Guillame Henry, creative directory for Carven, decided to take the concept of the runway quite literally this morning by having his models walk down one that was exactly just that: a runway. Okay, so his was yellow with a bright blue stripe down the center. Still, it was a runway. Or a road course.  And thus, Henry set the tone for a spring/summer collection that invokes speed and travel with multi-continental influences that may appeal more to an Asian audience than this one in Paris.

Just don’t ask me what snake print has to do with speed. While the element is certainly attractive enough, and provides some texture and cohesion early in the presentation, it seems a little out of place with the graphic Asian prints that come later. Honestly, the snake print is a couple seasons past its prime, too, so I’m not sure those pieces will get the traction of later pieces.

This really is a very sleek, clean lined set of silhouettes for Spring. Henry even manages to incorporate biker shorts into a couple of the looks and does such with a level of skill so that one hardly notices at first glance what he’s done. The looks are stylish, fun, and often quite colorful as he moves from color blocked ensembles to artistic and graphic prints that capture Henry’s concept of graphic motion, such as the “Storm in a Skirt” image he posted on the label’s Tumblr account earlier. Racing stripes are rather standard adornment through most the collection, and in the final few pieces he takes the stripe and gently curves it, like a LeMans course. One will also notice the very long collars on some of the dresses and jackets.

There’s just a little bit of 1960s pull to some of the dresses, one that reminds me a bit of the old “Speed Racer” cartoons. While racing and speed are certainly the primary theme, though, one also can’t miss the dynamic Asian prints. Racing is extremely popular across the Asian continent, but rather than racing imagery Henry utilizes art and graphics that are more historic and traditional. Can we tell where Carven’s biggest growth market is at the moment? While the prints are beautiful, to be sure, the use of Japanese script across a couple of the dresses may prove limiting, at least for those pieces.

Bags are always a primary element of any Carven collection as well and here Guillame has likely hit a home run with a set of bags that look like perfectly sized carry ons, ready for the next flight out. Large, rounded, and roomy enough to carry those duty-free items one just couldn’t pass up, the bags work very well with the clothes and I won’t be surprised should they prove to be the highlight of the collection.

Guillame Henry’s Carven line for Spring is streamlined for speed and brightly colored to fit the theme. Go, Speed Racer, go.

Photo credit: Marcus Tondo

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