Democracy Dies in Darkness

Arts and Entertainment | Review

At Carolina Herrera, clothes so sweet they’ll make your teeth ache.

By Robin Givhan

September 11, 2018 at 9:07 AM

Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 fashion show was shown in a gallery at the New York Historical Society. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo For The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — When Carolina Herrera was at the helm of her namesake brand, its sensibility was akin to  Manhattans and negroni: grown-up, timeless, unsentimental but with just enough sweetness to elicit a throaty laugh. Herrera stepped down last season and handed the reins to Wes Gordon who showed his first collection Monday morning. It was more of a rum punch: a lot of unnecessary sweetness.

[Robin Givhan at New York Fashion Week: full coverage]

Which is not to say that Gordon’s spring 2019 collection wasn’t pretty. It was delightful, feminine and charming. It is a decidedly younger, fizzier sensibility for the brand. But like a freshman at their first big campus party, the spring 2019 collection speaks of overindulgence, over doing it and taking things over the top. There are only so many flower prints and ruched sleeves and flowing trains and jelly-bean colored appliqués that a woman’s wardrobe can handle before she begins to look like she’s playing dress-up rather than simply getting dressed.

Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

As Gordon’s models walked through the dignified salons of the New York Historical Society, the joyfulness of the clothes came on like a roar. Juxtaposed against their sober surroundings, the dull grey of the rainy urban landscape and the almost atonal soundtrack of city life, the clothes were a kaleidoscope of color — a high-volume chorus of happiness.

[Carolina Herrera, patron saint of Manhattan elegance, says farewell in classic style]

In mood, the collection is the equivalent of a smiley face. Message delivered, but where’s the nuance? For a brand like Carolina Herrera, which is so rooted in urbane elegance and chicness, one hopes for more subtlety, a bit more finesse. These clothes call to mind the kind of woman who dots her “i” with a heart. And sorry, but never trust a woman (or a man) who uses a heart as punctuation; perpetual sunshine is only good in theory.

Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

There are a host of terrific ingredients in the new Carolina Herrera: splendid craftsmanship, a keen eye for color, a willingness to craft clothes that speak to life in cities beyond the East Coast. And Gordon takes the signature crisp white shirt of the brand’s namesake and turns it into peasant dresses. He cuts it from white eyelet; he crops it. He makes it into something new.

NEW YORK, NY – Sept 10: Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Photo by Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo For The Washington Post)
Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Tamp down the sweetness, root the collection in something a bit more solid than meringue. Throw a splash of club soda into that highball. Women have plenty to smile about. But it’s exhausting keeping a smile on your face all the time.

Wes Gordon waves to the audience after showing his first collection for the Carolina Herrera brand. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

EARLIER at New York Fashion Week:

At Proenza Schouler, big, rugged tent-like clothes for the hard times ahead

Beautiful fashion for real people — and Sies Marjan makes it look easy

These high-fashion sneakers weren’t cute. They weren’t clever. They were just ugly.

‘Stop calling 911 on the culture’: The powerful message Pyer Moss took to the fashion runway

The Kate Spade brand endures, in the bright, sparkly spirit of its founder. And yes, there are handbags.

Ralph Lauren’s sumptuous 50th anniversary show was the great American dream merchant at his finest

Everyone laughed at Thom Browne’s short pants. Now they’ve made him very rich.


Robin Givhan is a staff writer and The Washington Post's fashion critic, covering fashion as a business, as a cultural institution and as pure pleasure. A 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism, Givhan has also worked at Newsweek/Daily Beast, Vogue magazine and the Detroit Free Press.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

Arts and Entertainment | Review

At Carolina Herrera, clothes so sweet they’ll make your teeth ache.

By Robin Givhan

September 11, 2018 at 9:07 AM

Carolina Herrera Spring Summer 2019 fashion show was shown in a gallery at the New York Historical Society. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo For The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — When Carolina Herrera was at the helm of her namesake brand, its sensibility was akin to  Manhattans and negroni: grown-up, timeless, unsentimental but with just enough sweetness to elicit a throaty laugh. Herrera stepped down last season and handed the reins to Wes Gordon who showed his first collection Monday morning. It was more of a rum punch: a lot of unnecessary sweetness.

We're glad you're enjoying The Washington Post.

Get access to this story, and every story, on the web and in our apps with our Basic Digital subscription.

Already a subscriber?