As the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, and Carolina Herrera’s muted glamour has been a winning formula for decades (as proven by the presence Vogue's editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in the front row). In her latest collection, presented in the Theater on Sept. 13, Herrera’s classic aesthetic was infused with l'esprit du printemps through floral appliqués, which the program notes explained were taken from by 18th century botanical plates, and inspired by the cut and details of traditional Korean garments. The run of show played out like a “who’s who” of top models with each of the 50 two looks worn on different girls, including Chanel Iman, Lily Donaldson, and Karlie Kloss.
Herrera opened with a white oxford twill wrap jacket and matching double pleated pant — simple and chic, the look was the perfect Eastern take on her signature crisp, white button-down, and continued in a subdued and mature manner, seemingly designed with her Upper East Side clientele in mind. Hemlines hit below the knee, elegant bateau necklines were prominent, and sleeved options, like a canvas cocoon coat, were ready to conceal arms.
Black, white, metallic beige, and hibiscus red made for a sophisticated palette. Waists were cinched with a traditional Korean bow belts in organza and cord, and many looks were accessorized with a tall, straw Korean men’s hat, which Herrera felt helped to “complete the silhouette” and featured prominently throughout the show. Continuing on, ginger, melon, and lime hues created pristine backdrops for the lady-like botanicals which were translated directly onto garments. A soft yellow tansy appliqué fell from the shoulder of an olive cotton wrap dress and an embroidered forget-me-not filled the front of a fitted pencil skirt. Bright colors plucked directly from the garden, like hibiscus orange and aster pink, were introduced on increasingly youthful and formal looks, like a short Korean cocoon dress with a diagonal neckline falling just past one shoulder.
Herrera did not back away from botanicals on red carpet looks, which were made of colorful metallic satins and floral impressionist prints. A stunning floor length gown featured a fitted bodice of swirling metallic olive and ginger with sheer black organza encasing the shoulders and cinching the waist. The Korean influence was ubiquitous in single-loop obi knots which appeared around necklines, waists, and even the bustle of full skirts. The show concluded with a series of supremely elegant ball gowns featuring full, aikido skirts comprised of yards of porcelain embroidered floral jacquard. Not wanting for bells and whistles, the show — straightforward and first-class in every respect — was in a stratosphere all its own.