In the early days of the French railway system, the public questioned the staying power of these new, somewhat disruptive locomotives. Experienced entrepreneur Pauline Moynat, on the other hand, saw an opportunity. Founded in 1849, her eponymous label Moynat Paris began as a made-to-order business, crafting travel-ready leather goods for the bureoning train—and later, automobile—industry. The only female trunk-maker of her time, Pauline was seen as a visionary who transformed a male-dominated industry.
After almost 130 years, the brand was archived in the 1970s and reborn in 2011. Now, under the creative direction of Ramesh Nair, the storied house has undergone somewhat of a renaissance, drawing on house archives for inspiration and instituting a culture of refined-yet-modernized designs.
Incredible craftsmanship and extreme attention to detail have been points of pride for Moynat Paris from the start. Each piece is carefully constructed by a small number of artisans at the label’s Parisian atelier using fine, supple French leathers. The bags are then finished with sophisticated palladium hardware, often twisted to reveal an abstract “M” as a nod to the brand and its innovative founder.
Gretta Van Leuven, Senior Buyer of Leather Goods, sees the iconic French label as a Barneys XO Exclusively Ours match made in heaven. “Moynat Paris is truly a modern heritage brand, so I’m excited to launch it exclusively,” she says. “It’s easy to recognize the label’s roots, from the highest level of craftsmanship and materials to the elegant, specialized hardware. The shapes are unique and unusual and have a sense of whimsy, which makes them recognizable without branding.”
Showcasing this incredible craftsmanship are some of the label’s most celebrated styles, all available now at Barneys. There’s the Gabrielle, with its unique, curved-bottom stitching that references the brand’s 1909 Limousine trunk, followed by the Rivage, a spacious tote showcasing a revisited version of the label’s logo-printed canvas and finished with elegant hand-applied lacquered edging. The structured Réjane is an icon of the French house and takes its name from brand muse and 19th century actress, Gabrielle Réjane. The bag’s technically complex, patented closure is inspired by the label’s early trunks from the Art Deco period.
Accompanying the bags are a variety of small leather goods—passport cases and wristlets—showcasing the label’s signature marquetry technique. Highly detailed, this method involves manually cutting and inserting small strips of leather for a smooth result that’s nearly undetectable to the touch.
Moynat Paris continues to set new standards for quality, reinvention, and innovation—something Van Leuven sees as a perfect fit for Barneys. “Our clients want to be the first to discover and not to follow, so this collection fits with the Barneys’ DNA perfectly,” she says. “It’s a breath of fresh air.”