Family, fashion dominate the days of Carolina Herrera

Wed Feb 8, 2012 7:38pm EST
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By Jan Paschal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Designer Carolina Herrera didn't grow up dreaming of a fashion career. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, she spent her childhood riding horses and pursuing favorite pastimes on the family estate.

But fashion became her calling and after a lifetime of design, winning awards and providing red carpet looks for stars ranging from Oscar winner Renee Zellweger to Grammy winner Lady Gaga, industry watchers know that family is the thread that runs through Herrera's personal and professional success.

"Maybe fashion was sleeping in me and suddenly it woke up," Herrera, 73, told Reuters. "Because when I was growing up, my great interest was my horses, tennis and that's it, and dogs and normal life, not about fashion."

A huge portrait of the designer by Andy Warhol, a memento of her night-clubbing years in the 1970s with superstar peers such as Mick Jagger, hung in her showroom behind her as she spoke with Reuters in an interview ahead of the February 13 debut of her latest collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.

Her office is filled with art books and framed family photos, and two silver statuettes from the Council of Fashion Designers of America -- the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award she received in 2008 and the Womenswear Designer of the Year Award in 2004 -- take a prominent place.

With her Fall 2012 runway show set for Monday, Herrera talked about her 30 years in fashion and how she built her New York-based company, the privately held Carolina Herrera Ltd., into a global billion-dollar brand.


Her mother, who was "a very romantic, poetic, cultivated woman," her grandmother and the other women in her family loved haute couture, prizing "the craftsmanship that made them as beautiful on the inside as on the outside," she said.   Continued...

<p>Designer Carolina Herrera poses for a portrait as she takes a break from preparing for her upcoming show in New York's Fashion Week at her studio in New York February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>