In preparation for a new book examining her label’s 35-year history, Carolina Herrera has been spending a lot of time in the archives of late. And so her SS17 collection was in part a debt to her inaugural 1981 collection and an age of strappy taffeta gowns, silvery brocade ball dresses, bomber jackets and denim.
Of course, the more voluminous details of that era was somewhat less exuberant here, but the slicked back hair and scarlet lips announced a clean collection of bold graphic monochromes and sculptural tailoring that recalled the glory years of yuppie excess, tempered with a softer millennial sensibility. A silver brocade gown swept along the marble floors of the Frick museum, which Herrera has adopted as her fashion home in New York for the past three seasons. It had a bold silhouette with an origami like shoulder detail, but the fabric was a “pouf” of metallic” according to the designer.
The denim, so beloved of eighties designers, was elegantly used on a ballgown. Herrera had revisited also the gingham shirts she used to wear backstage and refashioned it in eveningwear.
The house of Herrera, a supplier of uptown gowns for the gala-night classes, is never going to be a directional label. The designer never digresses from her design brief of “easy, effortless femininity”. And her clothes are always immaculate. But for SS17, she brought a welcome edge to the collection. The metallics looked major. A black and white striped evening gown with a simple strap looked modern — even though the gown itself was inspired by a similar dress from a previous collection worn by Serena Williams in a Vogue shoot: Herrera’s time with past editorial had allowed a chance to revisit some greatest hits. There was a sporty feel to the aesthetic, which lent it more currency. And the “pouffy” fabrics lent it a youthful vigour.
Thirty five years young. She’s looking good for her age.
Photographs: Catwalking; Carolina Herrera