Carolina Herrera Doubles Down on Glamour

Three years right into a pandemic, loads of luxury houses are ready for us to get back to business. This season’s runways are not any longer far faraway from the classroom or the conference room. Academic prep style is back, albeit with an edge. Elevated capsule wardrobes—what some might call “real-world clothes”—are inherently chic. This Latest York Fashion Week, you’re just as prone to snag the lens of a street style photographer with a pair of leather ballet flats as you might be by toting a crystal-bedazzled Prada bag.

Meanwhile, at Carolina Herrera, the work week might as well not exist. And if it does, the CH woman definitely isn’t enduring it in blazers and slacks on the water cooler, as is her wont. Creative director Wes Gordon’s latest collection, shown this morning at The Plaza Hotel, as a substitute appeared to float in a everlasting post-office dream. An extended-sleeve sheer floral jumpsuit was made for Sunday brunches; a gold-embroidered black gown for A-listers already running late to the red carpet; a red-and-pink striped set for summer soirées fueled by Aperol Spritzes and finger foods. The designs are neither showy nor understated; they yearn to be seen, but not necessarily spotted.

Giovanni Giannoni//Getty Images

In his collection notes, Gordon described the show as “inspired by the dichotomy of discipline and grandeur” found inside Sisi, the Nineteenth-century Empress of Austria. Film buffs might recognize that name from 2022’s Corsage, by which Vicky Krieps plays the young empress, and poses for the movie’s poster together with her ring finger hoisted like she’s flicking the bird. One critic I love described this film as “finely tuned, and never fussy,” which could just as easily describe Gordon’s recent Herrera collection. Yet, like Sisi, his designs are still proud, opulent, and opulent enough that they forego any easy association with the return of the established order. Such voluminous ball skirts, neon silk capes, tulle tufts, and off-the-shoulder sleeves speak to a lingering desire for adventure, for ease, for one or two (but not three!) drinks at lunch. Perhaps, they appear to suggest, you’d prefer to clear your schedule for the afternoon?


preview for Elle US Section: Fashion

Even so, it’s in Gordon’s subtle, respectful deviations from the influence of his predecessor, Carolina Herrera herself, that the gathering becomes more kaleidoscopic. Three looks particularly showcased the brand’s flirtation with a more bombastic aesthetic: one metallic gold dress featured a high-low skirt fused with a bomber jacket top; one other paired the torso of a hooded anorak with a bow-cinched waist in an emerald-purple paisley print; a 3rd design took the label’s classic white shirt and pinned it with a decidedly genderless oversized tie.

carolina herrera fall 2023 rtw runway

Giovanni Giannoni//Getty Images

carolina herrera fall 2023 rtw runway

Giovanni Giannoni//Getty Images

The result’s a Herrera look that’s classic but not forgotten, escapist but not out-of-touch, romantic but not saccharine. It’s a glance that belongs under sunsets within the Hollywood Hills, in front of flashbulbs on the step-and-repeat, draped against the bar because the clock strikes midnight, but not anywhere inside walking distance of a fax machine. And praise be for that: When the remainder of us determine to quiet quit, we’re going to wish something to wear.

carolina herrera fall 2023 rtw runwayOpen GalleryHeadshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Culture Author

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture author at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE. 

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