Guillaume Henry has achieved something pretty remarkable at Carven and the apparent ease with which he’s doing it is a marvel itself. Think back to a couple years ago, would the name Carven say anything to you? Perhaps if you’re the fashion connoisseur, maybe if you were a fan of the man’s perfume. What it wouldn’t do is bring to mind such as a perfectly realised view of a girl, the Carven girl. The schoolgirl uniform blazer, the French navy blue, a shirt buttoned up, the collar as the focus of a look and lately, a necklace embellishment on it - Henry can claim that his own.
He’s also very clever on the business side of things. His mid-price collections are stocked at every boutique and department store keen to keep its cool credentials high. So, why start playing with a formula that’s clearly working? The latest Carven offering we saw at the Grand Palais this morning (the sun came out for it too) was unmistakably Carven. But Henry moved things along too, all the way to India!
You wouldn’t have guessed that from the opening look, a uniform of a knee-length grey skirt and blazer, nipped at the waist. Nor from the one that followed, a low-cut wool dress. But India came in the form of a Toile de Jouy print; trees, animals and tourists on safari jeeps. It looked great as a long-sleeved dress, heart-shaped cut-outs on top, lightly pleated skirt. Or as a longer, below-the-knee racer-back dress and a jacket and trouser combo, the jacket cut at the front so it looked like a piece of the puzzle was missing – even the patent loafers with a chunky heel matched! Print aside, Henry presented new shapes; wider, stiffer trousers, fuller, longer skirts. Here’s a new Carven look: oatmeal cropped knit – with a collar, of course – leaving the midriff exposed over a pair of bright wool trousers, cut below the calf, wide like they could stand on their own, and chunky-heeled patent loafers to match. And yes, I did say wool – this could easily have passed as an autumn/winter collection but who cares, right? Leaving, I overheard many describing this as “very Carven” and that’s a compliment.