Fashion designer to the rich and famous, Carolina Herrera did not embark on her pro¬ fession in a typical manner. A wealthy socialite and the mother of four children, she began her career after she turned forty because she wanted to Ary something new.”
Maria Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Nino was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Her father was a military officer and a government official. Her upbringing in a prominent family exposed her to a social life in high society—including parties, meeting important people, glamour, and fashion.
As a little girl, she designed dress¬ es for her dolls, and as a young woman, she designed them for herself and her friends. She married the son of a wealthy matriarch in 1969, which exposed her to even greater luxury and expanded her opportunities to dress fashionably.When Herrera unveiled her first line of clothes in 1981, fashion experts were skeptical.
Many saw her as a well-dressed socialite who would never be taken seriously as a designer. Her creations, however, surprised everyone. They reflected her sophistication and talent, and she was widely praised within the industry. Herrera’s designs combined provoca¬ tive, plunging necklines and exaggerated “fairy-tale shoulders,” with a look of taste and flair.
Her expertise quickly made her a popular designer, with clients from an international elite that included royalty, political wives, and movie stars.Throughout the 1980s, Herrera displayed her versatility and her ability to adopt to changing tastes, as she designed outfits that were much less exaggerated than her previous creations.
Her own version of the new slim style was a trendsetter for the decade. During this time, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis—an American fashion trendsetter herself—paid Herrera the ultimate compliment when she asked her to design a wedding dress for her daughter, Caroline Kennedy.In 1987, Herrera received another great honor when Hispanic Designers, Inc., voted her Top Hispanic Designer.
In 1988, Herrera ventured into another arena when she introduced her own line of per¬ fume. The popular Carolina Herrera perfume combines the odors of jasmine and tuberose, which for the designer conjure up images of a happy childhood in Venezuela.Herrera continued to design during the 1980s and 1990s, creating new styles and impressing the fashion world with her creativity.
Versatile and imaginative, all of her designs have reflected her elegant style as well as her sense of function, to coincide with her belief that designs must remain realistic to be mar¬ ketable. “No one wants to look like a cos¬ tume,” she has said.Herrera has divided both her professional and personal life with homes in New York City and Caracas.