Last Monday morning, on a wide concrete runway lined with the fashion industry’s elite, Carolina Herrera presented her fall 2017 collection: 39 looks that included new takes on her signatures (including white blouses, six of which opened the show) and several classics with decidedly modern twists. (Bella Hadid looked right at home in a metallic midi gown.) Feminine sheaths mingled with sexy-cool jackets, and somehow, pants anchored by rugged boots made sense followed by Oscars-worthy dresses.
Elegantly mixing traditional and forward-thinking elements is an art Herrera has been perfecting since 1981. (Last year, she commemorated three-and-a-half decades in the business with a six-pound coffee table tome published by Rizzoli: “Carolina Herrera: 35 Years of Fashion.”)
Her career longevity is nearly unheard of in fashion, and it has not been without some bumps in the road: Just last month, she settled a lawsuit against Oscar de la Renta, based on its hiring of her former senior designer mid a non-compete agreement. However, her latest work, met with rave reviews, made it clear that Herrera is in rare form.
We caught up with the designer just days after New York Fashion Week show, which took place in a trendy, raw space in the Meatpacking District, as opposed to the usual: the Frick Collection, a museum in the Upper East Side. The move, combined with her apparent optimism about the industry, seemed to communicate the same message: She’s in for fashion’s next chapter. So much for designer burnout.
You started showing at NYFW 36 years ago. What’s changed?
Fashion is always changing — it’s an evolution, not a revolution. Every season is a new collection and a new idea. It’s very invigorating.
Why did you choose to move your show?
New York City is beautiful, with many hidden treasures. I found this [space] in the Meatpacking District with a beautiful skylight designed by I.M. Pei. The venue has a lot of history, but it’s very modern — it was the perfect venue for my fall collection.
Carolina Herrera has an awesome social media presence. What’s the house’s strategy during fashion week?
#HerreraLive is the home to all of our [fashion week] content. It’s amazing to click and see all of the beautiful images and videos. This season, we had Peyton List take over our Instagram. She’s a friend of the house and a great representation of today’s upcoming talent.
Are you greatly involved in the business side of Carolina Herrera?
I always say I’m not in the fashion business; I’m more in the beauty business. I want women to look more beautiful when they wear Carolina Herrera. I have a fantastic team around me that I trust, so I can focus on designing.
What’s your secret to longevity as a designer?
You have to find your own style, and it’s difficult to define what style is. It’s not what you’re wearing, it’s how you wear it. It’s something very personal, and it reflects the way you live and your house, the books you read, the art you have. It’s very important to have a definitive style as a designer.
What inspired your fall 2017 collection?
The collection embodies the essence of the house. I was inspired by uncomplicated silhouettes and feminine detailing that embraces a sense of calm elegance.
What do you look for when casting a show?
I always look for beautiful women who are confident and wear the clothes well.
How about when outfitting celebrity types? Why did you decide to dress Ivanka Trump for inauguration weekend?
Ivanka is a very special woman. Not only beautiful, but kind, intelligent, a great wife, mother — and she loves fashion. Everything she wears looks fabulous on her.