Leading lady

A woman in Carolina Herrera looks instantly iconic. She rises above the fray like royalty – elegant, commanding, deserving of reverence – and fittingly so considering Herrera’s famed for outfitting first ladies of public office and the silver screen. Herrera’s Fall 2013 collection recalls the latter with styles reminiscent of cinematic mavens from the ’40s. At the debut, looks even sashayed to a classically-inspired custom soundtrack for an air of high drama indeed.

The adoringly titled “Capriccio for Carolina” captivated the runway with Herrera ensembles as striking as the score. Commissioned by the designer, then used as the inspiration for her fall looks, the Tom Hodge composition is a contemporary take on Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata and resonates nicely considering Herrera’s collection also features modern spins on classic archetypes.

Slim, stately silhouettes graced the runway where delicate skirts flirted with ankles to the high-tempo tune. Structured shoulders – so characteristically Carolina – achieved that charming balance of being dramatic while demure, as in the embellishments of airy fur or prettily puffed sleeves on a minimalist empress gown.

Also famous for her impeccable fit, Herrera tailors certain looks to appear painted on at the waist with a cascade of fabric framing the hip. Others flow more freely, though never too generously to lose the female form. The palette ranges from starkly white to sparkly black, plus shimmery silver, rose, ruby, royal blue and rich amethyst and emerald. And though patterns are punchy, they strike the best balance of character and class.

Eyes draw to high and higher necklines. Herrera’s conservative on skin, though not sensuality. Collars – some soft and round, others in a crisscross – feature playful bows or fur chokers. Other decorous details include velvet adornments on straps and cummerbunds. In the fall 2013 show, styling forwent jewelry in lieu of a smoldering red pout and nary a hair ran askew from its symmetrical regal chignon.

As for Herrera’s embodiment of Old Hollywood heroine, wide-leg trousers – high-waisted salt-and-pepper tweed à la Katharine Hepburn – fluttered handsomely with that defiant dash of masculinity that defined an era.

Today, Cate Blanchett, the timeless beauty who channeled Hepburn’s gumption and glamour in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” is the latest Academy Award-winner in the fashion news for wearing one of Herrera’s designs. Not taking it down the red carpet (yet), Blanchett appears in a red one-shoulder Carolina Herrera gown in her Oscar buzz-worthy performance as the title character in Woody Allen’s summer hit, “Blue Jasmine.”

As for her own biopic, we’re not sure who she would choose for the lead role, but the soundtrack would certainly contain “Capriccio for Carolina.”

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