EXCLUSIVE: Carven Hires Louise Trotter as New Creative Director
British designer Louise Trotter, who recently wrapped a four-year stint as creative director at Lacoste, will take on the same role at Carven, WWD has learned.
She is to show her first collection on the runway during Paris Fashion Week in September.
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Carven has been absent from the runways and without a marquee designer for several years.
“I feel honored to write a new chapter for Carven: a youthful French house that to me embodies a spirit of freedom, joy and a confident femininity,” Trotter said in a statement shared first with WWD. “I look forward to respecting Madame Carven’s legacy by making clothes with a new simplicity that are both purposeful and beautiful, whilst being kind to people and our environment.”
The doyenne of a generation that included Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain, Marie-Louise Carven-Grog, born Carmen de Tommaso, launched her house in 1945 with the aim of dressing women of similarly small stature — making her one of the rare female couturiers in Paris after Elsa Schiaparelli and Gabrielle Chanel.
The designer traveled the world with her collections and brought back a trove of exotic influences. She died in 2015 at age 105.
Shawna Tao, Carven’s chief executive officer, described Trotter as the “perfect candidate to revive the house.”
“She is a talented designer who has the conviction and know-how to create meaningful clothes with a unique understanding of what luxury and sportswear mean today,” she said. “I believe that her values and openness can lead this 70-year-old fashion house to an exciting new place.”
Carven’s parent company, Icicle Shanghai Fashion Group Co. Ltd., purchased the French label in 2018.
In 2021, the brand opened a flagship at 6 Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées in Paris, the address where founder Marie-Louise Carven established her fashion house.
Trotter studied fashion design at Newcastle University, and worked at contemporary British label Whistles before moving Stateside to design for Calvin Klein, and later Gap and Tommy Hilfiger.
She returned to London for a stint at Jigsaw and then served as creative director of Joseph from 2009 and 2018, a period of product diversification and international expansion for the brand.
At Lacoste, Trotter “explored innovative methods of upcycling,” Carven noted, given that the brand is committed to environmentally friendly fashions.
Madame Carven favored simple constructions and clean lines, exemplified by the green-and-white stripes that became the house signature. She also employed modest textiles, including cotton gingham and broderie anglaise, describing her style as “sober, practical and young, with a lot of sports garments.”
By introducing comfort and freedom into the rarefied world of haute couture, her creations captured the insouciance of the post-World War II era in Paris, garnering a following among stars such as Leslie Caron, Édith Piaf and Michèle Morgan.
She designed ski outfits and bathing suits and was among the first to produce ready-to-wear, as part of an initiative launched in 1950 that brought together manufacturers with a group of couturiers that included Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, Jean Dessès and Jeanne Paquin.
Following its acquisition in 2008 by Société Béranger, the Carven brand underwent a renaissance under artistic director Guillaume Henry, who positioned it as a contemporary brand.
After Henry moved to Nina Ricci, Carven initially named Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud as artistic directors for the women’s collections, and Barnabé Hardy for men’s. Carven then sold a majority stake to Hong Kong-based Bluebell Group in 2016 and suspended the men’s line that year.
Designer Serge Ruffieux took the creative helm of Carven in 2017 for a three-season stint, which ended when Icicle bought the beleaguered brand out of bankruptcy.
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