Guillaume Henry and his Carven is that rare thing of affordable luxury. Not many brands are able to straddle the gap between aspirational beauty and garments that not only have a place in everyday life but are within financial reach for most people. That's not to say Carven lacks in thought-through aesthetic, great fabrics and a desire to push sartorial boundaries. Or, for that matter, an ability to raise the catwalk game. As his Pitti show proved, Henry wants us to stay constantly curious. Staged in a Florentine Velodrome with everyone sat at dinner tables enjoying tomatoes and mozzarella, a race around the track ensued featuring models (some walking, others cycling), running waiters and an army marching band. Peculiar, indeed.
The clothes, though, weren't odd. A colourful mixture of red, yellow and blue, the collection slowly made its way around the course. 'Classics with a Twist' is an over used cliche but Henry's Carven is all about reinterpreting trench and pea coats, for example, in exciting colours and fabrics. The fact that many models wore skimpy shorts teamed with tops and coats testified to a quirky and unconventional attitude towards traditional menswear. OTT check combos offered a pleasant catwalk tweak but felt completely on brand, furthering Henry's S/S13 vision.
Dazed Digital: How did we end up in this amazing Velodrome? Guillaume Henry: Because when we think of Florence we always think about the beautiful palaces and museums - but for me, Carven is a democratic brand and I wanted to show somewhere that sounded democratic. A place that everyone knows but doesn't care about, like a tube station or a parking lot. And there's an old-fashioned feeling to a Velodrome because of the Tour de France and so on.
DD: Old fashioned you say but is that how you see the brand as well...? Guillaume Henry: I do believe Carven is a modern brand but I'm always looking to the past. Maybe because Carven started in the 40s but she became really famous in the 50s and 60s and I'm very inspired by that time.
DD: How would you describe the brand? Guillaume Henry: The clothes are like what people used to wear in Paris on Sundays in the 50s.
DD: And this collection in particular... Guillaume Henry: This wasn't a catwalk show, it was more about a Carven moment. What I wanted to express was to just be yourself, don't force it. Because it's so hot here in Florence , we edited out a lot of clothes. The models were sweating so we took off a few layers. I wanted it to be fresh, a bit like John John Kennedy in the 80s.
DD: Was there a particular piece that defined the collection? Guillaume Henry: I'm really into structured pieces, I showed a lot of coats and jackets. There's a padded orange rain coat that I love!