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A New Foothold

A Handmade Paris Tradition, Revived: Carvil Shoes for Women—Exclusively in the U.S. at La Garçonne

Words by Thomas Sweeney

“This spring season, the label’s masculine–edge loafers, slippers, and boots will be sized for women, and La Garçonne will be carrying them exclusively in the United States.”

Launched in Paris by Henri Ledermann in 1952, the luxury shoe brand Carvil was a hallmark among chic Parisian men from its founding through the 1970s. Actor Alain Delon wore the house’s first loafer style, the Triomphe, as the character Tom Ripley in the René Clément film Purple Noon, and decorated pop star Jacques Dutronc and his entourage were known to pair their Carvil soles with Pierre Cardin suits. Even the thoroughly non-French Cary Grant and Bob Dylan, stylistically different as they were, couldn’t resist a pause shopping at Carvil when passing through Paris’s Golden Triangle. The label was known not only for quality materials, like grain-heavy peccary leather, but also, as evidenced above, for catering to a multitude of aesthetics—from buttoned-up to brazen.

Now under the creative direction of shoes and accessories designer Frank Charriaut, who spent ten years at Chanel, Carvil is experiencing a rebirth in an era of decreased gender consciousness. This spring season, the label’s masculine-edge loafers, slippers, and boots will be sized for women, and La Garçonne will be carrying them exclusively in the United States. Charriaut has ensured that quality remains the top note: he personally hand-picks the raw materials (French box calf, Italian velvet and suede, and that peccary) and favors Blake stitching over Goodyear, for an airy légèreté. What’s more, all Carvil styles are still produced in Italy by the original manufacturer.

This season’s models include the aforementioned Triomphe, a black top-stitched tassel loafer reduced to the bare essentials; the suede Capri flat, a closed-back slip-on in a pale greige shade exclusive to La Garçonne; and the tassel-free Biarritz loafer, which skips ornamentation in favor of tactile lizard skin. But gender neutrality reaches an apex with the black or chocolate Dylan boot, a pliable calfskin Chelsea style (no pull tabs) designed for the moody poet himself—or, perhaps, for anyone who can’t resist his untucked ease.

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