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Saturday, January 10, 2009

An Interview With Carolina Herrera

It's hard to imagine Carolina Herrera drawing black lines down the backs of her legs to simulate sexy seamed stockings, but she did, and shared this memory with us during a delightful conversation in her office. Of course she was a rebellious teenager at the time. "I wanted to be a vamp like Marlene Dietrich and thought it would be wonderful to wear slinky black gowns, silk-seamed stockings, lots of plumes, and heavy perfume."

How fascinating that these youthful femme fatale fantasies were eventually to be replaced by fashion designs which have been acclaimed from coast to coast for their classic elegance and femininity.

Diana Vreeland, the fashion world's regarded doyenne, was Ms. Herrera's mentor and inspiration. "She literally pushed me into a career of designing," reminisces Ms. Herrera. Seated in her wonderfully comfortable living room-like office, Carolina confided, "I discovered in fashion, and now in fragrance, women aspire to beautiful fantasies. Everything we wear must suits its time. Reality can be virtual. The social context in which fashions are born create new dynamics. Look around you, when you are next in an airport, for instance. The crowd mentality is taking over. too much regimentation. People dress as if they are in the army, in prison. Individuality in fashion is becoming increasingly rare. There is a nervous energy which pull one down and reduces beauty to a hard equation."

It is against these changing social mores that Ms. Herrera spins her magic in fashion and fragrance, determined to perpetuate the pleasures, beauty and saving grace of fantasy.

Carolina Herrera's fragrance adventures actually began when The Fragrance Foundation invited her to be a "FiFi" Awards presenter at the first ceremonies held at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center in 1985. during the reception, she had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Fernando Aleu, president of Compar, Inc. as well as the Board of the Foundation. As a result, just a few years later, Compar introduced Ms. Herrera's first namesake fragrance which has become one of our industry's success stories.

"In the 90's, we are involved with so many things that women change fragrances like we change fashions. I think it's ridiculous. I've always worn fragrances that express who I am, not what is trendy. I believe that fragrance is part of my personality and style. Part of me. When I was a youngster. I borrowed my mother's favorite. "Joy." I wore it for many years and it certainly was an inspiration when I was able to create my own fragrance. The one thing I believe about fragrance with all my heart is that a woman , or a man, for that matter, should really wear it. Subtlety is not what wearing fragrance is all about. Just as fashion is a fulfilling experience for the eye, fragrance must be the same for the nose."

"Both help you establish your identity. One time, when I was in a taxi in Venezuela, the driver asked me to open the window. He said my fragrance was making him dizzy. I thought that was great. It is the way a woman should wear fragrance. It's a good kind of dizziness. Of course, European women as well as South American have always been fragrance devotees and wear perfume with great panache. In Spain, when a woman or man walks by and smells of scent, everyone turns around. It is that special something that adds to the attraction. I love it."

"Many women like to change their fragrance every day and I applaud them, but for me when I get into a certain fragrance mood, it can last for a very long time, and I wear that same fragrance from morning to night. It's part of my personality."

"As far as American men are concerned, I did my own small research," explained Ms. Herrera, "and found they always wear fragrance on their faces. European men, however are more sophisticated fragrance users. They enjoy spraying it on their shirts or breast pocket handkerchiefs. When they move, they give off an alluring aura." When we talked about the importance of the fashion designer's name on the bottle, Ms. Herrera strongly believes it elicits a lot of attention. "Fashions and fragrance must compliment each other and today's consumer knows that very well."

"When I look at the great classic fragrances, I do admire them and realize that they transcend time and are constantly contemporary. That is always my goal, to create timeless fashions and timeless fragrances." "Not that I ever underestimate the importance of packaging. I am absolutely convinced the bottle and the box must be in harmony with the fragrance. I chose dots to capture the graphic excitement I wanted my packaging to project for Carolina Herrera. My second fragrance "Flore," I felt, should express a completely different personality, and I turned to Andre Ricard, a package designer from Barcelona to capture the mood of this very feminine flowery bouquet. We talked and talked about the meaning and imagery of flowers, my feeling that the bottle should be symbolic of a beautiful woman in a strapless, waist-defining dress. I believe his design is a perfect expression of the qualities I imagined."

Carolina Herrera believes with all her heart, that the designer's responsibility - in fashion and fragrance- is to assure the memorability of the wearer. Her passion and charisma are all pervasive. Her crystal clarity and vision draw one into a world of cool sensory sensations that are reassuring and invigorating at the same time. She is, without question, a woman who exudes the essence of her time.

Source : Fragrance Foundation

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