The 40th anniversary of Carolina Herrera, pandemic restrictions lifting and — drumroll — a new baby! Wes Gordon has a lot to celebrate, including his newest addition, Henry Eduard Arnhold-Gordon, born this week.
“The baby is very fashion-considerate, he let me finish resort,” Gordon joked during a Zoom interview earlier this month.
Of course, a sense of joy is core to Herrera, never more so than during resort season, when the brand’s ebullience really shines. Gordon’s biggest contribution has been to bring the dress-up evening spirit to the every day.
“My inspiration was gathering together my two dozen closest friends and taking them away for an imaginary destination party.…It’s everything we’ve been missing,” said Gordon, who considered when designing the collection what a woman would travel in, explore town in, have lunch in on the beach, through to what she would wear to a glamorous party that ends with barefoot dancing at 4 a.m.
The result was a wardrobe of celebration and ease, with soft structure, statement sleeves, bouncing ruffles and candy-striped knits.
Surprisingly, Gordon has never done rose prints at Herrera, and his florals certainly have juice, seeing the online frenzy that occurred after Meghan Markle wore the brand’s red poppy print dress at the Global Citizen Vax Live concert last month.
For resort, a brushstroke rose bouquet print inspired by an antique gouache painting is used to beautiful effect on a sunshine yellow puff-sleeve wrap dress. Meanwhile, a Warhol-looking woodblock, in striking red, blue or yellow, takes center stage on a va-va-voom ruched sweetheart style with puff sleeves, on Herrera’s classic button-front shirt and ballskirt ensemble and more.
Gordon paid special attention to statement sleeves (they ain’t going anywhere), gathering and pleating them to a seam, or a ruffle at the shoulders held in place with elastic. Other tops, in cotton or silk faille, had structured ruffles, and a shoulder reveal.
Much of the collection was styled with kerchiefs, worn on the head after Jackie O in Capri. A denim version is matched to a puff-sleeve jacket and wide-legged jeans, and an adorable pink candy stripe sweater and red crochet stripe shorts look. “I love the Ron Galella images of her living her life in a relaxed glamorous way,” Gordon said of her Onassis days.
A popsicle-stripe knit tube dress, worn with heavy white “Wilma Flintstone” beads, and a delicate white crochet midriff top and skirt set also spoke to ’70s resort style. And easy leopard georgette palazzo pants, a matching tie front shirt and head scarf recalled another icon of American glamour — Elsa Peretti, a hero in Ryan Murphy’s recent “Halston” series, which Gordon, like everyone in the fashion world, devoured.
Full-tilt dressing up had a lightness, from the red organza puff-sleeve gown dotted with hundreds of hand-cut organza flowers, to the dandelion wisp of a strapless white organza gown with a spiraling ruffles and a single black grosgrain bow.
But eyes will be peeled for the first celebrity to wear Gordon’s black flamenco party pants, bordered in a stiff faille ruffle, and paired with a black halter top. It’s a riff on a look from Herrera’s first collection in 1981. As fun now as it was then.