Even in their most multivolume biographies, more space is devoted to the great artists' affairs than their attire. Guillaume Henry set out to fill in the gaps. He imagined a painter toiling away in the south of France, a fantasy conglom of everyone from Giacometti to Morandi, whose famous still lifes the show's bottle-lined set suggested. These men were "spontaneous and elegant," Henry said, and whether they ever wore colors as sherbet-bright as those at Carven
, they certainly used them. It's not too far a stretch to imagine them painting their own windowpane checks on their trousers as Henry did here. The man of fashion is his own canvas.
In any case, here's proof of what the great can inspire in the good. Whether it was the prism of other artists, or the displacement of an earlier era (there were clear notes of the fifties and sixties, what Henry calls his favorite era), the collection had less of the preciousness that has beset his earlier work. There was even a dose of hardy functionality, in boxy pull-on poplin shirts modeled on painters' smocks, and more denim throughout than in any Carven collection before.