From the Ballroom to the Beach: Carolina Herrera Lands in Rio for First Destination Resort Show

Carolina Herrera will present its very first resort runway show Thursday night at a private residence in Rio de Janeiro, with a view of Guanabara Bay and Christ the Redeemer.

The historic neighborhood of Santa Teresa, with its quaint winding streets and colonial-style mansions, is miles away from the Plaza Hotel ballroom in New York City where Wes Gordon has been showing the past two seasons. And the event represents a significant milestone in the 42-year-old American fashion house’s journey.

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The Puig-owned brand is joining luxury powerhouses Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior on the destination show map, treating 400 mostly Brazilian guests to three days of festivities in the South American fashion capital.

Herrera will celebrate not only the ready-to-wear, but the fragrance side of the business as well, when the runway show opens up into an after party for the new Good Girl Blush Eau de Parfum.

Resort is Herrera’s biggest rtw sales season, said creative director Gordon during a preview, so it made sense to add a runway show for it. “Brazil is one of the biggest Latin American markets for us, and it’s in the top 10 globally,” he said of the fashion division. “But Carolina Herrera is the number-one brand in prestige fragrances in Latin America.”

Of course, there is also a long-standing relationship with Latin America because founder Carolina Herrera was born in Caracas, Venezuela. This trip marks a return for the brand to Brazil; the designer and beauty director Carolina Adriana Herrera visited São Paulo for the launch of Good Girl Dot Drama in 2019.

After working for Herrera herself, Gordon took over in 2018. While he’s visiting Rio for the first time for the show, as a designer he’s always been inspired by the allure of Brazil: “The color, the beauty, the joy, the sensuality and optimism.…Those are all words we use to describe Herrera as well.”

Gordon landed in the city last week to cast the models, who are all from Brazil, and do fittings. He’s also been seeing the sights, including the Museus Castro Maya, the local art gallery Carpintaria and the modernist landscape architecture by Roberto Burle Marx, who designed the residence in Gavea where the welcome dinner was held Wednesday night.

WWD got a preview of the collection, which is cut much closer to the body, befitting Brazil’s body-conscious culture.

“We’re taking Herrera codes and giving them Rio energy,” Gordon said of incorporating bikini tops, sarong skirts, short shorts, crochet, raffia and oversize sun hats into the mix.

Carolina Herrera, <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:resort;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">resort</a> 2024
Carolina Herrera, resort 2024

“There’s a focus on lifestyle in this slightly more casual collection,” he added, showing off a packable green polka-dot bikini top and matching billowy long skirt, sans crinoline. “Our customer can adapt this with a white shirt and gold jewelry; that’s how Mrs. Herrera would wear it.”

Gordon has taken several of his successful eveningwear silhouettes from the ballroom to the beach, trimming topiary-sized black-and-white tulle minidresses down to size, and adding layers of black tulle to the front of a bodysuit, but leaving the back flat so the wearer can easily do the samba.

A Carnival-ready rainbow organza and tulle skirt is paired with a black crop top, and thread work orchids (the national flower of Brazil) are embroidered on tiny tweed suits for the girls from Ipanema.

Carolina Herrera, resort 2024
Carolina Herrera, resort 2024

“Everything is easy but impactful,” he said, pointing out a chartreuse green strapless column gown as sweet as a caipirinha, with an asymmetric cape layer floating on top.

In other news, Gordon is debuting three men’s looks on the runway.

“CH does menswear, but we’ve never done it. I’m not thinking of it linearly, it was just a cool oversize shirt and jacket. And we have them in a straightforward way shown on guys, but they are also pieces perfectly styled on women. Sometimes to get that great boxy shape, you have to start with a men’s pattern,” he explained of the oversize seersucker double-breasted blazer and self-belted shorts, faded oversize denim tunic and shorts looks that are really genderless.

“I wasn’t thinking of it as a category or business expansion; to me it’s always about the product and piece. This was an opportunity to play, and to make more things.”

Fabric swatches and jewelry from preview of Carolina Herrera Resort 2024 runway show.
Fabric swatches and jewelry from a preview of the Carolina Herrera resort 2024 runway show.

Family-owned Spanish company Puig’s revenues reached 3.6 billion euros in 2022. The conglomerate aims to reach revenues of 4.5 billion euros by 2025.

Whether Herrera will have a permanent slot on the jet-setting resort runway calendar as part of that goal remains to be seen.

“The business has been growing at a fantastic rate, both internationally and domestically, in brick-and-mortar and online. The size and scale of the brand has changed significantly,” said Gordon. “But for me going forward, I don’t want to get in the habit of doing it just because we’ve done it before, where it becomes a checklist item. What’s important is continuing to think of new opportunities for us as a brand to do global activations as our clientele becomes more international.”

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