From its revival in 2009 until 2018, Carven had been overseen by a series of male creative directors—each bringing a charismatic vision to a Paris fashion house that was founded and designed by a woman, Marie Louise Carven (born Carmen de Tommaso) in 1945. Today, Louise Trotter made her runway debut, the first woman to lead in Carven’s contemporary era.

Just a dozen or so looks into the show, she had not only accomplished a total reset, it was clear she’s also discovered how to make Carven stand out. It goes something like this: Dressed up yet pared back, a Parisian woman from the ’50s exposed to ’90s minimalism. “I wanted to take the approach of less is more, really focus on what I wanted to say, and to create the silhouette and the woman,” Trotter said after the show, her two young daughters milling about nearby.

This silhouette was essentially a riff on the hourglass, constructed to focus on the waist and hips. Many of the looks revealed a little something—whether the legs from within mid-length filmy skirts or the back from bustiers that attached from behind with a single fixture. While there were several transitional coats, there were very few pants. A sculpted top by day could be an insouciant dress by night. There were often contrasts of light and dark or else pale, tone-on-tone shades. Woven or beaded shoes in blocky flat shapes alternated with less eccentric squared-off mules and softer slippers. Bags were surprisingly expressive—large and slouchy in an array of colors with crafted and jeweled accents.

Rather than send out myriad ideas to determine which would stick, Trotter showed confidence by committing to this template. And if it didn’t leave a lot of room for different body types—or those desiring a Carven pant—it took no stretch of the imagination to picture actual women in these looks come spring.

Before joining Carven, Trotter was creative director at Lacoste, and prior to that, she spent nine years at Joseph. Wherever she goes, she evidently immerses herself in the language and sensibility; but already, she seems in her element here, working by creative instinct and commercial imperative simultaneously. “For sure we want to build, and we want to be a strong and big house; we don’t want to be niche. But we will take our time; we’ll do it carefully,” she said. “I want to bring my woman to the house, and I think that’s really where I am right now.” With this collection, she opened the door to welcome us back.


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