This is the kind of love story you read about in books, maybe in a romance novel that sells a million copies or plays on the silver screen, if the screen were silver anymore. Beautiful, talented girl from New York goes to Spain to make a documentary about bullfighters and their world. Girl meets famous bullfighter, also beautiful. They fall in love, they get engaged, they marry. Not at a little iglesia around the corner but in a splendid ceremony in the Spanish countryside near the little town of Cáceres in the province of Estremadura on the groom’s family estate. And, even though it is a truly private affair — no press, por favor — there are gates guarding “Los Guateles” (which means “The Brooks”), it’s a four-hour drive from Madrid and 600 guests from all over attended the fabulous wedding and were happy they did.
This is the story: Carolina Herrera Jr., the daughter of Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera of New York and Venezuela, married Miguel Baez, the famous bullfighter from a famous family of bullfighters who have thrilled and filled the corridas of Spain for five generations. The groom is known throughout the country as El Litri, which means “The Dandy.” He is now retired and lives on his finca, Huelva, where he breeds and raises prize bulls.
This story first appeared in the July 14, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
News of the wedding caused great excitement in Spain, where it was regarded as the wedding of the year, excluding the earlier marriage in Madrid of Crown Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish throne.
It’s really quite wonderful to have a mother who is a famous fashion designer. Carolina Herrera designed her daughter’s glorious wedding dress, an ivory silk chiffon gown with an intricately pleated bodice and antique crystal-embroidered straps. The ivory chiffon skirt was sunburst pleated and trimmed in frayed chiffon ruffles. Her veil was made of antique lace held with vintage Cartier diamond clips. Her bouquet was made of white sweet peas. Simply exquisite.
Carolina dressed her other three daughters, as well. Patricia Herrera Lansing, who lives in New York, wore a strapless red-and-white awning striped cotton gown with opal blue bows and a ruffle train. Lansing’s sisters, Mercedes Mendoza and Ana Luisa Behrens, wore opal blue silk with red-and-white awning stripe straps and belts and a matching wrap and a cherry blossom jersey gown with a train, respectively.
Carolina also designed the clothes of the little flower children who accompanied the bride: the girls in beige linen dresses with ivory lace bodices, hand-embroidered buttons and ivory chiffon ruffles; the boys in white cotton pleated shirts and beige linen sailor pants with hand-embroidered buttons. All the children wore white linen espadrilles. This is Spain, you know.
The most beautiful dresses worn by the ladies there were Carolina’s creations, as well. Emilia Fanjul wore watermelon crinkled chiffon with matching organza bows in back; Laurie Prince also wore watermelon crinkled chiffon, strapless with a gathered bodice and chiffon cascade; Fernanda Niven Sr. was in powder blue chiffon with a ruffled neckline and a matching wrap, and Fernanda Niven wore ivory organza with panels embroidered with sequins and threadwork. Sydie (Mrs. Gerritt) Lansing, whose son is married to Patricia Herrera, wore a dusty rose silk taffeta shirtdress; Anne Grauso, wife of the president of Carolina Herrera’s company, chose navy silk organza complemented by vintage jewels, and the groom’s lovely mother, Conchita Spinolo, wore a rose gown with an antique cream-colored mantilla over a high comb, a tradition in Spain for the mother of the groom. As for Carolina herself, she wore a navy blue silk faille jacket, tied with a matching organza bow, a blue-and-white taffeta striped corset and a matching skirt with a ruched back and bows.
As a wedding gift, the groom’s mother gave the couple a beautiful little frescoed chapel built on the property where the wedding took place and where wedding guests who couldn’t quite fit in overflowed the entrance. The bride arrived on the arm of her father, Reinaldo Herrera, whose Spanish title is Marques de Torrecasa. They were preceded by the eight flower children. The groom’s witness was the Infanta Dona Pilar, the King of Spain’s sister, whose gift was a beautiful triptych set at the altar, which everyone admired.
The setting could not have been more glamorous. Two pavilions called carpas were built on the estate especially for the reception that followed. After the ceremony, the guests passed through an espaliered passageway covered with a canopy of pleated fabric into the dinner pavilion and onto a terrace overlooking a beautiful illuminated lake. The interior was lit with hundreds of candles and all the tables were named after different birds. The centerpieces were towers of flowers and fruit that had been beautifully arranged in accordance with the bride’s wishes. Then it was on to the other pavilion built for dancing, where an orchestra called Chattanooga, of all things, played until something like eight in the morning. Heaven knows how many danced until dawn. There was flamenco dancing, of course. This is Spain, you know.
And this is who was there: Queen Margherita of Bulgaria; Dona Pilar’s daughter, Simonetta Gomez Acebo, and son, Beltran; George and Lita Livanos (the Greek tycoon and his gorgeous wife); Prince Rupert Lowenstein; Anouska Hempel and Sir Mark Weinberg; Princess Mimi Romanov, the American-born countess of Romanones; Tatiana von Furstenberg; John Stefanidis; Claudia de Cadava; Kenneth Jay Lane; Placido Arango, the Spanish tycoon; Enrique Ponce, another famous bullfighter; Annette and Oscar de la Renta; Calvin Klein; Alexandra Shiva; Lulu de Kwiatkowski; Princess Tessa of Bavaria; Carmen Villaverde (Franco’s daughter); Paloma Cuevas, who introduced the couple; still another great bullfighter and friend of the groom, Francisco Rivera Ordoñez; Alexandra Theodoracopulos; Pierre Durand; Trini Fierro; Lynn and Oscar Wyatt; Eugenia Martinez de Irujo, the Duchess of Alba’s daughter, who appeared in violet and yellow chiffon by Dior, and all the people who work on the estate and bullfighters of all ages.
The newlyweds are honeymooning on a yacht in the Mediterranean. It’s the only way, really.
After the wedding reception, Claudio Moreno, the mayor of a neighboring town, said of El Litri: “He is a well-loved person because he treats the townspeople very well and he organizes a bullfight every year to raise money for the local retirement home. He is very handsome and modest and Carolina is the same. She is so unassuming. What differentiates this couple from other famous people is their ability to relate to everyone.” Olé!