A legacy of excellence
Pierre-François Martin founded the House of Martin in 1792. It specialized in box-making, trunk-making and packing, at a time when the golden age of the great trunk-makers of the late XIXth century was yet to come.
Martin’s trade had more to do with the delicate art of garment folding and packing than with that of container making, as evidenced by his ad campaign, which stressed that "Maison Martin sells an assortment of boxes and cases; it provides quality packing services for fragile furniture and objects, as well as hats, gowns and flowers; it uses oiled canvas, plain canvas and straw for packing; manufacturer of horse carriage trunks and coat racks, it also supplies oilcloth and waterproof canvas, all at a fair price."
The house of Martin quickly became a favourite with the French aristocracy, and was eventually granted the prestigious tittle of official purveyor of HRH Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Siciles, Duchess of Berry. In 1834, the House of Martin moved its store from 4, rue Neuve des Capucines to 347, rue Saint-Honoré. Even though the postal address changed to 233, rue Saint-Honoré in 1856 on account of a new street numbering system, its location has remained the same ever since.
Pierre François Martin was the guardian of a young female ward, Pauline. He arranged her marriage to one of his employees, Louis-Henri Morel, and gave his business as her dowry. Morel followed in Martin’s footsteps, and introduced himself as the « Successor to former Maison Morel, located on rue Neuve-des-Capucines, near Place Vendôme ».
In 1845, Morel hired François Goyard as an apprentice. The 17-year old boy received training under the guidance of both Martin and Morel. When Morel died suddenly in 1852, François took over, and remained for 32 years at the helm of a house he took to a whole new level. He finally handed over the reins to his son Edmond in 1885.
a family business
Drawing on his father François’ work, Edmond Goyard turned the store on rue Saint-Honoré into an increasingly elitist institution with an international clientele. He created the first Goyard advertisements, participated in various World Expositions and opened three branch stores in Monte-Carlo, Biarritz, Bordeaux, as well as trade offices in New York and London, the latter located on Mount Street, like today’s Goyard Mayfair boutique. He also laid the foundations for the brand as we know it today, as he came up with the emblematic Goyardine canvas, launched a pet accessories range and developed products for automobiles.
One of the first things François Goyard did when he took over from Morel was to open state-of-the-art workshops, as he believed having complete control over manufacturing processes was key to achieve excellence. An opinion shared by Jean-Michel Signoles when he bought Goyard in 1998. A keen collector and connoisseur of all things Goyard, he also opened new workshops with the help of his sons: Alex is in charge of special orders, trunk-making and soft-bag manufacturing; Rémi deals with personalization and Pierre takes care of canvas printing. Of course, the contemporary Goyard workshops are more spacious, functional and altogether a lot different from those of yesterday, but the know-how and passion of the artisans remain the same.
Without the backing of a leading group, and with complete disregard for marketing or mass-production, the Signoles family revived Goyard’s heritage and skills and opened new boutiques across Europe, the Americas and Asia. Within a decade, they restored Goyard to its original glory, and firmly re-established it as a beacon of timeless elegance, craftsmanship and exclusivity.
goyard, the preferred choice of connoisseurs
Since its doors first opened in 1853, Goyard has been a favourite with celebrities, and many illustrious artists, captains of industry, heads of state or royals have sported its creations. The names of the leading personalities of the 19th and 20th century are to be found in Goyard’s filing cabinet, which keeps track of each and every order placed by customers through a system of nominal index cards.
Upon reading the files, one may daydream easily about the extraordinary and not so unlikely encounters that could have taken place at 233, rue Saint-Honoré: Pablo Picasso and Sacha Guitry, the Maharadjah of Kapurthala and Jacques Cartier, the Agnellis and the Rockefellers, the Romanovs and the Grimaldis, Estée Lauder and Barbara Hutton, Mrs Pompidou and the Princess Aga Khan, Coco Chanel and Jeanne Lanvin, Romy Schneider and Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf and Arthur Rubinstein, Cristobal Balenciaga and Karl Lagerfeld…
The latter, whose account was open in 1972, is highly emblematic of Goyard’s unique ability to build long-term relationships with its clientele, whether they are famous or anonymous. It is not uncommon for Goyard customers to have accounts that remain active for decades: the Duke and Duchess of Windsor opened theirs in 1939, and it was closed only after the demise of the Duchess in 1986.