Simon Doonan (And now I) Adore Carven. Guillaume Henry At Barneys In Chicago

February 9, 2011 • Events, Yahoo


Everyone loved the black cape sleeve dress on the right. Simon Doonan said "Anyone can wear this… I can wear this dress!"

Simon Doonan and Guillaume Henry were in Chicago for a trunk show at the Barneys New York Flagship this week. And what a trunk show it was! There were beautifully made, fun and fancy detailed couture pieces with a modern edge. "Parisian Elegance." After inspecting the pieces I fell in love with them for their beauty and perfect construction as well as their attitude and sense of humor. (Not just pretty faces.) They were ladylike, prim, comfortable, stretchy, shirred, rouched, with exposed zippers perfectly finished with zig-zag top stitching, copper and bead embellished, (there's more) with bows, ties, asymmetric styling, large watercolor screen prints, preppy stripes, scarf prints and knits. I'm sure I left something out. The fabrics and construction were all over the place but worked out to one streamlined Spring 2011 collection.

Simon Doonan says "These are the pumps you ladies should be wearing now."

I had the opportunity to find out more about the line first from Simon Doonan as he poufed up some of the pieces. "It's all about 3-D. That's what the designer wants to show – volume!" He told me that Madam Carven, when she entered the world of 1940s couture wanted it to be sensible – so that a women can move freely, walk her dog and carry on with her day. I could see that the line offered the same sensibility for today! And because of the timelessness and perfection, and affordable prices I think the pieces are very collectible.

Guillaume Henry, Carven Artistic Director with a "scrunchable" striped shorts suit.

Next I was pleased to meet the artistic director for the house of Carven, designer Guillaume Henry, who joined the house in 2009. He is young, handsome, very energetic and certainly brought a lot of life to this brand! He told me that he took old couture aesthetic to make precious and easy pieces. The Parisian style is effortless, he explained. He showed me a wonderful stripe structured jacket, and scrunched it in a ball. "See you can travel with this and it keeps it shape!" He was so pleased as I was so amazed! He went on to tell me that his pieces are not for young or old – they can be put together to give different looks. Carven pieces can be preppy or conservative, skin baring or demure, attractive yet shy, and can go day to night. He told me the influence behind his volcano print was Jules Vern's Around the World in Eighty Days.


Fine details and fabrics


3-D dress from the Carven 2011 Spring trunk show

Fun detail – copper and beads peek out of a T-shirt pocket

He was excited to show me the volume in a full skirted front and smooth short in the back, and explained that the heritage of couture is 3-dimensional. "A lot of work goes into each piece but the end result should look simple."
Guillaume's background is quite impressive. He is a graduate of the Beaux Arts in Paris, the Duperre School and the Institut Français de la Mode (IFM), in 2002 joined the house of Givenchy as a senior stylist and first assistant to Riccardo Tisci. In 2005 he moved to the French ready-to-wear brand Paule Ka.

"When I worked for Givenchy, I was very much into image and trends, then I was at at Paule Ka for three years and it showed me more about what the client wants. What I want to show now is something in the middle," said Guillaume.

I would have to say that he got it just right!

— Carol Calacci

Carven at Barneys New York 

Barneys New York Chicago Flagship 15 Oak Street, Chicago (312) 587-1700

Photos: Second City Style


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