Carolina Herrera pre-fall 2021: Jean Shrimpton meets Mia Farrow
Statement fashion at Carolina Herrera, whose designer Wes Gordon presented the house’s latest collection in a Wednesday webinar from his office in New York to a selection of editors.
With runway shows cancelled worldwide due to the pandemic, many designers have taken to Zoom and webinars to introduce their collections. In Herrera’s case, Gordon walked his audience through the entire 43 looks, the latest distillation of his subtly easier vision of the founder’s unique Latin lady on Park Avenue oeuvre.
This season, Gordon’s inspiration was a famous 1962 photo shoot by David Bailey starring Jean Shrimpton for British Vogue. Shot in a freezing January, so cold it made the camera stick to the cockney photographer’s fingers, it’s gritty realism, captured in the West Village and Chinatown, is often said to have ignited the Swinging Sixties.
“The shoot invented the Youthquake – and came after a decade of very strict, formal fashion photography – shooting in the rain on a sidewalk, of outside a shoe repair shop. It captured this new energy and freshness and modernity. And I very much think that we are about to enter into a new New York and a new world, and a new now,” opined Gordon, face up close and personal into his computer camera.
“Pieces to mark special moments,” in the designer’s words, opening with his fetish print for the house – polkadots – always intrinsically Herrera – in multiple sizes.
From a semi-sheer chiffon blouse worn with oversized zebra print flared skirt to that combo effectively reversed with knit zebra sweater and chiffon polkadot skirts, lots of large form statement pants – often in a couture chiné zebra fabric, though made sustainably.
“Some 25% of this collection is sustainable and we will work to increase that number,” stressed Gordon.
He also played with Herrera’s classic silhouette – large flowing tulle and taffeta gowns topped with crisp white shirts, though updated the look with knit tops or body suits. Even showing a Herrera tribute skirt in paper taffeta worn over a polkadot bomber jacket.
“It would not be a Carolina Herrera collection without some extraordinary gown moments,” smiled Gordon, clicking his cursor to show a fabulous evening dress made of 120 meters of beaded white tulle.
Added to the classy mix: uber ruffled short party frocks; red crepe cocktails fronted by pink satin bows; giant oversized cashmere turtle necks that end at the ankle; and perfectly cut A-line dresses with horn buttons.
For spring picnics, bold cotton ottoman stripe looks, not printed but woven, seen in a bias cut dress worn with brogues. While for day, he showed ideal black double-face cashmere empire line coats with patch pockets that “are so Mia Farrow in her Rosemary’s Baby moment.”
The entre lookbook shot by the subversive art photographer Roe Etheridge, helping to give the cast the look of supremely well-heeled art collectors, or their dates.
Reflecting on the year, Gordon said he wanted to impart the “the idea of emergence as this collection will ship in May and June. Hopefully to a world well on its way to be vaccinated. And these are clothes you will be going out to see your friends you haven’t seen for maybe a year, to restaurants you haven’t been to either. So I wanted clothes that express yourself and how unique you are and are completely wearable and easy but still fabulous. Because we are Carolina Herrera and wearable and cozy and easy does not have to be grey, oatmeal and sad; or dour and boring!”
“It’s been quite a challenging year, and I am in awe and amazed at how beautifully our team has got through it despite all these obstacles, getting bigger and bigger, our seamstresses have managed to produce even more beautiful collections,” he finished, before hitting his leave button and vanishing.
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