“The most rebellious thing you can do is be elegant.”Carolina Herrera
If I told you that Carolina Herrera was born into Latin American aristocracy with a socialite mother who took her to Balenciaga runway shows, and that she grew up wearing Dior and Lanvin, would you be surprised? You shouldn’t be, because it’s absolutely true. The story only gets better from there.
Young Carolina began her career as a publicist for Emilio Pucci, a family friend. She lived in New York in the seventies and was well-known among the Studio 54 crowd for her dramatic style – quite an accomplishment in that time and place! In the early 80s, Diana Vreeland suggested that Carolina start her own fashion line and the Herrera empire took off from there.
All well and good you say, but lots of rich women with a love for fashion begin fashion lines. What was the secret of Herrera’s success? How did she lure and keep such stylish clients Jackie Onassis? Even her own husband thought privately, “This may last only fifteen minutes.” She proved him very wrong.
The longevity is due to Herrera’s design philosophy. Described as both feminine and classic, which seems vague, it’s evident when you see it. She also designs clothes with an eye to what can be integrated into an existing wardrobe and worn repeatedly, which fits the requirements of many women, including the hard-working Queen of Spain.
The Queen has lots of Herrera dresses, ranging from everyday numbers to glittering evening wear. This berry colored fit and flare dress is a perfect summer choice.
The Herrera design aesthetic – classic but feminine – is boldly apparent in this sheath.
In the cocktail hour category, one of my favorites is this shimmering sequined polka dot entry, worn during the Israeli visit to Spain in 2017.
The Queen chose a Herrera design for one of the grandest of occasions, the banquet for the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito in 2019. The fuchsia gown was a custom creation, which featured white floral cascading embroidery from the bodice to midway down the skirt.
The Spanish royal family commitment to Herrera continues! Princess Leonor wore a Herrera suit at the 2022 Princess of Asturias awards.
Herrera has retired and turned the reigns of the studio over to Wes Gordon, who keeps it thriving with the mantra learned from the founder, “Do not be afraid to be pretty.”
The photos here are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the combination of the Queen of Spain and Herrera – spam your favorites in the comments.