María Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Niño was born in Caracas (Venezuela) in 1939. Carolina was the second of four children born from the marriage between Guillermo and Maria Cristina Pacanins, descendents of a long line of landowners and political leaders linked to Venezuela for 400 years and of Spanish descent. Venezuela at that time was still very colonial. The city and the people, their customs and way of life take us back to another period. A sepia portrait of an unusual world, with a little girl called Carolina with a deep smile and determined gestures.
Her beloved father introduced her to horse-riding and she soon showed that she was very skilled horsewomen, although what she really loved was the horse on which she galloped over the Venezuelan plains. A love for animals that is now reflected in her dog, Gastón, the faithful witness of Carolina's creations in her Manhattan studio. Even then she was interested in fashion and perfumes. She made her own perfumes and continued to do so till her first fragrance was launched in 1988. She mixed different aromatic oils and played at creating her own fragrances in the home of her friend, Ana Mercedes. She also played with her clothes, putting them together in different ways and even turning the jackets around and putting them on back to front. At the age of 13 years old, an event marked her life. Her grandmother took her to Cristobal Balenciaga's fashion show in Paris. In the city of light, Carolina discovered the light and the inspiration of one of the most important fashion designers of the 20th century. Carolina still is inspired by the work of Balenciaga.
There was another Carolina Herrera in the life of Carolina at that time. It was the younger sister of Reinaldo Herrera, the descendent of well-established landowners in Venezuela who spent large periods of time in Europe. Carolina knew that Reinaldo was her first love and every time she visited her friend, she could be caught gazing lovingly towards the young Herrera, whose surname she took several years later. Reinaldo confessed that he was attracted by this sweet young girl, who was graceful yet strong. He consider no other girl to be as beautiful as she and confessed his admiration for her when she came out in society and after they had meet at numerous parties and other social events in Caracas.
It was a love that came to nothing at that time and which had to wait some years. A very young and impulsive Carolina first married Guillermo Behrens Tello. That marriage lasted seven years and ended in a divorce that greatly affected Carolina's family and society in Caracas, which was not used to events such as this. Carolina's two oldest daughters were born from that marriage. One of them, Mercedes lives in Caracas and has given Carolina her first three grandchildren. But life went on, Carolina moved back with her two daughters to her parents' home in Caracas. When she was 25 years old, she began to work in Pucci's branch in Venezuela helping with Public Relations work. Caracas was then enjoying a high lifestyle where the society ladies wanted the latest models from the European haute couture designers. One of these ladies was Maria Teresa "Mimi" Herrera, Reinaldo Herrera's mother and friend of the Duchess of Windsor and Greta Garbo, who was a leading light at parties and social events all over the world.
In 1968, Reinaldo returned to Venezuela and proposed to Carolina. The wedding took place in the house of Reinaldo's older sister and Carolina wore a beautiful pale yellow suit in organza and with short sleeves. After they were married, the couple set up home in the "La Vega" estate, a beautiful house built in 1590 and which belonged to Reinaldo's parents. Two daughters were born from this marriage: Carolina Adriana, who now works with her mother, and Patricia Cristina, who works in Vanity Fair.
Carolina continued with her hobby of designing clothes and appeared higher and higher in the lists of the most tastefully dressed women in the world. Between 1971 and 1980, she appeared in the international list of best-dressed women. When she went to New York, she used to spend time with Andy Warhol, mainly as a spectator who wanted to know what was happening and the development of the New York avant-garde scene. She has a portrait by Warhol that hangs on the wall of her Manhattan studio, while there are has two undeniably glamorous photographs by Mapplethorpe. When Mapplethorpe died, Carolina paid homage to him with a collection where motorbikes and leather jackets with golden zips and studs played a very important role, far before any other designer opted to include these elements in their shows.
September 1980. Carolina Herrera presented her first collection, which was well received by the critics. When she returned to Caracas, she signed an agreement with a Venezuelan investor, Armando de Armas, to set up a company with each partner holding 50% of the shares. Carolina moved permanently to New Yorkwith her husband and her daughters. She opened a small showroom and worked on her first collection, which was shown for the first time in the Metropolitan Club in April 1981. It was attended by all New York society and its climax was when Carolina appeared at the end of the show. Feminine, sweet, delicate, herself�?� were some of the adjectives used to describe that moment. From then onwards, Carolina Herrera had found her niche in the world of fashion. Her clients came to her looking for good taste and style and her discretion, at a time when designers were using the celebrities that wore their clothes.
Carolina did not design clothes for everyone to see, but rather for the person wearing them would feel comfortable in them.
At the end of the 80s, she reached an agreement with a Spanish perfume company, Antonio Puig, S.A., in order to launch a line of perfumes. She took great care with this venture, typical of a person that had always created her perfumes by mixing oils and essences. Her first fragrances, Carolina Herrera (1988) and Herrera for Men (1991), have become true classics in the world of perfumes in just over a decade, while they continue to be as up-to-the-minute as when they were launched. Encouraged by these successes, she launched (1994) and Aquaflore (1996). This was followed by the launch of 212, a project to create an urban and fresh perfume that was run by her daughter Carolina Adriana -who has worked closely with her since then, and which has been highly successful.
In 1997, she presented her first collection of accessories, which included bags and other leather articles, foulards, ties�?� Her creativity has expanded to many other spheres. In the year 2000, she opened the first Carolina Herrera/New York boutique in the famous and celebrated Madison Avenue in New York.
The new century presents Carolina Herrera with new challenges. On the one hand, she will continue with her high fashion collection at the same time as launching a secondary line: CH. She will open forty shops worldwide to market this line of clothes and accessories. But it does not stop here. New fragrances, cosmetics and dreams of beauty so that the woman continues to be a women.
She continues to have as full and passionate a life and she has the special merit that the sweetest monument is always the present.