Carolina Herrera the label is turning 40 this year. It was 1981 when the very chic Venezuelan émigré and New York society figure put her first collection of 20 or so looks on the runway at the Metropolitan Club. On the occasion of that show, Mrs. Herrera wore a gingham check tie-neck blouse. Wes Gordon, who took over for the house founder in 2018, said he made a new tie-neck blouse this season in honor of the anniversary.
Paradoxically, this outing is Gordon’s most Herrera-like so far and the most his own. That comes down to both his comfort level with her exuberant, glamorous codes and a confidence derived from knowing what works for a new generation of clients.
“This is our fourth collection since COVID,” Gordon said on a Zoom call, “and the odds have gotten harder to bring a collection to fruition.” Not that you would know it from the look book, which was shot in the Empire State Building and the new skyscraper at One Vanderbilt, or the video, which was filmed on a double-decker tour bus parked in Times Square. Hearts are the season’s central motif—they appear as prints, intarsias, and embroideries; as heart-shaped buttons and belt buckles; and as sweetheart necklines. Gordon’s giraffe prints and graphic black-and-white polka dots are similarly bold; these are not clothes for fading into the background.
In fact, a pair of pouf-shoulder sequin dresses just might earn Gordon the title Our Gentleman of the Sleeve. (After Herrera’s first collection, WWD dubbed her “Our Lady of the Sleeve.” It may or may not have been meant pejoratively at the time, but over the decades it became a term of affection.) Subtler explorations of silhouette here include a ruffled matador jacket and matching high-waist pants that look both classic and contemporary and a lovely strapless portrait-neckline dress in black silk faille with a pleated light pink tulle underskirt peeking out from its hem. That dress will require a special occasion. Will those come back by fall? We should be so lucky.