If you have a need to stalk someone in a flower garden next spring, you’ll want to be wearing Carven. I thought that I had seen pretty much every interpretation of camo designs possible, but no; Carven’s Guillame Henry found a new one and immediately sent it running down the catwalk as part of this morning’s spring/summer 2014 collection. Could Carven suddenly be the label of jilted and/or suspicious lovers everywhere?

I jest, of course, but the print that came so early in the show is quite busy and definitely one I wouldn’t want to spring on the unsuspecting first thing in the morning. Throughout the collection, the use of florals is very modern, very chic. The first look down the runway was an over-sized black coat with floral applique at the shoulders where epaulets might be. Similar applique touches at the waist do a marvelous job of providing both structure and color against solid black dresses and separates. This is a collection that forces spring upon you, ready or not.

Being Carven, we expect a strong architectural feel to the silhouettes; in that regard, Henry doesn’t disappoint. His jackets, even when cropped, are large and rounded at the shoulder, clean and precise in their construction. Femininity is applied with applique at the high-set waist and frequent use of a cross-my-heart pseudo halter design that emphasizes the bust line even on models who are not especially endowed in that area. He also creates a careful asymmetry with tops that flow long in the back over cuffed and tailored shorts and skirts. Pencil skirts and pleats also make an obligatory appearance, both styled nicely with belts and applique.

To give us a visual break from all those flowers, Henry sends us gingham checks with large black applique curls. Think of these as the lattice pieces surrounding the borders of the Carven garden – a touch of structured sweetness, if you will.

A couple of curious elements in the collection: a bicep-level sleeve cuff gets frequent use, a touch which I’ve always found curious since it inherently restricts arm movement. There’s also a moment where Henry takes the camo palette to shades of yellow/lime that is a shock to the eyes. Neither are necessarily negative, but certainly stand in contrast to the overall aesthetic.

Henry continues to move the Carven line forward in a manner that manages to stay sophisticated without slipping into pretentiousness. He has often said he designs clothes with a story, and this collection does plenty of talking.



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