Get happy! That’s Wes Gordon’s approach at Carolina Herrera. It’s also his strategy as he takes on the task of developing the brand’s next phase, one that will inevitably involve some degree of casualization.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about what should Herrera be, what is Herrera?” Gordon said backstage at the New-York Historical Society on Monday morning. “It should be a wardrobe for [women like] Mrs. Herrera, for that woman who’s not a wallflower, who lives life to the fullest, likes color, has an exuberance.…Not overintellectualizing it.”
Happiness is a good place to start, and Gordon made his official runway debut an impressive one, even if he channeled his own exuberance a bit broadly. To his credit, he put out a lot of ideas, but the collection could have benefited from fewer proposals developed in greater depth. He started by rethinking several house codes. He showed plenty of tailoring, with the clear intention of making it less ladyfied. Case in point: snappy blazers with demonstrative piping over short, youthful A-line skirts. Gordon tinkered as well with another Herrera favorite, the classic shirt, at times recoloring it and cropping it above the waist, secured with a drawstring, popping one over a bright green skirt, side-buttoned for an ample show of leg.
Throughout, Gordon’s mantra manifested with control — happy but not madcap. While bright hues — green, pink, yellow — figured prominently, so, too, did pristine white. A white dress with poet’s sleeves featured colorfully smocking at the collar and waist.
The collection’s biggest slip came in an evening horsey theme; equestrians jumping across an otherwise lovely teal ballgown made for a curious choice. For the most part, however, evening looked strong. Gordon played with bold color, stripes and those house standards, polka dots and flowers, for looks as diverse as a fluid shirtdress and runway-only tent. Yet no matter how simple or high-drama the line, his models wore it all with an engaging ease.