Carolina Herrera - Biography

Carolina Herrera was born in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela on the 28th of August 1969. According to her, reality and fantasy blend together in her childhood memories. She probably had such a happy childhood that she finds it hard to believe that it was not a dream.

Carolina Herrera

She grew up in the family hacienda, where she played in a garden filled with every type of flowers. When the little girl breathed in the scent of those beautiful colourful flowers, she did not imagine that one day she would create one of the most famous perfumes of our time: 212.
However, flowers were not the only things that she loved as a child. Like her mother, Carolina has always adored animals. "I grew up surrounded by big and small dogs and when I was nine years old", she recalls, "I was given a beautiful puppy to look after. That is where my love of dogs come from".
Apart from her love of animals, her parents also instilled in her a sense of responsibility and the gift of organisation from an early age. She was at boarding school for a while, even though her most vivid memories are of the days spent at home: her cousins, parties, that kitchen which became an ideal place to let her imagination fly... Carolina recalls: "I adored the kitchen of that house, I loved to sit on a seat and watch what was going on there. I carefully examined each object as each of them contained their own world. It was an old place, similar to a cave. It took me back to the Middle Ages. It also was a laboratory where my grandmother, an excellent cook, managed to create the most unexpected and delicious flavours".
Yet, above all, what was deeply forged in those happy childhood days was the lasting feeling of belonging to a family to whom she is totally devoted. She is still very close to her sisters and in particular to her younger sister, Patricia, who she often telephones. Carolina and her father send each other numerous e-mails every week.
When she was very young, Carolina Herrera learnt to trust in herself and her instinct. Her imagination was more important than any toy when it came to playing. In fact, creativity is a fundamental part of her: "Creating things with my imagination as a child has helped a great deal in my work for the Carolina Herrera brand. To help in the birth of a product such as 212 or in the CH line of clothes requires a huge dose of imagination".
The British School of Caracas was where many hours of her childhood were spent. Times of learning: "When I started, I didn't speak a work of English. The first word I learnt was pillow. I was totally lost and I thought all the teachers were crazy. I still have my exercise books and I look at them from time to time". Her first school, the first homework… and her first boyfriend: a young man called Philippe.
When she was 12 years old, Carolina moved to New York with her parents. She had a British accent from her years at the British School of Caracas, which she soon had to adapt to the way that New Yorkers speak. There were many changes: uniform, girls' school, going by herself to school. "Changes, "she recalls "that my parents had to adapt to and give me more freedom and more free time. I started going out with my friends and boys telephoned me at home, but I also began to discover that marvellous city of New York, with its taxis, its subway, its parks, its museums… All of which I miss when I am away on a trip."
When she finished school, she went to college in Poughkeepsie, where she studied Bio-chemistry and Bio-psychology. When she graduated, she thought about continuing in this area and began to work in a laboratory at the Rockefeller University. "I then felt as if my heart was telling me that this was not the right thing for me. One evening, I meet a film director who was looking for a production assistant. We talked for a long time and, even though I told him that I had no experience of the film industry, he took me on". Two years later, Carolina moved to Los Angeles, where she spent three years working in the audiovisual industry: film and television production companies, photographers, etc. It was in 1997 when, she was just chatting with her mother one day, when the opportunity came up for her to help her mother launch a new perfume "I was thinking then", she explains " of moving to Europe. I wanted to live in Spain, together with my friend Victoria, to film a documentary on the young students at Madrid's School of Bullfighting and their dreams of afternoons of glory. The spirit of the new perfume, 212, evoked the New York that I so missed when I was travelling, so I thought it was an excellent idea to translate this world that I loved and often missed into the language of the aromas. To capture it in an evocative fragrance that would let you take a world of sensations in your bag and bring the Big Apple to you however far away you are". She had the chance to use all her imagination during the creative process to come up with and launch 212: "It involved innovating and boosting the brand. A new contribution not only due to its ingredients, but also because we introduced new ideas in the packaging, the textures and the materials we used… We wanted to dream, a thing that I was used to doing since I was small". And Carolina Herrera's dream became reality and is shared by thousands and thousands of women that have discovered in 212 a fresh, urban, elegant, cosmopolitan, different, New York and, above all, universal fragrance. In fact, 212 has had great international success since it was launched in 1998. One year later, the fragrance for men was launched and marked the start of a full range of beauty and cosmetic products. Since then, she has become her mother's, Carolina Herrera, closest assistant, who in turn has discovered in her daughter a true inspiring muse full of new and fresh ideas. And she is now involved in developing numerous projects for the brand and is even more excited about it than ever: "I have always loved to help my mother in the area of fashion, giving my opinion, contributing my ideas… Now, however, with the project of the CH shops, the work is more intense and thrilling, and ranges from designing the shops as somewhere where the customer feels comfortable and can enjoy fashion to designing the accessories. And this is just the beginning, as the possibilities are infinite".