Carolina Herrera Biography
Carolina Herrera is a Venezuelan-American fashion designer, known for her elegance and class in dressing celebrities around the world. Born to a wealthy family and coming from a privileged background, her mother instilled in her passion and discipline that helped her transform into an elegant woman. During the seventies and eighties, she was quite well known in Venezuela because of the fact that she was considered to be one of the best dressed women in the country. Later, the family moved to New York where she decided to become a fashion designer. Despite not having any training as a designer she soon became very successful at it and was dressing some of the most famous women in the world which led to a huge boom in the popularity of her clothes. Since then, she has continued to expand her line of luxury products over the years to include perfume, cologne, wedding gowns, scarves, handbags and other accessories. Her company has emerged as one of the most successful fashion houses in New York. Her skills as a designer are well recognized as she has won a number of awards in the field. She has been able to build a brand that is very distinguished and well respected in the world of high fashion.
Childhood & Early Life
- She was born as María Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Niño on January 8, 1939, in Caracas, Venezuela, to Guillermo Pacanins Acevedo, an air force officer, and his wife, María Cristina Niño Passios. She was one of the four children of her parents.
- She had a comfortable childhood, with a governess on hand and luxurious surroundings. Her mother and grandmother introduced her to the world of fashion, taking her to fashion shows in Paris and buying her outfits from reputed fashion houses.
- As a child, she loved to sew clothes for her dolls but with age she became less interested in needlework. Later, she learned horse-riding and also became an avid reader.
- In the fall of 1980, she brought about 20 dresses,which her dressmaker made for her in Caracasto New York City. She borrowed the Park Avenue apartment of an acquaintance and invited her friends to have a look at them. She decided to start a business of selling dresses after getting a positive response from her friends.
- In Caracas, she met Armando de Armas, a publishing tycoon, who offered to fund her and within months, a design atelier and showroom, Carolina Herrera Ltd., was opened in New York. In April 1981, her first full collection was showcased at the New York's Metropolitan Club.
- In 1981, her friend Diana Vreeland, then Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, suggested that she should design a clothing line. She made some samples in Caracas, and displayed her collection at Manhattan's Metropolitan Club which received positive critical acclaim.
- Her business started quite small with just a dozen employees but soon grew rapidly and the socialites who knew her became some of her first devoted customers. Women like Estee Lauder, a cosmetics tycoon, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the former First Lady, became her clients.
- In the late 1980s, Spanish fragrance company Puig licensed the name of Carolina Herrera to develop and market a line of perfumes. In 1991, she created a top-selling men's scent, Herrera for Men, and regularly added new women's products to the line.
- In 1995, the Spanish fragrance company Puig acquired the Carolina Herrera fashion business and appointed her as its Creative Director.
- In 2000, she opened her first store in Manhattan, and looked forward to expanding her business further into Europe. Within two years, she opened her first collection boutique outside of New York.
- In 2008, she launched a ready-to-wear brand called CH Carolina Herrera. As on today there exist numerous Carolina Herrera and CH Carolina Herrera boutiques in the world.
- She was one of the first designers to make use of padded shoulders, believing that broader shoulders made a woman's waist appear smaller. Some of her most notable clients have been Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Duchess Diana de Melo, Michelle Obama, and actress Renée Zellweger.
Awards & Achievements
- In 1972, she made her first appearance on the International Best Dressed List and was elected to its Hall of Fame in 1980.
- In 1997, she received the Gold Medal from the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute.
- In 2002, she became the recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence as well as Spain's Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts.
- In 2004, she was named the Womenswear Designer of the Year.
- In 2008, she was awarded the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
- In 2012, she was honored with the Fashion Group International Superstar Award and the Style Awards Designer of the Year.
- In 2014, she was presented with the Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion. She has been on the cover of Vogue seven times.
Personal Life & Legacy
- In 1957, she married Guillermo Behrens Tello, a Venezuelan landowner. They were blessed with two daughters, Mercedes and Ana Luisa. The couple divorced in 1964.
- In 1968, she married Reinaldo Herrera Guevara, a magazine editor and the 5th Marqués of Torre Casa. They have two daughters, Carolina Adriana and Patricia Cristina.