Carolina Herrera stages her final show
Carolina Herrera staged her final show on Monday night, and for her finale she sent out 25 mini versions of herself – elegant figures wearing her signature bright white men’s shirt with floor-length taffeta ball skirts, dissected by uber-wide leather belts with hefty buckles.
Staged inside the Museum of Modern Art, the show was an emotional affair where the Venezuelan designer generously took her last bow surrounded by the staff of her atelier, a score of tearful artisans dressed in white lab coats.
“I feel very relived – that I completed the collection!” exclaimed Herrera, as a mob of well-wishers drenched her in praise.
“I’ll still be very busy within the company; so I think I shall have plenty to do,” laughed the 79-year-old who has dressed multiple First Ladies: Jacqueline Kennedy; Laura Bush; Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.
As noted, in something of a surprise choice designer Wes Gordon will succeed Herrera as the house’s creative director and make his runway debut in September.
With Calvin Klein, Katie Holmes and Olivia Palermo sitting front-row, Herrera started the action somberly with austere black and white combinations of pure georgette blouses and gazar skirts. Before then changing gear and sending out her uptown classics – animal lamé print dresses, finished with ostrich feathers; remarkable floral intarsia minks and sculpted silk taffeta frocks with pin-tucked sleeves and fine embroidery. A poignant reminder that no house in New York boasted such a superb couture quality finish as that of Herrera. Before bringing her audience to its feet with her finale.
“Amazing! How could you not fall in love with twenty Carolina Herreras,” insisted Klein, after embracing his fellow designer.
The show brought down the runway curtain on a career that began with a debut in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Club in 1980 to immediate critical acclaim. The brand has grown to become a one-billion-euro affair, with a substantive perfume business and a growing CH diffusion collection. Today, its shareholder of reference is the Puig family, the Catalan clan that also controls Paco Rabanne, Nina Ricci and Jean Paul Gaultier.
“I think it was a beautiful finale from Carolina, and we are very happy about the transition. Carolina will always be a great fashion legend,” said Marco Puig, the group’s CEO.
The move, nonetheless, has its inevitable risks. When one considers the change of guard at major American houses, few have gone well after the departure of the founder. Perry Ellis has practically disappeared, as has Bill Blass and Geoffrey Beene. Oscar de la Renta is not exactly booming, though Calvin Klein, after a decade of slow growth, suddenly seems renewed under Raf Simons.
“Let’s hope we do a little better than the average,” said Puig.
So, summing up the mood best at this show inside the MOMA was Herrera’s spouse. “How do I feel? Relieved! I thought she would do fashion for three months. Instead, it ended up lasting well over 30 years!” chuckled her husband Reinaldo Herrera.
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