“Lightness, movement, and fluidity,” said Carolina Herrera backstage at her airy-as-thistledown collection.
With this idea in mind, Herrera showed langorous thirties-length dresses in soft chiffon, crepe, and organza, cut on the bias so that they fluttered prettily around the wearer. A blouse bristling with ruffles of knife-pleat aqua organza, worn with a drifting chiffon evening skirt, evoked Adrian’s much-copied dress for the 1932 Joan Crawford movie Letty Lynton, and a romantic ballet-length tea dress of orange organza, pin-striped in gold, owed a debt to Schiaparelli. Playful high-waisted tap shorts kept the collection in the ultrafeminine zone of the silver-screen fashion plate, and entirely replaced pants—“something a little flirtatious,” as Mrs. Herrera put it, “and nothing to do with the masculine look.” There was a further nod to Hollywood Regency in the rococo scrolls that fastened the belts, their shape mirrored in the giant Dorothy Draper plaster whorls that formed a background for the show.
But the retro chic was leavened with graphic color-blocking, and the modernist edge of abstract prints that were echoed in embroideries on dark tulle over dresses that veiled the soft pastel evening dresses beneath, and Mrs. Herrera ignited the palette of soft dove grays, melting pinks, and eau de nils with a dash of citrus-orange and yellow.
Mrs. Herrera also brought her evening statements down to earth, showing a billowing ball-gown skirt of printed ivory faille with a short-sleeved sweater in rib acid-yellow knit, for instance, or the enchanting finale dress of tea-rose crêpe de Chine with flat sandals—an attitude that reflects the insouciant style with which her chic daughters wear their Herrera originals.