"It's not the sexiest thing to say, but I adore the commercial component of a production," Wes Gordon tells me after unveiling his Spring 2023 collection for Carolina Herrera in a gilded, chandelier-filled ballroom at The Plaza Hotel. The designer has always been focused on the core Carolina Herrera customer since taking the brand over from its founder (who sat in the front row), so his picture of her has only gotten clearer over the years — and he's not afraid to show that on the runway.
What the brand debuted Monday was a truly delightful parade of classically beautiful day- and formal-wear in the sort of bright, optimistic color palette we've come to expect from the designer. Gordon's starting point was Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" — a favorite book from his childhood — and its "romantic depiction of nature and beauty," per the show notes. This manifested in a range of stunning floral prints.
Florals for spring may not be groundbreaking, but there certainly isn't anything wrong with them, especially when they're as pretty as the ones in this collection, placed on garments this perfectly constructed. From the polished daywear to the maximalist eveningwear, this collection is all about timeless beauty, and as Gordon confidently told friends and reporters post-show, it doesn't need to be more than that — especially when you know what your clientele wants from you.
"Yes, I think of the show, but I really think about the collection and making sure that within that collection is something for everyone," he says, reflecting on his fashion week goals and priorities. Through trunk shows and other social events, he gets to know the Carolina ladies (many of whom were in attendance) and their lifestyles. "That makes me the best possible designer I can be for Herrera. She doesn't come to Herrera for clothes that just make her disappear... She stands out, she's fabulous. And she looks for that joy and fantasy when she gets dressed. However there's also, especially since Covid, the reality that a woman's wardrobe is much bigger than just evening wear."
Gordon spent time working with the brand's skilled atelier to apply their time-honored formal-wear techniques to more casual fabrics like cotton and jersey. "This was the least amount of gowns we've ever had in a Herrera show," he says. "And most of the prints you saw in the separates were all cotton, even though they read as silk. There was an ease to it — everything had a stretch. It's about taking that fabulous and that glamor, but translating it in a way that's super wearable."
Gordon predicts customers will gravitate toward the softer, more casual floor-length skirts and dresses; the chiffon florals; and the black-and-white cotton shirting (styled with a ball skirt in another homage to Herrera, the woman's, signature look). Of course, there are still several great red-carpet options for celebrity styling teams to fight over, although they're too late for one of the collection's best gowns: a red strapless number, which Kate Hudson wore to the Toronto Film Festival this past weekend.
See every look from Carolina Herrera's Spring 2023 collection in the gallery below: