Exclusive: CH Carolina Herrera’s ‘Falling Jasmine’ Collection

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The poetic significance of the jasmine flower can be traced back to cultures from ancient China and Persia to Egypt and Spain. With various connotations of beauty, paradise, fertility, and sensuality, the star-shaped flower has a romantic, captivating quality that possesses a universal appeal. For the house of Carolina Herrera, the beautiful bloom is the center of its latest jewelry collection. CH Carolina Herrera‘s ‘Falling Jasmine’ is the result of a collaboration between friends Carolina Herrera de Báez and artist Grillo Demo, who is known for his unique portraits featuring the white flowers. Together, the daughter of Mrs. Carolina Herrera and the Argentine painter created a limited-edition collection of ten different designs, including five earrings, a bracelet, a tiara, a ring, and necklaces, each made from gold-plated silver and white enamel.

This week, Savoir Flair flew to Doha to get a first look at the collection and to meet with Herrera de Báez for a special one-on-one chat. Click through the gallery for an exclusive look at sketches and imagery of the covetable pieces, and read on for an in-depth interview with the designer.

Congratulations on this beautiful new collection. Tell us, when did the idea for it come about? How long has it been in the works?
It came about two years ago. I met Grillo thanks to my mother. His artwork is based on the falling jasmine. If you go to his house in Ibiza, it is incased in jasmine. He embroiders jasmine on shoes and on shirts and paints jasmine on bags. He is obsessed with and very well versed in the flower, so I asked him if he wanted to collaborate and do a small jewelry line for CH Carolina Herrera based on his falling jasmine.

His paintings are beautiful, especially the portraits he’s done of you and your mother. It must have been easy working with someone you were already friends with.
Yes, he is a good friend and we have the same taste. He made drawings that I love. He designed the ear cuff for me, which I loved; I wouldn’t have thought of cuffs and he did. In fact, a long, long time ago, he had taken a photograph of my mother, my sister, and me –  probably 15 years ago – and he had drawn jasmines on it. In that photo, he had drawn a cuff on me, which was way before we did this. Now, everybody loves the cuff. We were on the same wavelength; it was so easy. The hard part was designing the collection, making sure that the flowers were perfect and that they had movement.

We were discussing earlier how things can look beautiful on the shelf, but can be difficult to wear or uncomfortable once you put them on. The ‘Falling Jasmine’ collection is just as light as it looks, as if it were hanging.
Right. And you can mix and match them. The big one I sometimes use as a brooch, and you can mix it with other earrings, you can create brooches, etc. When my husband wears his tuxedo, he will pin the small earring on his lapel.

I think our readers would be surprised to know that you started your career at a laboratory in New York, and then moved into film. Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey, from the science lab to the perfume lab at CH Carolina Herrera, and now to the atelier for this special jewelry collection?
I think all those were my interests. My ideal job would be if I could do what I do now, be the creative director of perfumes, study nursing, and make documentaries. I would have no time for eating! Everything I’ve done, I have loved. It’s just about what I can do while having children and a husband. When I was working on the documentary, I was never home, and I actually left med school for film. Sometimes I think I still want to go to nursing school, because I am too old to be a doctor, but maybe I can be a nurse. So it is just different passions that I still have. I just can’t juggle everything really.

It’s such an interesting progression, going from studying medicine to creating perfumes.
People ask me if I use my medical knowledge in my perfumes. No, they have nothing to do with each other – it’s just what I chose in the end, and what I can actually handle with a family and a husband.

Was designing jewelry something you always wanted to do as well?
I love jewelry and I have sometimes designed jewelry for myself. But this is a capsule collection; it’s a collaboration with an artist, so it doesn’t mean that I am now going to design jewelry for CH.

So no plans as of yet to create another collection?
Maybe, but not jewelry. Maybe something else.

What first inspired you to create a collection around the historic jasmine flower?
It was love. It was my first olfactory memories of jasmine. The first flower that I ever adored was the jasmine in my house in South America. My mother used to mix oil of tuberose and jasmine since I was born. That became the first perfume of the house of Herrera, and it is still around. When I started working in perfumes almost 18 years ago, the first perfume I made was ‘212’, which has jasmine in it. So it is a very symbolic flower for us, personally and work-wise. This is almost an ode to the jasmine.

I read that jasmine is your mother’s favorite flower, and that this collection is a tribute to her. Can you tell us more about this and what it means to you?
It was the first smell I have in my memory; even now when I smell jasmine I think of her. She introduced me to that smell. I always had that flower at home and I plant jasmine everywhere I go, everywhere I live. It is beautiful and it has many connotations in many countries. There is so much written about jasmine in literature and poetry, and it is brilliant.

In your opinion, what three words best describe the ‘Falling Jasmine’ collection?
Feminine, versatile, and beautiful.

Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
I love the ear cuff, and I love the choker. I wear them all, all the time.

Are there any plans to incorporate the jasmine flower into ready-to-wear?
I am thinking about it.

Is there a specific dress or collection of your mother’s that you think would be the perfect pairing for ‘Falling Jasmine’?
There is not one dress, but it does go beautifully with coral. My sister the other day was wearing this amazing Carolina Herrera coral cocktail dress, and she had the choker on. It looked amazing. It was stunning. So I got a similar coral dress to copy her!

How would you personally style the jewelry in your everyday life?
I wear it differently every time. I’ve worn it to black-tie events, and I’ve worn it during the day. I’ve even worn it when I was working out. It depends on how you mix and match it, which is my whole point – you can wear it as you please. You can mix it with your best diamond, and you can wear it during the day and at night. That is what I wanted. I wanted it to be a collection where everything was sold separately – you can’t buy a pair of earrings. Ever since I was young and had piercings, I’ve always worn just one earring, and it was important for me to incorporate that in the collection.

What type of woman do you imagine wearing ‘Falling Jasmine’?
All types. I’ve given pieces to my mother and my mother’s friends. My daughter wears the headband, and I wear the headband. Teenagers love the ear cuff and the necklace. I don’t think it has an age. It depends on how you wear it. My mother wears the big earring as a brooch and will put three brooches on her sweater. You have to play around with it.

How does the Middle Eastern market size up to other global markets for CH Carolina Herrera?
I think that the Middle East is a very important market. Middle Eastern women love the brand. They are very strong buyers of the brand and we have lots of stores in a lot of different cities throughout the region.

How did the decision to first launch this important collection in Doha come about? 
It’s because the store here sells a lot of jewelry. It is known for its jewelry collections, so we decided to sort of give thanks to all the women who buy so much jewelry from CH. We thought, “Why don’t we give them the first look at the collection?”

What’s your impression of Middle Eastern women’s accessories style? Based on your time spent in region, how does this collection cater to their tastes?
They accessorize very well. It is really what you can see most of the time. I think it is beautiful and they really pay attention to the accessories, to the bags, to the shoes, to the jewelry. It is very well done, sometimes over the top, but it suits them. Style is about suiting you, not suiting me – that’s my style. It suits them, and that is the beauty of it. I love their abayas, and you can tell that there is a love and knowledge of fashion in the region.

After ‘Falling Jasmine’, what’s on the horizon for you?
I always think of something. There is nothing in the works now, but I am already thinking about what is going to be next. I can’t tell you what though!

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