You may know Moynat for its elegant leather purses in bold hues, but the historic French brand actually started as an atelier for luxury travel trunks in 1849. In 2011, the LVMH group enlisted Ramesh Nair as its creative director to revive the brand and combine age-old expertise with innovative techniques to make bags for the modern woman.
We sat down with Nair during the launch of his Mini Pyramid bag, unveiled as part of the Moynat Ephemeral Gallery at Pacific Place, to chat about his inspirations and what he plans to do next.
What was the inspiration behind the new pyramid bag?
Most things—whether it's clothing or graphic design—are based on something called the "golden forms", which are the basic shapes we keep coming back to. The pyramid bag was influenced by architecture, specifically the Egyptian pyramid for King Kyops, and then it became influenced by the double pyramid like the one at the Louvre in Paris.
How were trunks constructed back in the day and has that influenced the way you make your bags now?
Trunks were made for automobiles and were made purely for practicality so that they fit on the top of the cars. The rounded trunks were made so that rain would fall off it rather than collect on top.
Now, I never think of practicality when I design bags. With design, you should not start with practicality as a factor. I experiment and modify and tweak. If everything was about practicality, we should just buy military clothing or accessories. With the pyramid bag, I know a phone won't fit in it, but I want people to buy this because it’s well designed and evokes a feeling.
Moynat is known for using very innovative techniques and treaments on leather. For example, you once used rust as a dye. What are some new techniques you're using?
Our new bag now has designs that come from a combination of coloured leathers, creating a pattern that is not printed but created using a technique called leather marquetry.
The first pieces were a total disaster. They looked beautiful but when the bag bends, the corners start to fall apart. Now, we use a heat-reactive glue so the leather expands with heat. We also cut the leathers at an angle so that they hold each other.
What was the most unique commissioned piece you’ve made?
We had a guy from Asia who wanted a trunk for stones. He refused to tell me what kind of stones, and only made gestures about the size and I thought he was a jeweller. It turns out he collects meteorites.
We had to make compartments so that the stones didn’t move, as they're so fragile. We had to find ways of anticipating the shapes of the stones without having seen them. In the end we decided to use memory foam covered in leather so that stones of any shape or size can sit in it.
You've already begun to make scarves, do you see Moynat turning into a full fledged ready-to-wear brand?
If there’s necessity, yes, but if not, no. By necessity I mean if there is a need for something that doesn’t already exist, because there is a lot out there. Initially I didn’t want to do scarves, but the scarves were made because the person I was working with to source a specific type of leather also had an existing scarf atelier.
The print on the scarves were hand-drawn prints of our bag-making process, so it feels like a way of displaying what's already there.
Moynat's Ephemeral Gallery Trunk Show at Pacific Place is open until August 31.
See also: Moynat Rendez-Vous Cocktail Party
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