Oscars style: Carolina Herrera reveals the secrets of the perfect red-carpet ensemble

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Herrera has become almost as synonymous with the Academy Awards as a weepy acceptance speech.

Carolina Herrera has a terrifying fashion pedigree. She attended her first couture show, hosted by Cristobal Balenciaga himself, with her grandmother aged 13, and set up her own label after encouragement from her close friend, legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland.

Is it any wonder, then, that she has come to be one of the world's most successful red-carpet fashion designers? Her classically elegant gowns – notable for the use of vintage materials such as antique lace and taffeta, cut in a clean and modern style – have graced the backs of A-list stars such as Eva Longoria, Jessica Simpson and Uma Thurman. Herrera worked closely with Jackie Onassis for a decade and has forged a relationship with actress Renée Zellweger, who regularly wears her clothes at award ceremonies and on frequent public appearances.

Born 74 years ago into a patrician Venezuelan family, Herrera spent her youth between Caracas and New York, a stunning socialite with good looks and grace who was equally at home among royals as she was within Andy Warhol's arty-party crowd.

It wasn't until 1981 that she moved into the world of fashion design, after mooting to Vreeland an intention to create a range of textiles. "That is the most boring idea I have ever heard of," came her friend's caustic response. "Why don't you do a collection of dresses?" And so Carolina Herrera's eponymous brand was born. Her empire now encompasses not only the original clothing collection, but also a range of bestselling fragrances – including cult scent 212 and 212 Men – and a more accessibly priced diffusion line in CH Carolina Herrera, which offers the label's central tenets of easy chic and timeless style to a wider audience. This year also sees the launch of the brand's White Shirt collection, a selection of eight different takes on the wardrobe staple – one which Herrera herself professes to wear most days – including tie-waist details, pussybow collars, peplums and corset references, all modelled in a new campaign by British supermodel Jacquetta Wheeler.

I visited Herrera in her suite at Claridges during a recent whistlestop trip to London, where she held forth on the secrets of being fashionable and fabulous, and offered her fail-safe tips for glamour, whether you're walking down the red carpet or simply to the bus stop…

It takes a lot of effort to be effortless Style shouldn't be complicated. A simple dress is much more difficult to wear than one with ruffles and flowers and big sleeves. There is a perfection to a dress that is incredibly cut.

Some red-carpet dresses look like they've been lent to someone They're too tight and they're worn with shoes that are two sizes too big. I don't know how they walk. I like everything to be perfect.

Celebrities never pick from the collections because they want something made special No one is willing to wear a dress a second time, but real elegance is repeating a dress you like because it really fits. Now celebrities don't buy them, and they ask for another one and another one.

I've been dressing Renée Zellweger for 10 years I love her, because she loves fashion and has the most incredible figure. She loves fittings and doesn't have a stylist – she does it directly with me. She knows exactly how to pose.

elegance is a combination of things – some people have it, some don't It's not only what you wear, and it doesn't have anything to do with money or power. Sometimes you see women who don't have much to spend and they are very chic because they know exactly how to put it all together. Sometimes you turn around to look at a woman in the street because she has tied a scarf in a different way.

I like everything to look like you are wearing it because it's part of you When you're wearing something you feel comfortable in, you move better. That's why the most important accessory you can have is a full-length mirror.

I get dressed in 10 minutes – and I always have done If I have to go to a ball, maybe 15 minutes. I always manage it, because what else are you going to do after 15 minutes? If I have two hours to get ready, I'd be sitting there waiting.

I don't like trends They tend to make everybody look the same. For me, it's important in fashion to have individuality: take that look and own it.

I like accessories that you can add to a look to make it unique People get nervous accessorising, but there is nothing wrong with adding a belt or a pair of shoes in another colour.

Fashion should be fun It shouldn't be labelled intellectual. You cannot have a dress hanging on a wall. It's not a book, it's something to make you happy. So have fun with it.

I have worn white shirts all my life The first one I had was my school uniform. They're my security blanket; you can't go wrong. You can wear a white cotton shirt with a bold skirt and jewels, or something like that. It's snappy, fresh and seductive: I love it.

CH Carolina Herrera's new White Shirt collection is now available at CH Carolina Herrera, London SW3, tel: 020 7581 3031

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas