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Valery Kaufman in Carven AW14 photographed by Theo Sion
All clothes and accessories by Carven AW14Photography Theo Sion, styling Lizy Curtis

Carven: from Lolita to Dada

Creative director Guillaume Henry traces the inspiration behind his AW14 collection, featuring Nabokov's heroine and the art movement's surreal playfulness

TextMarta RepresaPhotographyTheo SionStylingLizy Curtis

Taken from the Autumn/Winter 2014 issue of Dazed:

The Erwin Blumenfeld retrospective at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris sparked the inspiration for Carven's playful and archetypally Parisian AW14 collection. “I was thinking of Dada: ready-mades, collages, exquisite corpse games,” explains creative director Guillaume Henry. “Dada is like pre pop art; it’s humorous and absurd.” The upshot includes collage prints, 1940s-inspired proportions, cut-outs and pockets lined with lace and fur. “There’s something utterly decadent in hiding luxurious details away like that,” says Henry. At the legendary Café de Flore (famed hangout of Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir), the designer shared his inspirations.


“I find the most interesting women to be the equivocal ones. Kawaii girlishness is not attractive to me and neither is all-out femininity. I’m fascinated by the middle ground between aggressiveness and fragility, which is why I love Nabokov’s Lolita; she’s coy but she’s not a prude. I conveyed this feminine ideal in the show by pairing fetish-inspired leather thigh-high boots with silk bags that the models clutched like comfort blankets.”


Erwin Blumenfeld became best known during the 1940s for his work in Vogue. Remember the colour-saturated snapshots, the dirty-looking yellows, the powdery pinks? That’s where the collection’s palette came from. While designing, I started having this fantasy about my girl being a wartime heroine, a writer or an artist living in Paris during the occupation of France. She’s still very dignified and loves very beautiful things but she hides them away in her pockets.”


“Today, Carven dresses women for their everyday lives, from dawn till dusk. However, it was founded in 1945 as a couture house and I wouldn’t want to lose that heritage, which is why I enjoy mixing casual and sophisticated materials, proportions and cuts. I love putting together heavy velvets, furs and wools, making humble fabrics look luxurious and impoverishing more expensive ones. It’s a confrontation of different ideas – a little bit like a Dada collage, no?”

See Carven's Japanese art-inspired SS15 collection below:

Hair Martin Cullens at Streeters; Make-up Thomas de Kluyver at D+V Management; Model Valery Kaufman at Storm Models; Casting Noah Shelley; Special thanks to The Russian Club Studios