2024 Designer of the Year: Wes Gordon

Wes Gordon

A discussion with Wes Gordon, Creative Director, Carolina Herrera

With the fashion industry changing so rapidly, how do you as a designer stay inspired and authentic to your craft/artistry?  
Fashion is my passion – I am incredibly fortunate to have a career that is something I love to do. I never see design as a chore but rather as an incredible privilege. My personal motivation comes from a place of always trying to do better and always chasing the idea of perfect. For better or for worse, I am a perfectionist and obsessive about all things that I do; I am never content, but instead always seeking to find a way to make that piece more special, the construction more beautiful. It is this impossible mission that drives me. I stay focused always on the task at hand, the sketch on the paper, the dress on the fit model; approaching each element and decision one by one.

As creative director, you’ve brought a coolness with a touch of whimsy to such a classic and iconic brand. How do you see the aesthetic of the label over the next few years?
I arrived at Herrera with the utmost reverence for the house, never seeking to erase or demolish that which came before me. With that reverence as a part of me, I design with my own unique perspective and point of view. My Herrera woman is powerful, confident, dynamic and looking for something beautiful to wear. She seeks to surround herself with beauty and optimism. These attributes are not specific to an age group or geographical region, but rather are a state of mind.

What advice would you give your younger self as an aspiring designer fresh out of Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design?
Trust yourself. This is an idea that we all talk about often but rarely lack the courage to really act upon, especially when fresh out of school. This is an industry full of incredibly well meaning, supportive individuals, many of whom are very quick to offer their opinions, advice and guidance, and quite often it may be contradictory. You have to be your own north star; it’s your uniqueness that will make you successful, and trying to emulate other successful people runs the risk of dampening your own fire. Trust yourself, listen to yourself; you’ll never make everyone happy so therefore you cannot look to others else for your own validation.

What legacy do you hope to establish across the industry someday?
My design approach is to make something beautiful. To make clothes that make the woman feel gorgeous, confident and empowered. The pursuit of beauty should be celebrated and never dismissed as frivolous or unnecessary. I have become more confident with who I am, my eye and my voice. Being a designer of any discipline and having the ability to transform your dreams into reality is the greatest privilege and something we should all treat with the utmost reverence. The world is overflowing with stuff and ‘things’ – if one is going to bring something new into existing, it should be special, beautiful and perfect; nobody needs more stuff.