Labels positioned at the advanced contemporary level, as Carven is, have set their fashion bar high enough that the audience expects runway impact, yet they’re obligated to the youth-driven commercial swing of the contemporary market. It’s a tricky dance and for spring, Guillaume Henry seemed stretched between the runway and retail.
His combination of statement silhouettes and cutesy, trend-heeding effects diluted Carven’s typical sophisticated charm. The main culprits were Henry’s tendency to complicate with needless novelty and a series of fluorescent camouflage looks that felt dated in the wake of the recent camo and neon crazes. The camos came blown out on big coats with broad, drop-shouldered, crisscross cropped tops — one of his signatures — and full, A-line skirts that unbuttoned to reveal shorts underneath. Much better were the more toned-down versions of such looks, done in black or white with colorful accents. Toward the end of the show, Henry moved into an American prairie story with ginghams and mini florals on dresses with cutout shoulders, armbands and some curious curlicue embroidery at the waistlines. They had all the boxes checked on cute, young and fun but could have done with one or two fewer details.