With the opening of Moynat’s first boutique in Singapore, the French trunkmaker counts nine standalone boutiques worldwide. It’s a modest number when compared to its trunk-making peers. But unlike Goyard or Louis Vuitton, Moynat was only revived in 2011 after lying dormant for more than 40 years.
“After six years, we’re still piecing it together. I think once we reach 20, we’ll have a perfect core and know exactly who we are. The whole objective is to always be an open book that we can keep adding pages to,” explains artistic director Ramesh Nair.
Nair was plucked from relative obscurity by Bernard Arnault in 2010 to revive Moynat. His portfolio though, is nothing short of impressive. Ramesh Nair graduated from a dual degree programme run by Delhi’s National Institute of Fashion Technology and New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology before completing his training at Institut Français de la Mode in Paris. He then started out at Yohji Yamamoto, founded his own brand in India (called Rain) and went on to work with Christian Lacroix. In the early ‘90s, he worked alongside Martin Margiela and Jean-Paul Gaultier as a senior designer for esteemed luxury house Hermès.
It was the opportunity of working with some of the most brilliant minds in fashion that has laid the foundation for Nair. “Yohji Yamamoto made me think. Hermès and Martin Margiela especially, made me think even more. And I was already a thinker,” he expressed. But the one main thing that he still holds on to is that “the craft is more important and much higher than anything else; it’s on another plane.”
It’s no wonder then that Ramesh Nair was chosen. But picking up from where it last operated in 1976 was no mean feat. Nair tells us how he went through flea markets and vintage automobile fairs to search for long-lost Moynat trunks and other creations just to add to the archive and draw references from. And all these had to be done in quite an obscure manner.
“I remember very clearly there was this vintage automobile fair which takes place once in two or three years in France,” Nair recounts. “I put up a small little note on a noticeboard to say that I’m looking for Moynat objects, trunks or anything related to the brand. And we get a call from a guy who says that he’s got a catalogue but he refused to sell it. So we go to this place, which was a part of town you don’t even think you’d want to go to on normal circumstances. In a garage, was the Moynat catalogue and it was the first time that we saw one.”
It’s adventures like this that helped create the Moynat of today. The references gathered gave birth to bags that are now iconic to Moynat – Réjane, Gabrielle and Pauline (named after the house’s founder) all feature the smooth curves that made Pauline Moynat’s creations distinct from other trunkmakers.
“Growth is not about bulldozing your way through. It’s about doing it in a nice way.”
The business is largely women-centric. There are offerings for men but they’re not extensive. When asked if there are any plans to further expand on Moynat’s men’s collection, Ramesh Nair gave a quick quip, “Men are idiots.” He went on to explain that men in general are still conservative and the ones who do step out of the norm and carry more elaborate bags (instead of “regular guys” who carry “ugly shoulder bags”) are rare. While there have been requests, the demand has not been enough for the house to delve deeper to develop such a niche market. For now, the reversible Quattro totes, sturdy holdalls and colourful marquetry pouches and other small leather goods will have to do.
The focus right now for Nair is to expand the business but as he puts it, “Growth is not about bulldozing your way through. It’s about doing it in a nice way.”
Moynat is located at 01-10 Ngee Ann City.