Her real name is Maria Carolina Josefina Pacanins Nino, she has just turned 80 and is the most famous Latin designer on the planet, daughter of Commander Guillermo Pacanins Acevedo, Governor of Caracas between 1950 and 1958, and Maria Cristina Nino Passios. She belongs to a high-society Venezuelan family, accustomed to parties and galas. Today her brand bills her (according to The New York Times, because she says she doesn’t know) more than 1,000 million dollars.

Its most successful line is “Carolina Herrera New York”, it has its own stores and points of sale only in the US, then comes a second more accessible line that is “CH”, with more than 150 stores around the world, which includes man, woman and accessories.

Then comes its powerful bridal division and especially its famous range of perfumes created and marketed since 1988 by Puig, and distributed through 25,000 spaces on five continents.

The designer found her first love at the age of 18 and to her misfortune it was a very unhappy marriage next to Guillermo Behrens Tello, with whom she had her first two daughters.

After a scandalous divorce, in 1969 she marries the Venezuelan aristocrat Reinaldo Herrera, from where she gets her famous name, Carolina Herrera. He was the editor of Vanity Fair magazine, who is said to have been the lover of Onassis’s first wife. He was also friends with the Rothschilds, the Agnellis and various royal families. With Reinaldo she had two other daughters.

One day, overnight, Carolina becomes a designer. She had not been through any school. She had married at the age of 18. But as she said.

“He had an eye and an instinct. And in this business that is more important than knowing how to cut or paste a button. I have the ideas and behind there is a team that comes from the big houses. I explain what I want; I tell them how I want the sleeves and shoulders, the length of the skirt, the waist, the mix of colors”, I mention.

“You have to have a sense of proportion, of color, of shapes. And that is not learned. It has. Fashion is to please the eye. And I have an eye. I know what feels good. I see students who have graduated from the great schools and get nowhere because they are too technical. They don’t transmit. They have no imagination. Fashion is a dream that has to become reality. In life you have to leave room for fantasy”, he concluded. During her childhood, at the age of thirteen to be exact, her grandmother introduced her to Balenciaga and she was used to dressing in haute couture since she was little. At her first dance she wore a Lanvin dress. “I was brought up to be at home. And I was satisfied with that existence until, at the age of 42, she hit the scare, like the bullfighters. In my life I had only worked six months,

“Suddenly I felt the need to do something in fashion; it was something that I had inside, as if it were latent, asleep, and here, in New York, the doors were opened for me to develop it. And here we came to live. Americans are very generous people. If you have talent, they open doors for you,” he commented.

Wasn’t it a whim of an unemployed lady? They questioned him.

“That’s what they thought. They said I was going to get bored. And I’ve been 35 years. And in this you have to spend 12 hours a day. It is a very hard job. I was encouraged by Diana Vreeland (the legendary editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue); she was my mentor. In 1980 I told him that I wanted to make prints for fabrics. And she answered me: “How boring! Quit the nonsense. Why don’t you make a fashion collection? Oh, I got the bug. The luck was that my husband supported me”. She asks him again a reporter from El Pais, from Madrid. Wasn’t it a whim that turned out well? To which she, very sure of herself, replied: “I’ve already told him no. Before the first collection, which we presented in April 1981 at the elegant Metropolitan Club, there was already a company established. You need to have an industrial and distribution base. I did not go out to parade in 1981 without having established a company. I saw it very clearly. And I did it with my first partner, Armando de Armas, who was a Venezuelan publisher, at 50%.”

The most effective publicity for the rookie designer would be her distinguished clients, beginning with her neighbor Jacqueline Kennedy, whom she would dress and reinvent until her death in 1994. Carolina Herrera also holds the record for having dressed more White House residents than no other designer in history. After Jackie KO, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, who said goodbye to the presidency with a Carolina Herrera model on the cover of Vogue, would pass through her studio.

“I was not born to be a public person. I was raised to be private. I don’t like being the lead. But what a remedy… ”, she said between whispers. Without a doubt, Carolina inspires us with everything she does or says, definitely an example of a POWERFUL woman, one who goes with strength and is not AFRAID, A woman with a comfortable life who at 42 decided to become the empress of fashion.

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