PARIS — Fashion’s revolving door has pivoted again, with Carven’s Serge Ruffieux confirming his departure from the label via an Instagram post on Monday.
“I have cherished these past 18 months at Carven, a big thank you to my team, the creatives, the studio and the ateliers. I wish the house all the best,” the designer said. He had been in the creative driving seat of the brand for three seasons. The post was accompanied by a black-and-white image of a woman’s face with a shadow of a chain marking her cheek, like a tear.
The house in a brief statement thanked the designer for his creative input and collaboration.
As reported, Ruffieux’s contract was not part of a 4.2 million-euro deal presented by Carven’s new Chinese owner, Icicle, and approved by a Paris commercial court in mid-October, following a tumultuous bankruptcy chapter for the historic French house.
The deal with Icicle, which includes Carven’s wholesale business — that generates 80 percent of total sales — along with its five stores and e-commerce activity, covered job contracts for 72 out of 73 employees — all but Ruffieux.
Icicle at the time released a statement saying that, while it recognizes Ruffieux’s great talent, “we need time to evaluate the situation and make decisions that are the most appropriate to accompany the relaunching of Carven, notably for what concerns creative direction and style.”
Employee numbers had been whittled down from 103 in the spring, when bankruptcy proceedings were triggered.
Icicle said it plans to expand the French label in China and open 33 stores in the country over the next three years, and inject around 8 million euros of investment into the house.
Carven was founded in 1945 by Madame Marie-Louise Carven, born Carmen de Tommaso, a peer of Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain. The famously petite couturier was known for traveling the world with her collections and bringing back a trove of exotic influences.
The house had undergone a renaissance in 2008 under the direction of its then new owner Henri Sebaoun and former artistic director Guillaume Henry, who positioned Carven 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.
Ruffieux took the creative helm in 2017. The designer hailed from Sonia Rykiel and Christian Dior, where he briefly served as co-artistic director with Lucie Meier. Drawing on the 250-piece-strong archive owned by Paris’ Galliera fashion museum for inspiration, Ruffieux offered fresh cuts with a mix of bohemian and bourgeois references in his first collections for the house.
But the planned revival was cut short as Carven and its parent company, Société Béranger, filed for bankruptcy in spring. The house, which had already been struggling financially, was hit with production delays and had to cancel orders, costing it several million euros. The company counted eight shareholders, including Bluebell, Turenne Capital and Sebaoun.