3 Key Lessons on Fashion & Life from Style Icon Carolina Herrera as She Steps Down

I have been slightly obsessed with Carolina Herrera for years - from investing my own meager funds in college to buy her eponymous perfume, to more recently ogling her at NY Fashion Week. So you can imagine my shock when I opened the New York Times 2 wks ago to find she is “stepping down” and handed the creative reins over to a young designer, Wes Gordon. What??! I’m in a bit of withdrawl so I decided to create a post on her and sum up the things I admire about her so much:

Lesson #1:  It’s never too late to pursue your passion or start a business.  Mrs. Carolina Herrera was 40 years old when she started her fashion house. And according to the research, older entrepreneurs often have more success and staying power than their younger cohorts. (If you don’t believe me, there’s lots of data on Harvard Business Review site - I just grabbed one quick study in the link here).


Wall Street Journal


Annie Leibovitz

….but she had always been a clothes horse & took the plunge into creating the kinds of sophisticated but wearable clothes she wanted for herself. The rest (designing Caroline Kennedy’s wedding gown, dressing legions of successful working women and Hollywood actresses) is history!

Lesson #2: Dressing appropriately does not have to mean being boring.  No one else seems to make a crisp poplin shirt and a pencil skirt look as chic - and effortless - as Carolina Herrera.



It’s clear she knows what is flattering for her and she edits out anything that doesn’t! As she told the Wall Street Journal:  "The secret to aging gracefully is knowing what looks good on you at all ages. If you try to dress in a young way when you’re old, you’re going to look even older.”


Mimi Ritzen Crawford

She sticks to tried and true formula of clean lines, impeccable fit & tailoring with quality fabrics - which is pretty accessible advice for all of us, regardless of age, size, budget…(Note to self: get to the tailor!)


Lesson #3: Creativity and style have so many different forms - why not have some fun and explore things a little bit more??  Whether her choice of museums (i.e; The Frick in NYC) as a backdrop for her fashion shows, her support of artists over the years or simply upholstering her living room in silk, Mrs. Herrera certainly knows how to put exuberance into everything she does — and have fun along the way!


Her NYC dining room and dressing room (via InStyle)


Her portrait by legendary photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe


Her NYC retail headquarters in her signature brown and white stripes


Always with a dog nearby…even in the office


So in conclusion, I love that she embodies the French expression “il vaut la peine” - meaning, it’s worth making the effort to do things with a little extra oomph…but she also has a well-rounded approach that seems to say - and YET, don’t take things too seriously. Have some fun!  That’s a formula for living well that makes me smile - and sit up a little bit straighter.  

Hope she inspires you as much as she does me. If not, tell me who does so I can soak up some more inspiration!

Thanks & cheers,