When top toque Alain Ducasse needed a “chef’s trunk” to spirit his specialty kitchen equipment between far-flung culinary outposts, he approached France’s oldest malletier, Goyard, which began producing quality luggage and leather goods in 1853 (a year earlier than Louis Vuitton!). This exclusive retail equivalent of a three-star Michelin restaurant has long served an elite clientele – maharajahs to movie icons, Rockefellers to rock stars – that values impeccable craftsmanship and bespoke detail-work over flashy fashion-Fascist fads.
Goyard goods seem born to board the Queen Mary II and Orient Express; one imagines their trunks being unpacked for socialites in a James or Fitzgerald novel. Yet the brand originated with a humble Burgundian family specializing in floating wood. At the Industrial Revolution’s zenith, Edmé Goyard and his son, François, moved to Paris and joined Morel, a leading layetier emballeur (case manufacturer). Ardor and ability quickly earned François an associate position. Buying out his partner in 1853, he relocated to 233 rue Saint Honoré, opening Maison Goyard.
Visionary son Edmond gave Goyard its unique look and identity in 1892, stylizing the plain coated cotton-linen-and-hemp canvas that wrapped the trunks with a hand-painted interlacing chevron motif. Cognoscenti coveted this couture covering. Sarah Bernhardt, Sacha Guitry, the Maharajah of Kapurthala, César Ritz and John D. Rockefeller all traveled in Goyard style. Subsequent devotees included Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck and Pablo Picasso.