Born: Caracas, Venezuela, 1939
Born into a family of statesmen and landowners, Caroline Herrera first experienced fashion at 13, when she attended a Cristóbal Balenciaga couture show with her grandmother. In 1957, Herrera married a Venezuelan landowner, with whom she had two daughters. Divorcing in 1964, Herrera moved back into her parents’ home with her two young children. While living at home, Herrera started working as a publicist for Emilio Pucci.
Herrera went on to marry Reinaldo Herrera Guevara in 1968. The pair embarked on an international lifestyle, spending time with royals by day and the Andy Warhol set by night. The couple had two daughters together, and in 1980, the family moved to New York.
Having been regularly featured on international best-dressed lists, Herrera decided she wanted to start a fashion related venture. Under the influence and encouragement of Count Rudi Crespi and Diana Vreeland, Herrera started designing.
In the autumn of 1980, Herrera had created 20 dresses, which she showed in a friends Park Avenue apartment. Inviting buyers, friends and acquaintances, the designs were immediately popular resulting in buyers wanting to purchase the entire line.
With no official company or means of production, Herrera searched for a backer and found Armando de Armas, a publishing tycoon who agreed to finance her. Within a few months Carolina Herrera opened a show room in New York. This followed with her first full collection shown in 1981 in New York.
Despite some negative reviews, Herrera’s company was growing with some devoted customers including Estee Lauder and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. With Herrera being one of the first to use padded shoulders, she commented; “the whole fashion world was going mad on layer after layer of very loose skirts and free blouses – and no shapes. I came out with a collection that was all fitted.”
Her popularity was boosted even more so when Herrera designed the wedding dress for Caroline Kennedy in 1986. With Herrera becoming an overnight sensation across North America, the company soon expanded to offer custom-made dresses, bridal wear and a diffusion line.
In 1988, Herrera launched her first fragrance, which followed by lucrative accessory and eyewear deals. Three years later in 1991, a successful men’s fragrance was launched.
In 1994, Herrera’s partnership with Armas ended, with him selling his share to Puig.
Herrera opened her first store in 2000, located in Manhattan. Two years later, she expanded abroad opening a boutique in Madrid.
Receiving a number of rewards including the Gold Medal of the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in 1997, Spain’s Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts in 2002, the Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2004 and the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Known for the elegance and intricacy of her clothes and fragrances, Caroline Herrera’s style is very glamorous and sophisticated. Pushing the shoulder pad in the early eighties, Herrera is identified for her crisp white shirts accessorised with jewels. Her company’s designs reflect her own personal style of chic luxe.
With a global presence of 18 Carolina Herrera and CH Carolina Herrera boutiques spanning the world and her collections available in 280 stores across 104 countries, her brand is synonymous with elegance and sophistication. The creative direction and design of the brand are now enriched by the involvement of Carolina Jr. and Patricia Lansing, ensuring a seamless continuation of Herrera’s artistic legacy. The fragrance division boasts an impressive 25,000 points of sale worldwide, while the CH brand stands strong with 129 freestanding stores.
In 2015, a captivating advertising campaign featuring models Elisabeth Erm and Joséphine Le Tutour captivated audiences and showcased the brand’s timeless allure. In a momentous release in 2016, Herrera introduced her highly anticipated women’s fragrance, ‘Good Girl,’ with the enchanting Karlie Kloss as its radiant ambassador. 2018 marked a transition as Herrera bid farewell to her eponymous brand, entrusting the creative directorship to the talented Wes Gordon, ensuring the brand’s continued evolution. Throughout her illustrious career, Herrera has garnered an array of prestigious awards, including the esteemed Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award and the title of Womenswear Designer of the Year. Her creativity has graced the cover of Vogue seven times, reflecting her influence and status as a true fashion luminary. Acknowledged for her contributions to the arts, Herrera has received the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts from King Juan Carlos I of Spain and the revered 2014 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion. Carolina Herrera’s remarkable journey and unparalleled achievements have cemented her as an iconic force in the fashion world, inspiring generations with her timeless style and unwavering dedication to excellence.
In a significant transition, Carolina Herrera gracefully relinquished her position as creative director in 2018 to assume the esteemed role of global brand ambassador. With her blessing and endorsement, Wes Gordon seamlessly assumed the creative directorship, carrying the brand’s legacy forward with his own unique vision and talent. This strategic move ensures the continued evolution and success of the Carolina Herrera brand under Gordon’s creative stewardship.
Carolina Herrera Biography