Carolina Herrera: Biography

Carolina Herrera – true name María Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Niño- born January 8, 1939 and is a Venezuelan-American fashion designer known for “exceptional personal style” and dressing First Ladies from Jacqueline Onassis to Michelle Obama. The New York Times cited her designs as “elegant and worldly without ever being fussy.


Her socialite grandmother introduced her to the world of fashion, taking young Carolina to shows by Balenciaga and buying her outfits at Lanvin and Dior. She has said “My eye was accustomed to see pretty things.” In 1957, at the age of 18, she married Guillermo Behrens Tello, a Venezuelan landowner, with whom she had two daughters, Mercedes and Ana Luisa. They later divorced. In 1968, in Caracas, she married Reinaldo Herrera Guevara, who had inherited the Spanish title The 5th Marqués of Torre Casa in 1962 upon his father’s death.


Therefore by marriage, Carolina held the title The Marquise consort of Torre Casa, until it was retracted in 1992, as Reinaldo had issued no son. Her husband is a special-projects editor of Vanity Fair magazine,and they have two daughters, Carolina Adriana and Patricia Cristina, and six grandchildren. In 2009, Herrera became a naturalized United States citizen.

Frequently associating with Mick and Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol, at Studio 54, she became well known for her dramatic style. She first appeared on the International Best Dressed List in 1972, then was elected to its Hall of Fame in 1980. That year, her friend Diana Vreeland, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue suggested that Carolina design a clothing line. She did so, having samples made in Caracas, and showed them in a friend’s apartment in New York. A well known Park Avenue boutique, Martha’s, agreed to showcase her clothing in their prominent windows. Upon this initial success, she returned to Caracas and raised capital to fund a more formal launch. Her first runway show in 1980 included future supermodel Iman.



1997: She won Gold Medal of the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute
2008: Awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America
2004: “Womenswear Designer of the Year”.
2011: “Mercedes-Benz Presents” title for her 2011 collection.
2012: She received the Fashion Group International Superstar Award, the Style Awards Designer of the Year.
2014: She earned the 2014 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion.

Quick Facts
She has been on the cover of Vogue seven times.
Since 2004, she has been a member of the board of directors of jewelry designer Mimi So and since 1999 on the board of the CFDA. In 2014.

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