Who Is Carolina Herrera?
Fashion designer Carolina Herrera was raised in Venezuela. She launched her fashion company in New York City and became a U.S. citizen in 2009. Though she had no formal training before her first runway show in 1981, Herrera achieved success in women’s and men’s fashion, fragrances and more. Today her company has stores worldwide and billions in sales. Her signature look includes well-tailored white blouses, which she notably paired with ballgown skirts.
Carolina Herrera was born as María Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Niño in Caracas, Venezuela, on January 8, 1939. Herrera experienced a privileged childhood in Venezuela. She was one of four daughters born to Guillermo Pacanins and María Cristina Niño. Her father served as an air force officer, governor of Caracas and Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Herrera had a governess who taught her English and French. Her youthful pastimes included tennis, riding and ballet, but not sewing clothes for her dolls. “When I was growing up, I was more into my horses and tennis than fashion,” Herrera admitted.
Yet fashion was a part of Herrera’s life. At 13 her grandmother took her to a Balenciaga runway show. Around the age of 14 or 15, Herrera designed a black dress that was inspired by movies from the 1930s and ’40s, though her parents didn’t let her wear it.
Marriages and Children
At the age of 18, Herrera married Guillermo Behrens-Tello. They had two daughters, Mercedes and Ana Luisa, before divorcing when Herrera was 24.
In 1968 Herrera wed Don Reinaldo Herrera Guevara. They had another two daughters, Patricia and Carolina.
Herrera’s second husband inherited the title of Marquis of Torre Casa, though he didn’t use it. He worked as a journalist, and also led a jet-set existence with Herrera.
The couple’s activities included visiting Princess Margaret in England, attending Costume Institute galas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and joining friends in the South of France and Paris. Herrera met photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in 1976 and became one of his subjects. She was often included on best-dressed lists.
One of Herrera’s favorite places was New York City, where she had fun at the famed nightclub Studio 54. An outing there resulted in Herrera having her portrait done by Andy Warhol. He became enchanted by a bejeweled clutch she was carrying, and offered to do a silkscreen portrait of Herrera in exchange for the bag.
“That was so much fun, New York in the Seventies,” Herrera said in a 2016 interview. “You were mixed with a lot of creative people, talent, in the art world, in society, literature, in the movie business. Actors, actresses, musicians, they were all mixed. You used to go to dinners and find everybody together. It was fun. I loved it.”