Lines We Love: Carven

– By Sarah Solomon –

There are numerous parallels between the characteristics of renowned fashion house Carven and that of film noir. The films speak to the timeless and sophisticated image of who the Carven girl would be, and iconic scenes from the genre reiterate it. Silhouettes of beautiful women cast against a dark Parisian night. Innuendos saturated in meaning that reverberate through the ages. Sophisticated and elegant mannerisms that doesn’t crassly announce its arrival, but states it calmly and ever so cooly. By 1945 film noir was beginning to hit its stride, just as Carven made its grand debut on the Champs Des Elysees.

Carven was built on the foundations of simple, slender style that complimented and lengthened the forms of shorter women. With her signature green and white stripes and an eye for proportions and ornamentation, it’s no surprise that Carven creator Carmen de Tommasso studied architecture before heeding the call of fashion design.

At a towering 5’1”, Carmen was the first of her time to cater to those fortunate enough to wear heels without pissing off their date. She was also the first French designer to dress actresses for movie premiers, and with her charm and enviable lifestyle she quickly became a Parisian PR goliath. An avid traveler, Carmen was the Angelina Jolie of her day, adopting print and design concepts from far off lands. This thirst for new and exciting collectibles was the catalyst that kept the brand on the cutting edge of fashion. To quote Carmen, “‘I must be surrounded by beauty.” And that she did, decorating her salon and garments with everything from Moroccan cuffs, to straw flower embroidery on her cocktail dresses.

Fast forward a little more than half a century later, and Carven is back with a vengeance — in its own signature graceful manner of course. In the capable hands of Guillaume Henry (ex-Givenchy and Paul Ka) the brand has maintained its femininity and glamour, but has been updated with chic modern touches.

The Carven Spring 2011 line is no exception to that, and truly an exploration in the musings of femininity. Pleated mini skirts, leather shorts, and clean silhouettes punctuated by brazen lace cut-outs graced the runway. There was something for everyone between the bold colorblocking and crazy prints, and the clutches and shoes to kill for didn’t hurt as well. The contemporary school girl ensembles would look just as fetching strutting down the Riviera as it would waltzing down the streets of SoHo — and to those lucky few that will be doing both this coming spring, I seriously envy you.

Sarah Solomon is a freelance writer and G&T enthusiast living in NYC. You can follow her fashion and lifestyle blog at or on twitter @sarahsolfails. 

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