A few days ago, Diljeet Titus, one of Delhi's top lawyers, forked out Rs 70 lakh for a custom-made, domed-lid Vuittonite canvas-covered trunk to go with his other enviable collectible - a 1933 Minerva sedan that once belonged to the Raja of Mahmudabad. "It's the ultimate level of originality," says Titus, a proud owner of some 100 vintage trunks, 31 of them from with the Louis Vuitton label.
Louis Vuitton, a name synonymous with luxury luggage, succeeded in rekindling the interest of Indians in extravagant trunks when it opened a store in New Delhi in 2003 with its main window showcasing a vintage, canvas-clad specimen with rows of labelled drawers that once contained a Maharani's custom-made shoes. Given the stiff price tag, LV expected to sell a dozen modern versions of the trunk that year. They sold 12 in as many weeks - reportedly because they were thought ideal for today's wedding trousseaux.
Till recently, the clientele for such trunks was restricted to royal scions in need of customised cases (think boxes for guns and swords). Today, more and more well-heeled professionals and entrepreneurs - or high net worth individuals in the jargon of the bankers chasing them - are aspiring for a piece of this exclusive cachet.
A Mumbai businessman recently commissioned the Jaipur-based The Trunks Company to make a trunk for his collection of high-end watches worth an estimated 40 crore. The watch trunk (costlier than a small car) is made of imported leather and teak wood and even has dedicated LED lights for each watch sentinel and watch-winder.
Around the same time, a Lucknow-based entrepreneur took delivery of a Rs 12-lakh trunk that can hold 12 rifles, a few pistols and ammunition from the same company. "There are a lot of people, both in India and abroad, buying luxury trunks from us," says Paritosh Mehta, co-founder, The Trunks Company.
Purpose of Buying Trunks has changed
The chief designer of The Trunks Company is Livio Delesgues, a Parisian based in the Pink City for the past three years. According to Mehta, along with consumers, the purpose of buying trunks has changed, too. "Now people who spend lakhs on luxury trunks are looking for functionality as well," says Mehta, who counts filmmaker Karan Johar as a client. Today, trunks are not only used for travel, but also as containers for shoes, music, poker sets and even bars at home.
Vanity trunks, champagne trunks, pool and spa trunks...the modern possibilities are endless. Nine months ago, Aussie cricket captain Michael Clarke went to LV's special order workshop in France to give the specifications for a compartmentalised trunk to hold his cricketing gear plus an iPod dock. The unique trunk was completed in mid-October; Christie's will now auction it for a children's charity, along with its contents, for at least $170,000! A few years ago, pop icon Zac Efron shelled out $50,000 for a 1920s vintage LV trunk for his then girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens, pointing to the widening appeal of what was once dismissed as granny luggage. And at $8,000, the late Greta Garbo's LV steamer trunk is slated to be the highlight of the auction of her possessions this December.
The resurgence of trunks as a major luxury accessory worldwide was manifest the moment French billionaire Bernard Arnault bought the defunct bespoke 'malletier' Moynat in 2010 and relaunched it in 2011 with a grand store on the same Paris boulevard as its legendary trunk-making rival of equal vintage, Goyard.
That the label's new creative director is an Indian called Ramesh Nair is mere coincidence. Trunks became the luxury accessory of choice when the European elite and Indian maharajas embarked on leisurely cruises acentury ago thanks to ocean-liners.
These roomy receptacles made of a variety of woods including insectresistant camphor, and even a 'new' material called aluminium, were customised to carry everything from furs, mini libraries and turbans to camping equipment, typewriters and crockery sets.
Author: Vijaya Rathore
Source: The Economic Times
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