Morel: A Family History of Craftsmanship

In this “fast fashion” world (see our post on the topic here), it’s comforting to know some eyewear manufacturers are committed to the craftsmanship it takes to design and make quality products. Case in point: Morel, a family-run maker of world-famous frames that has been plying its craft for more than four generations.


Passing down the passion

In 1880 Jules Morel set up a pince-nez finishing shop on his family farm in the Jura region of France. It was a good occupation for the quiet winter months, and he would return to working the farm in the spring. When his son Marius took over the farm and the workshop, Jules was able to devote himself full time to his passion. That’s when the family business took a turn toward frame design.

In the 1950s Marius Morel introduced the “Cleopatra” frame, a cat-eye design with gold details that was perfectly in step with the style of the day. Morel also offered frames in rolled gold, a technique used to create high quality products that retain their lustre even after years of use.

In the 60s, Morel made its first frames with very fine gold-filled wire rims. The classic example of this was the “Tydée.” Known primarily by its model number 6000, the frame sold a million copies worldwide and won the hearts of artists and celebrities who would become ambassadors of the brand.

In the 70s, design made its debut in the hitherto very functional world of eyewear. Glasses went from being an orthotic device to a fashion accessory, and the Italians were king. The licensing model invented by the big fashion houses was also thriving. That was when designer Jacques Depussay joined Morel, which was a first—up until then, Marius’s son Jacques Morel had been the one to design every frame.

he “Flight” frame released in 1997 was a hit with its minimalist screw-free design. The model was made from a new, ultra-light material—Nibrodal, a blend of copper, nickel, and tin—and offered in bright, fashionable colours.

The tradition continues

Morel has one of the largest design centres in the Jura, where every new collection is born. Designers sketch their ideas for new frames. Then they work in depth on the texture, materials, and colours to use. The sketch comes to life in the prototype workshop, where the frames are first mocked up to scale.

Morel is world-renowned for its eyewear design and expertise. After earning Silmo d’Or awards in 2008 and 2009, Morel won the two most prestigious international design honours in 2017, the Red Dot Design Award and iF Design Award. Valérie Prillard, head of the prototype workshop, has also been recognized for her accomplishments, becoming in 2015 the first woman to be named a “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” in the eyewear category.

Modern and authentic

Emphasis on innovation, Morel offers sophisticated frames that are always on the cutting edge of style. The family has a history of creating iconic designs that remain fresh generations later. For more than 130 years, Morel has exemplified the purest tradition of French eyewear expertise and the values of its founder, Jules Morel. It has made a name for itself as an innovative promoter of quality and design.

Today the family company is run by Jules Morel’s great-grandchildren, Jérôme, Amélie, and Francis Morel. They offer five different collections, each more creative than the last: Öga, a men’s collection that takes its cues from Scandinavian design; Lightec, a comfortable, minimalist unisex collection; Koali, a colourful women’s collection inspired by nature; Nomad, which travels the world in search of inspiration; and Marius Morel 1880, which redesigns and updates Morel’s iconic models from decades past.

If you linger over the 1880 collection, you’ll notice a play on the rules of retro and distinct stylish details like double bridges, keyhole bridges, and engraved temples. The designer brings a contemporary take on retro-chic to the shapes, colours, and style of the original Morel frames. They even refreshed the famous Tydée, with its thin temples and a look that’s at once 60s and modern. 

Explore the Morel collections at your nearest Opto-Réseau clinic. Our optical stylists will be happy to help you find the perfect frame to fit your face shape—and your personality.