Publisher’s note: Mari Rodríguez Ichaso has been a contributor to Vanidades magazine for several decades. She is a specialist in fashion, travel, gastronomy, art, architecture and entertainment, a film producer and a style columnist for CNN en Español. The opinions expressed in this column are solely his own. Read more opinion pieces at cnne.com/opinion
(CNN Spanish) — It is not every day that we have the privilege of talking at length –and in total relaxation and informality– with an icon. And when that icon is a woman who has been a lifelong friend to whom I am very fond, like the great designer Carolina Herrera– well, it is a wonderful privilege!
And let me tell you that a few days ago I had a happy time having lunch at Carolina Herrera’s house! More than two years without meeting to talk, as we always did several times a year – the pandemic has changed all our lives – and finally we were able to do it. Perfect!
Many know that Carolina and I have been friends since the 1970s. Before becoming a designer – when we met her friend Princess Margaret of England at a party in New York. And that is why I tell you that it is very nice to maintain not only good friendship, but also genuine mutual affection.
In those years I was a very young, single and curious journalist, beginning her career in New York. And she is a Venezuelan “socialite”, already known internationally, married, mother of 4 girls and member of the prestigious “Best Dressed Women List”. And to see her with her famous hairstyle gathered at the nape of her neck (from her they called it her look ‘Evita Perón’ and dressed in black tulle – it was an impressive image of the purest chic.
We liked each other since we talked and that’s how our long and beautiful friendship was born. And when Carolina debuted as a designer and settled in New York – she herself has said many times in public that my work and my many articles and interviews in Vanidades were the reason that “everyone in Mexico and all of Latin America knew her ”. Thanks again Caroline!
And the rest is history and a wonderful business and career! Career that he ended when he left his firm and the world of design when he turned 80 (although he looks decades younger) to dedicate himself to his family and private life. However, “her” image is elegant, polished, chic and with great style – it is still “the” image of the brand that she founded and that is now designed by the North American Wes Gordon – whom she chose to succeed her and she is very happy with the work of she.
And her clothes (and her famous wedding dresses) have been worn – and continue to be worn – by countless famous women such as Queen Letizia of Spain, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (whom she dressed for many years), model Karlie Kloss, Olivia Palermo , Katy Perry, Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon and many more.
In person, I was delighted to see that Carolina looks regal and very youthful, and the white hair –which I originally did not like and we discussed it that way– suits her very well. And that she keeps her sense of humor and modern vision of life intact. Life that includes “having a great curiosity about everything, keeping up to date, reading newspapers, watching Turkish series on TV (mutual laughter), talking with my daughters, with my grandchildren and enjoying the beautiful and good things that surround me, always being positive that is possible”.
The only thing that bothers him is when comments are attributed to him “that I have never made. Like when it was published that I had said that a 40-year-old woman should not have long hair, or wear jeans. I’ve never said that because I don’t think so!” And she emphasizes to me: “note that I wore a bikini until I was 70-something years old, and what I do think is important is to have a good full-length mirror in the house and before going out, take a good look at ourselves and take off what may be left over! wear something else that looks good to us!”
In addition to my many interviews for Vanidades and Bazaar en Español, my debut with my first TV interview (for TV Mujer on Univisión) was with her –and in our conversation we remembered countless funny anecdotes, from when we met– and many characters. famous from those crazy 70’s (those of Studio 54) and the ultra-glamorous 80’s and 90’s. Carolina says that today’s extravagant fashion “I don’t like it at all”. He hates ripped jeans, the use of bad fabrics, “really ugly” styles, those “ugly shoes” that are seen -and it bothers him (I totally agree) that the brand of deceased designers is used to hire new creators who they create “horrible” collections that have nothing to do with the original style of the designer who created them.
Talking we passed this long. And the lunch was a delight, served Russian style and “light” but delicious and very elegant– and since her “townhouse” has 4 floors (and Carolina had the elevator removed!)– going up and down the stairs is without a doubt one of her beauty and wellness secrets at 84 years old. She and Reinaldo have 4 daughters, 12 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren! And they are a close-knit, well-cared family!
Let’s meet more often from now on. We settled on that… Carolina no longer has absolutely anything to do with the design of her brand – although she is very happy with the work that Wes Gordon has done. “I don’t give an opinion, I don’t suggest anything – and I find out everything when I’m sitting in the parades. Only then can I ‘retire’ without trying to influence her career at all – and I’m glad she’s doing very well”.