Madame Carven dies aged 105

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Madame Carven, French couturier and the founder of the fashion house Carven, died in Paris today at the age of 105. Emerging amongst designers such as Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain, Carven revolutionised post-war fashion with garments designed to suit a petite frame.

Born Carmen de Tommaso in 1909, the Carven name was a fusion of the designer’s first name with the surname of her aunt, Josy Boyriven. Boyriven introduced Carven to couture, taking her on visits to Parisian fashion houses.

Carven’s popularity rose designing dresses for actresses Martine Carol, Leslie Caron and Michele Morgan, and the singer Édith Piaf. She also designed the wedding dress for Anne-Aymone Giscard d’Estaing, wife of the 20th President of the French Republic.

Heavily inspired by different cultures, Carven transformed Parisian couture with her designs, including African tunics, Indonesian batik prints, and raffia and cotton embroidered with oriental motifs. She was also among the first French designers to show her collections in exotic locations, such as Brazil, Singapore, Mexico, Thailand and Morocco.

In 1973, Carven and her husband René Grog donated their collection of eighteenth-century French artefacts to the Louvre, greatly contributing to the culture within the city of Paris.

Carven eventually retired in 1993, and two years later was recognised by France’s Culture Minister as a Knight of the Legion of Honour. In 2009, she was awarded France’s highest civilian honour, Commander of the Legion of Honour for her revolutionary contributions to the fashion industry.

The Carven house is now under the leadership of former Givenchy designers Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud, who show fresh, modern designs, whilst remaining true to its founder’s refined aesthetic.

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Written by Katherine Beckwith

Katherine is a History of Art student with a keen interest in the history of fashion. Having a previous artistic education, Katherine also has a watchful eye for the emerging trends in modern fashion.

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