Carven's relaunch begins with new Parisian flagship
Nearly three years after buying Carven, Icicle is unveiling its strategy for the Parisian label. After growing Carven’s presence in China, the Shanghai-based fashion group is working on the label’s European rebirth, starting from Paris. Carven has in fact recently opened a 180 m2 flagship store at 6 rond-point des Champs-Elysées, the same historic address where founder Marie-Louise Carven set up her fashion house in 1945.
The building, adjacent to the headquarters of Interparfums, is located in the lower section of the avenue des Champs-Elysées, a stone's throw from avenue Montaigne, and Icicle has also chosen it as its new home.
The group, originally called Icicle Shanghai Fashion Group, was renamed Icicle Carven China France Group (ICCF) in June, to further emphasise its twin oriental and western identity. But also, to highlight the complementarity between Carven, a Parisian label with a bright, youthful mood, and timeless, eco-sustainable luxury label Icicle, launched in 1997 by Shouzeng Ye and his wife Shawna Tao, the founders of ICCF Group.
This is the second Carven store in Paris, alongside the one on rue de Grenelle, opened in 2012, which the label’s new owners also acquired as part of the deal. The new store’s interior design has been commissioned to Belgian architect Bernard Dubois, a rising star who recently made a name for himself designing the new Courrèges flagship and the Icicle flagship, located at 35 avenue George V.
For the Carven store, Dubois drew inspiration from multiple periods. The 1920s and 30s are reflected in the graphic style typical of the modernist architecture of Robert Mallet-Stevens, who designed the famous Villa Noailles in Hyères, and was also Marie-Louise Carven’s brother-in-law. The furniture evokes brutalist Brazilian furniture of the mid-20thcentury, while terracotta-coloured travertine marble lends the interiors a 1960s vibe. The colour palette features also the famous Carven green.
“Marie-Louise Carven designed clothes for dynamic, active women. There was simplicity, freshness and lightness in her creations. Our intention is to make this spirit come alive again within the store,” said Dubois in a press release. “The unique concept of our flagship on the Champs Elysées roundabout will serve as a model for future stores,” said Shawna Tao, co-founder of ICCF Group and owner and CEO of Carven.
The strategy is to distribute the label only through its e-shop and monobrand stores. “Carven has great potential. We want to preserve the spirit of the house at all costs, and move forward in a sustainable way,” the group told FashionNetwork.com. For ICCF, “this opening is part of [Carven's] redeployment strategy.”
ICCF initially expanded Carven’s presence in China, tapping the local market’s huge appetite for French brands. It now operates six stores in the country, notably in Shenzhen, Chengdu, Beijing and Shanghai, whose current success is bankrolling the label’s international re-launch.
In July, Carven unveiled a new website, freshening up its rather staid image by introducing a more dynamic, modern site and e-shop, both entirely redesigned. The label also boosted its social media presence, particularly on Instagram, with very neat, cool branding, while in China Carven is present on WeChat and RED. Finally, Carven is back in the limelight this season with an advertising campaign deployed online as well as through magazines and posters, kicking off on September 8.
For the rest, the label is keeping a low profile. No brand ambassadors or influencers. No more catwalk shows either - the last was held in March 2018. Carven’s women's ready-to-wear collection has been presented outside the official Paris show calendar, mainly via a lookbook and videos. “Our philosophy is to aim for a slow, sustained and balanced growth,” said Tao.
For the opening of the Champs-Elysées flagship, Carven is making exclusively available in-store (and on its e-shop) its brand new perfume Amour, developed by French cosmetics group Bogart, owner of Carven Perfumes, which recently launched the new C’est Paris fragrances for women and men.
The Champs-Elysées flagship is home to Carven’s women's ready-to-wear line, positioned in the affordable luxury segment, with trousers priced at €390, dresses and sweaters at €490, and coats ranging from €1,150 to €1,500. The store also sells accessories, such as handbags, shoes, belts etc., as well as Carven eyewear for men and women, produced under license by Lyon-based company Seaport ODLM. Also on sale at the store, the book entitled ‘Carven, un demi-siècle d’élégance’ by Dominique Paulvé, published by Gründ, re-issued for the occasion.
When ICCF bought Carven, it kept the couture workshop and the in-house creative studio which currently designs the collections, striving to reinterpret the label's classic codes while breathing fresh contemporary zest into them. For the time being, the group is busy consolidating its organisation, before thinking about hiring a new creative director. ICCF is cagey about this aspect, and about Carven's results. FashionNetwork.com has recently learned that the label has 46 employees in Paris.
ICCF Group as a whole generated a revenue of €217 million in 2020, managing to post a 12% growth over 2019 despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The group’s Icicle label operates 270 stores in 98 cities in China and a design centre in Paris, active since 2013, as well as a flagship on avenue Georges V, soon to be joined by another Parisian store at 50 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
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