Étienne Derœux and Frédérique Picard, president of the house of Carel, unveil their collaboration
Étienne Derœux reveals his collaboration with the shoemakers Carel to Numéro. An encounter with the young French designer and the president of the house, Frédérique Picard.
In just three years Étienne Derœux has succeeded in imposing an efficient style, caught between a furiously feminine allure and elegant sportswear. As for the house of Carel, established in 1952, they’ve worked with some of the biggest designers from Jean Paul Gaultier and André Courrèges to Paco Rabanne and even Chantal Thomass. Their Italian savoir-faire and French audacity have been part of the house genes for the last 64 years. Now under the ownership of Frédérique Picard, Carel is seeing some serious reinvention. For the spring-summer 2016 season, the house called upon the young designer, graduate of La Cambre and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, to create a collection of 4 designs presented in a pop-up boutique. The designer and president of the house answered our questions.
Numéro: How did your first meetings go?
Frédérique Picard: When Étienne first showed us his collections, we loved them straight away. They’re marked by Bauhaus and geometric influences… His collections draw cultural references without ever being weighed down the subject. We follow exactly the same creative process at Carel. For my first collection, I was inspired by a tableau by Giotto. For Carel, as much as for Etienne, art is never very far away. And Carel has always welcomed young designers known for their edgy creativity and daring, like Jean Paul Gaultier, Castelbajac, Chantal Thomass and Thierry Mugler.
Étienne Derœux: Lots of designers do shoes that end up not being worn. That’s not how I see things. I want my collection to be worn; I want it to be accessible. I’m capable of drawing shoes, but not actually making them. Calling on the expertise of Carel struck me as perfectly natural.
F. P.: For the last 64 years, Carel has been a house of shoes putting itself at the feet of women, in the noblest sense of the term. The study of slippers and shoes here is really very profound. Every time we chose the best workshop according to the shoes we are making, in order to respect the line and the structure.
I spent a lot of time in the archives
and I was really impressed by the freedom of tone at Carel. The house has always been a genuine research laboratory.
How did you work on this collection?
É. D.: I spent a lot of time in the archives and I was really impressed by the freedom of tone at Carel. The house has always been a genuine research laboratory, and I realised that the field of possibility was very wide.
F. P.: We were interested in the way that Etienne arrived with his ideas and we were able to work together. Since the brand’s establishment in 1952, we’ve experienced different fashions from Paco Rabanne to Courrèges. I think that with Étienne we share the same objective: looking for details that are stylish rather than following a trend.
É. D.: I’ve always refused the notion of trends. I prefer to construct a timeless wardrobe that allows my clients to wear a piece bought three years ago with something from my latest collection.
We worked together on the fall-winter collection. Inspiration came to me while I was at a Lee Miller exhibition I saw in London, entitled A Woman’s War. The subject was women in the Royal Air Force.
From March 3rd to 13th, you’re presenting this collection in “the cabin”, what exactly is that?
É. D.: Frédérique had the idea of presenting this collection within a specific showcase. The boutique on the rue Saint-Honoré has something very special about it. It’s on a human scale and is very well located. We asked the architect agency Nomade to re-think the space for us, so that it would suit Carel as much as our collection.
F. P.: In the future, the cabin will stay open for the brand’s collaborations with Colette, Opening Ceremony and J.Crew… We will also be using it to exhibit our most iconic shoes, the mary-janes, ballet slippers and boots. It’s like a window onto a less formal and freer aspect of Carel.
Will you be extending the collection into next season?
É. D.: Yes, we’ve worked together on the fall-winter collection. Inspiration came to me while I was at a Lee Miller exhibition I saw in London, entitled A Woman’s War. The subject was women in the Royal Air Force in England and more specifically women in uniform. There will be boots, mary-janes and mules, in mute shades like brown and khaki, and the heels are always white. On some models, we've added metal buckles like those you find on the parachutists’ jumpsuits.
The Étienne Derœux x Carel collection is available from March 3rd to 13th in the Carel boutique,
171, rue Saint-Honoré, Paris 1st,
and on www.carel.fr
By Léa Zetlaoui.