Purple Magazine
— The New York issue #39 S/S 2023

Carolina Herrera







OLIVIER ZAHM — In this issue, we want to celebrate New York as a place for style, fashion, creativity…

CAROLINA HERRERA — It used to be.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Okay, let’s stop the interview. [Laughs]

CAROLINA HERRERA — New York used to be very sophisticated and glamorous. When you arrived in New York, you felt that you were plugged into the electricity. You became full of energy. New York was different.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s still like that.

CAROLINA HERRERA — You know why that is? Because there are so many things to do in New York and so many things to see. First of all, you have the best museums, and they’re all magic. And there’s Broadway, the plays.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And there’s a special magnetism here. The power of the buildings, the beauty of the sky, the light…

CAROLINA HERRERA — All these buildings, you don’t see them anywhere else. There’s this idea of New York being the city where everybody wanted to be. Because it’s a city of opportunities, first of all.

OLIVIER ZAHM — If it changes in New York, it changes everywhere.

CAROLINA HERRERA — It changes everywhere, but in New York, you notice it more.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What about the New York style now?

CAROLINA HERRERA — I’ll tell you something. Years ago, when we were coming to New York, you used to see the most beautiful people in the streets, and it was really lovely. Now, everybody looks the same to me. Women are all the same. They’re all going to the gym or coming out of the gym. Even if they’re not, that’s what they wear. Shoes disappeared. They’re all sneakers, and they’re all the same to me. And all these jeans with holes everywhere, which I find so old-fashioned. People don’t want to be called “sophisticated” or “elegant” or “glamorous” — they want to be cool. And you know what cool is for me? A glass of water with lots of ice. But New York is amazing, and it has always been. And it’s very difficult to destroy it.

ALEPH MOLINARI — Tell us when you first came to New York. Was it in the ’70s?

CAROLINA HERRERA — I first came to New York when I was a child. And then I came back when I married Reinaldo. New York was a very glamorous place back then. Totally different from now because there were many places to go to. There were many private houses that used to host beautiful dinners and dances.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It was a social scene.

CAROLINA HERRERA — There was a huge social scene in New York. And everybody used to mix. For instance, Studio 54 was a place where you used to find painters, writers, royalty, society, everybody together. It was fascina­ting. And that’s something you don’t have anymore. You don’t have a place to go.

ALEPH MOLINARI — The amount of creative possibilities that came out of that place…

CAROLINA HERRERA — Yes, and New York has always been a place of opportunity. And people come to New York like it’s a magical place.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It was a social melting pot, where people gathered from different parts of the world.

CAROLINA HERRERA — They were all mixed. There was a place that used to be very glamorous, El Morocco. It was a nightclub, a famous one, where everybody came from everywhere in the world. You don’t see that anymore.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And did that scene inspire you to become a designer?

CAROLINA HERRERA — It was by pure chance. I wanted to do something different in my life, and I had the opportunity to do it in New York. So, with the help of the Herrera name — I have to be honest because I took Reinaldo’s name for my designs. They were very well known in New York, and there was a connection with fashion — Diana Vreeland at Vogue, whom I met through Mimi [Maria Herrera-Uslar] and her husband Reinaldo. They were the most glamorous couple. I had the opportunity to do it here. I did my first show at the Metropolitan Club, and everybody came. A mixture: there was Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Diana Vreeland… And it was a real success, I have to say. That show was elegant and glamorous. I wanted women to look beautiful and well-dressed — and all the stores bought from there.

OLIVIER ZAHM — When was that?

CAROLINA HERRERA — ’81 — 42 years ago.

ALEPH MOLINARI — And you also had Iman in the show?

CAROLINA HERRERA — I had all the great models because I had the luck of being helped by Bill Blass, the designer, who was a very good friend and who used to dress me. He helped me with the models. Emanuel Ungaro, too. I mean, all these friends who used to dress me… And so, the fashion papers said at the beginning, “She’s going to do it for one season, and then she’s going to forget about it.” And yet I’m here.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And what was Diana Vreeland like?

