Moving a label’s image forward — whether it’s your own or an existing brand — is one of the stories of the Summer 2015 Paris season. Three designers flexed their muscles, pulling heritage brands into the now, while keeping a clear path to the future. Paco Rabanne, Roland Mouret and Carven.
“Sporty, graphic, spontaneous, speedy, dynamic — and a tonic,” said the designer Guillaume Henry, neatly summing up his Spring/Summer 2015 Carven collection.
As the models strode the yellow gym mat of a runway, walking at high speeds, a tailored coat trimmed with snakeskin and a square sports bag squashed under the arm, they looked energetic, but not aggressive. These were just those nice, fresh young Carven girls with a bit more vigour.
The subtle change is that the Carven image, which was, quintessentially, young French women from a polite Paris neighbourhood, has now extended across the world. And especially to the East, it seems, with dense patterns that resembled Japonisme drawings from the eighteenth century. There was also the bold label on the front of one dress, which translated as “Carven” in Japanese.
Since everyone is mad for sport this season – or at least the sporty look — the collection was both energetic and cute. The models walked out, long hair flying, belts at high waists and the occasional jacket with trousers or slim dresses, going back to the label’s Paris roots. The red, blue and yellow primary colours were lively, especially when mixed with white.
Guillaume has done a fine job over just five years, creating a fresh image for a brand that was stagnating. It is still French chic in an idiosyncratic way: a short-sleeved coat trimmed with python down the front edges was an example. Sporty stripes slicing down the front of a simple dress were symbolic of the designer being on the straight track to international success.
But it was all still instinctively Carven. The way to sum up Guillaume Henry’s elaboration on a theme for spring 2015 was, as ever, “charming”. And now that the brand is going global, should that word be “kawaii”?