Carolina Herrera is on a roll. The regnant queen of understated international style is holding court in her Seventh Avenue office and pardoning few prisoners. “English women don’t care about fashion anymore,” she laments in an uncharacteristically raspy voice that betrays an incipient cold. “If they have to go out, they will take a curtain and turn it into a dress.”
Nor is she sparing New York, whose street style she eviscer ated in a recent interview. “The streets of New York are a ca-la- mi-ty,” says the Venezuelan-born Herrera, enunciating each syllable with dramatic Latin effect. “I got in trouble for saying it, but I have never seen so many badly dressed people in my life. It’s mostly tourists, but it is the most important city in the world so dress the part.”
In March, Herrera, who is wearing head-to-toe gray cashmere, is hoping to prettify the putative fashion capitals of the world with the launch of a tightly edited collection of bathing suits and separates, as well as beach accessories, based on some of her favorite archival prints.
“I work hard to create beautiful prints, and then they disappear after one season,” she explains as a fitting model enters wearing an oversize-violet-print swimsuit and pareo, a matching tote bag slung over her shoulder. “So I figured, Why not turn these into a capsule collection with very simple lines, because you don’t need a lot of fancy embellishment when you have nice prints?” The six reprised graphics in the travel-friendly collection include a parasol print, tango dancers that look like flowers from afar but on inspection bring to mind figures from a Tamara de Lempicka painting, and a floral print inspired by a Jeremiah Goodman watercolor of a cabbage-rose design that he created for one of Nancy Reagan’s couches. “The prints all have a story,” Herrera explains. “They always relate to something. I think Jeremiah Goodman is a fantastic interior designer and watercolorist, and in the end this print came out lovely. But, at one point, I joked that we were going to look like we were in the business of couches.”
The print that is closest to her heart is clearly the one of her beloved toy poodle, Gaspar, who, at 14, is having his fair share of senior moments. “I adore this print!” Herrera says, clasping her hands with excitement. “Gaspar is blind now and losing his mind a bit, so I don’t bring him into the office often. But when we first showed this collection to the buyers from Saks, he started doing tricks when he heard his name and people started looking at him. They were all laughing, but they bought it all, so I guess Gaspar is a very good salesman.” Available at carolinaherrera.com.