She Talks to Angels

Fashion, Philanthropy and Carolina Herrera

Photos by Manny Hernandez

Iran Issa-Khan, Carolina Herrera

The Carolina Herrera boutique in Bal Harbour threw a fall fashion affair fit for royalty – and indeed royalty was present. Fashion monarch Carolina Herrera graced her first-floor shop at the southwest corner of the Bal Harbour Shops with the sovereign genteelness of an elevated figure.

The demure yet engaging Mrs. Herrera sat down with SocialMiami earlier that day and discussed fashion and society, philanthropy, business, Anna Wintour, as well as her joy of finally becoming an American citizen.

“Fashion, society and philanthropy have always been together,” said Mrs. Herrera, whose journey south from New York was a mixture of the three. “Fashion is what dresses all of the women who work with the charities, so it’s always connected. It’s very attractive for a woman, any woman, in society or not, to go to a fashion show – and if it’s connected to a charity, even better. Fashion always attracts, both women and men.”

Mrs. Herrera was in Miami to support Sylvia Fortun’s Guardian Angels, an initiative that directly corresponds to her passion toward children’s charities. Mrs. Herrera is a longtime supporter of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in New York. Her whirlwind Miami schedule included the in-store cocktail reception later that evening, a fashion show the next day at the Hotel Intercontinental followed by a tour of the Holtz Children’s Hospital.

Often in Miami, Mrs. Herrera’s day-to-day living is in New York, yet she is well aware that her brand is compatible with the Miami woman. “We have been open in Miami for a while and have been doing quite well,” she said. “This type of fashion is international. It fits in Miami, New York, South America. It’s for a woman who wants to be glamorous and elegant.”

Mrs. Herrera has been helping women to feel glamorous and elegant for nearly 30 years and the success of her brand is no accident. Her accomplishments are an illustration of the entrepreneurial spirit that shapes America and Mrs. Herrera plays a specific role in the business of Carolina Herrera, often delegating responsibility to those who have skill sets that differ from hers.

“I am, first of all, on the creative side of what we are going to sell,” she explained, “the perfumes, the bridal gowns, the evening gowns – that’s me. I could not run the day-to-day business and numbers because I do not know how. You have to surround yourself with a very good team, because you cannot do everything yourself, especially when everything is growing. You need to know how to delegate and you need to know how to work as a team, especially in fashion. Many people are control freaks who want to put their hands into everything. That’s not how it should be.”

The success of the Carolina Herrera brand is a testament of what can be accomplished in America and Mrs. Herrera has great pride in the country that she now calls her own. The Venezuelan native officially became a U.S. citizen just prior to her Miami trip.

“I have been in the United States for 28 years and I love this country,” she said, clearly excited about her new status as an American. “I love New York and I love everything American, so I decided that I wanted to become a citizen.”

Of course the political climate in her homeland leaves much to be desired and Mrs. Herrera chose not to address the Venezuelan situation. “I don’t talk politics,” she said. “I am here for fashion, to help the children and the hospital. I have a feeling that the politics are very complicated.”

Although what clearly was not complicated was the respect she had for Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who had been reportedly seen wearing the same Carolina Herrera dress on three separate occasions, including an appearance on the late night talk show circuit.

“She always wears my clothes,” she said. “Anna has a great style and she is wonderful at what she does. She’s a great business woman.”

The cocktail reception later that evening brought out many of Miami’s top society women in a standing room only affair that filtered out of the store and into the corridor. Like a queen amongst her subjects, Mrs. Herrera held court in the center of her shop doing her part to greet the ladies who wear her clothes and aid the children that the Guardian Angels assist.

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