Costume Council and Carolina Herrera






What do you give to the most glamorous fashion designer in the world?

A tray from Buccellati, personally selected by event co-chair Marit Bohbot from her Oak Street store was the answer when the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum recently named Carolina Herrera as the recipient of their Designer of Excellence Award.


Event Co-Chairs Marit Bohbot, Courtney Hopkins, and Blythe Lee with Patricia Herrera Lansing (second from left).

Although Herrera was unable to attend the recent celebration due to a family tragedy in her home country of Venezuela, her daughter, Patricia Lansing, and Emilie Rubenfeld, President of Carolina Herrera, accepted the stunning presentation tray on her behalf.


Emilie Rubinfeld, President of Carolina Herrera.

Marit reports that the designer has promised to visit the History Museum in the fall.

Composed of many of Chicago’s seriously sensational dressers and fashion scholars, the Costume Council was founded in 1974 with Mrs. Philip K. Wrigley as its first president. The Council supports the Chicago History Museum, which boasts the second largest costume collection in the country with over 50,000 pieces dating from the 1750s until today.


Suzanne Schlemmer, Kristin Noelle Smith, Paula Borg, and Jennifer Glover.

Of the evening, Costume Council President, Kristin Smith, shared:

“Mrs. Herrera joins James Galanos, Christian Lacroix, Sonia Rykiel, Hubert du Givenchy, Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Ralph Rucci, and Bob Mackie as fashion luminaries who have previously received the award. She is, indeed, one of the greatest living fashion designers in the world, and her designs have made her an icon of elegance. Her notable career spans over 35 years. I recently read that she had more than $1.2 billion in retail sales in 2016—truly impressive.”


An elegant photo of the designer graces the event program.

Over tea at Buccellati before the event, co-chairs Bythe Lee and Courtney Hopkins met with Marit, the luxury goods shop’s marketing manager, to discuss last minute preparations. Each mused on Herrera’s staying power and what questions would they add to those that CHS Costume Curator, Petra Slinkard, had planned to ask the designer in a Q and A session.


Petra Slinkard and Anne Forman.

Courtney commented:

“Most people in their seventies retire to pursue another path. What keeps her going? She is supposedly the most hands-on designer around, dressing first ladies beginning with Jacqueline Kennedy, and many of the world’s best-dressed women.”

Marit added:

“Herrera got into fashion in her forties, and I would love to know more about that journey. She was already a fashion icon in the International Hall of Fame when Diana Vreeland encouraged her to start her own line.

 “Seeing photos of her as a little girl, she dressed beautifully even then. It is something that you can’t learn in school. Like Herrera, our members are both well-connected and passionate about fashion.”

Blythe also makes note of this passion in the organization’s members.

The Council and its members really regard fashion as an art form and give it the recognition it deserves through the varied programs and educational opportunities the Council offers. Our members are very well dressed—many have curated looks and enjoy wearing vintage pieces.” 

The Costume Council brings together like-minded women whose own wardrobes might, one day, be part of the museum’s amazing collection of pieces with a Chicago connection.


Kathleen Haines Finley, Sherrill Bodine, and Annette Findling.


Connie Barkley, Peggy Snorf, and Leslie Zentner.


Noren Ungaretti and Michelle Bibergal.


Mark Olley and Quenten Schumacher.


Patricia Lansing.


Paul Phillips and Marshall Erb.


Nancy Connelly, Mary Shearson, and Marci Holzer.


The event in full swing.


Kristine Farra and April Schwartz.


Annette Findling and Paula Borg.


Some engaging conversation captured on film.


Photo credit: Sean Su