The Carven man has, until now, looked like he's never so much as seen the wrong side of the tracks—Guillaume Henry's vision for his menswear has been much more tender than that. No one who has been following the collection would have expected him to look to vintage mug shots as inspiration, and fewer still would have expected them to toughen up the designs in a way that helped dispel the fussiness that has dogged the line since its inception.

The customary Carven fineness was still in evidence. It was there in the way Henry cut a collar just slightly too large, or a lapel slightly too small. But while previous collections read as cute, this one had more cockeyed charm. "It wasn't that they were underlining an image of danger that was interesting me," Henry said of the men in his source material. "What I liked was that they were looking right at the camera. They were in a police station and they were charming."

With the palette reduced to basics—mostly black, white, cream, and gray—and ornamentation all but stripped away, the clothes had a plainspoken appeal. Even the forays into the idiom of eveningwear, from the use of velvet to the patent-leather lace-ups, didn't knock the collection out of its groove. These pieces weren't challenging, they were reliably approachable, which hasn't always been the Carven case. The handful of girls who turned up in the show seemed almost irresistibly pulled in. Henry was adamant that they weren't mere molls. "They're part of the group," he said. The Carven good girl has joined the gang? Her? "They've always been bad girls," he insisted. "You don't see everything at the same time." This lineup proved the point. Time reveals new shadings.