The rubber-coated invite suggested we were in for something different at Guillaume Henry's Carven today. Then there were the half-dozen sawed-off old cars stacked up at the back of the catwalk. If nothing else, Henry's got a bigger budget for runway-show expenses. It does seem that business is doing well: Carven opened its second Paris store on the Left Bank's Rue de Grenelle today.
But back to the rubber. Innuendo has been part of this label's appeal since Henry took the reins more than three years ago. For Fall, though, he turned it up. That means in addition to the signature cutouts on knits and the familiar midriff-baring tops beneath jackets, there were racy new zebra prints, some in silk-screened rubber jacquard on sheer fabrics that played peekaboo with the skin beneath. It's a long way from the toiles de Jouy and Hieronymus Bosch prints of the past couple of seasons. Ultimately, the zebra stripes weren't such an obvious fit for Henry's brand of French preppy. An abstracted digital print of headlights and stoplights at night was also a departure, but a more believable one when he used it for a robe coat.
Rounding out the collection—round being the operative word—were oversize coats in teddy bear textures and some of the colors of the season: baby blue, pink, camel, blush. Pinafore dresses in the same spongy materials worn over lightweight knits will give shoppers a look similar to the one Miuccia Prada showed for Fall. That's a coincidence that will work to Henry's advantage, we're guessing. But no assistance will be necessary to get women into his fabulous coats.
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