Behind Wes Gordon’s revolutionary vision for Carolina Herrera

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

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.


Khaleeki Chic fashion show in Saudi Arabia redefines the abaya

Models walk the runway showcasing the unique styles of the ‘Khaleeki Chic’ abaya line. Each abaya uses traditional Saudi cultural influence combined with modern colors and textures to create the international abaya for all women to wear. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
Models walk the runway showcasing the unique styles of the ‘Khaleeki Chic’ abaya line. Each abaya uses traditional Saudi cultural influence combined with modern colors and textures to create the international abaya for all women to wear. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 24 January 2021

Khaleeki Chic fashion show in Saudi Arabia redefines the abaya

Models walk the runway showcasing the unique styles of the ‘Khaleeki Chic’ abaya line. Each abaya uses traditional Saudi cultural influence combined with modern colors and textures to create the international abaya for all women to wear. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
  • Princess Safia and Lomar launch Khaleeki Chic abaya line, a modern and global abaya for all women
  • Princess Hannah Al-Faisal, granddaughter of the late Minister of Foreign Affairs Saud Al-Faisal, walks the runway showcasing her mother’s designs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Princess Safia Hussein Guerras and Belgian designer Christophe Beaufays have collaborated with the Lomar brand to create a new line of abayas that redefine modest fashion.

The designers presented the Khaleeki Chic collection in a private fashion show hosted in the Belgian embassy on Saturday. The fashion line takes the traditional abaya and transforms it into an international garment combining the cultural influence of Arabia with the diverse western themes to create an abaya for all women regardless of origin.

“We have showcased a collaboration between Her Highness Safia and Lomar to show a collection of abayas that reflects both the Saudi and Western culture, modernity and tradition,” Beaufays told Arab News.

“We hope to dress not just Saudi women or Arab women; this Abaya is a crossover between western clothes and Saudi garment to be something all the women in the world would like to wear at different occasions,” Beaufays said.

RELATED: The Saudi fashion designer inspired by her bedouin roots in AlUla

The launch of the fashion line redefines the abaya as a global garment for all women, a symbol of elegance and modesty.

In the West, some people still view the abaya as a symbol of oppression or lack of freedom and don’t understand the beauty and modesty it holds. By combining international influence and themes the abaya is viewed as a symbol of individuality in conservative fashion.

“In the media the abaya has been depicted as something a bit negative and we just wanted to show the positive side that it is actually a very elegant garment that can be accessorized and elevated into something very chic, traditional but also modern,” Beaufays added.

“So it’s to change the image of the abaya from negative to something positive, fun, elegant and something all the women would like to wear, not only the Arab women.”

When asked how she was inspired to create such a distinctive line, creative director Princess Safia said: “My mom, your mom, my sister, my daughter, us women, all women, it’s us. I was just telling them I am sick of the stigma and discrimination of the abaya and the hijab in the west so I thought to myself if I bring some chic into it, some tailoring and some style it will definitely change the image.”

When women travel outside of Saudi Arabia they usually take off their abayas, but the designers of the line created a conservative style that is international and stylish for any culture to dress in.

Now, when women travel, they will dress in the redefined abaya no matter where they are.

RELATED: Five-day fashion bootcamp to promote Saudi talent, entrepreneurs

“When I travel, when I go to New York, Paris or Los Angeles, from the plane I usually remove my abaya, but I didn’t want to remove it anymore. I want to be proud to come out with the abaya that looks just the way that you saw them today. I want my sisters, the Saudi or Gulf sisters and all of my sisters around the world to be proud, because we should be proud,” said Princess Safia.

Lomar founders Loai Naseem and his wife Mona Al-Haddad told Arab News: “We wanted to move the abaya outside of the Kingdom, taking it from our tradition out into the international market to show people what we have here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We wanted to change the color of the abaya from black, adding some colors and techniques to move it into modern fashion like you saw today.”

Princess Safia explained the work in creating the line with a modern twist while maintaining the modesty and tradition of the abaya, saying: “The abaya has become my identity and I love the message behind its modesty. It’s powerful, and it needed just a little twist in style, which is where I came in. I really wanted to create silhouettes that bring women from day to night.”

“I hope that by giving it a little chicness, Khaleeki Chic, it will have an impact. That is my dream, that it will have an impact, that there is now positivity about the abaya, not negativity anymore,” she said.