January 25, 2013 7:21 pm

The Inventory: Carolina Herrera

‘I don’t think ambition ever stops for those who really care about what they do’
Carolina Herrera©Arthur Elgort

Carolina Herrera, 74, launched her award-winning fashion label in 1980 and has since dressed clients that include Jacqueline Onassis and Michelle Obama.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a horse rider. I had a pony and did dressage and, for me, horses were the most important thing. I gave up when I realised I didn’t have the ability to be the best in the world.

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Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

I was schooled at home, then didn’t go to university because I married when I was 17. I didn’t go into work until late in my life.

Who was your mentor?

My governess taught me how to see things. We went to a museum in Madrid when I was seven or eight and she explained the details of a famous painting by Hieronymus Bosch to me. It was important, because life is about details.

If you had a coat of arms, what would be on it?

I have one! It says, in Spanish, “We don’t come from kings, kings come from us.” The part from my mother’s side says, “Better dead than to sully one’s life.” The image is cauldrons and fleurs-de-lis.

How physically fit are you?

I walk every day of my life and I used to play tennis every day. I feel good.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

They go together, because if you have talent you need ambition to project your talent, and if you have ambition and no talent you can’t do anything.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No. I may be too scared – at my age I don’t think I should.

How politically committed are you?

Politics are private. I don’t understand people who try to convince you to join one party or another. But I’ve worked for the United Nations and I am currently working in breast cancer awareness.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I haven’t given it a thought. Maybe I should?

Do you have more than one home?

I have two, but why do I have to say? It is private.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A beautiful silver aeroplane that takes me everywhere without having to go to airports and sit and wait. I hate airports – they put me in a bad mood.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

To waste time. I do all sorts of silly things.

In what place are you happiest?

Anywhere by the sea. I love the blue water and the calm.

What ambitions do you still have?

To know more, to help people, to grow my business and to cultivate myself. I don’t think ambition ever stops for people who really care about what they do.

What drives you on?

Curiosity.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

My four daughters.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

There are so many things that I have still not done yet. Maybe I should have done them – and I haven’t.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

“Bravo, Carolina, well done!” I never expected to be where I am now. You never expect anything when you are 20 because you think that you’ll never get older.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Start again – because I have so much ambition. You need ambition to keep going because if you don’t then nothing ever happens.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

I wouldn’t like to see somebody that I really love suffering but I really don’t know if I can believe in it. It’d be difficult to take that decision.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Yes, but I don’t know what I would like it to be. I would like to be Carolina Herrera in an afterlife because I don’t like surprises.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

9.5 – there is always room for improvement.

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Carolina Herrera recently launched a new CH Carolina Herrera boutique in Brompton Cross, London. www.carolinaherrera.com

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