Yesterday the legendary Madame Marie Louise Carven dies at 105. The french couturier who became known for opening a couture house aimed toward dressing women with a small stature, awarding herself the title of being of rare, most influential female couturiers after Elsa Schiaparelli and Gabrielle Chanel.

“I decided to make haute couture outfits in my size because I was too short to wear the creations of the top couturiers; I wanted to retain my style – sober, practical, and young with a lot of sport garments” Carven once stated in 1950.


Carven at 5 foot 1 belongs to the most influential generations in haute couture which also includes, but is not limited to Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain. Her approach, however, was different as she incorporated comfort and freedom in the world of haute couture which, at the time, was commonly associated with glamour and femininity. Carven often looked at many different cultures for inspiration. She set off on trips around the world which heavily influenced her collection. Her journeys to Egypt, Thailand, Morocco, Cuba, Brazil, Singapore, and Mexico fueled her to creating many pieces with Batik patterns, raffia embroiderers, Aztec motifs, and African Patterns. Along with being one of the couturiers to take influence from other cultures, she was also among the first to design ready to wear. Carven also designed costumes for films such as “Les Diaboliques” and Alfred Hitchcock’s, “Rear Window” and “Vertigo”.


A few awards in Carven’s lifetime include being named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et de Lettres in 1978 and was made Commander of the Legion of Honor, in 2009, which is France’s highest distinctions for civilians. She also co-created and funded the non-profit organization Association Gorg-Carven which awards grants to student pursing decorative arts.

From Haute Couture to sportswear and even bridal, Carven dominated each category while remaining true to herself and her vision: ” Designers [today] unfortunately think about making their mark on their design. I didn’t think of my designs like that. I thought about the young women and models I dressed and how to show off their beauty to the maximum.” Today Carven leaves us, but her legacy will live on.


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