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NEW YORK — Carolina Herrera on Sunday will launch her first social media contest to boost awareness of her bridal line.
“It’s going to be like ‘Project Runway’ — but in secret,” Herrera said of choosing a winner on Pinterest.
The contest, which is in conjunction with Town & Country magazine, will ask brides-to-be to submit boards on Pinterest, including all wedding inspirations, from flowers to venues, table decor and invites, through Dec. 15. There’s one rule: Because the initiative looks to connect with fans of Carolina Herrera bridal globally, entrants must be wearing a gown from the house for their wedding. Contestants will also be encouraged to use the dedicated hashtag #carolinaherrerainspiredbride across social platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
The wedding planning user base is among the most engaged on Pinterest, and Herrera wants to tap into that audience. The house has about 5,300 followers and 40 boards on its page at pinterest.com/CHerreraNY.
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“We want to play into the process, and they need time to make up their minds,” Herrera said in her Midtown office here during simultaneous fittings: one for her spring fashion show during New York Fashion Week on Sept. 9 and the other a flower girl dress for one of her granddaughters.
“For a bride, Pinterest is very important. Brides are sometimes confused at the beginning, and Pinterest helps. Everything is instantly there,” she added, acknowledging how passé it’s become to tear out sheets from a magazine when a bride can just put it all together online.
Herrera will personally select a winner along with Town & Country creative director Alexandra Kotur; the winner will be revealed on the brand’s blog on Valentine’s Day. The bride-to-be will come to the designer’s atelier for her final dress fitting, and this process — as well as elements from the wedding — will be photographed and featured in a subsequent issue of Town & Country.
Taking a break from the fittings, Herrera relocated across the hall to her impeccably decorated office. There’s a leopard-upholstered chair beside her desk so she can keep her handbag, which that day was magenta, within reach. There also are stacks of fashion books covering nearly every surface, pictures of smiling children and grandchildren and an exit to the outdoor terrace area that wraps around the entire floor. The designer talked about the ever-evolving digital world and explained how the 33-year-old company has found a way to maintain a presence in the space that is on-brand.
Herrera is transparent about the decision to only really become active on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram within the last year. The company doesn’t even have e-commerce on its Web site at carolinaherrera.com, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the House of Herrera. “We are not spread thin, we’re focused,” she said.
She is often photographed and featured in the brand’s Instagram posts —and admits she’s become obsessed with checking the comments.
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The brand is not active on Twitter (it does have ownership of a page at twitter.com/HouseofHerrera with 21,500 followers), due largely to a recent social media snafu: There was a “Twitter impostor” posing as the designer who had 33,000 fans on the platform before the fake Twitter feed was shut down at the end of last year.
“The fake Carolina Herrera said whatever she liked. It could be dangerous,” Herrera said of the politically outspoken tweeter, whose identity remains unknown. She said the tension around the situation mounted, as this person became increasingly vocal about the Venezuelan reelection of Hugo Chávez on Oct. 7, 2012. “I’m not a politician. I’m a fashion designer.”
Herrera called her approach to the space entirely organic — the brand launched its Facebook page on July 25, 2012, and already has 508,000 fans. Everything is done in-house, and the company hasn’t invested in the platform in terms of advertising or sponsored content.
The designer recalled finding a group of staffers toasting in the kitchen. “I saw people celebrating, and I asked, ‘What are we celebrating?’ and they told me we just reached 500,000 fans on Facebook.”