Carven Paris Fashion Week 2014

Putting on a runway show is like having a wedding: months of intense work, over in a matter of minutes (not to mention a similar fuss over seating charts). So no wonder Guillaume Henry needed a moment to breathe before greeting well-wishers after his lovely show for Carventoday.

“It’s emotional,” the designer said, regaining composure. He was referring mostly to the fact that it all seems so rushed, this crammed schedule from one season to the next. (His pre-fall presentation was about six weeks ago.) But Henry also should have been proud of what he produced: A charming display that felt to be his most grown-up yet without abandoning that signature Carven playfulness.

It was all about ’40s dresses and dadaism. Thick wool skirts that fell below the calf and worn with shrunken jackets belted at the waist mixed with strong-shouldered cady dresses splashed with black and white surrealist images by Erwin Blumenfeld and Man Ray. The most evident shift toward attitude was apparent in lengths that were significantly longer than Henry is known for. As he described the silhouette: “I wanted the girls to look like an exclamation point.” And where once a dress may have had a cutout—along the décolletage or at the sides of the waist—there were crystal embellishments. When they were positioned above a pocket, Henry said, it was meant to feel as if the wearer ever so casually had dropped her diamond bracelet inside.

Girls star Zosia Mamet came backstage to congratulate her friend, looking great in a plaid bomber and skirt from pre-fall. “See you tonight,” Mamet said expectantly. “Yes,” Henry replied with a smile. “Let’s party.”