The retailer honored Herrera with the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion as she marks her 35th year of business. The tribute happened to fall on the birthday of her daughter, Patricia Herrera Lansing, who was in the audience with her sister, Carolina Herrera Báez.
On top of that, Neiman’s also had an anniversary last week — it hit 109 on Sept. 10. The luncheon itself was set to raise $700,000 for the children’s charity.
The high-profile crowd included Bruce Weber, who was in town for the opening of an exhibition of his photos at the Dallas Contemporary museum. Some of his portraits of Herrera also appeared in the windows of Neiman’s downtown store.
“In a world where there are clothes that need instructions…it’s so refreshing to meet a woman who wants to look like a woman and dress like a woman and understands the importance of prettiness,” said Ken Downing, Neiman’s senior vice president and fashion director.
“To wear a Carolina Herrera is to be impeccably dressed for the occasion,” affirmed Karen Katz, Neiman’s chairman and chief executive officer, describing the designer as “one of fashion’s most iconic, gracious, elegant and utterly chic designers.”
Katz handed Herrera the bronze arabesque trophy, which is the industry’s oldest honor, and the audience rose in a standing ovation. Then, in a 41-year tradition, socially prominent ladies named best dressed by the charity walked the runway in fall Herrera frocks and footwear.
Recognized for their exemplary community service as well as style were Anita Arnold, Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Tucker Enthoven, Heather Esping, Mary Clare Finney, Margaret Hancock, Julie Hawes, Pat Harloe, Piper Wyatt and Best Dressed Hall of Fame inductee Betsy Sowell.
The tented runway show also presented 78 highlights from Herrera’s fall, resort and bridal collections. Supervised by Downing, the parade of feminine fashions opened with glittering tulle, lame and sequined numbers.
“We’re pushing the Ken Downing agenda of buy-now-wear-now,” he explained to WWD. “My customers are so fatigued of seeing things too soon that they can’t have.”
In an interview, Herrera described her relationship with Neiman’s as a close one.
“We have been in business for 35 years, and that’s very important,” she said. “It’s a consistent business — not for one season and then not another one. It is always there.”
How has she kept her brand fresh and relevant all this time?
“I think glamour, glamour, glamour — that’s fashion,” Herrera said. “It’s all to do with the women who wear Herrera because I don’t confuse them. I don’t change every three months because somebody else is doing something else. I have a point of view that has to be direct.”
Herrera Báez had a different perspective of her mother’s success.
“She has a life outside fashion,” she reflected. “It’s something that she always said since we were young: ‘You have to cultivate your inner life outside of what you love so your whole world doesn’t become that.’ Then you have a perspective and a fresh eye, you know? And you don’t go crazy.”