When I meet Carolina Herrera de Baez she’s sat on an outdoor terrace overlooking Dubai’s beachfront and is in town to throw a party to celebrate the launch of her latest fragrance. Wearing a chic black dress accompanied by minimal makeup and her hair pulled back into a neat bun, she’s poised and elegant, yet unpretentious. As we start to chat, she’s every bit as charming as you would expect the daughter of fashion icon Carolina Herrera to be. Serving as creative director of the house’s fragrance division, she shares her thoughts on finding the right perfume, her favourite scents and her most recent women’s launch 212 VIP.
Why did you decide on a career in perfume?
I’ve always been in the fragrance department – It’s just where it began for me. I never trained for it and it wasn’t necessarily going to be a posting that would last 20 years, it just happened to be an internship that turned into a long lasting job. My mother wanted to launch a new fragrance and she wanted to do something completely different for a younger generation that represented New York and was full of energy, so she asked me to intern and see what ideas I could give and we launched the original 212 in 1997.
Who is the 212 VIP woman?
She’s dynamic, she’s fun, she’s smart and she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows what she wants but she’s sweet. She’s a go-getter and owns her life.
You’re working with brand ambassadors Taylor Hill, Cameron Dallas and Hailey Baldwin at the moment, how integral do you think it is for a brand like Carolina Herrera to work with this new generation of talent?
I think we have a lot of young clients and consumers already, so it’s important to have people associated with the brand that they can relate to and identify with. it’s interesting to see this new phenomena of social media stars and influencers. I really love the people we work with and the scope they have with younger age groups.
Does the house’s history and collections have any influence on what you create or your creative process?
The fashion doesn’t necessarily influence us because it changes each season. The house does though, whenever we are creating the DNA is always in the fragrance –there’s definitely a synergy through the codes.
What’s an average working day like for you?
I don’t have an average working day because I don’t go to the office generally speaking. If I travel I could be doing interviews, hosting parties, taking photographs and giving presentations. I have offices in Madrid, Barcelona and my home so my working days are very varied which is nice.
What is your favourite natural scent?
The smell of the jasmine flower on a hot summer night – in Spain we call them Ladies of the Night as they bloom in the evening. I love that smell, but it doesn’t always translate in a scent as to how it smells in nature though.
Where do you look for inspiration?
It’s never something clear – it’s always memories of certain things. It’s never places – I don’t look for inspiration when I travel. For me it’s something I see, hear or feel it’s not a spot, sometimes it can even be imaginary.
What fragrances do you wear?
I wear the Good Girl which I love, the Patchouli, the Burning Rose. I wore 212 Black when it was developing and now I’m now wearing the new one version of that. I also wear the original 212 when I need a fresh perspective.
What are your key tips for finding a fragrance?
Try, try try. Put it on your skin as much as you can. A fragrance has to suit your skin, sometimes I smell a fragrance on somebody else and I love it so I got to a department store and spray it on me and I l don’t buy it until I know that I can live with it. You can love a fragrance on someone else but it’s not quite right on you.
In your opinion what is the most appealing characteristic of perfume?
Longevity and individuality. I think every perfume, no matter how many people wear it, always has the individual characters you give to it.
If you could design a fragrance for any person, who would it be?
Winston Churchill. Because he’s so intelligent and funny and smart so I’d give it to him and see what he has to say about it and then I’d use that as my tag line.
What was your first scent memory?
Jasmine and tuberose oils that my mother used to use really early on in my childhood. And then my own scent memory was actually Anais Anais. I think everyone from my generation has a scent memory of that perfume!
What are your plans for the festive season?
I’m going to Uruguay with my entire family.
Can you share some sartorial new year’s resolutions with us?
1. No judging – it’s good style not to judge!
2. Don’t follow the trends completely by the book. Take in elements of the trends and make them your own.
What will you be working on next year?
So many projects! We have new perfumes, a capsule collections and a big celebration that I can’t tell you about yet in the pipeline.
What is your biggest luxury?
Free time by myself and also with my children.
How would you describe your personal style?
It’s hard to describe, but I don’t like to wear uniforms or follow trends. i’m quite casual – If I buy it, I like it. I’m not very fancy, I’d rather be underdressed than overdressed.
What is your beauty and skincare routine?
I travel a lot so I use plenty of moisturisers and oils. I love this ayurvedic brand called Kama, La Mer cream, coconut oil and St. Ives – it’s actually my best kept secret it’s so cheap and really good.
Where are your favourite places to travel to?
I love Uruguay and I went to Patagonia last year which I found amazing. I like adventure holidays – particularly when I’m travelling with my kids. If I’m with my husband or a friend, I like to do cultural trips with museums and art.
What do you do to relax?
I read and listen to music. I’m currently reading Hermann Hesse’s Siddartha.
What is your most prized possession?
My children – they are the one thing I could never do without.
What was the last item pf clothing you bought for yourself?
I can’t remember what exactly, but it would have been something from & Other stories. My daughter and I go there all the time – there’s always something to get. They have great sneakers.
What’s on your festive wish list at the moment?
I’d like some art.
What is the best souvenir you’ve brought home?
A blue ceramic lamp shaped like a lion, I got it in Rome on my honeymoon.
What do you love the most about your job?
I love that it’s intangible you work with dreams, images, senses – it’s not numbers. But it’s very ethereal and there’s something romantic and beautiful about that. And the freedom of it.