Carolina Herrera and her reassuringly steadfast uniform (a perfect coif, a white button-down and a full black skirt) is as permanent of a fixture on her runway as her namesake label is to the landscape of American fashion. It’s been that way for 37 years, but now the designer is stepping down on Feb. 13, the day after she takes a bow — her very last — at the brand’s fall ’18 show Monday.
The New York Times reported that Herrera will be moving into a new role: global brand ambassador (a title that she gave herself), where she will be present at store events worldwide and use her status to further the company in any way. It will also allow her to spend more time at home with her husband, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
“I am not retiring — I am moving forward,” Herrera told the Times. Her decision to leave rests on the tremendous pressures and demands designers face these days and the fact that “fashion has changed a lot. What they like now is ugliness. Women dress in a very strange way. Like clowns. There is a lot of pressure to change all the time. But it’s better to wear what suits you. Add something new and you have a great look. Consistency is important.”
No one would ever accuse Herrera of inconsistency — she has never failed to deliver timeless classics, grounding new textures and bold hues in structure and clean lines. It’s why she’s found fans like former first lady Michelle Obama, who chose a sweeping Carolina Herrera ballgown for an official state visit on the North Portico of the White House in February 2014, or Renee Zellweger, who has worn countless designs on the red carpet. It’s also why Herrera’s creations are immensely popular among brides, including Caroline Kennedy, Emmy Rossum, Christina Hendricks and Jessica Simpson.
To fill her shoes, the designer appointed fashion-favorite 31-year-old Wes Gordon, who began consulting for Carolina Herrera last March after he put his eponymous label on pause, as creative director. “There’s something refreshing about working within a framework of a brand,” he said.