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Jean Paré, brother of Ambroise Paré who was a famous surgeon of the French King, was a trunk-maker (malletier) established in the 16th century close to the Notre Dame cathedral of Paris. During the same era, at Brussels, Nicolas Gilbert, Augustin de Hofstadt Boel, and a few others, were trunk-makers purveyors to Emperor Charles the Fifth. 

Five centuries later a fusion of knowledge and history took place. In the year 2017, Jean-Pierre Bal, the Belgian malletier whom in the 2000s had sparked the rebirth of that profession in Belgium, created the Ecole des Malletiers Nicolas Gilbert, an authentic Belgian malletier school where he teaches as well.   

 

In France, the historical research work about Jean Paré took place from 2017 to 2019, in Paris and in Laval. The Ecole des Malletiers Jean Paré will be launched in the course of 2021 (instead of 2020). The Covid sanitary crisis has somewhat slowed down the start-up phase of the French counterpart school. 

 

The Ecoles des Malletiers project was a true renaissance. In order to learn the malletier profession - the manufacture by hand of travel trunks that is - one had, since many decades already, to either be hired by a malletier company as an apprentice, or otherwise be driven by an enlightened, self-taught, and creative entrepreneurial artisan spirit.

 

Monsieur Bal picked up the challenge, and recreated the 'classical' education for a very fine craftsmanship profession. He envisioned the structuring of the educational platform, first and foremost a human one, like that of the ancient masters who taught in the frame of craftsmen's confraternities and guilds in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and into the Age of Enlightment. 

 

In Belgium the Ecole des Malletiers Nicolas Gilbert is active since 2018. Its opening coincided with the European Year for Cultural Heritage. The school is the successor of the modest Belmal Conservatory that Mr. