The House of Moynat
Moynat is one of the oldest French trunk-makers. Their first atelier was opened in Paris in 1849 by trunk-makers Octavie and François Coulembier. They joined forces with Pauline Moynat, a specialist in travel goods, to open the first store of avenue de l’Opera. Moynat was one of the very first leather goods houses of its day. Known for its traditional know-how and skills base in handcrafting made to order luggage and travel goods, the house became famous for its designs for the automobiles, as well as for its technical innovations such as making its trunks lighter and waterproof, and for its notable participation in the various World’s Fairs.
The meeting of two families
The House of Moynat was the result of a meeting between Pauline Moynat, who sold travel goods in the Opera district of Paris, and the Coulembier family, manufacturers from the faubourgs – the inner suburbs to the north of the city.
In 1849, the trunk makers opened their first atelier. They then joined forces with Pauline Moynat to open the Moynat boutique in 1869 on what was then the Place du Théâtre Français (now the Place André Malraux) opposite the famous Comédie-Française. The boutique was situated at the heart of Haussmann’s redesigned Paris, and following the construction of the Avenue de l’Opéra in 1876, it took pride of place at nº.1, later to become the oldest shop on the avenue. The Moynat boutique became an institution, staying open continuously for well over a hundred years until 1976.
The destiny of the House of Moynat and three generations of Coulembier
The collaboration between Pauline Moynat and the family of manufacturers began with François Coulembier, continuing with his sons Jules Ferdinand, Edmond, Louis and Maurice. The house reached the height of its commercial powers under the direction of the founder’s grandsons, profiting from the rise of the automobile to become a design reference in the context of this new mode of transport.
The business remained in the hands of the Coulembier family until 1976.
In 1907 the Coulembier family began construction on a model-factory at 15, rue Coysevox up at Montmartre. With some 1500m² of space situated in a four-storey building, the factory employed more than 250 workers, most of whom were specialist artisans, who built all the Moynat trunks. For the first time ever in Paris all the specialist skills associated with trunk-making were gathered together in one place.
Moynat patented its first inventions for packaging materials in 1854. The label was the first to use hardened gutta-percha waterproofing to produce its trunks and packing boxes. In 1870, Moynat brought out the wicker trunk, known as the “English trunk” or “Moynat trunk”, a lightweight structure consisting of a wicker frame, covered with a varnished canvas and leather trimming. The product weighed a mere two kilos and was highly sought after by travellers wishing to avoid excess baggage fees.
In 1889 Jules Coulembier perfected a whole new system of lightweight trunks, followed in 1910 by the invention of an extra-light, unbreakable model.
The House of Moynat also produced a series of security mechanisms for its trunks.
Moynat and the World’s Fairs
Moynat was a regular participant in World’s Fairs since the second edition in Paris in 1867. The house also took part in the Exposition universelle in Paris in 1900, Brussels in 1910 and was appointed jury member at the Turin exhibition in 1911, and was awarded two gold medals and two special prizes at Ghent in 1913.
However, it was in 1925 that Moynat broke the record at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels, where its automobile trunks were a great success, awarded a Diplôme d’Honneur by its peers together with a number of gold, silver and bronze medals, a record of achievement that distinguished Moynat as the leading French malletier (trunk maker) of the time.
The star-piece of Moynat’s contribution to the Exposition Internationale was the red Morocco leather trunk, a rare piece designed by the young artistic director Henri Rapin. The much-admired trunk took away the Diplôme d’Honneur, marking the beginning of a profitable collaboration between artist and trunk-maker.
Collaboration with Henri Rapin
In 1905, the Moynat began a long lasting collaboration with Henri Rapin, creative director. Mr Rapin designed the logos of the House, the Moynat monogram, illustrated the product catalogues and conceived the models presented at universal and international exhibitions.
Products and characteristics
Automobile luggage made to order
Products and characteristics
Automobile luggage made to order
In the 1870s, Moynat continued to pioneer innovations in the design of trunks made to order, notably by offering camphor trunks specially designed to transport furs.
From 1900 onwards, Moynat became the indisputable market leader in automobile luggage, for which the house developed a number of patented products including the limousine trunk. In 1928 came the side or lateral sliding trunk, a mechanism that foreshadowed the development of integrated trunks in vehicles from the 1930s onwards.
Moynat collaborated with a number of different car designers such as Bugatti, Binder, Voisin, Labourdette and the Mühlbacher House.
Beyond its trunks, Moynat went on to produce a wide range of toiletries, small leather goods, together with textile goods, paper products and tableware, creating a whole lifestyle for the house, including products such as pique-nique baskets and hold-alls.
Certain collectors[who?] view Moynat as one of the most versatile of all French trunk-makers.
Moynat offered made-to-measure colours, adapting the coating for each automobile trunk to the exact tone of the vehicle’s bodywork.
Moynat luggage was varied in pattern and design, ranging from monochrome or beige stipes (1860s/70s), cheques “damier” (from 1880) or the distinctive Moynat monogram (1920s onwards).
Of all colors Moynat favored amber in particular. Derived from different tones of leather, this combination of orange with tawny brown was to become one of house’s visual codes.
Moynat after Coulembier
Moynat closed its boutique at the Place du Théâtre Français in 1976. Its trunks however continued to travel around the world. The Scholl family bought the rights to the house in the early 1980s for use by its company Malles et Voyages. Orcofi, the Vuitton family’s holding company, bought Malles et Voyages in 1989, following the disposal of the bulk of its shares in LVMH. Orcofi’s CEO, Vuitton’s former President Henry Racamier, had planned to relaunch Moynat as a competitor to Louis Vuitton. However Orcofi was eventually sold to AXA in 1996 and its assets were stripped, thus the ambitious plans to relaunch Moynat never saw the light of day.
Luxury holding company Luvanis SA bought the rights to Moynat in 2009.
Groupe Arnault, LVMH’s CEO Bernard Arnault’s holding company bought Moynat in 2010 with plans to relaunch operations by 2011.
In Dec. 2011, a Moynat boutique was opened at 348 rue Saint-Honoré, not so far from the famous Hermès boutique at 24, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.