NEW YORK — For Carolina Herrera, Tuesday’s launch of a capsule collection is another optimal effort to better connect with shoppers.
“Perfectly right for now,” the fine-tuned assortment draws inspiration from the designer’s 1981 debut runway collection at the Metropolitan Club, Herrera said. A gold lamé evening gown, an off-the-shoulder blouse and a zebra-printed tunic will be in the mix. “It’s very modern and it’s for today. What I like about it, it translates the idea of a collection that was shown in the Eighties in a timeless way. They look great now,” she said.
To add another dimension to the limited-run Carolina Herrera x Mytheresa.com, director Danny Sangra shot a short irreverent film called “Something Unpredictable” at the Elyx House in the Hollywood Hills for the e-tailer’s site. Meant to be a fashion “mockumentary,” Kate Clements acts out a fashion shoot sporting various items from the new collection. The art-fashion-film triumvirate has been in place in Herrera’s ethos from her first runway show, when Bianca Jagger, Andy Warhol, C.Z. Guest and Diana Vreeland were front-and-center.
A few months ago, Mytheresa.com optimized all customer services on its site for mobile devices, so that fashion and editorial images could be more readily shared. All in all, Herrera’s venture with the e-tailer is one more way to bolster social media. “This film is great for social media. Anything that is social media or digital [related] is very important for a fashion house because you are connected with the clients directly through the visual aspects. I loved the project and I just wanted to show something inspired by my first collection,” the designer said. “I wanted the dresses to look very effortless and glamorous — and very uncomplicated.”
There are also bejeweled sneakers with burgundy velvet that were designed in collaboration with Eytys. Retail prices for the collection range from $250 for jewelry to $3,700 for a gown. “For me, fashion has to have glamour and it has to have something wonderful about it,” Herrera said. “It translates today because I think those looks are timeless.”
In her 35th year in business, Herrera is airborne as ever, having recently held a fashion show at the historic Schermerhorn Symphony Center to benefit the Nashville Symphony. The granddaughter of famed country singer Hank Williams hosted the event, which attracted numerous trios of mothers, daughters and granddaughters. “It’s important for the symphony and to raise money for them. I was very honored to be asked. And it’s good to go around and see what people are wearing,” Herrera said. “I have always been doing these things, always, since the beginning. There are charities that I support for children, for breast cancer — whatever I can.”
The unofficial dress code adopted by many women in the Nashville crowd was a welcome surprise. Herrera said, “I said to Emilie [Rubinfeld, her head of public relations], ‘There are 700 people at the show and I think 200 or 300 of them are dressed in Carolina Herrera. We have to come back here every week,’” Herrera said. “It was a great trip. It is so civilized and so divine to be there.”
“A great fan of country music,” Herrera visited the Country Music Hall of Fame to admire memorabilia from Williams, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. “There was Elvis Presley’s car. It was a pink Cadillac, which I adored,” she said. “You felt like you were there with all of them. It is fun to see. Nashville is the Music City, everything is about music. They open the bars and other places at 11 o’clock in the morning with live music. They close at 3 a.m. and they’re playing music all day long, so that’s amazing. They are very nice people. And I loved it.”
Herrera will be the beneficiary of more Southern hospitality later this month when the Savannah College of Art and Design unveils “Refined Irreverence,” the first major exhibition dedicated to the designer’s work. The dual-city event will bow at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta and SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah. Herrera’s daughter Patricia Lansing pitched in, helping the curators with the show’s selections. The designer explained, “If they would have asked me, I would want them all. But you have to choose. I always have a few favorite pieces. But I have to tell you, I like them all, because it’s like having four daughters and only liking one.”
As this year’s recipient of SCAD’s Etoile award, she will be on the Savannah campus May 21 to accept the award and speak with students. Having recently spoken about luxury with Departures editor in chief Richard Storey at Columbia University, Herrera said she loves speaking with students. “It was so much fun because they had a lot of questions. They ask about fashion and whatever comes into their minds,” she said.
In terms of offering aspiring designers advice, she said, “They have to love what they do with a passion because it’s not easy. It’s not as glamorous as everyone thinks it is. So it is a lot of work and you have to have perseverance and you have to love it. You have to be very, very strong about the style that you want to show. That’s the most difficult part of all. And not to follow so many trends because they become like uniforms.”
The designer will be the recipient of more honors in the months ahead. In September, she will receive the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Services in the Field of Fashion at the Crystal Charity Ten Best Dressed Fashion Show and Luncheon in Dallas. “I think it is more than nice that they think about me for an award,” she said.
Herrera said of her travels, “The only thing I have found is that everybody is shopping online. A lot of girls and women have told me they prefer to shop online because it’s easier. It’s turning into a big business,” she said. “It’s a different way. It’s all by machine. Before it was the human touch, you would go to see the dress and you buy it because you love it, and you try the shoes on. Now they even buy the shoes online. Fashion always changes. Now it changes every three months. There are always changes and it’s always interesting to see which way it goes.”
The nearly one million House of Herrera Instagrammers and 1.25 million Facebook can keep up with company news, but they won’t find any at-home photos of Herrera or other insight about her personal life. “It is all about my work and it’s all about what women want to see in fashion. I didn’t do it in a personal way because I didn’t think that would interest so many people. I mean we are selling something. I believe very much that if you’re selling something, you have to have an Instagram account that is connected with that because that makes the clients feel close to you. I don’t believe too much in the personal ones,” she said. “You have to have some privacy and some mystery in your life. Why do you want everybody to know what you are having for lunch or dinner, and where you are every minute of the day?”
Likening the Mytheresa.com deal to “a good marriage,” the designer said the two companies work very well together. They may team up again depending on the capsule collection’s e-commerce sales. In the meantime, Herrera, is already focused on the next task at hand.
“In fashion, there is always a project. You never stop. There is always somebody knocking at your door. I am always considering which one to take. It’s wonderful to do,” she said.