If I told you that Carolina Herrera’s spring/summer 2023 collection was full of florals, I know what you’d say: Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.
But actually, they were groundbreaking! Inspired by the classic novel The Secret Garden, creative director Wes Gordon’s gorgeous collection of breezy, blooming prints seemed so vibrant and so alive that they practically photosynthesized in the limelight. The gowns were at once whimsical and powerful, like a very swole Tinker Bell.
The show took place in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza Hotel, where every single guest looked like a celebrity. Truly, I couldn’t tell who to ogle because everyone was glamorous and insanely chic. I stared at one man for almost an entire minute before realizing he wasn’t a Hemsworth brother.
Upon entering the room, I overheard someone in a bubblegum pink tulle dress exclaim, “Dewey is in!” I assumed they were in the middle of passionately defending the famed decimal system, until I realized they meant “dewy”—when your skin is hydrated and glistens as if you’ve just dramatically run through the rain in a rom-com to tell someone you love them. As a person with combination oily-dry skin (women CAN have it all!), I sometimes accidentally look dewy. I considered this a win.
I sat in the second row between an elegant Claire Stern, ELLE’s digital deputy editor, and an uber-cool Eric Daman, the costume designer for Gossip Girl (original and reboot!). They were both very warm and welcoming, and I was about to ask Eric what Chuck Bass smells like (money? privilege? steak?) when the show began.
The overhead lights dimmed, the runway lights gleamed, and the sound system blasted Barbra Streisand belting show tunes. On one side of the ballroom was an elevated hallway lined with marble arches, through which we glimpsed at the models confidently strutting en route to the entrance. They strode in one by one, each more luminous than the last, descending the steep staircase to the ballroom floor in their dainty high heels. I was immediately impressed—the one time I tried wearing stilettos, it was like Bambi learning how to walk.
I sat mesmerized, until I noticed that one of the models was Karlie Kloss!!! I legit gasped. My friends and I used to obsess over her airplane skincare video on YouTube. Obviously she is famous for many things, least of which is her aforementioned airplane skincare video, but as someone who spends plane rides exclusively watching Mamma Mia on repeat and sleeping, I was fascinated. Kloss has a whole regimen for every flight. And it apparently works great, because her skin looked dewy, which I hear is in!!!
After the grand finale, during which the models walked in quick succession, Gordon emerged to greet the audience and take a well-deserved victory lap. For a split second, my brain registered his boyish face and his all-black outfit along with “Hello, Dolly!” blaring over the loudspeakers and I sincerely thought, “Is this middle school theater crew member lost?” Then I realized who he was. But seriously, how old is he?! How is he so talented, and also, is he secretly 12?? Is this because he follows Karlie Kloss’ airplane skincare routine??? I have many questions.
But I digress. The show itself flew by like a blooming whirlwind, a transient secret garden. I exited The Plaza feeling inspired and grateful that I got to witness something so deceptively simple and joyful. Florals…for spring! I know, I know. But trust me—even Miranda Priestly herself couldn’t have complained about this one.
Karen Chee is a comedian and writer based in New York.