Madame Carven founded her Maison de Couture in 1945 at the end of the war. Conscious of the realities of the era, she designed clothes that were refined yet carefree, inaugurating the era of ready-to-wear.
Her designs were immediately met with success. Her green-and-white striped cotton fabric which was launched with the “Ma Griffe” dress became a signature of the house.
Born in 1909, Marie-Louise Carven married Phillipe Mallet – the renowned architect Robert Mallet-Stevens’ brother who designed the Villa Noailles in Hyères, in 1938. Carven studied architecture at the Beaux Arts which remained a passion when she became a couturier and informed her patterns and constructions.
Her first creations were for herself. As she found no designs to her taste at the fashion houses of the time, she created her own. She gave pride of place to materials that were not commonly used at the time: pink gingham, broderie anglaise and Indian cottons.
Carven was spontaneous and inspired by youth. She developed practical designs, worlds apart from the conservative vision of couture in Paris. She favoured comfort over ornaments. The Carven style become popular both in the street and in the fashion magazines.
An enthusiastic traveller, she made several trips around the world over a period of five decades, to promote her designs. She exported the image of the modern Parisian woman to the US, Brazil, the Middle-East and Asia.
In 2002, the Palais Galliera, dedicated a major retrospective to Madame Carven, celebrating the mark she left on fashion. Affectionately nicknamed the “smallest of the big designers”, she retired after 50 years as a couturier. She passed away in 2015 at the age of 105.
In September 2021, the flagship Carven store opened at the 6 Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées in the very location where Madame Carven made her debut.