The worlds of fashion and interior décor have always loved all things vintage. The older the style or article, the better and more expensive it is. Now, the latest and most luxurious must-have is the vintage luggage trunk. You may have caught glimpses of it in certain period movies, being loaded into ships or onto trains while the protagonists bid each other a tearful goodbye. Dramatic visuals aside, we shine our focus light on the vintage trunk. This wonderful piece of luggage held secret possessions and valuables in another time, its brass locks securing its contents from prying eyes. Today, the trunk has given rise to a number of décor styles, and always grabs attention. Nothing smells of luxury like a well-used but perfectly maintained trunk, either as a centrepiece in your home or carried alongside at the airport.

Victorian treasure

The trunk or chest was used the most during the late 19{+t}{+h} and early 20{+t}{+h} century, when travel by sea and road was opening up to the public. The kinds and uses of the trunks varied and a number of types were born, including the portmanteau, a large container which, being hinged at the centre, opens neatly into two halves to reveal a number of compartments. A portmanteau was used specifically to carry one's wardrobe. Flat-top trunks, also known as steamer trunks were the most popular for travel as they were quite hardy in their construction. It's also steamer trunk-inspired creations that have made their entry into home décor today. The one brand synonymous with vintage trunks is Louis Vuitton, their characteristic patterns adorning the outside of their creations. Goyard, a Parisian manufacturer of luxurious leather trunks from the 1800s still produces fine pieces. Another French brand that made a mark in the world of trunks during the 19{+t}{+h} and early 20{+t}{+h} century was Moynat. Their pieces were made-to-order, sometimes specially designed for automobiles in colours that matched the body of the car and innovative in being water-proof and lightweight. Original, antique, wooden or leather chests are quite rare to find in good condition, but don't worry, other options exist to help you catch a bit of vintage flair.

Here and now

Louis Vuitton trunks are still all the rage both at home and abroad, with the instantly recognisable logo splashed across the body of the chest. Their Alzer, Bisten and Cotteville collections are smaller versions of their older trunks, resembling carry-on chests. The house of Gucci offers customers their bespoke Travel Trunk at their boutiques in major locations. Lovers of the vintage-inspired trunk can visit their New Delhi boutique. This masterpiece takes 50 days to assemble and is made on a beechwod base. Even the clothes hangers are made of beechwood. Multiple pieces of subtle gold hardware, a signature Gucci design element are also crafted and attached by hand to the trunk, which can carry a man or woman's wardrobe with ease.

For a signature piece from closer to home you can turn to Trunks Company, Jaipur. Their collections are inspired by the culture of the Indian Maharajas of Rajasthan, who ruled in the midst of glorious luxury. Leather and suede is used along with hardware from Germany and France, and the product is handcrafted from start to finish. Paritosh and Priyank Mehta, the owners of Trunks Company say that their trunks are a blend of old-world craftsmanship and creative design. This makes them a perfect fit for both stylish travel and home décor. Some of the trunks even have wheels on the bottom to facilitate easy portability, like the movable wardrobe trunk with mint green shelving quilted padding. Travel trunks by Buck's follow the hat case, steamer and cabin trunk style with classic detailing. Fendi's camouflage trunks are great to safely store your valuables during travel, with an easy pull-along handle.

At home

If you prefer to save your trunk from rough airport handlers, then why not incorporate it into your home? Restored vintage trunks with detailed studs and metal hardware are a great addition to a living room as they can be used as centre or side tables. They are also conversation starters due to their unique look. Address Home has a vintage trunk in brown leather that is quite simple in its design but retains a classic look with a simple strap. Living in Style's blue leather trunk is a bit more contemporary and adds a dash of colour to the room. Remember, these pieces are a great help in boosting the storage area as well. The top of the trunk can be covered with glass to protect it from the elements and spills.

Recall the times of slow travel and robust style with a fashionable portmanteau or trunk from your high-end designer of choice. Scour Parisian flea markets, antique stores on Portobello Road in London and vintage stores in India to find a piece in good condition. Some trunks are even available for sale online but be sure to check the brand authenticity before placing a bid.

archana.a@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 12, 2012)
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