Mrs. Herrera’s New Hires

Drew Johnson

The duo behind the downtown label Monse clock in uptown.

Only a year ago, Monse—the fashion label from former Oscar de la Renta designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, named for Garcia’s mother and pronounced mon-SAY—debuted. The brand is best known for its use of stripes, menswear, and couture-like constructs, and has quickly become a go-to for young socialites in San Francisco, Dallas, and the duo’s home base, New York City. This month, Kim and Garcia will see their first designs for Carolina Herrera on the runway. (Their first official outing was the Herrera 2017 resort collection.)

The pair replaced Hervé Pierre, who had been with the company since 2002. The appointments—Kim, 33, as senior vice president of design; Garcia, 29, as a consultant—make sense, given the shared uptown aesthetics of de la Renta’s and Herrera’s respective houses. “The customer at Carolina is not too far off from Oscar’s,” says Garcia. Now that they’re installed at Herrera’s Seventh Avenue studio, Kim says, “We’re going back to what Mrs. Herrera loves in fashion. Bold stripes, colors—a brightness and a happiness.” Mrs. Herrera herself praises Kim’s eye and Garcia’s ideas and energy. “That combination makes the duo click—and fun to work with,” she says.

Kim and Garcia will stick to mixing the funky and the polished down at Monse’s Varick Street workroom, which serves, fundamentally, as a place to experiment. “What we’re doing with our own label is totally different from Herrera,” Kim says.

At the house of Herrera, the approach is all about respect. And it’s clear that when Kim and Garcia are in the atelier that makes bridal gowns for Kennedys and red-carpet dresses for Oscar winners, they are showing due deference. “There’s a strong value in keeping the codes of the house alive,” says Garcia. “Mrs. Herrera is there! We want to make her proud. If we don’t see her wearing the clothes that we’re making, it doesn’t make sense. We’re not putting a hoodie on a Carolina Herrera runway.”