Carolina Herrera, seen here at a fashion show in a February 16, 2015, has dressed first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Michelle Obama and Melanie Trump

New York (AFP) - It was another goodbye for New York Fashion Week on Friday with the announcement that Carolina Herrera, queen of elegance and favorite of US first ladies, is stepping down as chief designer of her eponymous label.

The Venezuelan-born 79-year-old said she had appointed US designer Wes Gordon to take over as creative director after she takes the bow at her fall/winter 2018 fashion show at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan on Monday.

But if she’s waving goodbye to the runway, she insisted in an interview with The New York Times that she was not retiring. Instead she will become a global brand ambassador for her fashion label, which she set up 37 years ago.

“I look forward to continuing to represent this house and our projects all around the world,” she said in a statement. “I am so pleased Wes is now part of the Herrera House – he’s the right one for this position to further build on our great momentum.”

Gordon, who studied in London, and from 2010 to 2016 presented his eponymous womenswear collection in New York, has been creative consultant at Carolina Herrera for a year.

Herrera founded her namesake fashion house in 1981, and has dressed first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, Hollywood leading ladies such as Renee Zellweger, not to mention generations of society ladies.

Founded in 1981, Carolina Herrera’s in-house atelier became famous for blending the traditions of exquisite couture with American wearability, helping to give the label a reported $1.4 billion in annual sales.

“Fashion has changed a lot,” Herrera told the Times.

“What they like now is ugliness. Women dress in a very strange way. Like clowns. There is a lot of pressure to change all the time. But it’s better to wear what suits you. Add something new and you have a great look. Consistency is important.”

The Carolina Herrera brand and licenses includes ready-to-wear, bridal, eyewear and fragrance as well as accessories. The brand is available in 105 countries, with 350 CH Carolina Herrera and four Carolina Herrera New York boutiques in the world.