In the three years Guillaume Henry has headed up Carven, he's established
new codes for the old couture house with surprising swiftness and
confidence. The cheeky cutouts, the snug little sweaters, and the trim
and neat tailleurs that made today's front row look like a convention of
prep school girls all made reappearances on the runway. The difference was
this collection's new mood. "Lost in India in the middle of the twentieth
century" was how Henry described it, though he also cited influences like
the Art Nouveau star Émile Gallé and African safaris. How we describe it:
moodier, sophisticated, more grown-up.
That's thanks to new silhouettes like fuller, A-line skirts in place of last season's bubble minis and elongated, belted jackets that looked almost stately. Fabrics like a thick, substantial tweed seemed richer (not to mention fall-like—designers are shrugging off seasons more and more), but Henry hasn't lost his cheekier sensibilities. The safari print featured not just animals but also caravans and binoculars-wielding tourists. As for those cutouts, they were everywhere you looked: heart-shaped at the waist of suit jackets, above the bust on a coat-dress, on the sides of a racer-back sheath. If anything, Henry relied on them too much this season. They felt fresh when they were laser-cut in Gallé-esque Art Nouveau patterns, but Henry's next step forward should be to define some new signatures for the brand.