Trunk Show – Ramesh Nair

Ramesh nair awakens Moynat, the French Grande Dame of luxury leather goods.

By Erin Newberg

In less than a year, Ramesh Nair took the storied luggage brand Moynat, LVMH’s latest acquisition, out of dust-collecting oblivion and into the collective consciousness of the fashionable Parisians. For over 100 years, the exclusive leather goods company of dazzling quality produced all manner of trunks, hatboxes, fitted cases, and hand luggage. In 1976, its shop at 1 Avenue de l’Opéra closed, leaving a legion of devoted fans no choice but to rummage through antique shops and grandmothers’ closets for a Moynat fix.

Enter the sinfully meticulous Nair. Legendary in his own right, Nair’s fashion provenance has more than prepared him for the task at hand. Credited with directorial makeovers at Hermès, Christian Lacroix, and Yohji Yamamoto, Nair is focused on keeping Moynat exclusive and chic. Solely available in the new flagship on 348 rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, this brand’s future is anything but stale.

FI As the recently recruited creative director, you were entrusted with breathing new life into Moynat. What originated LVMH’s interest in resuscitating this heritage brand?
RN When Mr. Arnault acquired Moynat, only the bare bones of the brand existed. However, we saw tremendous potential in its rich heritage and history, as well as the vintage products we were able to find at auctions and antique dealers. Right from the start, Moynat luggage was always about fitting in with each client; our luggage was designed to follow the shapes of carriages, maximizing the use of space in innovative and elegant ways. This resulted in a unique way of looking at travel. This philosophy continued when Moynat reached its zenith during the dawn of the automobile, going as far as matching luggage colors to the client’s car and designing around activities favored by the client.
One of my main goals was to cement the position of Moynat as a heritage brand with deep roots, and to build a brand with true values, leaning heavily on French savoir-faire, quality, and elegance.

FI How are you going about achieving your goal?
RN The emphasis for me is on shape, form, color, attention to detail, and craftsmanship.
My philosophy is simplicity in everything we do — from the creation of our products to our relationship with our clients. This simplicity is deceptive because our bags are highly complex, which requires extremely clear vision and discipline to achieve a clean, uncluttered line.

“One of the main goals was to cement the position of Moynat as a heritage brand with deep roots, and to build a brand with true values, leaning heavily on French savoir-faire, quality and elegance.”

FI Prior to taking over at Moynat, you were the chief designer at Hermès. How did that experience prepare you for this undertaking?
RN Both brands have very strong values, visual identities, and codes. Each has its constraints as well as advantages. It is fun to challenge these limits, without diluting what the brand stands for. At Moynat, I was handed a clean page and I had the opportunity to create everything from scratch — from reconstructing the archives to developing a vision of what the brand should be in today’s context. Setting standards for Moynat quality represents a huge challenge because we had literally nothing: no ateliers or trained craftspeople; no established protocols. In some cases, the techniques attributed to the brand were lost and had to be researched and revived or entirely recreated.

FI What are some of the changes you have already implemented?
RN The Toile Initiale, the brand’s discreet signature designed by Henri Rapin back in 1920s, is one of the elements we have carried forward. I made my changes by giving it a woven textile aspect and adding a metallic iridescent touch. The fabric in cotton and linen is very supple and has an agreeable nonplastic touch. Also, we chose the lining color based on harmony with the exterior material. We took practical reasons into account by using a lighter color in order to locate objects with ease inside of a deep bag. Moynat was known for its leather as much as for the canvas, and we plan to continue this going forward.

FI So the future is bright for both Moynat and Ramesh Nair?
RN Every step has been a unique experience. I started as a fashion designer. At Hermès I had the opportunity to combine clothes with leather accessories and to work with and to learn from the best. Now I am trying to make Moynat into the best. Whocansaywhatthefutureholds?

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