The ever-present underlying drama in Paris is how to keep alive the maisons — fashion houses whose glory days are in the past.
We have watched the big groups cream off the best, feed them with money — and hope it will work. But when it is a small business, founded by a woman from another era whose vision was herself… How to go forward?
I remember the first mini-presentation at Carven by its previous Creative Director, Guillaume Henry, and the effect was of high school girls who might have been great-grandchildren of the founder. The clothes were fresh, decent, slightly cooky — and very French. Above all, under that designer there was a sense of innocence.
If the new Creative Director duo of Alexis Martial (formerly with Italian brand Iceberg) and Adrien Caillaudaud had a premise, it was not offered in show notes.
There were celebs in the audience, including Beyoncé’s sister Solange and socialite Olivia Palermo, which produced the usual frenzy among photographers and a shrug from the rest.
Then came the clothes: cute, bright colours, un-memorable, not particularly French — just wearable.
The show started with short skirts and skinny stretch trousers, best with frilly lace blouse or woven knits. It then moved to texture, with satin brocade in a floral pattern. Colours came in pops of blue, red and orange.
And that was about it. If you need a coat for Winter 2015 there were a couple – an apology of outerwear. If you wanted to experiment with a longer hem line, or any daring departure, it was not there.
If this duo want to make an impact on Carven beyond creating OK clothes, they need to have a concept — and above all to indicate their message clearly and concisely.