The Carel Archives

The Carel Saga

Carel touches women's hearts since its very beginning.


Thanks to a sense of discreetly elegant allure, the brand has been able to make its classic models - ballet flats, pumps or even strappy mary janes : Must-haves & made to last.

The Carel Saga




We have a special bond with different kind of fashion brands.

It's as if they have always been part of our lives, our routine.

Carel is above all a family story.

In 1947, Georges Carel left his hometown in Grenoble and moved to Paris with his wife, Rosa.


"Preventing women from walking sadly"


A few years after leaving their native country Grenoble, Georges and Rosa Carel opened their first women's shoe store on Boulevard Saint-Michel. The neighborhood was boldly chosen for its proximity to the Sorbonne University, a young and carefree place, where the many parisian terraces inspire a certain caning... 

The designer put his talent and his skills at the service of women and students. The success was immediate.

Son of a shoemaker, women's foot was no longer a secret for Mr. Carel. He developed comfortable and elegant shoes that accompanied women from early morning to late evening.

It was a new era for a liberated youth, who no longer dreamed but lived instead. Dull colors was a thing of the past, bright colors took over. Carel would put them everywhere, making his shoes recognizable among all.

High heels made their first appearance, inspired by Dior's New Look, but Carel soon realized that women also needed to be free to move, a rather complex task in stiletto heels. The designer then privileged the "trotter" heel (from 3 to 5 cm), more accessible for active women.


Women got emancipated, Carel accompanied them, it is "forbidden to forbid"

For Carel, things were evolving fast, with the opening of a boutique on the Champs-Élysées, and then the opening of the shoe corner at Galeries Lafayette, where Carel was the first shoe brand to have a corner.
In terms of fashion, jeans made a remarkable arrival, while women adopted both the traditionally masculine pants and Mary Quant's miniskirt.
For shoes, we prefered mary janes, ankle boots and thigh-high boots, which are naturally found at Carel.


In 1965, in France, women could finally exercise a profession without their husband's agreement and open their own bank account. A real revolution !

The legalization of birth control at the age of 18 closed a decade full of hope for future generations.

What makes Carel different and what makes it a label apart? Audacity and a taste for risk.

From the very beginning, Georges Carel did not hesitate to shake up conventions by introducing bright and vibrant colors in its collections.


Between freedom and sensuality

In 1974, Carel developed the Marquis, a flat-heeled ballet flat adorned with a grosgrain hatter's bow and a gentle aristocratic touch. A timeless model, both simple and elegant.

The shoes were a success (more than a million pairs sold), and they were quickly appreciated by celebrities such as the actress Isabelle Hupert.

In 1976, Carel created the Topo model, a mouse ballet flat with mischievous whiskers. Carel told his stories, creative ballet flats inspired by animals, which can still be found in stores nowadays. Humor is an integral part of the brand's history.


Shortly after, in 1977, Carel set up its factory in Blois and simultaneously began its advertising campaigns with the celebrities photographer Jeanloup Sieff.

They reveal sensual and liberated women, fully in control of their bodies.

 Their collaboration lasted 10 years.


The seventies continued the trend of the previous decade, with, among other things, the recognition of shared parental authority and equal pay for men and women.

Debates on the right to abortion were organized, with events such as the Manifesto of 343, where many women spoke out on the subject.

They lead to its legalization, followed by mutual consent divorce in 1975, International Women's Year.


At Carel, the family business grew with the arrival of the children: Tony (who had just finished his training in Italy) France, and Gilles, the son-in-law.

It is also at this time that the international market opened its doors to us with the opening of a corner at Bergdorf Goodman.


The 1980s marked the revival of fashion and brought to the forefront young talented designers such as Thierry Mugler, Jean-Paul Gaultier, de Castelbajac, Chantal Thomas, Issey Miyake and many others, who chose Carel to accompany their collections. This prolific era gave birth to original and eccentric creations, as well as long lasting friendships between the House and the designers. The Carel models were worn by the very first " supermodels ". In 1984, Georges Carel retired, while the new generation became more involved in the brand's development. Michèle Bineau-Carel joined the family team and Michel Vivien began working for Carel.


Carel's eccentricity in Vogue


The end of the 20th century was placed under the sign of the party, and the Nineties marked the beginning of the electronic music.

Between parties in Detroit, Spice Girls concerts in London and night owls, celebrities wore more and more eccentric evening looks that inspired the fashion of that time.

Carel did not hesitate to follow the movement and innovated with even flashier colors and the use of transparent plastic on its shoes.


Carel goes varnished: creation of the new iconic Kina


Since its creation, the Kina has always been handcrafted in our Italian workshops.

It has been endlessly declined in various materials and crazy colors !

- a 4 cm heel

- 3 straps 8 mm

- a thin and rounded toe

- rectangular buckles




Frédérique Picard took over the keys of Carel from its founders. Based on the brand's heritage and its timeless values, she was determined, with the help of a new team of talents, to rediscover the pop, bold and joyful allure of the early days.

The stores were revitalized, notably with the help of architect Claudio Colluci. This renaissance led to the creation in 2014 of a new iconic model, the "Kina". A bridle Mary Jane that is snatched up by influencers, such as the British Alexa Chung.




Frederique Picard - "The mantra that guides me in every step : Impose your luck, embrace your happiness and take your risk. Looking at you, they will get used to" - René Char 



Leather goods made a comeback and the brand entered the United States market with the Opening Ceremony concept stores.

In this particular decade social networks and its influencers were born. A website was also created in 2012.


The come back of the collabs



Carel joined forces with the Belgian designer for a modern collaboration that completed its Spring-Summer 2016 collection. Wedge shoes, spartan shoes or sandals with squared heels, geometric cuts were put in the spotlight.


New collaboration with the Thai brand Sretsis, created in 2002 by three sisters, known for its designs combining femininity, modernity and enchanted world.




Clara Cornet, New York's fashion ambassador partnered with Carel for a modern and youthful collection. In an ultra girly spirit, Kina come in pastel colors decorated with colorful patches. 



Capsule collection with the Manufacture Prelle, a silk house from Lyon founded in 1752. Recognized for its know-how and the authenticity of its looms, we designed a line with royal codes.


CAREL CARES : the "green attitude" 

We are committed to recycling and giving a new life to dormant stocks, in order to bring you our first line of eco-friendly shoes.

For 70 years, Carel has been on your side, and today, we are faced with new problems. Carel is always looking to innovate. Concerned about the environment protection, we are constantly looking for more eco-friendly solutions.


The launch of the CAREL CARES line

In 2020, Carel launched its line of shoes designed with alternative materials.

Whether it is with more sustainable models or using new materials such as alternative leathers (Piñatex, Appleskin).

The Carel Cares selection is created to facilitate the needs of customers looking for eco-friendly shoes.

It is in line with the core of our values : sustainability and responsibility from generation to generation.