Carven is another one from the history books - but we are talking about France, after all, so this should be expected. The line is remembered now by little more than its La Griffe perfume - or so it’s been written about. But to be honest, I don’t even know what that is and, as Susie Bubble pointed out, unless you’re a beauty expert you probably don’t either. This could be a testament to how relevant a name Carven actually is to our generation, and considering its illustrious past, Carven could have been a brand left to revel in its heyday.
Once a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 1945, Madame Carven may have designed for high style, but she was not one to forget about the little people. Carven herself standing at only 5’1, her Couture line was initially one that catered to petite women (the first of its kind). It expanded past that and grew into a line so popular that it compelled Jacqueline François to namedrop "Les robes de chez Carven" in her chart topper, "Mademoiselle de Paris" (to which I suppose a latterday equivalent could be Jay-Z name-dropping Margiela in “Run This Town,” or something like that.) A total innovator, Carven was also the first designer in France to dress actresses for movie premiers, and would even stage fashion shows during a film’s intermission! The lady knew how to work a dress as well as she did the press, and back in the day people knew it.
Now under the helm of Guillaume Henry (ex-Givenchy and Paul Ka), the line has been revamped into something on the tips of all of our tongues here at OC. The funny thing is that Guillaume isn’t interested in the fanfare at all, as the line is re-launching quietly and for the most part letting the clothes speak for themselves. And they do: the clothes are refined but not overly precious, and only subtly refer to Carven’s history. Guillaume says that his inspiration came more from old photos of Madame Carven herself rather than her designs, though I spy the peter pan collars and white cuffs that were former signatures of Madame Carven’s designs, too. To brief the lowdown, the line is obsession-worthy and at a price that allows the obsession to become a reality (under $300 for a dress and $600 for a coat).
Legendary Parisian Vintage boutique Didier Ludot feels the same, and is currently showcasing vintage Carven designs alongside Guillaume’s debut collection. Check out some photos I took while stopping by, and some looks from our buying appointment for the Resort collection!