Serge Ruffieux didn’t need to spell out the arte povera aspect of the Carven Pre-Fall collection. The sturdy tailored coat with exposed threads vaguely referencing Joseph Beuys; hand-stitched Xs marking various spots on knits; skirts bordered in assorted ribbons; pattern mixing and various tactile surfaces: All these details resulted in clothes that felt directly made – like a thoughtful, well-executed take on homespun.
With his third undertaking at Carven, Ruffieux’s repertoire is emerging. Unlike creative directors at other houses who must inevitably contend with archives, this alum of Dior and Sonia Rykiel has considerable freedom to define an identity without the pressure of historical comparison; few among us could paint a clear picture of Carven circa 1950. As it happens, between the globally-inspired flourishes embedded in the footwear, and the deconstructed, whimsically reassembled outerwear, reducing his direction to a few buzzwords isn’t so easy either. Even Ruffieux himself seems to grasp for an exact articulation. But the coexistence of folkloric, quasi-Outsider Art motifs populating a print, and a delicate graphic devoré velvet make for a lively randomness that jibes with Mme Carven’s interest in travel and textiles. Meanwhile, ample jeans in a Japanese cotton-wool that reveal a ticker tape logo on their upturned cuffs are every bit a product of the present.
Other non-branded pieces—notably, the double-sided bags accented with removable charms or climbing cord—will almost surely pique people’s curiosity. As such, Ruffieux’s noticeable efforts will be more and more recognized as Carven. It’s always a good sign when clothes are conversation starters.