Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Carolina Herrera Embraces Simplicity And Sophistication

Carolina Herrera"I love the idea of elegance and intricacy, but whether it is in a piece of clothing or a fragrance, the intricacy must appear as simplicity." — Carolina Herrera

There is nothing common (or inexpensive) about Carolina Herrera. Most of her line at Saks Fifth Avenue retails from $500 to $2,200. There is a reason for that, which is why she recently earned the "Mercedes-Benz Presents" designer title for her spring/summer collection. She infuses culture into every design, with her spring collection for 2011 tapping Korean and other Asian influences.

Sometimes they work, especially when Herrera sticks to her mantra of simplicity. When the look becomes extremely bold, it casts too much attention on the prints and patterns. But when she focuses her impeccable attention to fabrics, colors, and simple cuts, Herrera’s stuff works. That was the real appeal of her pre-fall collection.

How Carolina Herrera Found Her Own Timelessness.

While Herrera might have been born into traditional Latin American aristocracy and seemed to thrive in the jet set lifestyle, running in the same social circles as Princess Margaret, Annie Leibovitz, and Andy Warhol, her beginnings as a fashion designer were humble. She had to borrow a New York apartment to show off 20 dresses to friends and acquaintances 30 years ago.

She couldn't even afford to produce an entire line. And had Armando de Armas not agreed to back her, there may be no growing fashion empire today. So while I might be grounded, I can appreciate anyone with an eye for art no matter where they start. And Herrera, for certain, has an eye for art, fashion, and style.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in her fall line, where she emphasizes the ultra-luxe, opting for a lighter tone with brushstroke prints and floral embroideries but allowing okra and deep red colors to make a statement. There’s a lean, vintage feel to the look, complete with high-waisted pants and blouses with real volume. (Herrera is known as the queen of the puffy sleeves.)

Fragrances That Are Well Within Reach.

The designer makes an equally sophisticated statement with her signature line of fragrances, which are, not surprisingly, inspired by her clothing but with a more accessible feel. You don’t have to have a generous bank balance to wear her scents.

For her Carolina by Carolina Herrera for women, Herrera tapped master perfumier Olivier Cresp to develop the scent, which can be best defined as comfortable and classic. It’s a fresh, floral scent with a clean, woodsy note. I opted for the 1.7 oz. eau de toilette as a gift (3.4 oz. is also available), and it came packaged with eal elegance: embossed red leather box and red ribbon affixing the CH initials. Pretty sharp.

Herrera also makes fragrances for men. There’s 212 by Carolina Herrera and 212 Sexy. The former is the better choice. It’s more classic and seems to last longer than the latter, which fades pretty quickly.

Carolina by Carolina Herrera Earns A Classy 6.7 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

The designer’s fragrances are priced right in line with comparable brands. You can find Carolina Herrera CH eau de toilette spray and Carolina Herrera 212 online.

But if you want to really experience the sophistication of Carolina Herrera, visit one of her boutiques. She opened her fifth free-standing store next to the new Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, inside the amazing CityCenter. The 5,000-square-foot boutique features her collection as well has her bridal line, fragrances, and accessories. Recently, her store was showcased at The Stirling Club.
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