Four decades have passed since the extraordinary designer Carolina Herrera introduced her first fashion collection to the world in 1981. To mark the 40th celebration of her unprecedented success, HOLA! USA pays tribute to the legendary career of this remarkable Latina: An icon of beauty and elegance.
The exquisite Venezuelan has had an illustrious career, in which she not only shined as a designer and artist but also as a savvy businesswoman. She has been at the helm of her fashion house for more than three decades until she delegated the creative direction of her brand to Wes Gordon three years ago.
“My family - my husband, my daughters, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, all of them - are the most important thing in the world to me.”[Herrera]
True to her innate elegance, Herrera has always been the ultimate ambassador for the brand that bears her name. A pioneer in mixing luxury with accessbility, she ventured shortly after launching her signature style with the first iconic wedding dress, made for Caroline Kennedy. This design catapulted her to stardom.
A year later, she collaborated with the prestigious Spanish brand Puig for the launch of her fragrance, facilitating her worldwide expansion. The success of this partnership was such that up to the modern day, Carolina Herrera’s brand is still part of the Puig owned portfolio.
A walking symbol of elegance, her personality also leaves an equal amount of positivity on the many people she influences. Charo Izquierdo, one of the most emblematic personalities in the world of fashion in Spain, remembers how she was inspired by her and invited Herrera to participate in the Madrid catwalks:
“She has always been a very loving, very generous woman,” she told us. “When I was appointed director of MBFWMadrid, she was one of the first members of the fashion ecosystem that I called. We can’t forget that she is part of the Association of Fashion Creators of Spain (ACME). She told me that if I wanted the Madrid catwalk to succeed and be international, which was my goal, I had to separate its dates from the big runways like New York, London, Milan or Paris. I listened to her and it was fabulous advice.”
“Her elegance. Her ability to maintain her own style and with it to conquer women from all over the world, for several generations,” describes Izquierdo.
Silvia Tcherassi, a Colombian fashion designer that enjoys success in the United States and internationally, only has words of praise for Herrera.
“For her I have deep respect and infinite admiration. As a woman and as a Latina, Carolina Herrera has always been a role model in countless ways. She turned her unique style into a brand that has already earned its place in fashion history, while also writing her own personal story, full of success and recognition.”
“For me, Carolina is the definition of coherence,” reflects Tcherassi. “Her look, her lifestyle and her designs have always been perfectly connected,” she said.
Herrera has received numerous awards including the gold medal from the Spanish Institute of New York, which was presented to her by Infanta Doña Pilar, sister of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, in 1991. She was also the winner of the CFDA award, Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2008, for her successful career. Among many other awards, she was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in 2012.
“You need to work as a team. You cannot do everything on your own. I believe that you have to treat the people who work with you like your family.” [Herrera]
Mexican Gladys Tamez, based in California, is another successful Latina in the fashion world with her luxurious hats. Not only does she sell them in the most exclusive establishments around the world, Lady Gaga and Johnny Depp cannot live without her designs. The founder of Gladys Tamez Millinery confessed that Herrera, along with the late Oscar de la Renta, have been her greatest inspirations.
“I have admired the talent of the iconic Carolina Herrera for as long as I can remember. Her creativity, her elegance and the way in which she has achieved so much success in her career have always been an inspiration to me. Without a doubt, she is one of the most important role models for Latinos who have built their careers in the United States.”
Daniela Villegas, the extraordinary jewerly designed, described Herrera as “a benchmark of style and elegance.” By personally managing her operations Villegas entered the world of design with great success.
“Carolina Herrera is a very hardworking woman, very intelligent, who opened many doors for future Latino generations.” This was true for her own story. “She makes us see that dreams can come true with great dedication and by following your instincts.”
Over the years, some of the biggest celebrities have fallen in love with the unique style of the Venezuelan-American designer, who has dressed many of the first ladies of the United States, including: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump. Furthermore, she has dressed many royals, including Queen Letizia, who is a fan of the designer.
Hollywood celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o, Taylor Swift, Marion Cotillard, Sandra Bullock and Salma Hayek, all have been dressed by this fashion staple, and let’s not forget her most faithful devotee, Renée Zellweger.
“The red carpet is very important. You must be very careful to have the right person dressed in the right way. For me, it must be a perfect look.” [Herrera]
“The secret to staying inspired: you have to have your imagination going at all times, and you have to be curious to discover new things. Allow yourself to be open to inspiration and seeing things in a new light. Inspiration comes from anything and everything. You must always keep your eyes open; great things have a way of finding you if you do.” [Herrera}
One of the younger stars, Sofía Carson, who stands out year after year among the best dressed with her haute couture outfits on the red carpets, is passionate about Herrera and everything she represents.
“I had the honor of meeting Carolina Herrera during one of her brand’s shows in New York and she is just as you imagine her: beautifully sophisticated, glamorous and at the same time so warm,” she recalls.
“As a designer, her looks have a language of their own that are recognized and loved throughout the world. Her designs enhance classic and timeless femininity. Accented with polka dots, expressed in yellow, black and white, or reinvented in an impeccably cut white shirt, her designs have conquered from first ladies to fashionistas all over the world. Wes Gordon has become the great guardian of her legacy and her work is spectacular,” said the young actress, one of the most chic in the world of entertainment.
“For me it is always and always will be an honor to wear the iconic Carolina Herrera designs,” she concluded.
Herrera will celebrate her birthday next January. From everyone at HOLA! USA, we want to be the very first to congratulate and wish her many more years of success, with that delicate savoir faire to which we are accustomed. There are many years of hard work that the magazine has been a faithful witness to from the front row of its runaways... Bravo and may success continue!