Carven S/S 2016
Carven S/S 2016

It can be scary when a well-known label sheds a well-known designer. Guillaume Henry had been at Carven long enough, since 2009, to become almost synonymous with the label. There are still plenty of places around the Internet that apparently didn’t get the word that Henry took on Peter Copping’s former job at Nina Ricci after Copping went to Oscar de la Renta. So, it would seem that newcomers Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud, who were formerly collaborators at Givenchy, have their work cut out for them staking their own place in the fashion world. It’s not going to be easy.

The duo delivered a very commercial collection this morning, which is probably good news for the brand. I’m not sure Carven fans would have known what to do had the duo been too terribly adventurous. I mean, this is the show where one guest showed up carrying his teddy bear. In fact, the teddy bear almost got more attention than anything else. The circle motif and straight line skirts gave looks just a hint of early 70s nostalgia. Pant legs with huge rolled-up cuffs made the shoes almost irrelevant and prints are bright and lively enough that they will attract attention on store shelves.

We see the guys testing some new water, but not wholly committing to the concepts just yet. There’s more silk in this collection than we might expect from the brand, and it works especially well as a broad hem on shorts and a couple of dresses. There are a few times, toward the end of the collection, that we see some of the asymmetry that the duo used at Givenchy, but they never really play it to their advantage. They’re taking very careful steps and I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t really see them breaking out into their own until this time next year, or possibly even later.

Transitions like this are never as easy as they appear on the surface.  Martial and Caillaudaud will have to work hard to never the brand out from Guillaume Henry’s shadow. This was a cautious first step. I’m sure there’s more to come.


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