FLORENCE--It's hard to know where to begin to describe the presentation Carven put on last night as Pitti Immagine Uomo's guest menswear designer because so. much. happened. But to start I'll say this: It's the most fun I've ever had at a fashion show. And I've been to a lot of them.
Here's why: Fashion should be fun but it often takes itself too seriously and doesn't eat enough. This was not the case at Guillaume Henry's fantastic presentation of his second ever menswear collection for Carven set at a soccer stadium in Florence last night--it was all about heaps of food and being over-the-top silly.
This is how the evening played out: Guests were seated at elegantly appointed tables and treated to a five course meal...in the middle of a soccer field. During the antipasti, we hesitantly munched on parmesan and cherries, looking around waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, shouts from one corner of the field signaled the start of a waiter race--an old Parisian tradition in which waiters literally raced with loaded trays as a way to improve their skills and entertain the masses at the same time. Only here, male models clad in Carven walked the course (or rode bikes) alongside racing waiters, making a lap around the field.
Here's what it looked like:
The Carven team cast around 400 actors for the event--there were the waiters, of course, but there were even actors cast to enthusiastically cheer on the waiters as they raced. An announcer furiously called out the race in Italian. And when the last waiter and male model crossed the finish line, the Bersaglieri, part of the Royal Italian Army trained to keep a quick pace (they don't march they jog--even if that seemed a chore for some of the older members), took to the field in traditional dress (hats with large plumes of black capercaillie feathers) playing songs on their brass instruments. Guests dashed up from their seats to take in the spectacle and I could barely keep from clapping my hands with excitement.
"It was the perfect picture of my dream," Carven designer Guillaume Henry told us following the show, when he graciously stopped by to say hello and share a glass of wine. "It was Dolce Vita meets La Nouvelle Vague."
During a press conference before the presentation, Henry acknowledged that there was a lack of equilibrium between Carven's women's and men's lines. Since the revival of the house in 2009, the attention has unquestionably been on the women's line. But now that the label has established a devoted fan base (and is expanding to NYC), enter Pitti Uomo to shed some light on the under-appreciated and newer men's collection.
While there was a lot to look at besides the clothes, the mood of the evening--silly, playful--reflected the collection's spirit. Henry described the Carven man as spontaneous, curious, and a bit "maladresse"--clumsy. He's not someone who takes four hours getting dressed, he said. As a whole, styled all together, the clothes could come off, as one fellow journalist said, a bit "garcon," a bit precious. But before the night's end I heard countless men's fashion editors rattling off the pieces that they wanted. I think it's time for the boys to start obsessing over Carven too.
Click through to see more of the presentation.
Photos: Pitti Immagine