PARIS — Bringing yet more whimsy to fashion, Pharrell Williams has teamed with French leather goods firm Moynat to create a capsule range of handbags shaped like vintage steam locomotives — caboose included.
The Train Bag, in hand-tooled acrylic resin or hand-carved ebony, is to be unveiled at Colette on Oct. 13 and arrive a week later at Moynat boutiques in Paris and London. Ancillary products include silk scarves and leather pouches with train motifs in marquetry.
The collaboration represents new territory for Moynat, an almost-forgotten 19th-century trunk-maker revived three years ago by luxury titan Bernard Arnault and mainly focused on ladylike bags in luxury leathers and exotic skins.
According to Moynat, Sarah Andelman, Colette’s creative director and purchasing director, introduced Williams to the brand.
The “Happy” singer promptly toured its Paris atelier, ordered an extra-large Pauline bag emblazoned with hand-painted tools and struck a rapport with Moynat creative director Ramesh Nair.
Turns out trains were on the minds of both men: Williams, a fan of Forties musical “The Harvey Girls,” zeroed in on a 1905 trunk label depicting a futuristic train, while Nair had been rocking to “Hear My Train a Comin’” by Jimi Hendrix.
In the collaboration, Nair spied a way for Moynat to continue its legacy of using unusual materials — such as its use of gutta-percha sap to seal trunks, patented in 1854 — and to enter a new category of business: minaudières.
Slated to retail in a numbered limited-edition for around 10,000 euros, or $12,830 at current exchange, the resin bags boast a brass smokestack, side rods and steam-dome clasp.
Nair said Williams nearly welled up at the sight of the first prototype, and immediately donned it cross-body style with its chain strap.
“Every grown-up guy has a child inside,” Nair said, characterizing trains as a potent symbol of nostalgia — and luxury, as a recent Orient Express exhibition at the Arab World Institute in Paris attested.
Nair hinted at ongoing collaborations with Williams, eager to open up Moynat to experimentation and nudge it in a younger, more experimental direction. “Why stick to leather?” he asked.
“Fun, but refined” was how Moynat chief executive officer Guillaume Davin described the project, explaining that exceptional craft and creativity define luxury, and not only the raw materials.
Nair said he sourced a specialty atelier in Italy to carve each train, which takes three days, while the leather interior is inserted in Paris. An ebony version is to retail for about 3,200 euros, or $4,105.
Williams has collaborated with an array of fashion brands recently, including Moncler, G-Star, Adidas and Comme des Garçons.