Everyone Agrees: Carolina Herrera Is Always the Chicest Woman in the Room

Photo: House of Herrera

Pictured, above, from L-R: Olivia Palermo, Carolina Herrera, Dianna Agron, Dita Von Teese, and Emily VanCamp.

In Mexico City, the best parties tend to start late. So it was no mistake that 500 of the city’s cultural and economic elite, including television personalities, actresses and business leaders, would not be seated before 10 p.m. on Friday night for a gala in honor of Carolina Herrera. Nor that a three-course dinner, starring beef filets bathed in a sauce of red chilis, would begin at 11 p.m.

This was Mexico City’s moment to inspire, with a runway extravaganza organized by the marketing group Makken Moda to foster creativity in Latin America, and Herrera offered the kind of star power that drew fans wherever she went. By Friday evening, a large crowd had gathered outside the St. Regis just to watch the departing motorcade of celebrities (and they had plenty of time to stare, as the traffic was at a standstill for much of the night).

House of Herrera

“Everywhere there is a camera,” Herrera says, walking through the hotel, followed by video crews and journalists who regarded her appearance with the importance of a head of state. At a press conference that afternoon, she had even been asked her opinion of the performance of President Enrique Peña Nieto, to which she replied, not unkindly, “I’m here talking about fashion. I never discuss politics. Or religion.”

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“You know what I love about Mexico?” Herrera asks me, preparing for the evening ahead. “Everything. I love the people, the food, the art, the margaritas. The only thing that is not good for me is that I don’t have time to go and see anything!”

Her fan base in Latin America is enormous, and in Mexico, her perfumes outsell those of everyone else, including, at this moment, even Chanel. And it is hardly surprising to see that women and men of all ages relate to Herrera, so easily, since she is easily the chicest woman in any room.

“That dress!” says Olivia Palermo, upon spotting Herrera on Friday night, just after the designer presented two collections (CH and her Carolina Herrera spring 2015 lineup) on Friday night. Herrera took the stage in an off-shoulder dress cut just low enough in the back to reveal her shoulders, and her exceptional posture, taking her bow on an enormous runway that had been built in the courtyard of the Claustro de Sor Juana, a former convent in the history center of Mexico City that is now a university complex.

“She is so elegant and classy,” says Emily VanCamp, who wears so much Herrera on Revenge, including the last two season premieres, that she wanted to come to Mexico to meet the designer herself. “She just seems to be so beautiful, inside and out. She exudes female empowerment and beauty.”

Dianna Agron spent the day touring the Blue House, the home and museum of Frida Kahlo, and shopping the city’s markets before arriving at the party in an abstract floral print gown. Herrera, she said, was one of the first designers to dress her, in pink and black lace for the Emmy Awards in 2010.

“What I love about her and her sense of style is that is so feminine and timeless,” Agron says. “That is everything I grew up admiring – Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Leslie Caron, Grace Kelly, those women wore things like this. And it’s nice to be able to still embody this idea of femininity.”

One thing that became obvious as the night stretched on is that this sort of glamour can survive, thanks to designers like Herrera. Even in moments of ever more body parts being bared, and a culture of selfie-taking so rampant that the celebrities were trailed by lines of fans all night long, Herrera still set an example. She embraced everyone who asked to take her picture (even the woman who approached her as she exited the bathroom during the flight here), with one rule: “Photos? Yes. Arms wrapped around? No,” she says.

“I think it’s very flattering and nice,” she says of the attention. “It means you are doing something right.”

Eric Wilson is InStyle's Fashion News Director. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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