What is Carven? Exactly! Although a totally known brand in the Paris pantheon, Carven is famous more for its founder and its fragrances than its codes. In its more recent iterations, Guillaume Henry successfully rebooted it as a mid-price label with a high-fashion provenance that offered great statement sweatshirts and other good stuff. Then it went off the boil. Today the task of turning up Carven’s heat again fell to Serge Ruffieux—an alum of Sonia Rykiel who had an eight-year stint at Dior that included the fall of Galliano, the (massively underrated) Gaytten interregnum, that flash of Raf, and then, pre-Chiuri, a brief stint designing with Lucie Meier (now at Jil). The fact that Carven’s name is bigger than its identity seems a huge opportunity for a designer taking on his first above-the-line-stewardship of a house—and today Ruffieux pretty convincingly grasped it. It’s unusual to start at the bottom, and no aspersion is being cast on the often-good clothes above, but the shoes at this first Ruffieux runway show were outstanding. Mashed-up, slashed-up, Gommino-style loafers—sometimes slingback, sometimes fully upper-ed—they featured fringing and faux-Naïf painting that hinted at the northern, Nordic, folk-primitive origin of the Weejun. If the photographers outside aren’t getting slipped discs from capturing these come February, there’s no justice. The looks that topped them were as inventive, but more diverse. Ruffieux often favored a triple-tier silhouette—cropped top over mid-length over full. That cropped top tended to be an easy to grasp but twisted bourgeois signifier; a Barbour (but not), or a shooting jacket with gun flap. Below these flowed inhalations and exhalations of volume, with punctuation marks of cinch and release traced in cockerel print or faux-Naïf (again) stitching or mixed silk print. The apparent haphazardness of embellishments on cute, gently kicked pants gave them a satisfyingly hand-hewn analogue vibe. Print dresses with drawstring gathers in climbing ropes were interestingly off-kilter. Neither a catastrophe nor a collection to applaud to the skies, Ruffieux’s debut-proper nonetheless showed flashes of blue to come for this recently mixed-weather house. After years of dancing deftly around the codes of others, Ruffieux has the rare opportunity to establish some of his own on a page that feels blank, an expanse of potential. We urge you Serge: Do it.