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Moynat By Any Name Is Still Moynat

Brands are usually all about hype and universal appeal. Competition is so fierce on the fashion market that the loudest sometimes is the most visible and popular despite no obvious guarantee of the utmost quality or unprecedented precision of the products on offer. One of the rarest brands in the world decided to go the other way round and win over the hearts of the discerning clientele by dint of the surreptitious magic of exclusivity both in their product range and impeccable customer service. Discreetness is the keyword when it comes to what the house of Moynat strives to manifest and it certainly does what it preaches! The adroit stunt has worked wonders as Moynat has managed to sweep the lovers of fashion off their feet at one go – all thanks to spreading luxury through being discreet and somewhat unwilling to be famous.
The Moynat story began in 1849, before that of Louis Vuitton and Goyard, when Pauline Moynat partnered with the husband and wife team of Octavie and François Coulembier to establish Maison Moynat. Their 300 square metres boutique was located at Number 1, Avenue de l’Opéra at the heart of Baron Haussmann’s redesigned Paris. The boutique went on to become a Parisian institution for over a hundred years until it went into hibernation in 1976. In that time, Moynat was not just another leather goods and luggage maker; it was a trendsetter; even revolutionary at times.

To begin with, Moynat was named after and helmed by a woman, at a time and in an industry where women did not tread. Their first notable innovation was the use of the then newly discovered vegetal gum sourced from Indonesia called gutta-percha to waterproof luggage. Then came the innovation that put Moynat on the proverbial map. The much sought after “English Trunk” had wicker frames with varnished canvas and leather trimming. The result was a lightweight but sturdy luggage. They designed and produced in-house their patented latch bolt locks. Their luggage was studded every seven millimetres instead of the industry standard sixteen millimetres. These features combined with metal banding ensured added strength and security to their trunks.
By 1910, the house of Moynat had a four-storey factory in the Montmartre suburb of Paris where over 200 specialised artisans produced trunks and leather goods. It was the first to integrate into one location all the specialist skills involved in producing the finest luggage and leather goods.

The rise in popularity of the automobile among the elite for travelling and exploring resulted in new product innovations at Moynat that catered to this growing market. In 1902 they introduced their trademark Limousine trunk with an arched bottom, strengthened by metal bands, and finished in varnished canvas. It fit snugly on the curved roofs of the automobiles and thus became another favourite of the connoisseurs. By 1910, they were producing their patented lightweight “unbreakable” trunk models. This idea was taken further with the introduction of side and rear trunks that perfectly fit the car’s curves, as well as being finished in the same colour as the car. These innovations greatly contributed to the brand’s popularity and reputation among the automotive chic. So much so that they even took part in the Paris Motor Show of 1905.
Being helmed by a woman meant that Moynat was innovative in catering to the needs of women as well. Moynat was a pioneer in the development of the ladies handbags. In 1878, they introduced the “Mignon,” made in chamois leather, which was followed by the highly popular “shoe bag.” Pauline Moynat was well known among the elite of the Parisian performing scene. One, in particular, the well-known globe-trotter Gabrielle Réjane became a life-long friend of madam Moynat. She was the inspiration for several customised creations of Moynat, including some of their pioneering handbags.
Credit for the success of the brand also has to be given to Henri Rapin, the long-serving Creative Director at Moynat From 1905 to 1930. He designed their logos and illustrated their catalogues. In 1920, he designed Moynat’s distinguished and elegant monogram which was a concatenation of the letter “M.” He also designed some of their most iconic creations. His pièce de résistance has to be the trunk covered in red Moroccan leather and Art Deco florals which won the Diplôme d’Honneur at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels. Moynat’s products also won several gold, silver and bronze medals at this and other world fairs.

When Bernard Arnault, the Chairman and CEO of LVMH acquired the rights to the Moynat brand through his Groupe Arnault holding company in 2010, he did not want it to be just another brand, but rather, to resurrect the spirit of Maison Moynat. So he handpicked Ramesh Nair to be the Creative Director and charged him with bringing the Moynat name out of its hibernation. He was given two broad briefs: stay true to the core values of Maison Moynat while reinterpreting them for a chic modern clientele, which he pulled off admirably.

Today, Moynat is a fashionista’s Mecca and whoever pays a visit to their flagship boutique in Paris or any other filial store in the world will never remain the same as the spirit of Moynat will overwhelmingly conquer their soul with the heavenly beauty of their products and unforgettable atmosphere. Don’t you believe me? Then go try it out for yourselves.