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When we checked in on Madison Avenue's stores that were "coming soon," French luxury leather goods brand Moynat didn't even have its signage up at 937 Madison Avenue. But last Thursday, the brand very quietly opened the doors to its first store in New York City.
"It's a very soft launch," CEO Guillaume Davin told Racked of Moynat's US debut when we popped by the store to see what we could find out about its long-awaited opening. "It's very much us, we don't announce, we are very hidden. People love to discover something different that they didn't expect and that's exactly what we want. We want people to go the Apple store or the Met, to walk by and discover us."
The space, located within the former Whitney Townhouse and next door to Met Breuer, is inspired by the brand's iconic domed trunks, which is apparent in its metal structure and cathedral-like arched ceilings that extend over two levels. "The store is very neat, very clean with a lot of outside light which is quite rare for Madison Avenue," Davin said. There is a glass column that starts in the basement of the store —where you can find the private salon — and reaches to the ceiling that display the vintage trunks from the oldest Parisian trunk-making brand (and the first one helmed by a woman, too).
"In a way, it's a small church with straight lines and curves. It's very emblematic, so the geometry of the store matches the philosophy of our founder." He points to the yellow limousine trunk displayed in the very back of the store: "It is very masculine and feminine."
Playing up the brand's commitment to traveling in high fashion is its collaboration with Pharrell Williams displayed on the right side of the store amid its usual fare of expensive leather goods. "The train collection is Pharrell," Davin told us. "He was the one to come up with this idea, after a visit to the studio two years ago. It's full of antique trunks. He started opening everything and immediately, he came up with this idea. He's so passionate, so curious."
The jewel in Williams' Moynat collection is an acrylic clutch in the shape of an actual train. "This is Pharrell's dream," Davin said. The bag is a first for the leather company, and like all of the other items the music producer helped to create here, will bear the marking ‘PW4,' which is close to "Pharrell" when sounded out phonetically. Davin assured us that this was not a one-off artistic project and there would be more PW4 to come.
In the store's private salon (where you can break for tea or coffee, natch), there is a large photo of the first store in Paris taken in the brand's earliest days. "It was great," Davin said. "People walking would have no choice but to take a look at your products," he said of a time when trunks were sold on the street. The salon will also house bags made in exotic skins in a glass case just ahead of the couch, and its atelier, where all of the custom work like hand painting and stamping will take place.
Throughout the store, you'll see touches of warm amber, from the store's lacquered panels to railings and area rugs — it's a nod to the lining in Moynat's trunks.
"We did not want to go to a touristy part of the city," Davin said about the location. "We felt that if we came to New York, we wanted to connect with the locals, and we thought we were more Madison Avenue than downtown [with] The Met, the Apple store, the fact that this was a very old brownstone. The owner of this building revived it into something new, and that too is very much us because we also went through a revival."
Moynat's grand opening is expected to take place in May, but for now, go discover the store and enjoy the ride.