermodel Iman.

                    Carolina photographed by Victor Demarchelier for Harper’s Bazaar.


                      Carolina Herrera with daughters Patricia, Carolina, Mercedes and Ana Luisa PHOTO: Arthur Elgort used in the book ‘CAROLINA HERRERA’ by Alexandra Kotur – published by ASSOULINE -Through the celebrated photography of Annie Leibovitz, Arthur Elgort, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Mario Testino, as well as the words of friends, colleagues, and admirers like Calvin Klein, Ian Schrager, and Bianca Jagger Carolina Herrera is a portrait of one of today’s most timeless designers. With an introduction by Hamish Bowles, this book tells the story of a woman whose fashion echoes her own refinement.


                        Carolina Herrera with her daughter Carolina Herrera Baez, who is the Creative Director of Carolina


                          Illustration used with permission of David Downton. ©2012 David Downton

                          Herrera’s departure comes during a season of change for New York Fashion Week. Mid-career designers are decamping for Paris, and younger talents are reconsidering the usefulness of expensive, twice-yearly fashion shows in a digital age that requires constant new content. At 79, Herrera is one of the last of the established designers to bow out. Among her peers, only Ralph Lauren is still in the game. Calvin Klein was sitting in the front row at the Museum of Modern Art alongside Herrera’s husband and daughters. The changing of the guard chez Herrera is reflective of wider shifts beyond the runway. Tony sportswear and society gowns—the stuff the designer has trafficked in for decades—is not in the ascendant. Gordon will have his work cut out for him making the Herrera codes relevant to a culture dominated by athleisure and streetwear. But let’s hope he tries. We’ve seen enough of tracksuits and logos.

                            Carolina Herrera Fashion
                              Carolina Herrera Fashion
                                  First Lady Michelle Obama wearing Carolina Herrera and President Barack Obama with French President Francois Hollande
                                    Carolina Herrera Spring 2010
                                      Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2016 Collection
                                        Carolina Herrera and Wes Gordon
                                          Carolina Herrera also holds the record for having dressed more inhabitants of the White House than any other designer in history. After Jackie KO, would pass through his studio Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump

                                          “Just don’t say I am retiring,” the 79-year-old said with a dismissive wave. “I am not retiring! I am moving forward.” – CAROLINA HERRERA



                                            Rio Hamilton

                                            Rio Hamilton is a business development professional with vast marketing and sales experience.He specializes in brand promotion for the luxury interior design and lifestyle industries. Rio works with companies, individuals and groups on concentrated brand identity and elevation. He has a popular website that chronicles "the who's who" at design and fashion events throughout greater New York.

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