Hands Up: Michel Carel (Schiaparelli)

July 5, 2021


At the age of six, his Breton mother tended the cows on the family farm in Châteaugiron. His father, a master wheelwright, who repaired farm equipment, passed on this gift to him: “I crobardise, I see in space. I am a professional handyman”. Self-taught in Ménilmontant, he knew Tinguely, made the first “chou-pattes” and the decorations for the Dior windows with the Lalanne family, where he worked for seven years. He is a young man of 78, and Marie, his wife and accomplice, calls him by his name, in the old way: Carel. “At first, I was hammering pigs,” he says. With time, the strength has gained in finesse.

His hands? Agile and massive at the same time, nothing seems to be able to skin them. Nothing, neither the copper sheet that he cuts as if it were a piece of paper, nor this steel piano wire, which he uses to structure the horns ready to emerge on either side of a Schiaparelli sheath of the winter 2021-2022. “Haute couture is the open door to all kinds of madness”. Snail baskets for Chanel, false eyelash glasses for Stephen Jones at the time of Galliano at Dior, bicycle wheels for Moschino, recently restored Thierry Mugler chandelier dresses, for half a century he has been sculpting stories, sitting on a miniature chair.

For Daniel Roseberry, artistic director of Schiaparelli, he has just created a copper flower bustier: “I showed him the illustrations of Redouté, and he chose a variety of carnations. Each petal is assembled by hand, the smallest cell is shaped. The bustier in question was “taken to the bath”, to be dipped in gold. The instruments are left in the workshop, forming a silent army of a thousand and one hammers, pliers, pincers, his little soldiers of steel and solid wood: “nothing is ever ruined. When we make a mistake, we reshape”.

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