NEW YORK — “It’s like a mini Paris,” observed Guillaume Henry, Carven’s creative director, of his label’s new neighborhood. Carven’s first U.S. store opens soon — at press time a construction snafu had delayed today’s soft opening — at 83 Mercer Street here, joining fellow French brands A.P.C., Iro, Isabel Marant, Jerome Dreyfuss and Balenciaga (opening Nov. 22) in what’s becoming a very Gallic stretch of SoHo.
“It’s a fashion dynamic — contemporary but also very creative,” said Henry of the area, where Carven moved into the space formerly occupied by Curve before it relocated to Bond Street. Incidentally, Nevena Borissova, Curve’s owner, carries Carven and asked Henry and the label’s chief executive officer, Henri Sebaoun, if they would be interested in taking over the lease on Mercer. They reworked the 1,636-square-foot space with architect Eric Chevallier, implementing the mosaic flooring, oak, marble and furnishings designed by Domeau & Peres to be consistent with Carven’s 15 other stand-alone boutiques. There are a few decorative touches specific to New York, such as a ceiling light installation, a pêle-mêle mosaic wall and red plywood floor, which “French people consider a very American material,” said Henry. RELATED STORY: Carven RTW Spring 2014 >>
The New York store, which carries the men’s and women’s collections, is the latest in a spate of retail activity for Carven, which opened boutiques in Shanghai and London in the last month and has plans for 20 more stores in the U.S. in the next five years. Additionally, Carven signed a long-term contract with Club 21 U.K. to increase its retail presence there, with a similar deal with the distribution company Bluebell Group in Asia. Sebaoun is also seeking outside investment to propel the label’s growth, though nothing is definite yet.
Sebaoun and Henry relaunched Carven, the Parisian label founded by Madame Carven in 1945, in 2009 and were met with instant success. Market sources estimate Carven’s revenues at 30 million euros, or $40.2 million at current exchange. Establishing its own stores is a big part of the growth strategy. “If you work only with a department store, and the buyer only buys a few pieces in the collection, it’s difficult to explain the philosophy,” said Sedaoun. “When you have your own boutique, you can really present ideas in a visual way.”
In typical retail renovation fashion, Carven’s SoHo vision was still a work in progress as of Tuesday, when Henry and Sebaoun arrived from Paris. While the store’s Parisian attitude was being installed, they took to a well-established French restaurant, La Luncheonette, for a dinner to pre-celebrate the opening. Editors and party people, such as Atlanta de Cadenet, Leandra Medine, Harley Viera Newton, Tennessee Thomas and Ciara, who arrived wearing a big blue coat from Carven’s fall collection, were serenaded by an accordion player. “It actually works out because it’s so darn cold. I feel very insulated,” said Ciara of her weather-appropriate outerwear.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast