Designers Dish: A Conversation With Carolina Herrera

Carolina Herrera - P 2013
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Carolina Herrera - P 2013

In town to open her new CH store on Rodeo Drive, the iconic designer tells THR that "actresses don't know how to pose" in "crazy" shoes — and other timeless Herrera-isms.

Carolina Herrera, the grande dame of New York elegance and fashion, just opened her 99th CH store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Not to be confused with her signature Carolina Herrera collection (the L.A. outpost of which is on Melrose Place), CH is the Venezuela-born designer's second, more modestly priced line that launched 11 years ago.

There's lots of color in CH's spring 2013 collection (in the store now, along with some early fall looks). Think florals, fit n' flare cocktail dresses and great jackets -- not to mention well-priced handbags, chic kitten-heel pumps, ballerina flats and eyewear. Additionally, the shop is exclusively carrying a selection of collaborative linen bags by Herrera's daughter Carolina Herrera Baez and artist Yolanda Andres. The opening-night party June 26 was attended by Herrera fans including Amy Adams, Sarah Paulson, Angie Harmon, Kiernan Shipka (resplendent in a little purple shift and ponytail), Camilla Belle and Ali Larter.

THR sat down with the divinely elegant Herrera to talk spring, fall and style vs. fashion.


The Hollywood Reporter: You're doing quite a lot of collections now, aren't you?

Carolina Herrera: Yes, four in the main collection, two bridal collections and two CH collections a year. Luckily I have a great team, I don't do it all myself! But the final decision is mine. The main difference here is that CH has no fashion show, but I may start doing them soon. They would take place in Spain because it is a Spanish line.

THR: The themes in CH -— florals, long dresses, chic jackets, great fits and clothes for working women -- seem to reflect the aesthetic from your main collection.

CH: Yes, I would say all the Carolina Herrera collection are intertwined aesthetically, and they are all very international -- hardly only for New York. CH is sold in Asia, the Middle East, everywhere. I think it's selling so well all over the world because nowadays women everywhere need to look well. It's not just about New York anymore. New York may have more events than any other city, but women are dressing well everywhere. Just because Los Angeles is more casual during the day doesn't mean women don't need great dresses at night. 

THR: Are you one of the New York designers who is forever inspired by the golden age of Hollywood?

CH: All designers are inspired by the great era in Hollywood. Hollywood will always be synonymous with glamour. But I look at everything, everywhere. I'm very curious; I like to investigate.

THR: So would you say you're an intellectual designer?

CH: I don't think there is such a thing. Fashion is to please the eye, not the intellect. It's for your pleasure. If it was for your intellect, you would wear a book on your head. We need fantasy for everyday life. Fashion is how you project yourself to the world. 

THR: Everyone is always talking about your elegance. What does that word mean to you?

CH: For me, elegance is how your choose. How to put it together. What to put on and what to leave behind -- in your house and on your body.

THR: You've always seem to have a penchant for color — more color than New York black.

CH: There is a lot of color in the CH spring collection -- but there is a lot of black in the CH fall collection, and we have a number of pieces in [store] now. I love black -- black is the queen of colors! Why can't it be a balance -- black one day, color the next? Fashion doesn't have to be that somber. I also like the idea of women mixing pieces from my collection with CH.

THR: You put a lot of long dresses and gowns in the CH collection -- which is amazing because they're so well-priced. Affordable Carolina Herrera gowns -- unthinkable!

CH: Yes, they're silky, they move well, they're all feminine and they can be worn to the beach with sandals or to black tie with heels. I like gowns that can be useful in your closet.

THR: What trends do you see for the red carpet and awards season coming this fall and winter?

CH: I do like belted gowns right now and evening separates. But for me, trends are boring. I was to some originality on the red carpet, especially with movie stars -- why are they always looking the same, in the same cuts? It probably goes back to the stylists. I think the stylists making some actresses all look the same has turned into a disaster!

THR: There is a lot of fear on the part of actresses of being on worst-dressed lists.

CH: It's amazing how now everyone is a fashion critic! All over social media there are opinions about who looks good at the Oscars. No one seems to care who won! For a movie star, for a great actress, it's sort of a shame that only their clothes get reviewed. But that's life now, we have to accept it. Designers are being more careful too on the red carpet because if the actress gets a bad fashion review, they can blame it on the designer.

THR: The shoes in the CH collection are very chic and rather timeless, it seems.

CH: Yes, fashion changes, but style stays the same. This is how I live my life. Some of these crazy trends are so ephemeral -- those crazy sky-high shoes now with all the colors and things on them. I hate those crazy shoes! If they are not on very thin legs, they look awful -- and almost no one can walk in them. Even the actresses don't know how to pose in them. 

THR : Which actresses do you like now in terms of talent and style?

CH: Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong -- she's so fresh. Amy Adams is the essence of chic and of true talent. And I like Emily Blunt also -- she has good style, and her [husband John Krasinski] is also divine. In the end, it's all about quality, is it not? I like good quality.