We have some exciting news to share! Guillaume Henry, the young creative director of the storied French fashion house Carven, is set to embark on an US trunk show tour hosted by Barneys New York starting this Friday February 4th in San Francisco. The tour will then move to Los Angeles, Chicago, and end in New York on Feb. 8th, right at the start of NYC Fashion Week! At each stop, Henry will be hosted by the likes of Simon Doonan (SF, LA, Chicago) and Alexa Chung (NYC).
While we are excited to see the Spring merchandise and meet Guillaume Henry, it is also seeing the rise of trunk shows that intrigues us. There has been strong evidence that retail is returning to a time past of actively engaging their customers to lure them back. With trunk shows, designers can carry on conversations with their customers allowing them to build an extra level of connection to the clothes that retailers are trying to sell them. Other designers who have recently been engaging in meet-and-greet trunk shows include Haider Ackermann and Roland Mouret to name a few.
The news of the Carven/Barneys trunk show tour is also extremely interesting because of long legacy of the Carven brand and its re-introduction back into Ready to Wear. The brand has been gaining popularity since Henry’s debut collection for the house in Spring 2010. The young designer has been able to put the storied French label back in the public spotlight and he has injected much needed youth and relevance into the clothes.
Carven was founded in 1945 by Madam Carven as a haute couture house. She was a complete novice when she entered the business which enabled her to design with an air of freshness that was ironically quite similar to what Henry is doing for the house today.
She was one of the first to promote accessible luxury with clean and refined designs, truly capturing the spirit of Parisian chic. She dressed queens, princesses and empresses, and became a much sought-after creator for the female film stars of the post-war era. Carven has been known widely for her fragrance, “Ma Griffe”, a flowery perfume with overtones of gardenia and jasmine. Her signature green and white striped dress was also called “Ma Griffe” which inspired the brands signature color scheme.
Unfortunately, where accessible luxury through haute couture was an acceptable practice at Madame Carven’s time, the house’s prominence faded as couture itself took a backseat to Ready-to-Wear. Guillaume Henry spotted the brand’s need to move from couture to ready-to-wear and has spent the last year transitioning the house back into the spotlight.
Henry studied at Institut Français de la Mode in Paris. He held stints at Givenchy under both Julien MacDonald and Ricardo Tisci, as well as Paule Ka before becoming the creative director for Carven in 2009. He has a tremendous respect for the history of the house and refers to it as a “sleeping beauty”. He has a desire to create accessible, fun, and modern clothes for the brand. Himself referred to as “a young Saint Laurent”, Henry wanted to create clothes that are “less evening…and more girl next door…pieces that can be worn from day to night…pieces that focus on the everyday women’s needs”.
The Carven Spring 2011 collection is a strong representation of what Henry plans to do with the brand. It is feminine, wearable yet always special and with a twist, it contains strong design details, clean silhouettes, and clothes that suit a wide range of women and occasions. The spirit of Carven is fresh, lively and elegant.
The effort of re-introducing the house as a RTW collection seems to be working. Customers are responding to the more accessible offerings (which ironically matches Madame Carven’s original intent for the brand), and their stocklist improved from 70 stores to 180 in the span of three seasons.
It is interesting to see how a fashion house that has completely dropped out of everyone’s radar can reinvent itself with fresh ideas and approach. The house has successfully identified the language of its new customers and taken steps at actively reaching that group of consumers through an irresistible mix of heritage and modernity. This again proves that there is a return to customers being interested in something that tells a story, something that they can relate to.
The Sche Report is definitely keeping a close eye on Carven during Paris Fashion Week as we are excited to see how Henry continues to take it all the way to the top of the fashion hierarchy.
Barney’s New York and Carven’s Spring 2011 Trunk show tour dates:
San Francisco: Friday, February 4th 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Hosted by Vanessa Getty and Simon Doonan with 10% of the proceeds benefiting the Peninsula Humane Society
Beverly Hills: Saturday February 5th 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Hosted by Simon Doonan
Chicago: Monday, February 7th 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Hosted by Simon Doonan
NYC Madison Avenue: Tuesday, February 8th 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Hosted by Alexa Chung
You can view and buy the collection at the following stores: