The first Moynat Boutique at 1 avenue de l'Opéra, Paris 1er - 1869 - Moynat archives
The first Moynat manufacture at 15 rue Coysevox, Paris 18ème -1907 - Moynat archives
Metal Medallion Logo & "Cat Tongue" lock - Moynat archives
A VISIONARY WOMAN
Amongst all the wonderous characteristics of the Parisian leather goods House founded in Paris in 1849 lies this one extraordinary fact: its name belongs to Pauline Moynat, the first and only woman to bring feminine flair to the male-dominated metier of luxury trunk-making at the height of the Belle Epoque. It’s Pauline’s touch – her insights into her customers’ lifestyles, the innovation with which she met the arrival of the motor car, her delight in having her artisans craft sensuous materials and details into every shape, surface and lock – that embodies the feminine know-how of the House.
The energetic spirits of the clever Pauline Moynat were destined to play a role in the glamorous upswing in the arts, design, travel and modern inventions which was transforming Paris in the decades towards the turn of the twentieth century. The exact date of her arrival in Paris as a sixteen year old girl from the province of Savoy who found work in the small leather-working atelier that was the first basis of the business is not recorded. What’s certain is that Pauline had risen to turn the company into a luxurious trunk-making specialist, with its first boutique opened at 1 Avenue de l’Opéra in 1869.
Moynat Train Logo designed by Henri Rapin -1905 - Moynat archives
Moynat Triangle Logo designed by Henri Rapin - Circa 1920 - Moynat archives
FREEDOM & EXPLORATION
Moynat’s renaissance came just as its home country was evolving, and France’s new railway system gifted Paris, along with the rest of the world, more adventures than anyone previously would have dreamt. In 1873 Moynat introduced its English Trunk, a surprisingly light interpretation of travel baggage constructed out of wicker and topped with a waterproof canvas. As the House’s train luggage line swiftly amassed a fan-following in and outside of Paris, it soon perfected the art of stylish traveling.
Vintage Moynat Trunk with metal Medallion and patented "Verrou à Levier" - Circa 1910 - Moynat archives
Construction details of Moynat Trunk - Catalogue 1914 - Moynat archives
1903 - 1930
Vintage Moynat advertisements : Ad for Réjane bag and travel leathersgood - 1903 Ad for magazine "L'Illustration" - 1929 Ad for Rear Trunks - Circa 1930 Moynat archives
Vintage Monogram Trunk - Circa 1920 - Moynat Archives
Red Morocco Trunk with studded decorative palms leaves designed by Henri Rapin. The Red Trunk won the Certificate of Honnor attributed at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925 - Moynat archives
Moynat advertisement for Rear Trunks - 1929 - Moynat archives
Interior leather red pouch for travel documents in vintage Moynat trunk - Circa 1880 - Moynat archives
Vintage Limousine Trunks - Patented by Moynat in 1902 - Moynat archives
Wheel Trunk for spare tire - Catalogue 1914 - Moynat archives
Examples of Trunk installation on Automobiles - Catalogue 1914 - Moynat archives
The nuances which made Moynat stand out from the rest were her progressive modernity, practicality and talent for making new engineering feel chic. Moynat’s intimate appeal was clearly to women: her feminine fashioning of trunks had minutely-spaced studs, sensually-crafted brass corners, tactile lock mechanisms and were made palest colours. Early in the archive is the highly surprising advertisement for women’s leather hand-bags on long straps - liberating freedom of movement which stand as a remarkable precursor to our 21st-century fashion for hands-free cross-body bag.
Advertisement for the actress Réjane's theatre opening - 1906 - Moynat archives
The Moynat boutique at 1 avenue de l'Opéra - Paris 1er - Circa 1890 - Moynat archives
THE SPIRIT OF PARIS
Moynat’s first boutique lived in the heart of Baron Haussmann’s re-designed Paris, and sat opposite the famous Comédie-Française, the oldest active theatre in the world. But of course, the location was no mere coincidence: Pauline worshiped at the altar of the artistic stage, which cultivated the elegance of high culture and epicurean delights through the freedom of expression. Paris as a city was a portrait of elegance, beauty, and culture for the leather-maker, and no space reflected that more than the dramatic gilded assembly.
While Moynat became the official supplier of leather goods to the city’s theatres, it was the intimate relationship between Pauline and the Belle Époque actress Gabrielle Réjane that further energized the spirit of La Parisienne within the House. The most popular French performer of the time, Réjane was fiercely unique, and epitomized both whimsical playfulness and Paris’ chic high-society. Her relationship with Moynat was sanctified in history in 1903 with the creation of the first handbag to be named after a star—The Réjane. In 2012 the House revived the homage with a delicate reintroduction of the bag with beautifully-feminine curves, clean lines, and a refined Art Deco lock closure.
Vintage Monogram Trunk - Circa 1920 - Moynat archives
THE FAMOUS MOYNAT MONOGRAM
The next chapter in Moynat’s history began when Art Deco artist Henri Rapin joined the House from 1905 to 1925. The former pupil of the painter Jean-Léon Gérôm, he entertained many forms of creativity, but Rapin’s artistic legacy was truly sealed with the monogram he designed for Moynat known as the Toile 1920. Formed by alternating lines of the letter “M,” the motif was originally introduced to protect the House from forgeries, but the eye-catching monogram easily became Moynat’s visual signature.
Rapin’s suddenly-graphic vision of the House incorporated themes of travel and poetic, oftentimes comical elements, and quickly garnered praise in the international design world. At the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts Art Deco exhibition in Paris, Moynat was recognized for its avant-garde innovation and exceptional creativity. The House was awarded the Diplôme d’Honneu for its Red Morocco Trunk, a distinctive, leather patchwork trunk decorated by blue palm leaves outlined in studs that to this day informs the codes of the House.