Petite Haute Couture Fashion House Carven Gets a Modern Makeover

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Vogue – May 2011 – Page 162

 

The fashion world loves to revive it’s old, nearly forgotten fashion houses from the dead, and the newest one to attract the attention of fashion bible, Vogue, has an interesting history. It began as a PETITE haute couture fashion house in Paris! Yes…PETITE!

Fashion houses in the 1940’s and 1950’s catered mostly to older women (oh, how the tides have turned). Madame Carven, at the ripe age of 25, was frustrated with the lack of clothing offered for young women, and started the House of Carven. What makes all this even more fascinating is at 5’1″, Madame Carven not only set out to make clothes for young women…she set out to make clothes for petite young women.

I felt that I was small, and the contemporary taste for tall mannequins combined with my own admiration for Hollywood stars ended up giving me a complex. At the age of 25 I was a coquette. France was learning to dance again after the war and I wanted to be slinky. This desire to be attractive inspired a few reflections. First I noticed that I wasn’t the only petite woman I knew, and that the grand couturiers weren’t very interested in us. But I had a feeling for proportion and volume. All that remained for me to do was to create, with the help of friends who were scarcely taller than I was, dresses that would allow us to be ourselves. I’d found an opening where there was no competition and a moment when Paris was overflowing with happiness.

 

Madame Carven designed for her fashion house until 1993, at the age of 84. Her label fell into obscurity, and now, not many women are have heard of the once famous brand.

A new designer has been tapped to revive the brand in recent years, and Carven is starting to make headlines again. The youthful spirit of the original designs are being refreshed for a new generation, but unfortunately, no mention of reviving petite sizes.

 

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Vogue – May 2011 – Page 164

 

I would be thrilled if a high-end fashion house started producing petite sizes, and I like to think I would even splurge and buy an item or two. At this point in my life, I certainly can’t afford a high-end designer wardrobe, but I would love the option to buy a few special pieces in petite proportions that would hopefully not need invasive alterations.

A girl can dream…

 

Is there a retail market for high-end designer petite sizes? Would you splurge on high-end designer items if they came in petites?

 

More reading on Madame Carven:
Carven – Fashion Encyclopedia
Madame Carven: A Very Parisian Designer – Suite 101
Madame Carven, petite women’s designer, turns 100 – AFP
Carven – Answers 101

{Click the images for a larger, easier to read scan}

17 Comments

  • Reply May 2, 2011

    Really Petite

    I def would if i loved the item enough and it was somewhat reasonable:)

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)

    Wow that is so interesting! See designers, it's definitely worth it and possible!

    Sadly, no I still would not splurge on a designer item even if it were made for petites. Again, too much guilt!

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    k

    Not only would I be thrilled if they revived the petite line, I would be ecstatic if they would bring back Ma Griffe in the original formula. It was my godmother's signature perfume and smelled amazing. I remember when the formula changed and she first had to go to Canada to buy up the last bottles of that glorious scent and then had to go to France and finally had to find a new perfume. It was one of the tragedies of my young life when she started to smell different.

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    Tamara

    So glad you shared this story. I love to learn about people who see a need and turn it into a successful business – and as a fellow petite Mme Carven is especially inspirational.
    Would I splurge on designer petite clothing? Maybe… I tend to not even go in the high end stores because (a) The clothes are expensive and (b) They do not fit. But if I knew they'd fit – yeah, I'd be really, really tempted.

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    CynthiaC

    I would love to see a real, couture petite line as well. And yes, I'd definitely splurge. One thing I'd love to know, however is what those so-called "fashionistas" would think about this!

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    fashionforteens

    I think there absolutely is a retail market for high end petite sizes! I can't afford high end clothing either but maybe in the future it would be nice to splurge on a few pieces. There are tons of petites out there and we should be able to have a variety of options at every price point.

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    Anonymous

    No! Not me! I am frugal. Girl like me who frequent outlet malls and bargain sales isn't accustom or ready to spurge on high fashions yet. I tend not to shop or even browse at high end store either, knowing their merchandises are beyond my reach.
    Haute-Couture is exclusive custom-fitted clothing and it is made to order for a specific customer. If I have the moolah, I may have everything size to fit my shape which includes my driver seat. At the current time, I am very contented with what I have in my closet and the cushion inside my car for height.

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    Anonymous

    For sure! I have money to spend on clothes and I would love love love love love if designers made things for me. I'm super small so I can't buy any of the stuff, but I have money to burn, come on! Make petite sizes fashion world!

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    Anonymous

    Yes I would!!! A few sprinkles of haute couture here and there wouldn't hurt.

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Really Petite – Unfortunately, high-end designer fashions are seldom reasonable, but isn't that part of their luster? Owning something beautiful, well crafted, and exclusive is part of the fun. ;)

    @Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews) – There's absolutely nothing wrong with splurging on yourself a little bit. :)

    @k – Oh…someone familiar with the brand! Fantastic! This Ma Griffe you speak of sounds amazing, and I'm sad it's been discontinued. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it gets a revival of it's own!

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Tamara – Just image how exciting sales at high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus would be if there were beautiful petite items sitting on the sale racks! That's what I'm imagining. Hehe.

    @CynthiaC – Alright! Another splurger! ;)

    @fashionforteens – Yeah, that's my thinking as well. Even if I can't afford it *yet*, I'd love to be able to actually purchase the stuff when I *do* have the funds.

  • Reply May 3, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Anonymous – Nothing wrong with being frugal. ;)

    @Anonymous – I'm so glad you commented! I've wondered where the petite ladies with money to spend are shopping…and it seems, much to my dismay, not in beautiful designer stores. I fear this may be my future, as I have a taste for the little fashion splurges in life, and I was hoping to have it figured out by the time I truly had the money to spend. Come on designers!! Make petites!!

    @Anonymous – Sing it sister! A little haute couture never hurt anyone. ;)

  • Reply May 4, 2011

    Amanda

    This is a really interesting article. I was interested in a Carven coat last year without really knowing its history. I wonder if the sizing might run a little smaller than other designers though. They really do have some lovely items.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Amanda

    This is a really interesting article. I was interested in a Carven coat last year without really knowing its history. I wonder if the sizing might run a little smaller than other designers though. They really do have some lovely items.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Really Petite – Unfortunately, high-end designer fashions are seldom reasonable, but isn't that part of their luster? Owning something beautiful, well crafted, and exclusive is part of the fun. ;)

    @Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews) – There's absolutely nothing wrong with splurging on yourself a little bit. :)

    @k – Oh…someone familiar with the brand! Fantastic! This Ma Griffe you speak of sounds amazing, and I'm sad it's been discontinued. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it gets a revival of it's own!

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    fashionforteens

    I think there absolutely is a retail market for high end petite sizes! I can't afford high end clothing either but maybe in the future it would be nice to splurge on a few pieces. There are tons of petites out there and we should be able to have a variety of options at every price point.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)

    Wow that is so interesting! See designers, it's definitely worth it and possible!

    Sadly, no I still would not splurge on a designer item even if it were made for petites. Again, too much guilt!

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