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This Fashion Life: Carolina Herrera

The New York-based designer tells Ana Santi why she has brought her diffusion line CH Carolina Herrera to the UK

Why have you chosen now as the time to open the UK’s first CH Carolina Herrera store?

I’d been looking for the right space in Mount Street [in London’s Mayfair] for a long time. I love this area, as it’s so chic.

I’ve also been selling my perfume here in the UK for many years and it’s very successful. I think fashion and scent go hand in hand, so why not launch clothing here?

Everybody [in the UK] knows about the company because there’s so much information online. Fashion is global - everyone in London knows what’s going on in New York.

Did you pick specific pieces from diffusion line CH Carolina Herrera to sell in the UK store?

No, we have the same collection in all our 48 stores around the world. Women adapt it to their own looks; it’s the way you put the outfits together.

Do you think UK women dress differently to those in other countries?

All countries may be different but I think all women are looking for something chic. Fashion is visual, not intellectual, and women are always wanting to look better, and it’s my job to make that happen.

Will you look to wholesale the Carolina Herrera New York mainline and the diffusion line in the UK? Why not?

I think we’ll bring both to the UK, but I don’t know when. I don’t get involved in numbers - I work on the creative side - but I have a fantastic team, including my daughter Carolina, who is the face of the New York line.

Tell us about the spring 10 collection which is currently in store and the autumn 10 collection you showed at New York Fashion Week.

For autumn 10, the inspiration came from the women of today. The collection is chic by day, seduction by night. For spring 10, it’s full of colour and prints, and I’m excited about it because we tend to dress so darkly in winter.

Did you come to London Fashion Week?

I went to the Burberry Prorsum show and it was great. [Chief creative officer] Christopher Bailey knows exactly what he’s doing. I also think Erdem is very talented. British fashion, London fashion, always takes a different approach. It goes well with the British personality - it’s eccentric and witty.

What sort of impact has the global recession had on your business?

We did lower our prices a little bit for the mainline, but I’m full of optimism, which is why we’re opening boutiques. We’re planning to open 18 more globally this year. It’s a feminine instinct to buy clothes. We go out saying we need to buy a sweater but then we end up buying an evening gown too.

You launched your label in 1981. What advice would you give to designers starting out today?

The first thing you need is talent. Then luck. You need perseverance, and when you find your signature, stick to it, even

if the press doesn’t always like it. But fashion is a combination of fantasy and reality - if you don’t sell your clothes, you’re going nowhere.

What would you like to have done if you weren’t working in fashion? I wanted to be a writer, but then I changed my mind and wanted to be an opera singer like Maria Callas.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing? The Carolina Herrera white shirts - they go with everything.

Who is your fashion mentor? [Former] US Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.

Who is your favourite designer? Karl Lagerfeld [creative director at Chanel, label pictured above].

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