Elegance is a state of mind, says Carolina Herrera. It certainly worked for her business, which is now a billion-dollar global empire.
Like Valentino, who recently shared his dismay over the sartorial disarray in which Brits arrive at the theatre nowadays, Caroline Herrera is not unreservedly won over by modern dress codes. Growing up in Caracas in the Fifties and Sixties had its challenges, but Kim Kardashian's fashion sense wasn't one of them.
"Everyone was very, very chic. You either went to Paris for your clothes or you had them made in Caracas. I would like women to feel they could be glamorous and elegant," muses Herrera, from the far side of her cream and black office, high above the disappointing exhibits disporting themselves down on the pavements of Manhattan's somewhat scruffy Garment District. "Unfortunately there's a lot of confusion today over what is sexy and what is vulgar. It's horrifying. They say, 'Oh, that girl is so sexy', and she turns around and the dress is four sizes too small. Or she's wearing so much stuff, you wonder how long it took her to get ready." Herrera's uniform - big skirts, tailored shirts, mannish trousers - is so honed that she claims she can get ready for the grandest do in 10 minutes. "But women don't want to be called elegant now," she reflects, "because they connect it with old-fashioned. But elegance is not old‑fashioned."