Having sold the collection to 10 Corso Como, Louis Boston, and Outfit at the Wynn, Lourenço is now turning his puppyish enthusiasm to real business. He has been bonding with clients at trunk shows and getting a kick out of learning how to price (dresses range from about $700 to $9,000). “Marketing, full-on production, things that I was not used to before, I’m finding really fun,” he says. Ironically, as the emerging designer takes on more adult responsibilities, his mother says he’s rediscovering his youth, going out to the movies and clubs with friends in São Paulo, where he is based half the year. Call it the curious case of Benjamin Buttonhole. —A.M.
It doesn’t take much for Guillaume Henry, the new creative director at recently resuscitated French brand Carven, to get an idea—usually, passing time at La Mascotte, a café in Montmartre, is enough. “I like watching the neighborhood people walk by,” he says. There’s Michou, the impresario behind Paris’s famous transvestite cabaret; the postman; an opera singer; and little old ladies. “I don’t need George Lucas to be inspired. If I see a woman dressed entirely in beige walking a Labrador, that’s it; I have a story.”
Founded by Carmen de Tommaso, who turned 100 last year, Carven became a source for petite and junior dressing in 1945, when Tommaso, who is five feet one, opened shop. One of the first couture houses to enter the ready-to-wear market, Carven eventually designed uniforms for Air France flight attendants in the Seventies. When Tommaso retired in 1993, Carven changed hands several times, until a private investment group acquired it in 2008. Soon after, Henry’s debut, for spring 2010, was deemed a critical success; this fall the collection—which focuses on sexy tailoring, little hourglass dresses in demoiselle Art Deco prints, and lots of Peter Pan collars—is available Stateside at Opening Ceremony and Barneys New York.
“Carven is light. There are not a lot of style codes,” says Henry, who got his start at Givenchy and Paule Ka, a lower-priced label. “It’s easy to make a complicated dress for 12,000 euros. What’s difficult is to do a great one for 300 euros.” At the moment, Henry is obsessed with Les Biches and La Femme Infidèle, two late-Sixties Claude Chabrol films starring Stéphane Audran, an actress who has a special place in his heart. “She is hyperfeminine and bourgeois, and she has a hidden perversity I love.” But Henry has also zeroed in on the more current look favored by young, cool Parisiennes who want something chic, unfussy, and, preferably, leg baring. “My assistant, Kety, keeps a pair of Louboutins under her desk,” he says. “When she goes out tonight she’ll be wearing the same Carven dress she wore all day, only with those shoes.” —Rebecca Voight