PFW: CARVEN F/W 2014

Rain just won’t seem to let up in Paris this morning and the line getting in to the Carven show looked like a tent of black umbrellas outside the beautiful Galerie Des Gobelins. Guests were still shivering from the damp chill despite being sat quite close together and while there was no way for the label to control the weather, it might have very well worked in their favor. What they presented this morning was a very attractive line of clothes that would be perfect for days like this, and even those a little less comfortable.

I was a bit surprised, though, at just how familiar this collections seems. Could Guillaume Henry and Alexander Wang have possibly shared notes or something? When two strong elements dominate two different collections that are shown back to back, it is rather difficult to not notice the similarity and wonder if there wasn’t some cooperation, or perhaps collusion, between the two designers.

Fearful as I am of doing so, I am going to go ahead and call thigh high boots a certified trend for this fall. We’ve seen them far too many times now to ignore the fact that they pair nicely with the short skirts that designers seem to favor for this season. Carven’s are a little less ornate, made of patent leather, and have a little bit of a platform to them that seems to be just a tiny bit of a challenge for walking, though part of that might have been the well-polished floor that was re-mopped just prior to the show’s beginning. No one fell, thankfully, and if boots like this are going to be a mainstream look this fall then women need to start practicing walking in the things now.

Zippers are also a big thing at Carven, even bigger than they were at Balenciaga earlier this morning. With Carven, however, the zippers are at least partially functional, appearing on everything from coats to dresses to separates. More often than not, they are placed on the left side of the garment, which is great and convenient for those who are right handed, but not so much for south paws. Perhaps the best use comes in the skirts, where the zipper provides a nice slit-type opening, the length of which becomes something the wearer controls. How wonderfully practical is that? What matters a lot, though, is the fabric of the piece as to whether the zipper actually seems to work well. For heavier fabrics, especially wool blends with silk or satin lining, the zippers are wonderful touches and fit well with the look. With silk dresses, though, the texture contrast of the metal zipper to the soft fabric is a little more strained and seems a bit out of place.

Coats as a concept is also a very big part of the collection this season, so much so that there are still a few pieces where I’m not sure if Henry intends them as coats or dresses. The silhouettes are sufficiently full enough for them to be coats, but at the same time they are styled here more as dresses belted at the waist. I can imagine some poor retail stock person being rather confused as to exactly in which department the pieces should hang. Nonetheless, they are quite attractive, especially as separates, and will go a long way to keeping one warm in those less-than-heated environments while still looking professional and well put together.

There are a few silk prints scattered throughout the collection that are a touch surreal as well as some applique here and there that adds a touch of contemporary artistry to the pieces. Sometimes the applique was quite large, other times it came in the form of jeweled arrows pointing every direction. Response from the audience was mixed, probably along lines as to whether one prefers that type of art work. As garments, the pieces are very well done, not too loud, but sufficient to get one’s attention.

Curiously, models made the walk clutching their handbags to their chest. No one seemed to be able to explain exactly why they were instructed to hold this pose. The poor girls at times looked as though they were being chased down a dark alley. Not quite sure what was going on there.

Guillaume Henry has made a very wonderful and wearable collection for Carven that will go a long way to dispel the cold and dampness of next winter. Too bad there weren’t immediately available today. I’m sure they would have sold quite well!

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