Suggesting it’s never too late to revive a heritage brand, a French entrepreneur is bringing back Joseph Duclos, which furnished French royalty with the finest leather in the late 1700s, employing natural tanning methods and the purest spring-fed water.
Ex-Moynat Designer Ramesh Nair
Heading up the design Ramesh Naair, the designer and manufacturer of leather goods, jewelry, & fragrances, is the author. designer Bernard Arnault conscripted Moynat to bring back Moynat, the 19th-century trunkmaker who is now a purveyor luxury handbags.
Nair’s first collections for Joseph Duclos will be showcased in a flagship boutique slated to open on Sept. 24 at 54 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, with small leather goods, fragrances and other items available on an e-shop.
It’s the first volley for the start-up, which ultimately hopes to export its brand story — hinged on the finest French materials and sustainable savoir-faire — to an international audience.
Franck Dhan, chief executive officer of Monolith Investments as well as a member of Centre Pompidou’s acquisitions committee, has backed Joseph Duclos. He is a French financier, businessman, and art collector. Nair and Emmanuelle Voisin (formerly executive at Moynat), will be reunited in this venture.
Ramesh Nair in Paris
Mark C. O’Flaherty
They spoke out in an exclusive interview about their mission to preserve rare materials, knowledge, and craft skills in France. They also highlighted the need to capitalize on what they call a “hunger” for artisanal products with a unique backstory.
“The craftsmanship is part of the creativity and that’s something we need to fight for,”Nair said that each Joseph Duclos bag would be numbered and will bear the name the artisan who made it. “We’re doing bags that will last for generations.”
Joseph Duclos, a Toulouse merchant, operated in prehandbag times. His tannery, La Manufacture Royale de Lectoure was granted royal warrants by French King Louis XV because of its exceptional leathers. These leathers were primarily used for wall coverings and furnishings. The French military also employed the leather for footwear and jerkins — close-fitting, usually sleeveless garments worn by men in those times.
The Duclos Tannery ceased its activity over a century ago. Its washing pools are now decorative fish ponds. Nair was able see the factory building while it is being transformed into luxury hotels. He also gleaned inspiration from the rest of the tools of the trade such as sticks made with oak bark and birch bark to stir dyes.
Tristan Auer, architect, has created a rendering of the Joseph Duclos boutique to be opened in Paris on Sept. 24.
Nair found three suppliers to tannery that were focused on high-quality leather, eco-friendly tanning techniques, and a limited range of colors. Nair noted that France has some of the most stringent anti-pollution laws and a reputation as having flawless hides. Barbed-wire fences are also prohibited.
Nair is vegetarian, but he still has a deep appreciation of quality leathers.
He flicked through photos of caramel-colored Limousine Cows with a butterfly on their faces, and explained that hides in all the tanneries where he works are carried on shoulders to minimize damage. Finally, they are polished and brushed manually.
Nair did not have any handbag archives, so he visited museums and looked into French military costumes dating back to Duclos. The pendulum-like closures were inspired by the golden braids on ceremonial coats. Nair also transformed the hand-molded leather that was used to make gunpowder bags for a brick-shaped messenger design with a soft flap.
The structure of the Diane bag is a combination of elements from 1960s aviator bags and 18th-century coin purses. It is made using traditional French saddlery techniques. The exposed edges are hand-painted and -polished.
The Diane bag has an engraved metal frame.
Voisin claims that Nair was the only one. designerShe thought of who “could really embody the project as its global creative director,”
She spoke highly of his passion for rare craft skills, uncompromising quality, and flawless execution. The designShe noted that it was difficult to create timeless and timely products by using 18th-century codes.
Nair tracked down artisans who are designated as Les Compagnons du Devoir, a government-sanctioned training scheme for a variety of manual trades, including leather working. One of these specialists will be stationed at the Paris boutique permanently to take special orders.
Handbags from Joseph Duclos will retail for between 2,000 and 6,000 euros, with some limited editions. Nathalie Feisthauer was the independent perfumer who created the five scents. She focused on natural ingredients that reflected the brand’s history and spirit.
Voisin said the next step in Joseph Duclos’ development will be to open a shop-in-shop at a Paris department store before expanding in the rest of Europe, Asia, The Middle East and the U.S.
Nair brings a wealth knowledge to the project.
After studying, fashion designNair worked with Yohji Yamamoto haute couture and Christian Lacroix at the FIT in New York and the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, and IFM, Paris. design Studio.
Moynat recruited him from Hermès, where he worked for a decade as assistant to Martin Margiela for women’s wear, and later Jean Paul Gaultier, developing leather goods, accessories and jewelry for both permanent and runway collections, including the Paris Bombay, Birkin Shadow and Jypsiere bags.
Nair says that Joseph Duclos is not just about reviving a person’s name but also about exalting an era when French craftsmanship and excellence were being established.