Behind the Wheel with Carolina Herrera

We at Haute Living have vested interests of our own—we choose to fill our pages with the people who have the wherewithal to shake industries at the core, leaving them forever changed. In a world of well-informed consumers with strong opinions and desires, it takes a leader of industry with strong courage of conviction to make any sort of dent. Carolina Herrera, with a very clear approach to sophisticated dressing, has managed to carve out an entire niche.

Her brand, now almost 30 years in the making, has relayed a message of elegance through intricacy since its onset. I chatted up the Venezuelan-born American designer to get her expert opinion on fashion as it stands at the crossroads between what was and what will be; how she sees Fashion Week’s major shift from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center affecting the fashion world’s overall climate; and having been knighted by Mercedes-Benz, her role in the whole affair.

Her attitude on these issues was about as bright as one of her crisp, white-collared shirts. Refreshing to say the least. The conversation that ensued was one of embracing change, drawing in the masses, and creating an environment that like her designs, is meant to “please the eye.” Carolina emphatically expressed that “fashion is about change.” A well-known fact, yes, but one that sounds new coming from her voice: Thick with accent in the way that makes you envious—think Penelope Cruz in Vanilla Sky. The move to Lincoln Center is one of those changes to her. A departure from consistency in life is healthy and necessary, but as she explains, “We didn’t have a choice; they weren’t letting us stay [at Bryant Park].”

Nothing in her delivery spoke to looking back.

“Lincoln Center is a beautiful idea. They have the best operas, the best music, the best performances… why not the best fashion?” If I hadn’t already fallen in love with her optimism, I did there. “It’s incredible to have this space all together and wonderful to incorporate the people.” Visions of screens projecting the action inside the Lincoln Center to passer-bys hoping to sneak peeks into the invitation-only fashion world passed before my eyes. But Carolina is of the sharing-is-caring mentality. The inclusion of the public was a trending topic during our conversation—one that would surely be preceded by a hash mark if our exchange had been via Twitter. It’s no surprise then that Carolina strongly advocates for Fashion’s Night Out—the “Oscar’s night of fashion” as she described it. September 10 will mark the second year of this spectacle, which is the brainchild of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour—an effort to inject the fun back into fashion. Practically every retailer in every corner of the globe has come on board; creating a fantastical environment inside their store to attract the public to come in, roll up their sleeves, and shop. From celebrity appearances to, in Carolina Herrera’s case, full-on magic shows, the boutiques will #incorporatethepublic in one of Fashion Week’s only open forum events.