Carven Ready To Wear Fall Winter 2013 Paris
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Carven Ready To Wear Fall Winter 2013 Paris

The Carven brand is the “little engine that could” house that has been chugging along these last couple of years opening new stores around the world - it’s second Paris shop opens today - launching a menswear line and finding chic new digs for its headquarters in the city of light.

But looking at the fall/winter collection there was a feeling that designer Guillaume Henry needs to start honing in on creating a stronger, more identifiable, direction for the brand. Up until now it his instantly recognizable prints and wrap effect outfits that have been his calling card. Smartly, however, Henry moved away from both of those concepts and turned his attention to fashion’s next-big-thing, textural fabrics.
“Most of the fabrics were exclusives,” revealed Henry as he greeted well-wishers after his show. “We developed ninety percent of the fabric because I want it to look like bears, like teddy bears.”

The house created a new fabric, one that mixed cotton with wool for the slightly oversized sugar sweet pastel colored outfits that opened the show. Which brings up another hot trend this season, outsized silhouettes in thick fabrics. That Henry hit on both ideas in this collection shows that he is a designer with his finger on the fashion pulse.

But experimenting with textures can be like playing with fire. Sometimes you get burned. For example when a bubble gum pink spaghetti strap dress has a pattern that too closely resembles a pattern found on paper towels, or the texture of a baby blue coat conjures up thoughts of bath mats.

More interesting was the way Henry counteracted the cloyingly sweet ensembles with those in zebra stripes. They came as a print, but were more interesting in their opaque latex incarnation and bonded onto delicate nude tulle dresses. And although he only used it on a single pencil skirt and wrap jacket, a deer print fabric found the perfect balance between the show’s sweet and spicy dichotomy.

- Jessica Michault