All week, Wes Gordon was watching the Rio weather like a hawk. The Carolina Herrera designer had brought his resort show to the Brazilian beach town in a first for the New York label. “Herrera has such a strong connection to Latin America, and the idea of Rio just felt so mesmerizing and captivating,” he said at a preview in the brand’s Seventh Avenue showroom last month. (With a healthy fragrance business in Brazil, Rio made for an ideal spot to launch and celebrate a new fragrance, too.)
Earlier today, the sun came out, but by evening, the clouds arrived, and despite a promising rainbow over the Santa Teresa neighborhood where the show would take place, the skies opened. But rain or shine, the show must go on—and after a lengthy delay Caroline Trentini emerged on the blush-pink, puddle-filled runway. Her ruffled floral off-the-shoulder dress accessorized with a polka dotted belt and matching sandals was simultaneously sexy and elegant.
Gordon has never shied away from a bold, colorful palette or exuberant prints; but showing in Rio gave him an excuse to go wild. A mango-yellow gown had voluminous sleeves elaborately draped to resemble flowers, and its thigh-high slit was accentuated by an oversized bow; a cotton eyelet bralette was worn with a matching ball-skirt, both dyed a fantastic shade of acid green; and yes, that was Isabeli Fontana wiggle-walking in an orange crochet tank top and matching skirt.
There were sporty separates in summer-light twill, and a terrific short suit (worn with a matching crop top) in a herringbone-patterned corded twill that looked like seersucker. Another standout was a mosaic-pattern floral used on a flirty, strapless a-line mini dress. “It was a strike-off that the mill sent to show me all the different colors they were proposing, but we loved the mix,” Gordon explained. The laidback feeling that he wanted for the collection extended into his own process—why not just do all the colors at once?
As the models walked down the runway, some barefoot and carrying their shoes in their hands, with genuine smiles on their faces while it rained all around them, I was struck by how perfectly the scene captured the essence of the Carolina Herrera woman: elegant, but strong, and ready to have a good time—no matter the elements.
“We realized the rain wasn’t going to let up,” Gordon said after the show, visibly emotional. “We said ‘oh, we’ll shoot a video inside,’ but all the girls insisted on walking.” Pointing out that many of them are Brazilian, he continued, “they were singing songs, cheering, clapping. The show happened because of the models. It was the most emotional I think I’ve ever been.”