CAROLINA HERRERA — She was the most amazing woman because she had a personality that is unusual to find — sophisticated, with great taste, and a lot of imagination. She was really different from everyone. I haven’t found anybody who looks like her. She always wanted to be surrounded by younger people. At the end of her life, she became blind, but she didn’t want anybody to notice. So, when we went to dinner in her house, she used to have everything where she knew she could grab it. She could grab her drink without showing it. So, she was acting. And she helped me a lot. And Carrie Donovan, who was the head of The New York Times Magazine — she was great, too. Everything changes in fashion every 10 years or 20 years. And all the magazines had new editors, as always happens. And I was lucky to get along well with all of them.

OLIVIER ZAHM — This is also something very specific to New York, at least at that time — the power of the press.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Yes, the power of the press in New York at that moment was Women’s Wear Daily. It was the most important because John Fairchild, the owner, was a genius. And he knew a lot about how to be successful in fashion and in society because he was the king of society and the king of fashion. Now that doesn’t exist anymore. What you read in BOF now is all about business. That’s it. Before, it was all about the glamorous life, about fashion, about what’s going on in the world.

OLIVIER ZAHM — How would you define glamour?

CAROLINA HERRERA — Glamour is difficult to describe, but a glamorous woman is easy to describe because she looks different from everyone else. There’s a certain way of moving, a certain way of thinking, a certain way of talking or expressing herself, which makes her different. That’s glamorous. And glamour and elegance are connected. But glamour is much more important than elegance.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And so what happened to the sense of glamour in New York? Because we have the Met Gala…

CAROLINA HERRERA — You want me to talk about the Met Gala? [Laughs] The Met Gala used to be the most glamorous place. And we’re talking about glamour when Diana Vreeland used to do it at the beginning — because it was a real mixture of society, of celebrities, of designers, of everyone. Now, the Met Gala is not glamorous. The last Met Gala, I read about it — they were all wearing costumes. And you know why? They read in the invitation: “The Costume Institute invites you to the Met Gala,” and they thought they had to wear costumes. So, they came with costumes on. [Laughs]

OLIVIER ZAHM — But New York is also a place of permanent resurrection, no?

CAROLINA HERRERA — New York has always resur­rected itself from whatever happened. It changes, and then it’s born again.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Yes. What do you still love about New York?

CAROLINA HERRERA — I love to live here. I wouldn’t move anywhere else. I love Central Park, I love the museums, I love everything. I used to love seeing people in the streets. And New York will always be a glamorous city that everybody wants to come and see.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Totally. Do you have any favorite designers today?
CAROLINA HERRERA — My favorite designer… You know who I like very much? Valentino. Pierpaolo [Piccioli], because he hasn’t lost the glamour and the elegance. He wants to make women look like they used to.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Flamboyant.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Pierpaolo, for me, is great, don’t you think? And he has beautiful shows. And Valentino is also a good friend. I love him. I used to be dressed by him, too. So, I used to wear a lot of them. Yves and Valentino and Ungaro — all of them.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Even Emanuel Ungaro…

CAROLINA HERRERA — Yes, he helped me with my first show by giving me some names of models. He was very kind. You know, the French designers were great, but they’re no longer there. You don’t have many French designers anymore.

OLIVIER ZAHM — We just interviewed Amy Fine Collins, and she told us that you are one of the best-dressed women in town.

CAROLINA HERRERA — She dresses very well. She’s a very nice woman.

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, do you still buy new dresses, or do you like to keep the Saint Laurents, the Ungaros, the Valentinos?

CAROLINA HERRERA — I have them all. If I tell you what I buy, you’ll be really surprised. I have a lot of designer clothes, so I don’t buy anything. I just buy sometimes at Zara or H&M or things like that. Fun. And I mix them.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And that’s very New York, too, to have this freedom to mix, spontaneously, without fear.


OLIVIER ZAHM — Fashion is timeless.

CAROLINA HERRERA — It should be. Style is timeless. That was my idea — that if they wore Carolina Herrera, they would always look stylish.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And in that sense, fashion can transcend trends.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Everyone is obsessed by trends. Do you know why? Because the fashion newspapers and social media create that obsession. They create what they think is a trend, and they write about it, and they photograph it. And everyone ends up believing in them and wearing them.

OLIVIER ZAHM — But you still love fashion. You love to dress up.

CAROLINA HERRERA — I love fashion, and I will always love it. It’s something that I was born with.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And you have the discipline to dress impeccably.

