Behind the pandemonium and big names clogging up the radar, Fashion Weeks keep themselves ticking over year after year from the floods of smaller brands showcasing their work in the background with little appraisal in the mainstream press. Of course, every so often there is the breakthrough act - whether a new, fantastic piece of talent on the market or an old fashion house rising up from the ashes like a phoenix - but more often or not the smaller names on the list gain little critical acclaim.
That's not to say, however, that these labels should be overlooked. Many offer up some startlingly good collections that those with an eye for design can appreciate alongside the likes of big names such as Dior and Prada. From looking back at the Spring/Summer 2013 collections, a glistening gem of work friendly designs caught my eye.
Originally established in 1945 by Carmen de Tomasso, the Carven fashion house was envisioned to be a democratic purveyor of fashion, making luxury accessible to the free spirited women of the forties. Since 2010, the old house has been under the creative direction of Guillame Henry, who has drawn from his experiences working under Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy to add his own twist on the label's chic and refined designs.
It is this refined aesthetic that allows the work of Henry to lend itself so kindly to our working wardrobes. Looks in a varied palette of shades and patterns stomped down the catwalk in platform loafers, with many harkening back to the late 1940s and Dior's New Look silhouette. A Line skirts cascaded out from underneath neatly tailored blazers in a variety of styles, often featuring large pockets placed around the hips to accentuate the womanly cut of the outfits. Widely cut, ankle skimming trousers also took centre stage in a number of the looks, teamed with shortened knits in complimentary tones (although for an actual office environment, it may be advisable to choose a style that doesn't show your belly button).
Smaller details are often the ones that make us fashion folk go weak at the knees, and contrasting collars was definitely a theme on the Carven runway. Dark brown and navy points to contrasting against their lighter toned backgrounds in an interesting twist on the trend for bedazzled neck adornments.
Dresses and suits were not ruled out as places of experimentation, however. Sleeveless shifts made of artfully tattered leather, shirt dresses of multiple tones melded together and printed suits all marched down next to the more conservative looks on the bill. One experimentation to perhaps stay away from, however, would be the cut out detailing - a fine look on the catwalk, it has to be said, but holes falling just above the breast on your otherwise demure work shirt may invoke raised eyebrows at the water cooler.
However, despite these few racier elements, Carven has shown itself to demonstrate a knowledge of how women actually dress in their day-to-day lives. Take inspiration from this collection and plant it into your own wardrobe: all the darker tones may seem out of place in a Spring/Summer show but fit perfectly within the confines of the nine-to-five, with red acting as an excellent office-friendly pop of colour. As for the actual clothes, try tartan trousers for a subtle change from your usual black pair, an A line cut instead of the ubiquitous pencil skirt or a contrasting collar to ease yourself into some of the more ostentatious looks in the particular collection.