Although SCAD FASH’s exhibition, “Carolina Herrera: Refined Irreverence” ended Sep. 25, 2016, you don’t need to leave the couch to see the 75 beautifully crafted garments that were once on display, including gowns worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, Tina Fey and more. Herrera had two SCAD exhibitions dedicated to her illustrious fashion career at once, the other in SCAD’s Savannah location.
Herrera was born into a privileged life and received invitations to Balenciaga runway shows and Dior outfits as gifts from her grandmother. Years later she’d find herself in New York City, with an enviable list of friends including Bianca and Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol and editor-in-chief of Vogue, Diana Vreeland. Her second marriage, to a Venezuelan aristocrat, led Herrera on a globe-trotting adventure that included the company of princesses and billionaires. Well before she designed her first garment, Herrera was on the “International Best Dressed List” in 1972.
Herrera’s first shows, attended by her elite friends, were met with much acclaim. However, there were those who questioned her ability to become a serious designer. Joan Juliet Buck, former French Vogue editor, saw Herrera’s rise, “as one of a group of society ladies extending their love of clothes into an attempt at self-definition.” While it’s undeniable Herrera’s social status and financial privilege aided her quest to become a fashion designer, it took artistic skill and business acumen to grow that want into the global empire the Carolina Herrera brand is today.
Herrera was the guest of honor at SCAD’s 2016 Annual Fashion show, as well as the recipient of that year’s SCAD Étoile award, which recognizes and honors individuals with immense achievements in the fields of style and design. Herrera joined an impressive roster of winners including Pierre Cardin, David Yurman, Russell Simmons, Dakota Jackson and Graydon Carter. Carolina Herrera’s numerous awards and honors also include the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award and Womenswear Designer of The Year, both awarded by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
After being honored as a SCAD Étoile, Herrera shared some words of wisdom with SCAD students:
- Find a mentor. “To have a mentor like Diana Vreeland is quite something.”
- Keep your eyes open. “Learn how to see.” Herrera credits her mother for opening her eyes to the world.
- Embrace your critics. “Learn to live with critiques,” said Herrera, who reads all her reviews.
- Believe in your style. “Forget about copying whatever is going on.” Herrera’s snappy, white shirts are a testament to being true to yourself.
The four tips above are on behalf of Career and Student Services weekly tip, via SCAD email.
Bria Sanders, a third-year fashion student, said, regarding the exhibition, “I really like the setup. The mix of runway and boutique displays is very visually interesting. I also love the mix of classic and contemporary pieces that were chosen for display.” Sander’s favorite dress was no. 78, Bella’s wedding dress in the blockbuster “Twilight” film saga. Noting that Bella wore the dress in “Breaking Dawn – Part 1” during her marriage to Edward, Sanders said she was pleasantly surprised when she saw the dress on display, adding, “I love the buttons down the entire back.”
“There is always a challenge in fashion—it is hard work. It is determination. It’s perseverance…I think you have to be very strong in the fashion industry. You have to have your eyes open and you have to believe in your style.” — Carolina Herrera.
“Inspiration comes from anything and everything — a book you’ve read, a piece of art, a beautiful landscape. You must always keep your eyes open; great things have a way of finding you if you do.” — Carolina Herrera.
“The white shirt for me is like a security blanket. I suppose the first time I wore it was when I went to school and my uniform had the little white shirt with the Peter Pan collar – then I wore it when I was riding or I was playing tennis. It’s something that you can dress up or you can dress down. You can wear it with a ball gown skirt. You can wear it with a pair of jeans. It’s very snappy.” — Carolina Herrera.
“Fashion is a repetition of ideas, but you have to do it in a modern way. You can take ideas from the past, but you cannot take the ideas exactly as they were. It is the details that you use in your collections that make it exciting and new and modern.”
— Carolina Herrera.
“Fashion has changed and it changes all the time. Fashion is magical. Fashion is a dream.” — Carolina Herrera.
“Beauty is all around you. You have to learn how to see.” — Carolina Herrera.