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Carolina Herrera Shares Her Style

The fashion designer speaks candidly about her family and what it was like to reinvent herself at age 40

Work and business travel don't they take up a lot of your time?

I'm very organized and find time for everything. I'm often asked that question, and it surprises me, because when you're organized and budget your time well, there's no problem. Also, when the work day is over, at 5 p.m., I don't take work home. What doesn't get done in the office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. can wait until the next day.

You are much admired. What is your secret to achieving the harmony you project?

Feeling good about yourself and your life is very important. I'm a happy woman, happy with my husband, my daughters, my grandchildren. We all get along quite well, and that keeps me centered.

Does anything make you nervous or anxious?

Of course, especially when we're about to bring out a new collection! But I control myself very well! Nobody realizes when I'm nervous, because I appear quite calm; if I fall apart, we all fall apart, and that can't happen. I was brought up with considerable discipline, and I was taught it wasn't proper to display certain very private emotions in public.

Have you ever thought of retiring?

Why give up something I love? I grew up surrounded by beautiful things and developed a good eye for fashion, for which I feel real passion. And the fact that at work I'm surrounded by people who share that passion makes everything easy.

There is one question I'm dying to ask you. Why do you wear white blouses so often?

Because I love them and I've worn them all my life. They are my security blanket, as they say (Laughs). They make me feel secure, and I can match them up with anything. They're very feminine, and when I'm getting dressed in the morning and can't decide what to wear, a white blouse always fits the bill. They also bring back happy memories. As a child, I wore white blouses to school, and I remember them always being ready and perfectly ironed.

White blouses have always been favored by designers like Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, but you've made the more casual cotton shirts fashionable.

They go better than anything else with certain outfits, short skirts as well as pants, and even long evening skirts. They're also very flattering, because they light up one's face. But they have to look neat, well-ironed, buttons in perfect condition. I'm always saying that about clothes. What good does it do you to wear an expensive dress if one of the buttons is falling off or if it hasn't been properly ironed? Or to wear really expensive shoes if they're dusty and scuffed?

Next: How to look good without spending a fortune. »

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