Carolina Herrera projects her style with ease, whether in her home, at her office or anywhere she goes. The award-winning Venezuelan designer not only dresses the world's most stylish women, but is in fact one of them; for years her name has appeared on the "International Best-Dressed List."
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Herrera was born María Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Niño in Caracas, on Jan. 8, 1939. At age 40, after leading a very full life, she moved to New York and reinvented herself. She was financially set, happily married to Reinaldo Herrera and the mother of four girls. Taking a 180-degree turn, she began her career as a fashion designer, a difficult and competitive business in which she's been highly successful for 30 years.
At 73, Herrera walks tall, shoulders back, and projects an inner peace. When she greets us in her New York office surrounded by photos of her family, she's slim, polished and dressed impeccably in a simple skirt and a white blouse. During the interview, Herrera shares her thoughts on what makes a woman beautiful, which pieces constitute a perfect wardrobe and how important personal happiness is to beauty.
You grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and though you've lived in New York for many years and are a U.S. citizen, you seem very Latin American to me.
Of course I am! I grew up in Venezuela with my three sisters. My father was Guillermo Pacanins, a former governor of Caracas, and my mother was María Cristina Niño, from whom I learned the value of a good education, studying, curiosity and the appreciation of beautiful things.
And that's why I'm very close to my four daughters. We speak every day, no matter where in the world we are; and if you ask them, they'll tell you that from an early age I passed on to them the values my own mother taught me. My family — my husband, my daughters, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, all of them — are the most important thing in the world to me. As to Reinaldo, we've been married many years, he's my best friend, and we have fun together. A sense of humor is very important in human relationships. Don't you think?