Country boy goes to Paris. It sounds like the recipe for some Balzacian fall from innocence. But the way Carven's Guillaume Henry does it, plenty of innocence remains. Henry imagined a young guy headed to the big city, suitcase in hand: a few schoolboy staples, a sweater knitted by grandma, his father's borrowed coat. "But," he said with a twinkle, "he doesn't know how it all goes." The result, he explained, is "spontaneous elegance, a charming naiveté."
It wasn't short on charm. But the operative word here may be "young." There were touches throughout that kept the collection feeling slightly underaged, from the leather pocket protectors to the recurring donkey's-ears motif. (It's the French equivalent of the dunce cap.) Carven's gloves even came with strings to attach to your coat. Henry admitted he loses his without them.
That kind of revelation made you think. Henry himself is a young, Paris-based designer from the countryside in Dijon. It's tempting to read into his chosen theme, though he disclaims any notion that he's designing a memoir-in-clothes. Whatever the case, the buoyant spirit and accessible price point make the label beginner-friendly. Very few of the lines that show during the Paris week can say the same. Guys of any age can appreciate Carven's hybrid-spliced merino sweaters, boxy blazers, and ultrathin leather K-way jackets. Youth is wasted on the young, anyway.