As the daughter of one of the most iconic fashion designers of the past quarter century, Carolina Herrera de Báez grew up surrounded by beauty. It’s no wonder that her work to this day is continually inspired by the values of Carolina Herrera herself. Recently, as a tribute to her mother, Herrera de Báez introduced a new collection of fragrances known as Herrera Confidential. The exclusive collection consists of six fragrances and four essential oils, which can be used individually or mixed together to create new and truly personal scents. The bottles were crafted in bold jewel tones from the world’s finest glass and stamped with the initials of the House of Herrera. It’s like having a glass window into the life of the Herreras sitting on your vanity top.
In fact, that’s exactly what Herrera de Báez, creative director of fragrances for her mother’s eponymous empire, intended for anyone who picks up a bottle of Herrera Confidential—an exclusive entry into the world in which she grew up. In the end, the scents offer a close look at the fascinating history of the Herrera family. Both mother and daughter opened the doors to the House of Herrera—conjuring memories of trips taken together, or times spent at family properties—in developing what is a very personal product to each of them. At the heart of the scents is a theme we’ve seen in almost every collection that Carolina Herrera has sent down the runway: a blend of the traditional with the contemporary. The result, so often seen in the clothes, is a combination of elegance, emotion, and authenticity that merge Herrera’s Latin roots with the cosmopolitan New York of today. The collaborative effort of two generations of Herreras, the fragrances are at once traditional and contemporary, while at the same time challenging both contemporary and traditional values. True to the Herrera ethos in any endeavor, they incorporate only the most luxurious and natural materials—in this case, scents—and push them to the limits. For the same reason Herrera’s fashion is able to stay relevant season after season, Herrera Confidential dares to explore the unexpected.
There is a personal story behind each of the scents. Take, for instance, Herrera Tuberose, one of the floral scents in the collection. Tuberose, a staple in the fragrance industry, is often hailed as the queen of white flowers. Much like the crisp white shirts that Herrera favors and has made iconic, tuberose was approached as the symbol of Herrera’s timeless elegance. The designer would tell you that her secret to confidence and timeless appeal is simple: always stay true to yourself. And, much like putting on that clean white shirt, spraying on Herrera Tuberose is like an homage to confidence—to one’s unwavering inner strength. Here, the floral aroma becomes sensual and intense as Indian tuberose is warmed by orange flowers and vanilla.
The story intensifies with other scents, such as Burning Rose, meant to embody the star qualities of charisma, elegance, and glamour. Bulgarian rose is infused with spices like cinnamon and ginger. A burning rose reminds Herrera of the creative revolutionary moment in New York City during the ’70s and ’80s, when pop culture challenged traditional conventions. And then there’s Nightfall Patchouli, which evokes the mystery of the night with resins and spices. Oud Couture merges the Middle East with New York; Neroli Bohème acts as an homage to carefree days at the verdant Herrera residence in Venezuela, La Vega; Amber Desire takes the classic 20th-centurey perfume base—Ambre 83—and intensifies it for the 21st century.
Speaking of intensity, there are the four Pure Oils in the collection: rose, oud, musk, and sandalwood. Oils deliver a more concentrated and intense scent, and can therefore be applied or layered before spraying one of the fragrances, allowing wearers to transform the scents and customize them to make a personal and unique statement. Herrera de Báez explains that she took her inspiration from the figure of her mother. She says the fragrances are a testament to her curiosity about the world, her desire to experiment and to learn, and her quest for perfection. These three aspects define her own character, which she inherited from her mother’s energetic and vivacious personality.
Here, Quest sits down with Herrera de Báez to talk about the fragrances, her style, and her mother’s example.
QUEST: What sparked your interest in fragrance?
CAROLINA HERRERA DE BÁEZ: I was always interested in creating scents, but my professional career in fragrance started in 1996 when I was living in New York. My mother asked me if I wanted to collaborate with her in the creation of her new perfume and I accepted. Eighteen years later I still love the mystery, allure, and romance behind making fragrances.
Q: What’s your personal or favorite type of scent, as far as the big four: floral, Oriental, woody, or fresh?
CHDB: Growing up, I had a house in Caracas with a beautiful garden that I loved to play in. Vibrant colors came from the fresh flowers that filled our garden, including tuberose, roses, and lilies; however, it was the cascading jasmine vine running alongside the house that was my favorite, and to this day it brings back my happiest memories. That scent is always present in my fragrances.
Q: What a lovely way to honor your mother—by creating Herrera Confidential as a tribute to her likeness and impeccable style. How would you describe your own personal style? How does it differ from your mother’s?
CHDB: Similar to fragrances, I like wearing clothes that are timeless and not just a trend of the moment. My mother is one of my biggest influences regarding my taste—we both like natural, clean lines with a modern twist, but we do differ in the way we style looks. My inspiration for fragrance and style comes from everywhere, including books to artwork and traveling.
Q: Herrera Confidential presents a clever fusion of scent and fashion. Do the fragrances represent actual Herrera fashion?
CHDB: Fashion and fragrance are so closely connected—my mom often says that your perfume is your final accessory. Inspired by the vibrant bottles, she created six exclusive looks, embracing the essence of each fragrance and exuding the image of the House of Herrera.
Q: Of the six fragrances and four essential oils comprising Herrera Confidential, do you have any favorites? Any that you tend to wear most often?
CHDB: It is hard to select just one! It depends on the day and my mood, but I really love Amber Desire and the Pure Oil of Rose. Recently, I have been experimenting with mixing the fragrances with different oils to create new scents. Oils smell different on every person, making them special and unique to each.
Q: What do you consider your greatest similarities to your mom? Greatest differences?
CHDB: I share very similar values with my mother. We agree that family always takes priority and that our professional life should not be brought into the home. The best part of working with her is that we can be honest with each other. It is important to have different opinions to create the best possible product.
Q: Having traveled extensively with your mom, what has been your favorite or most cherished trip? Any places you would like to visit with your mom in the future?
CHDB: I am lucky to travel so much with my mother. Most recently we were in Dubai for the launch of Confidential. It is so special to travel to a new country and learn the native culture. To be able to share these experiences with my mother is something I will cherish forever.
Q: Scent is a great accessory—and luxury. Are there any rules or tidbits you can share with us about how to wear a scent to the best effect?
CHDB: Fragrance is a very personal accessory. My advice is to find your favorite scent, but to not be afraid to experiment! This collection allows you to mix aromas and—similar to fashion—create different options for all occasions!