Sportswear and activewear have been running themes in recent fashion, so it seemed only apropos that Guillaume Henry sent out a racing-inspired collection in his final bow for Carven.
The designer widely credited for turning around the dusty French label into the “cool girl’s label du jour,” as Vogue put it, bid Carven farewell shortly after presenting its Spring-Summer 2015 collection at Paris Fashion Week last September. He was named creative director of Nina Ricci just days after the Paris collections.
Short A-line skirts and dresses inspired by Formula 1 were all built for the speed and pace of today’s women, according to the designer.
“It’s dynamic because it allows girls to run,” Henry had said of the silhouette in a taped interview. Biker shorts were thrown into the mix.
“I wanted speed,” he added, in reference to the shoes—no heels there, just Carven’s version of flat Mary Janes.
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There were sharp-lapeled coats and jackets evocative of the 1960s. Henry played with Japanese iconography—Japanese erotic art rendered in lace, dresses emblazoned with Carven written in katakana, ukiyo-e paintings, and woodblock print images or moku hanga.
Palette is based on primary colors—red, white and blue, and punctuated with yellows. The models carried large satchels in multicolor skins reminiscent of racing stripes.
Henry, who had worked at Givenchy and Paule Ka, was hired in 2009 to head the design team of Carven under its new management. The label, founded in 1945 as a couture house, had languished in recent years, and its new owner, Henri Sebaoun, wanted to relaunch it as a midrange RTW brand with goals of expanding globally.
The tack and partnership worked. Women easily took to Henry’s no-nonsense brand of chic, and success was quick. Carven expanded its distribution to over 20 countries, and has since added a men’s line.
Last year, Carven opened its first boutique in Manila, under H&F Retail Concepts, the company behind Homme et Femme. The store carries women’s and men’s collections, as well as shoes and handbags.
This month, Filipinos smitten with Henry’s Carven can now get ahold of his last collection for the label at the Carven boutique in Shangri-La Plaza Mall’s East Wing.