Trending — The Novelty Trunk & Best Men’s Gifts Of The Holiday Season
Heritage is usually an easy sell. Consumers with elevated tastes and the means to attain luxury understand the value of authenticity and what goes into the craftsmanship. A top example of those two concepts colliding is in the world of trunks. Once de rigueur during the golden age of train travel, trunks from French design powerhouses such as Louis Vuitton and Au Départ and Italian manufacturers such as Royal Trunk have been reimagined as stately pieces for 2020 and beyond. For the man who has it all, a handsome and purposeful trunk, created with everything from cigars to PlayStations in mind, is the ultimate marriage of fantasy and style.
Gianfranco Maccarrone, CEO of the newly relaunched Au Départ, knows how to fit trunks into a modern lifestyle. It starts by remembering their past. In 1834 the company opened its first shop on Boulevard de Denain in Paris, just in front of the newly opened Gare du Nord. The founders, the brothers Bertin, imagined all types of trunks for long voyages, short trips, business excursions, and leisure activities such as hunting and fishing. By the 1920s Au Départ was one of the top Parisian trunk makers, with another store on Avenue de l’Opéra. It survived the war years by initiating a coalition with four other top trunk makers — Louis Vuitton, Goyard, Moynat, and Aux États Unis — to help secure raw materials during rationing periods. In 1965 the brand merged with Moynat to form one company, Moynat-Au Départ, that would last until 1976, when both shuttered.
The mid-1970s modernized travel so thoroughly that trunks seemed like relics from a bygone era. And in their former incarnation, they were. Fast-forward to 2011, when Moynat emerged as a new brand now owned by LVMH, focusing mainly on handbags and small leather goods that recalled its trunk heritage. In 2019 Au Départ relaunched, this time interpreting its trunks for today’s lifestyle.
Maccarrone explains his vision this way. “Let’s start with where everything began. Au Départ made trunks, and we launched again with trunks. Though today we don’t travel anymore; rather, we move from one place to another,” he says. “Therefore our trunks are a part of a lifestyle project, not used as luggage but reimagined as interior design pieces.”
The CEO doesn’t like to assign gender roles to his trunks but has something for everyone. Whether it’s a champagne trunk, tea set, or whiskey or cigar trunk, Au Départ skews toward luxury entertainment. And it doesn’t stop there: The brand’s contemporary flair shines through in its PS4 trunk and backpack as well as the ultimate DJ console.
“Every trunk that we make is created for a specific purpose or need. For instance, the Wine Dispenser Trunk is for wine lovers. Or for champagne lovers we have a trunk that serves up to 15. For those who hate a TV screen displayed in their rooms but love watching TV, there is the TV Trunk,” says Maccarrone. Indeed, movie buffs will go mad for the new Desert Theatre Trunk, which contains a WiFi video projector and Dolby Surround with a foldable TV screen that extends to 120 centimeters by 2 meters. “It allows you to watch a movie from your garden or in the desert,” Maccarrone says. We imagine it will be a popular fixture at the next Coachella or Burning Man. Or in the living room, as the DJ console, bar sets, and gaming trunks bring luxury entertainment home. While such items represent the extravagance of Au Départ, the heritage brand also offers plenty of smaller and more personal gifts for men, such as the Bercy bag and a backgammon set.
Vuitton has its share of over-the-top collectors’ item trunks. One, released in 2020, was a one-of-a-kind awarded to the Los Angeles Lakers, champions of the NBA Finals that same year. For the first time, the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy was presented to the team in a bespoke Louis Vuitton travel case. The partnership between the NBA and the French luxury goods company established the latter as the first-ever official travel-case provider.
The Royal Trunk company also reinterprets trunks inspired by 1920s travel wardrobes and reimagines them for today’s most discerning clients in contemporary and one-of-a-kind styles. Whether via Zoom, extended family, or an intimate gathering, Royal Trunk’s Capri Special trunk bar will impress your guests so much they won’t miss not going out to a proper bar. Equipped with wheels and opening on three sides, this all-in-one doesn’t forget anything, including a mirror, a light, and workspace to mix and pour. Like any Royal Trunk, it is customizable depending on the desired use.
Shown here in Kelly-green crocodile, the Firenze Trunk for Royal Trunk holds your most precious timepieces and jewelry, the ultimate in Italian culture and elegance. This refined case has space for three self-winding watches and plenty of room for nonautomatic watches and other baubles such as cufflinks, tie clips, and more.
Traditional trunks aren’t the only thing Louis Vuitton is known for these days. The crown in the global luxury conglomerate, Vuitton, as it is affectionately referred to, delivers luxury in every aspect of life. Even if a trunk isn’t in order, the Vuitton man still needs a place to stow his belongings while traveling. A mark of excellence, the famous Alzer suitcase is not only secure and sturdy but a sign of good taste, even more so when customized. For the watch fanatic who can’t leave home without his beauties, the Boite Main Montre has room for three self-winding mechanisms and additional compartments for other small items.
But where to go with those Louis Vuitton cases? Thankfully the French luxury brand can also guide you there. The guidebook Louis Vuitton The Spirit of Travel, English Version presents the history of the iconic house and the people who helped found it. Another house tome, Volez, Voguez, Voyagez, features 200 charming illustrations that accompanied the traveling Louis Vuitton exhibit of the same name. Its introduction was written by Olivier Saillard, curator of the show, which began in Paris’ Grand Palais and traveled to Tokyo, Seoul, and New York City as of 2018. For the utmost in reading pleasure, relax with your favorite cigar stored in this Louis Vuitton cigar case made from mahogany, enhanced by an elegant ebony finish and a pearwood monogram inlay. It stores up to 150 cigars at just the right humidity.
But considering trunks and travel are trending in the spirit of gift-giving, the Paoli Superior Trunk deserves mention, with its elegant gray leather exterior with handles and tags in natural vachetta leather. It’s available in seven sizes and equipped with five drawers, one shoe drawer, one coat hanger, and an open compartment. On the road or at home, this trunk is a head-turner. If a more straightforward traveling piece is in order, consider Globe-Trotter’s 007 Limited Edition Carbon Fiber Case Carry-On trolley; only 700 of these handsome suitcases are available globally. It will make one feel like an international man of mystery on the hunt to solve his next case. Even if the mission is to discover even more luxurious luggage at the new Goyard shop in Milan.