MILAN — Following last September’s relaunch event at Paris Fashion Week, French historical trunk maker Au Départ is kicking off in Milan a series of retail initiatives aimed at bringing its hyper luxury trunks redesigned for today’s big spenders and its high-end bag collection to the best locations in the world.
From Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, Au Départ is taking over the windows of Milan’s iconic luxury shopping destination Antonia, which will host the actual retail debut of the brand, as reimagined by its chief executive officer Gianfranco Maccarrone.
Following the debut in Milan, Au Départ will bring, on Nov. 30, its traveling retail format, including a sophisticated interior design installation conceived in collaboration with Milan’s hip Dimore Gallery with design pieces from creatives such as Gabriella Crespi and Paul Evans, to Florence’s multibrand store Luisa Via Roma. Then, the project will travel to London, where Au Départ will operate from Dec. 10 to 15 a pop-up store at the Mazzoleni art gallery, which will also welcome a range of VIP customers through a collaboration with Farfetch’s Fashion Concierge service. In January, the brand will be in Paris for Haute Couture and the Maison et Object trade show, when Au Départ will also present a special collaboration with Milanese luxury carpet maker Illulian. From Feb. 6 to 9, the label, in collaboration with London’s Mazzoleni gallery, will hit Saint Moritz during the local Nomad Circle private event for collectors, interior designers, architects and art dealers, while it will cross the ocean to arrive at New York’s iconic retailer Jeffrey during the local fashion week. In addition, Maccarrone said that the brand is also negotiating a partnership with Japanese department store Hankyu in Tokyo and Osaka.
“It’s a bit like when pioneers were traveling across their country with their family and at a certain point were meeting another family that would join them on the trip,” said Maccarrone, who was previously chief executive officer of Dsquared2. “We kicked off our adventure with Dimore Gallery, than Illulian, Mazzoleni and now Nomad. Our goal is to be cross-pollinated and at the same time cross-pollinate others. In every place we go, we don’t want just to bring our collection to sale, we are actually creating a lifestyle brand, a luxury project with products that will live forever.”
For its trunks, which are designed to carry and display both more classic products like wines, cigars and table games and more contemporary items, such as DJ stations and video game consoles, Départ uses three materials: a leather inspired by an Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s brief case; monogram coated cotton, which is a reproduction of the brand’s original fabric, as well as a new lightweight jacquard fabric including a reflective yarn. This last is also employed for the collection of timeless bag styles, showing prices starting from 870 euros.
Au Départ, which is also negotiating partnerships with key players in the world of luxury boats and hotels, including Perini and Soho House, respectively, is currently looking for a location in Paris to open its first flagship. “But the location must be just perfect for the positioning of the brand,” Maccarrone said.