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Carolina Herrera in a signature white blouse

 The Gaspar bag, $1,580

 The boutique features Spanish-inspired design elements

Second Coming

Fashion’s first lady, Carolina Herrera, enlivens Rodeo Drive with a vibrant new lifestyle boutique.

In an era when the term “chic” is entirely diluted, one crisp-white-shirt-clad designer is a PSA for its purity. Carolina Herrera, the Venezuelan-born tastemaker touted for her dignified mien, regal threads and epic red-carpet coups (Renée Zellweger rarely misses a fitting), has for 30 years set an impeccable standard for modern elegance.

“Elegance, why not?” she says. “I have a very feminine instinct. Nowadays, women are more active, but they like to be glamorous, too. They can get a bit confused when they think that they have to be sexy and wear clothes three sizes too small. I don’t think so; I think you want to look a little less contrived and more effortless.” 

Having translated this sage thinking to the presentation of her boldly printed resort collection, Herrera is now gifting L.A. more of her particular brand of panache, this time on Rodeo. While her Melrose Place shop has outfitted fellow arbiters of good taste with highbrow and bridal attire since 2006, the designer describes the new CH Carolina Herrera flagship as “a continuation of the main collection that’s the same family, but a family that gets along very, very well.”

The sister store’s trappings point to the doyenne’s own duality. Beneath the affluent surface is joviality and a keen understanding of her more casual customer. “It’s a very cozy place—like arriving in someone’s home,” she says. “That is important for me because I can see that people come back if they like the ambience and the feeling of being there.” (“There” is a 2,676-square-foot space with intuitive touches: a fireplace with accompanying sofas for sipping tea and a library). And, because Herrera finds it imperative to contribute a native essence to each city in which she opens a boutique, the façade is full of familiar art deco and Spanish decadence.

In juxtaposition are expected staples, such as Herrera’s signature white blouse, cheeky adornments reflecting her buoyant side (her black poodle, Gaspar, inspired a fringed bag) and adaptable fashions—one of her favorite pieces, a lace vest, works just as easily with trousers for lunch at the Polo Lounge as it does over an evening gown for a swanky event.

Upscale, versatile and approachable—now that’s truly chic. 230 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.276.8900, carolinaherrera.com