Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Duchess of Windsor Had Baggage

The Luggage of the Duchess of Windsor made by Maison E. Goyard.
Photo:  Goyard
On a recent visit to the Miami area, I was able to stop in and take another look at one of the most beautifully landscaped shopping venues in the country, The Shops of Bal Harbour, a two-story, open-air mall.  There is not a Foot Locker, Auntie Ann's, or Spencer Gifts in sight;  it is packed with luxury brand stores and chic sidewalk cafes with a definite European feel. 
A view of the common interior space of The Shops of Bal Harbour in Bal Harbour, Florida.
Photo:  John J Tackett for The Devoted Classicist blog
With dire economic news seemingly more bleak every day, I thought I would find the stores deserted, especially since The Season was over.  But music moguls, professional athletes, and vacationing South Americans apparently have more than enough cash to keep not only the doors open, but an expansion is being planned.  And news is that Louis Vuitton, if unable to enlarge its boutique, will have to relocate to the Aventura Mall.
A view of the second floor common area of The Shops of Bal Harbour in Bar Harbour, Florida.
Photo:  John J Tackett for The Devoted Classicist blog
This reminded me of my first John Tackett Design project after leaving Parish-Hadley to set up my own firm.  The job was to make improvements to a large Georgian Revival townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side, two Renaissance Revival brownstones that had been reconfigured in an extensive 1920s renovation.  The scope of my work included the additional excavation of the cellar with waterproofing and climate control to create a special Louis Vuitton storeroom for the extensive collection of the Lady of the House.  (More about this project will appear in a future post).

A vintage view of the Maison E Goyard workroom.
Photo:  Goyard
I began to think how well known the Louis Vuitton brand had become, but that relatively few were familiar with Maison E. Goyard, another luxury brand of luggage makers that now also makes handbags.  Goyard was a very popular brand among the rich in the early part of the 20th century, with clients such as the Emperor of Russian, John Rockefeller, and the Duchess of Windsor.  In 1845, Francois Goyard started working with Morel in Paris, the trunk-maker who provided the Duchesse de Berry with her luggage, and Goyard became the successor of that company in 1853.  Ever since, each Goyard piece is still completely handmade and custom, unique pieces are still standard.

Malle a Chapeau.
Photo:  Goyard
Bags and accessories can take 3 or 4 months to be constructed, and trunks, 6 to 12 months.  The French-made products are available at 15 points of purchase worldwide, with the only U.S. boutique in San Francisco.

Malle Pullman.
Photo:  Goyard
Although luxury foreign cars such as Rolls Royces, Maseratis and Bugattis are plentiful in Miami, The Devoted Classicist was especially attracted to a Bentley Continental GTC convertible that utilized custom options for both the dark blue metallic exterior and the cream with brown piping leather interior.  Goyard can produce a trunk with matching chevron-painted canvas to perfectly fit the car's "boot".  But for now, the old black canvas and leather MoMA tote bags and a few vintage Il Bisonte pieces will do just fine, thrown in the back of my current wheels.

A Side Note:
The new book by my friend Anne Sebba, That Woman:  The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor will be published in August.  Although neither beautiful nor brillant, the Duchess became a style icon and a symbol of empowerment, albeit an often reviled one.  My questions to the author have revolved around the contention that this was the romance of the century, but much more is addressed in this upcoming new book.  That Woman is the result of in-depth research of new archives and material not previously available.  Keep a look-out for it.

17 comments:

  1. I was sorry to have missed a lecture in Baltimore by Hugo Vickers who spoke about his book on the DoW that's just out. Her Baltimore background makes her all the more interesting to me!

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  2. Wallis and David W. indeed did have lots of baggage,
    and an entourage of help to put up while visiting.

    What a hoot to recall 4 little children innocently calling them "Wawlee and Daabid" as drinks were passed before lunch.

    Thanks for awakening lovely memories of Wallis and David Windsor.

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  3. Meg, I have read neither the Vickers nor the Sebba book, but I understand that the latter goes more into the Baltimore background. Anne Sebba will visit from England and make a presentation to Decorative Arts Trust in Memphis on March 31, 2012. But other cities might be visited as well as part of a Royal Oak Foundation series.

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  4. How right you are. The Louis Vuitton brand was very famous, but relatively few were familiar with Maison E. Goyard, including me. What a shame that an equally lovely looking luxury brand of luggage makers disappeared below most historians' radar.

    Anyhow I have added a link to your post, so many thanks
    Hels
    http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com/2010/05/luxury-travel-and-louis-vuitton.html

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  5. Thanks for the link, Hels. And I enjoyed your post on Louis Vuitton. I do not know if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery after seeing so many counterfeit L.V. items -- not just handbags, but hot pants, bolero vests, and baseball caps, etc. I wonder if we'll someday see the same pirating with Goyard?

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  6. Bob, the Windsors were frequent guests in many homes, only one of which was a Palm Beach, Florida, estate called Montsorrel. In case you missed my April 1, 2011, about the house, you might enjoy reading about it.

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  7. I thought I knew all the fancy name brands! I am not sure if I should thank you or not, however; the handbags are very tempting!

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  8. C.A.W., I was thinking of you when I included Mrs Engelhard's ring in the last post.

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  9. Nice post. See you posted some of your own photos, what kind of camera are you using?

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  10. M., I was using a borrowed Canon digital camera that was very convenient as it was smaller than my wallet and slipped easily into my pocket. I have a great Nikon SLR that has lenses especially suited to photographing architecture, and have now been getting a disc when that film is developed. So my next purchase will be a digital Nikon if my old lenses can work with the new body.

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  11. John, I anxiously await the post on the townhouse. It is a real beauty. Although the husband died after an accident, I often see the wife in full, just off the runway couture. As she has been on the Forbes list of the richest women in Manhattan in her own right, I think she still has that incredible house you created.

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  12. You know, I don't like her at all but I adore her luggage choices, I am a Globe - Trotter girl myself.

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  13. B & P, apparently there was a lot not to like about the Duchess. It will be interesting to see how the facts add up in Anne Sebba's new book.

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  14. Pat, the Mrs. is quite the Fashionista, to be sure. He was interested in life size bronze sculpture; I had the floor structure reinforced in the Entrance Hall and Living Room to support them.

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  15. Anne Sebba also seems to have reached out to the descendants of Ernest Simpson, who provided letters to Duchess wrote to him after their divorce and their subsequent remarriages, about how she missed him and often thought of their time together. Very interesting.

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  16. Aesthete, I look forward to Anne's book which promises to bring new information to light. I will see her in March, 2012, when she comes to America for a lecture tour on the subject.

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  17. Old but nice and beautiful things!!

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