CAROLINA HERRERA — I have the discipline to dress. And I like to see women doing that. It’s a discipline, and you have to follow it.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s also a much better way of resisting time than plastic surgery.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Much better than plastic surgery, yes. To be well dressed and to be…


REINALDO HERRERA — And it hides a lot of mistakes of nature.

CAROLINA HERRERA — It’s true. [Laughs] But it’s fun to do it, for yourself. I mean, you have a mirror in front of you. That’s the best advice I can give people. Because fake news, Instagram, and all this social media can post anything they want, whether you said it or didn’t say it. Like me: on Instagram, they said that I recommended that women at 40 have to cut their hair. I never said anything like that in my life. It’s all fake news. The only recommendation that I give is to get a full-length mirror. [Laughs] Before you leave the house, you see what you are missing, if you have to put something else on. A full- length mirror. To see your shoes, too. That’s the only thing I say.

ALEPH MOLINARI — The problem is that now the mirror is the phone. It’s selfies. It’s about broadcasting yourself.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Exactly. You know, the influencers who are with their phones all day long? I think influencers are not about style — they’re about money. And that’s it. They wear whatever you give them to wear, even if it doesn’t look good on them. And they come to these shows, and they wear Herrera to the show. And then, in the car, they change and go to another designer who gave them other clothes to wear. So, it’s not about their style — it’s about the money they get paid. At a fashion summit in Cartagena, they asked me about influencers. I said what I am saying now, that they are not about style — they’re about money. There were, like, 600 people in the theater, and when I left, all the influencers invited there wanted to be photographed with me. How can they be photographed with me after I just insulted them? [Laughs] So, that’s fashion today, my dear friend.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s because you’ve reached the status of being a fashion icon.

CAROLINA HERRERA — I never under­ stood what “icon” means. An icon for me is that thing on the floor there — that’s an icon. Russian icons. But why do people have to be icons?

ALEPH MOLINARI — It’s linked to fame. People see the sanctity that they want…

CAROLINA HERRERA — Yes, I know. But how can you call a person an icon?

OLIVIER ZAHM — People need to identify with a superior figure.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Yes, but it’s funny because everybody’s an icon now. If you see them more than three times in your magazine, they’re an icon! [Laughs]

OLIVIER ZAHM — You don’t want to be an icon anymore. Too many icons. Do you have any other examples of women like that?

CAROLINA HERRERA — Mary McFarland, Jacqueline de Ribes.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Diane von Furstenberg?
CAROLINA HERRERA — Diane is a very good friend of ours.

REINALDO HERRERA — She’s wonderful. I love her very much. And I have been a friend of hers since she was a child.

CAROLINA HERRERA — She did a fantastic job because she had that dress…

OLIVIER ZAHM — The dress was very successful. She did the cover of Time magazine with it.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Yes, exactly, everybody used to wear that dress.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Can you explain the success of the Kardashians in America and in the world?

CAROLINA HERRERA — I don’t understand it, either, but they’re geniuses. I mean, the mother is a genius who made three of her daughters into billionaires. Three of them. They’re on the cover of Forbes magazine. They’re on covers everywhere because they’re the youngest billionaires.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Incredible.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Doing nothing. They are amazing.

ALEPH MOLINARI — They are geniuses.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Yes, true geniuses. The mother is a genius because she’s the one who directs the whole scene. And they are embraced by a lot of people. Do you know how many people watch them? 1.4 billion. I read it in the paper the other day.

OLIVIER ZAHM — But that’s the power of America — it’s show business.

CAROLINA HERRERA — They love it. You know why? Because there is Hollywood. And everybody follows Hollywood.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Yes. And fashion follows.

CAROLINA HERRERA — Americans are very taken by show business. Warner Brothers, Hollywood, they have all this. And that’s amazing. But it’s not necessarily the best place for high fashion.

REINALDO HERRERA — Because Americans can be very boring people. They don’t have so much imagination. But they do things. They create things.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Americans love to make things happen. Quickly.

CAROLINA HERRERA — They do push, and they make things happen. Whatever you have in mind, and you want to do it, come to America, come to New York, and do it.



[Table of contents]

The New York issue #39 S/S 2023

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