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NEW YORK — The view from Carolina Herrera’s office Friday afternoon was nothing but gray, but the designer was far from gloomy. Why would she be, when a model was showing off the designer’s new capsule collection of cheerful colorful prints called Archive II? Drawn from Herrera’s print library, Botanicals, Sparrows, Swimming Ladies and three other whimsical prints hint at jacketless days. “They are very snappy,” Herrera said. “It’s a very simple story, but it’s a good story. Because the complicated stories nobody gets. This one you can understand because it’s so visual. All the ideas are there.”
But Archive II is not meant to remind people of her company’s heritage. “Do they remember? People in general in fashion have very bad memories or they want to have bad memories because they see things that have been copied and no one remembers anything,” Herrera said. “My problem is that I have a photographic memory and they cannot fool me. I know where every single style comes from wherever I see it. It is very difficult to fool me. It’s not as though I go around saying it because that sounds so…not right. But I know from where it comes.”
To ensure her message comes across crystal clear, she tapped Greg Kadel and stylist Giovanna Battaglia for the spring advertising campaign, which includes a video of three models dancing. There will also be a microsite that will have an e-commerce component via Neiman Marcus. “I love the ads because they are so different. They are full of happiness, full of color and the girls look so happy,” Herrera said. “It’s not that somber look that [some] people think [is needed] — to make a statement we have to do something very somber. I think this is for now. It is a different happiness, no?”
With teaser campaign photos already causing favorable chatter on Instagram, Herrera said she was intent on offering designs that had not been seen for spring. “The clothes on the runway get a lot of photographs. Then you do the ads, and the clothes have been seen in the shows. These are fresh, new and something different.”
Noting that Pinterest and Facebook will be integral to Archive II, she said the prints “shouldn’t be nostalgic. They have nostalgic ideas, but they don’t look nostalgic. It is very much for today. It’s very, I won’t say ‘modern’ because modern is what it should be. It’s a new way of showing some prints without clutter — with simplicity, elegance, sophistication and to wear them now. You wouldn’t look out of place to wear them. You can mix them with a white shirt, which I love so much.”
Shorts, a pencil skirt, a sheath dress and eight other styles will be offered in six prints. They will be sold in stores and online, beginning in the middle of next month. Retail prices will range from $490 to $1,290.
Botanicals was inspired by a book of illustrations of 18th-century flora and fauna found at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s shop; Swimming Ladies reminds her of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, beachgoers, and Love Letters winks at her fondness for handwritten letters. “I am always writing thank-you notes, so I thought, Why not incorporate them? You can keep them forever.” (Herrera has also interspersed four-leaf clovers, her favorite sign of luck.)
Herrera said of Marilyn Toile, “Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe [print] was in front of me and I thought, That’s it. It’s not Andy’s, but it’s Marilyn. I love her, it’s fun, you don’t realize it’s her. It’s not only that she was a sex symbol or whatever they want to call her. She was an amazing actress,” she said.
Zodiac was inspired by a compact her husband Reinaldo designed and Verdura made, which has an imprint of the sun on one side and the moon and the stars on the other. “It is absolutely beautiful. To this day, my favorite song is [Cole Porters’] ‘Night and Day,’” Herrera said. “It was a Christmas present that came in March — before the collection. He gave me the card with a sketch of what was going to come.”
Upbeat as she is, Herrera said she doesn’t think fashion has become too serious. “Fashion is fashion, which nobody knows where or what is fashion. I think fashion should make women look beautiful and elegant and not as though they are wearing a costume,” Herrera said. “You have to dress for yourself. I don’t think it’s too serious. I think it’s another season.”