Carolina Herrera's Exuberant Clothes As Seen Through a Painterly Dream

Carolina Herrera's Exuberant Clothes As Seen Through a Painterly Dream

Story by Mario Abad / Photography by Elizaveta Porodina

Back in October of 2020, a time when brands still had to think creatively amidst global uncertainties, Carolina Herrera's first project with photographer Elizaveta Porodina was born: a series of images capturing six ballerinas in motion, all taken over Zoom.

Despite the challenges of shooting remotely, the photos reflected the essence of Porodina's unique aesthetic. Her blurred, painterly visuals — an effect achieved through complex lighting techniques and equipment — captured the clothes in a dreamy, otherwordly light.

It would be the start of an ongoing collaboration between the German-based visual artist and Wes Gordon, Carolina Herrera's creative director. After teaming up with her again last summer, the two are reuniting for a third time on a new portfolio of images in what both call their favorite chapter yet.

For Chapter 3, Porodina shot select pieces from the brand's Resort and Spring 2022 collections in Paris (on models Jan Baiboon and Michelle Laff) and interpreted them through her signature abstract lens. As always, color plays a central role in the experiment. Bright, saturated hues of sorbet pink, lemon yellow and graphic black and white make up the majority of portraits.

Prior to the shoot, the two discussed what their inspirations were, with Gordon citing the revered work of fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez as a big influence.

"I fully devoted myself to the task of bringing this idea to life by developing new experimental lighting concepts together with my husband, who is also my light designer, dedicating hours of extra planning to the color compositions of set and the gowns during pre-production process," Porodina tells PAPER. "The joyful, playful and experimental approach to movement and acting of the muses Michelle and Jan was another key element."

As for the outfits chosen, Gordon wanted pieces that brought out the whimsy and joy of these two collections. "I chose looks that I knew would convey movement, energy, and passion," he says. "Dance was the inspiration for the collection, and I wanted that to resonate in the imagery."

Among the looks featured are an exuberant blouse and ball gown skirt in graphic rose prints from Resort, a striped black and white strapless dress from Spring, and some bold, voluminous outfits in the brand's signature shades of pink and red. There are few close-ups also of Carolina Herrera jewelry, leather goods and eyewear (a first thanks to their new partnership with Safilo).

"I cherish this collaboration for the time that we have together to get to know each other's craft and learn to respect it on a deeper level," Porodina adds. "For the open minds and great appreciation from Wes and team towards an artistic approach, and for the endless inspiration that I get from every step of this way."

Gordon is equally as praiseful of his collaborator. "It’s so wonderful to have an ongoing conversation with an artist like Elizaveta and we can continually evolve our collaboration and storytelling together," he says. "We’ve learned so much about each other in the process and have a great mutual respect and trust. We chat several times throughout the process, from the selection of the looks to retouching notes and I hope it is a relationship that continues forever."

Photography: Elizaveta Porodina