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2011 September 12

Carolina Herrera Demystified!

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Carolina Herrera and her team Carolina Herrera and her team
Giorgio Niro
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(NEW YORK) The collections, the smile, the coif, the attitude—is everything in Carolina Herrera's universe drop-dead gorgeous? For once and for all, we demanded to know how she does it. Hint: it's all about teamwork... BY ASHLEY BAKER


We have a mild crush on your creative director.
Hervé has been with me for nine years, almost 10. He’s a very important part of my business. We have a fantastic team, and we have a lot of interns, too, which is very nice. They are all a part of the show! We are extremely democratic here. We vote on everything: Do you like this look? Should we drop it? Do we need a ruffle here? You're a writer. You can't write with many people around, but with me, it's a very different thing. I could never do this alone. Oh—have you met Walter?

Who’s Walter?
Hervé’s belly. That’s what we call it.

Why is it called Walter?
That's just what he calls it. I will cover it with my elbow in the photo.

He surely appreciates that! After 30 years, does Fashion Week still retain its novelty?
Yes, but it’s always very exciting when the show is over. I know the show is arriving when I have this nightmare that comes every year: the tent is full of a thousand people, and I come out and say, 'Please, please, you have to come back—I’m not ready!' Our rituals before the show are always the same. During fittings, we have lunch; we've been into salad for quite some time—very healthy, very boring. We've been working with [makeup artist] Diane Kendal and [hairstylist] Orlando Pita for a long time, and they are very important. I always like the girls to look fresh and beautiful. l put together the looks with [stylist] Tabitha Simmons and my daughter, Patricia.

Did you spend a lot of time with your family this summer?
For the first time in years, I spent it in New York instead of going to Europe. I was in heaven! I visited friends; I went to Maine to visit Patricia...

Did you see the McQueen exhibit at the Met?
Of course! I loved it! McQueen was about more than fashion—he created objects. In his work, you can see how tortured he was.

Are people dressing better today than ever?
I don’t think so. The other night, I was watching a movie about the life of Joan Crawford. You cannot imagine how glamorous that woman was at every hour of the day. You wouldn't see her going around in tennis shoes and a hat and no makeup, with a Starbucks cup in hand! Now, women want to look less put-together, because they think it makes them look younger. They consider 'elegant' to be old-fashioned—they would rather be considered 'cool.' Sometimes, it doesn't work. Movie stars have a responsibility—they can't look like everybody in the streets! It’s lovely when people dress up.

Do you read People and Us?
No, no. I don’t have to read those to be on top of fashion.

Who are your favorite models?
[Casting director] James Scully and I cast the new girls together. My favorite of all time? When I started, it was Dianne deWitt. Mounia, who modeled for [Yves] Saint Laurent, was fabulous, too. And Daria Werbowy...Oh! My favorite! Christy Turlington

What do you think about Marc Jacobs at Dior?
There are no French designers in French houses anymore! I love Marc. He’s fabulous, and he's loved by the press. I hope he's as fabulous as Galliano!

Will Galliano have a second act?
Of course he will. I’m positive—he’s too talented. You have to realize that he wasn’t himself. He was totally drunk. He couldn’t remember what he said. How can you judge somebody like that? It’s very sad. I don't think he was very well protected.

The Dior couture show in July...
My God, it was good for the circus! They lost a great talent.

Listening to any good music lately?
From Mozart to Lady Gaga! I'd go to one of her concerts in a second. I'm a great admirer. Her speech at the Costume Institute Gala was quite something. She has a great voice, and she has helped fashion—you can see many Lady Gagas in the streets of New York! People who want to be half naked are delighted.


Plus! Meet Herrera’s terrific team…

HERVE PEIRRE, creative director:
HOMETOWN:
New York, NY
ASTROLOGICAL SIGN:
Libra
GREATEST LESSON FROM MRS. H:
“A female designer has a completely different way of designing clothes than a man does, for the good reason that she wears these beautiful clothes that match her lifestyle."
SECRETS OF THE CH AESTHETIC:
“The creative process is the same as in Paris; a sketch, a canvas, a dress.”
FAVORITE CH RITUAL:
“Escorting Mrs. Herrera to her car every day. I love observing the crowd on Seventh Avenue as they watch the most elegant woman stop traffic!  

KATELYN BISCHOF, studio coordinator:
HOMETOWN:
Goshen, NY
ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: 
Aquarius
GREATEST LESSON FROM MRS. H:
“How to remain elegant all day, every day.”
SECRETS OF THE CH AESTHETIC:
 “I love how every piece looks effortless and chic, while always incorporating great attention to detail and quality."
FAVORITE CH RITUAL:
“When the entire design team tries to squeeze into the tiny kitchen so we can all eat together."

PHILINA FAN, design assistant:
HOMETOWN:
Hong Kong
ASTROLOGICAL SIGN:
Aries
GREATEST LESSON FROM MRS. H:
“You can be absolutely fabulous at 8 a.m. There are no excuses!”
FAVORITE CH RITUAL:
“Turning on my desk lamp in the morning. It took me approximately three months to remember to do it! But it reminds me that beauty is all in the details.”

LUDWIG HEISSMEYER,  design director:
HOMETOWN:
Hamburg, Germany
ASTROLOGICAL SIGN:
Leo
GREATEST LESSON FROM MRS. H:
“Never leave your house without consulting a full-length mirror.”
FAVORITE PART OF THE CH AESTHETIC:
“It's constantly evolving, yet never fails to be elegant, glamorous and chic.”

JENNY SWANK, associate designer:
HOMETOWN:
Valier, MT
ASTROLOGICAL SIGN:
Taurus
GREATEST LESSON FROM MRS. H:
“You should never show the same dress twice.  Dresses can be sisters, but never twins…”
FAVORITE CH RITUAL:
“Before every show, we put all the looks on racks in a circle and call it ‘Around the World.’ It is the first time we really get a chance to see the collection completely finished.”




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