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In order 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.
Heading up the design of leather goods, jewellery and fragrances is Ramesh Nair, the designer conscripted a decade ago by Bernard Arnault to bring back Moynat, a 19th-century trunkmaker that is now a purveyor of luxurious handbags.
Nair’s first collections for Joseph Duclos will be showcased in a flagship boutique slated to open on September 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.
Joseph Duclos is backed by French businessman, financier and art collector Franck Dahan, CEO of Monolith Investments and a member of the acquisitions committee at Centre Pompidou. The venture reunites Nair with Emmanuelle Voisin, formerly an executive at Moynat, who is now general manager of Joseph Duclos.
In a recent interview, they outlined a mission to preserve rare materials, knowledge and craft skills in France, while capitalising on what they describe as a hunger in the market for exclusive, artisanal products with an authentic back story.
“The craftsmanship is part of the creativity and that’s something we need to fight for,” said Nair, noting that each Joseph Duclos bag will be numbered and bear the name of the artisan who made it. “We’re doing bags that will last for generations.”
Joseph Duclos, a merchant from Toulouse, operated in pre-handbag times, and his tannery, known as La Manufacture Royale de Lectoure, obtained royal warrants from French King Louis XV for its exceptional leathers, which were used primarily for furnishings and wall coverings. The French military also employed the leather for footwear and jerkins — close-fitting, usually sleeveless garments worn by men in those times.