Behind Wes Gordon’s revolutionary vision for Carolina Herrera

Wes Gordon just wants to make happy clothes, and that's exactly what he's been doing since his appointment as Carolina Herrera's creative director. Photo: Shutterstock
Updated 20 November 2019

Behind Wes Gordon’s revolutionary vision for Carolina Herrera

  • Since his appointment as creative director, Wes Gordon has managed to seamlessly incorporate his own joyful flair into the fashion house
  • His ability to maintain the house’s old world glamour in addition to his revolutionary and exuberant vision has appealed to a new generation of clients

DUBAI: Wes Gordon just wants to make happy clothes. And the Atlanta-born designer, who was handpicked to be Carolina Herrera's successor after she announced her retirement in February 2018, has done just that since his appointment as the New York-based label’s creative director. You don’t have to look further than the brand’s Spring 2020 collection, showcased at the bottom of Manhattan Island inside a glass bubble lined with plush, white carpet that was inspired by the rare botanical phenomenon, super bloom.

“Carolina Herrera is a brand about beauty,” declares the designer. “No one knows what tomorrow is going to be like. We just know today, and the things that we’re able to control ourselves, I feel like it’s our job to make them beautiful,” The 33-year-old told Arab News.

Indeed, in today’s current political climate, there’s never been more reason to inject joie de vivre back into fashion. “There’s a lot of dark and uncertainty right now,” muses Gordon. “And you can’t fight dark with dark.”

A model walks the runway at the Carolina Herrera Ready-to-Wear Spring 2020 show. Photo: Getty

Carolina Herrera Ready-to-Wear Spring 2020 show. Photo: Getty

During his year-long tenure — He made his debut last September with an upbeat Spring 2019 collection, after running his own eponymous label for several years in addition to serving as Herrera’s right-hand since 2016 — the Central St. Martin’s graduate has churned out three joyful and upbeat ready-to-wear collections built on the foundation of vibrant hues and that serve as a refreshing departure from the sea of blacks and greys that have dominated the runways for the past few seasons.  

“I love color,” shares Gordon. “Bold, vivacious, saturated colors — nothing grey or sad. So the first thing I do before I start designing a collection, is think really hard about colors.

“My biggest takeaway from the role is that something beautiful will always be successful. When you’re able to create something that’s just gorgeous, it will always do well.”

However, helming Carolina Herrera is no small feat. As one of the biggest fashion brands in the world, Gordon recognizes that his stint as a consultant at the label eased his transition since he was already familiar with the company.

Since his appointment, Gordon has managed to seamlessly incorporate his own joyful flair into the fashion house founded 39 years ago, without straying from the brand’s DNA or alienating its existing clientele.

While the designer does admit that it is virtually impossible for there to not be a change — “I’m not Mrs. Herrera,” he states — he does revel in the fact that though his designs are unique, clients are still able to look at them and say, “that still feels Herrera.”



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His ability to maintain the house’s old world glamour in addition to his revolutionary and exuberant vision has appealed to a new generation of clients, which include everyone from “Euphoria” actress Zendaya to American screenwriter Lena Waithe, whom he dressed for the 2018 Met Gala.

As for the woman he designs for? “She’s fabulous and fantastic. She’s the best dressed and most fun woman in any room.  If every woman in the street is wearing grey, she is wearing hot pink. She dresses for herself and treats every moment like a celebration,” he notes. Very much like Carolina Herrera herself.

Five Arab films that have won international acclaim

Updated 06 December 2019

Five Arab films that have won international acclaim

  • Saudi director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s 'The Perfect Candidate' is in the shortlist for an Oscar
  • A number of Arab productions are in the race for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

CAIRO: The Oscars are just around the corner, and in January the shortlist for the coveted Best Foreign Language Film award will be confirmed.

Several titles from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been submitted for consideration, including Saudi director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s “The Perfect Candidate.”

The entry, which tells the story of a Saudi doctor who takes on her country’s patriarchal system by running in municipal elections, is particularly significant as it is the Kingdom’s first Academy Award submission following the ban on theaters being lifted in 2017.

It is also the first to be supported by the Saudi Film Council, an organization launched at Cannes Film Festival in 2018.

Here is a look at other recent Arab titles that have achieved international acclaim, and why they are worth watching.


1. WADJDA — Saudi Arabia

“The Perfect Candidate” is not the first of Al-Mansour’s films to be submitted to the Oscars. Her critically acclaimed drama “Wadjda” became the first title to be submitted by the Kingdom in 2013 for the 86th Academy Awards. It marked the debut of a Saudi female filmmaker, with the film shot entirely in the Kingdom.

The story of a 10-year-old Wadjda, and her desire to buy a bicycle to race against a male friend, sheds light on traditions and women’s rights.

In an article for The Guardian newspaper, film critic Henry Barnes described “Wadjda” as a message that Al-Mansour wrapped “inside a love letter to her people.”


2. ESHTEBAK — Egypt

The Egyptian film industry has a good track record when it comes to titles receiving global acclaim, one of the most recent being “Eshtebak” (“Clash”), by director Mohamed Diab.

Set in a police van during a period of street protests and unrest in 2013, the film chronicles a time of political and social instability in the country, where a clash of ideologies and personalities unfolds between communities.

 Egyptian director Mohamed Diab's “Eshtebak” (“Clash”). (Supplied)

The resulting tensions and dilemmas are acted out by the people trapped in the van.

“Eshtebak” was selected as the opening film for the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and screened internationally across Europe, and in Brazil and China.

The film was publicly endorsed by actor Tom Hanks in a letter to the director: “Your film will go to great lengths to enlighten many. Audiences will see that humanity is a fragile community, but we are all in ‘this’ together.”


3. AL-JANNA AL-AAN — Palestine

A Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language Film — and nominated in the same category at the 78th Academy Awards — “Paradise Now” was described by its Palestinian director, Hany Abu-Assad, as “an artistic point of view of the political issue.”

The film digs deep into the human aspects of the Palestinian conflict, following the fictional story of two friends recruited by a terrorist group to become suicide bombers in Tel Aviv.

Palestinan director Hany Abu-Assad's “Al-Janna Al-Aan" (Supplied)

Armed with explosives, they attempt to cross into Israel, but are pursued by border guards and separated.

When they are reunited, one character decides against carrying out the bombing, and tries to convince his friend to quit as well.

“Paradise Now” was not Abu-Assad’s only Academy Award nomination. His film “Omar,” which won the Muhr awards for Best Film and Best Director at the 2013 Dubai International Film Festival, was also shortlisted for the same category at the 2014 Oscars.



4. CAFARNAUM — Lebanon

Directed by celebrated Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki, “Capernaum” depicts the complicated life of undocumented migrants, refugees and workers in Lebanon through the story of 12-year old Zain, who lives in the slums of Beirut.

The film generated $68 million at the box office worldwide, more than 17 times its production budget, becoming the highest-grossing Middle Eastern and Arabic movie of all time.

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki's “Cafarnaum" (Supplied)

“Capernaum” won the Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival — it received a solid 15-minute standing ovation after its screening there — and was shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

Labaki’s other productions include “Caramel” and “Where Do We Go Now?”


5. THEEB — Jordan

This drama by Naji Abu Nowar starred non-professional Bedouin actors and focuses on events unfolding in the Wadi Rum desert in southern Jordan during World War I.

Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar's “Theeb" (Supplied)

In 2016, “Theeb” won internationally recognition by becoming the first Jordanian nomination to make it to the shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

It was also nominated for Best Film Not in the English Language at the 69th British Academy Film Awards, and won the Best Director award at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.


• This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.