Carolina Herrera Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear Collection Review — Painterly Opulence

“There is an alluring confidence in the women who inspired the Fall 2010 collection. A sophisticated, feminine attitude and striking details reveal an integrity of luxury.” So began the program notes for the Carolina Herrera Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear runway presentation. In recent seasons, the Venezuelan matriarch has infused her eponymous collection with more artistic references, citing everything from Baroque furnishings to artisanal Japanese basket weaving techniques as influences. For autumn, that architecturally thematic foundation integrated a more painterly aesthetic. The CFDA Award-winning designer unveiled a collection of 42 looks, rich with sumptuous textures, an intense palette, and luxurious embroideries.

“This collection is opulent,” proclaimed Carolina Herrera backstage. “That is what women like.” With many of the looks featuring sable, fisher, fox, mink, eel, or crocodile, it was clear that the designer, who is celebrated among the social set, was determined to grant her clients’ wishes—delivering what she does best, a collection that felt exquisitely elegant. Deep shades of chocolate, grey, red, and black were juxtaposed against less subdued hues of camel, white, okra, and azalea. Prussian blue, which Mrs. Herrera more precisely described as Nattier blue after Jean-Marc Nattier, was brilliantly incorporated here and personified her ensembles with an historical composition the French painter was often celebrated for capturing in his fashionable portraitures of court ladies. Brushstroke, portrait, mosaic, and floral were the signature prints that elevated silk blouses and dresses. The delicately nuanced wearable art separates helped to balance the collection’s moodier color story and heavier fabrications. Embroidered antique stones, herringbone lame, and metallic silks added another luxe layer to the refined collection.


One of the more notable differences from last fall was a more voluminous, forgiving silhouette. While the Fall 2009 collection gilded the fashion lily with cupric elements, this season replaced copper lace tapered pants for mohair windowpane wide leg trousers. Proportions were also manipulated by creating fuller sleeves and bell-shaped skirts on dresses and coats.  Carolina Herrera was not entirely immune to the pervasively structural trend dominating catwalks around the globe, but here the asymmetrical, inverted, and sculpted pleats translated more as stunning sartorial statements and less as ubiquitously contrived shapes. There is a danger in these angular and linear cuts feeling too stiff and constricted, but any perceived rigidity was softened by ladylike accents from belting the waist and accentuating with fur to seasonal cloak-and-dagger accessories such as the Shaneen Huxham gloves and the Albertus Swanepoel hats. Etched jacquards and fluid ruffles romantically played against the masculine twpetal jacquard eed and windowpane haberdashery.


My favorite opulent offerings included: the black and camel striped wool and organza full sleeve dress; the deep red silver etched asymmetrical one-shoulder dress; the camel crocodile and wool jacket paired with stone mélange wool wide leg pant and camel crocodile belt; the deep red and black appliquéd velvet floral strapless dress; the Prussian blue mosaic embroidered off-the-shoulder full sleeve dress with smoke grey sable trim; and the steel blue taffeta bolero with gunmetal and antique silver stones atop a steel blue and black etched floral jacquard bell skirt dress, and deep red eel belt.

While some herald the return to opulence as financial analysts report that there may indeed be light at the end of this recessionary tunnel, with an optimistic forecast for recovery on the 2011 horizon, those of us who may have shifted towards a more pragmatic luxury have never wanted to sacrifice femininity and elegance. Mrs. Herrera is one of those rare designers who allows us a dose of fashion escapism and heightens our self-confidence; regardless of the economic climate, she always makes us feeling special and beautiful.

Images provided courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Newsgroup.

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