On Monday morning, Marie-Louise Grog-Carven—known as Madame Carven, the founder of the French fashion house—passed away at the age of 105. The legendary fashion designer left behind a powerful legacy. After graduating from the Beaux Arts, she founded Carven in 1945 with a goal to dress women her own size (5’1’’), since she was “too short to wear the creations of top couturiers.” Carven went on to dress a wide range of stylish women of all heights, including Edith Piaf, Leslie Caron, and Anne-Aymone Giscard d’Estaing, who would become France’s First Lady. She was also one of the first designers to take her shows abroad to places like Egypt, Thailand, Morocco, Cuba, Brazil, Singapore and Mexico, and expanded her brand to include accessories, fragrance, and lingerie. A patron of the arts (many pieces from her collection were donated to the Louvre), Carven was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as well as a Commander of the Legion of Honor at the end of her life. Today, Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud, co-creative directors of the brand, are currently working on their first collection together. The design duo has some very petite, accomplished shoes to fill.
Here, a look back at Madame Carven’s life and legacy.