Our house is scheduled to go to settlement in a few days, all going well, and I’m not the only person who’s hoping that there will soon be a sold sign on the lawn. We’ve gotten several mailings from companies who want the pleasure of packing and moving all our earthly good to our new home.
Professional packing used to be about far more than moving. If you were a member of the bourgeoisie in mid-19th century Paris, you might have had occasion to call on a professional packer, or emballeur (ahm-bal-ur) to fill your customized cases for every item of your enormous wardrobe when you traveled. Demand was so great that about 200 emballeurs were kept busy in Paris alone. The idea was that, in an age before synthetic fabrics, upon arrival at your destination, you would simply be able to unpack your wrinkle-free clothes and begin your round of social engagements. This was no easy matter – it was certainly not a question of whether rolling or folding is the way to go. It might take three hours to pack two ball gowns, suspended by a network of pins and ribbons. When Empress Eugénie traveled, she took about thirty trunks with her that would have taken about three days to pack.
As I learned at the Louis Vuitton exhibit at the musée des Arts Décoratifs last summer, the luxury leather-goods manufacturer started as a trunk-maker. He located his business around the corner from the couture houses, in a stroke of brilliant marketing. Vuitton wasn’t the only game in town: Moynat and Goyard were the other big players.
Moynat is the oldest of the three malletiers. Pauline Moynat was a rare female entrepreneur for the era. She adopted a substance known as gutta-percha, a precursor to modern latex that made her trunks waterproof, instead of just water repellent. Bernard Arnault, of LVMH fame, bought Moynat in 2010, which may seem odd when you consider that the “LV” in the company name stands for Moynat’s competitor. Frankly, however, Moynat is even more exclusive. Their boutique at 348 rue Saint-Honoré is on my must-see list for my next visit to Paris. It’s a mini-museum to the company’s history. Today, they also make exquisite purses as well as picnic baskets for your bike.
Goyard was considered the most elegant and exclusive of the trunk makers. It’s still located at the shop it has occupied since 1834. Here’s a video explaining some of the history. Karl Lagerfeld is a major fan and orders a new piece about every six months. Superstar chef Alain Ducasse had one fitted with everything he needs to take on the road when he has a cooking gig. These days, Goyard is enjoying a new life as the purveyor of bespoke pet carriers. Maybe that’s what my two cats need for our move; they are NOT going to like it when our emballeurs arrive.
- Rejane, the new bag from Moynat named after Gabrielle-Charlotte Reju (dianepernet.typepad.com)
- Moynat and their luxury leather goods created a bicycle basket designed by Ramesh Nair (dianepernet.typepad.com)
- The refined luxury of Goyard Paris (parentalstyle.wordpress.com)
- Fait sur mesure (onequalitythefinest.com)