A designer's lessons in how to dress

Last updated 14:43 13/12/2012
Carolina Herrera
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FASHION MADAM: Designer Carolina Herrera.

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Carolina Herrera doesn't understand why people think women in dresses "four sizes too small" are sexy.

The 73-year-old designer is known for wearing simple white shirts with well-fitting trousers or voluminous skirts.

Although she doesn't expect women around the world to follow her example, she does worry that a lot of them don't understand style.

"Everyone was very, very chic. You either went to Paris for your clothes or you had them made in Caracas. I would like women to feel they could be glamorous and elegant," she said of the '50s and '60s.

"Unfortunately there's a lot of confusion today over what is sexy and what is vulgar. It's horrifying. They say, 'Oh, that girl is so sexy', and she turns around and the dress is four sizes too small. Or she's wearing so much stuff, you wonder how long it took her to get ready... women don't want to be called elegant now because they connect it with old-fashioned. But elegance is not old‑fashioned."

Herrera is proud she is able to get ready for any event, whether a fashion show or a ball, in 10 minutes. She believes some women spend far too much time on their appearance, when there isn't really any need to do so.

The designer is also unimpressed by those who use celebrities to boost their appeal. She does have a solid relationship with Renee Zellweger, who is often seen in her fishtail gowns, but insists that is different as the dresses suit the actress so well.

"If you have to mention names for the collection to be successful, something is wrong," she told British newspaper The Telegraph.

"The right dress on the right actress is perfect. Otherwise, no. And Renee is the only star in Hollywood who doesn't have a stylist. She loves fashion and we work together on designs. She really knows what works and she moves around at the fittings to see the best pose for the photographers."

Herrera also slammed the public's penchant for trends, another reason she thinks modern fashion goes so wrong.

She implores women to dress for themselves rather than slavishly follow what they see in magazines.

"Too distracting. Women don't find their own style because they're too wrapped up in letting people know what they're wearing. It's like that handbag, the Hermes Birkin. Every woman has to have one now to express her status and style," she marvelled.

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