Carven's first menswear runway presentation on Wednesday brought back some uncomfortable memories of grammar school, when on cold days I was forced to wear a wool balaclava that covered my hair, ears, and neck—the ultimate protection against the harsh weather, according to my mom. Many of my schoolmates would tease me when I made my entrance in a get-up that only Steve Urkle would pull off. What a relief it is to know that in the light of Guillaume Henry's ski-inspired new collection, I can look back on those traumatic days and think of myself as incredibly fashion-forward.
Henry's ambition for Fall 2013 was to combine vintage skiing apparel with 1950s office wear. Most of the outfits featured suit pants cropped above the knee, a reference to the days when men would hit the slopes wearing traditionally short pants and high, woollen socks. It was an eyebrow-raising choice, but paired with colorful mohair sweaters and furry parkas, they created an adorable, boy-grown-too-fast effect in keeping with the exemplary schoolboy aesthetics of the past seasons.
Fashion faux-pas has become Henry's trademark. The son of a small-town mayor, the 33-year-old French designer embraces the clumsiness and innocence associated with the country to favor a more spontaneous approach to style. Three years at the creative helm of Carven have enabled him to grow and take ownership of his provincial upbringing: awkwardness becomes as a sign of individuality, and the Carven man rises into a fashionable anti-hero, achieving natural elegance against over-thought concepts.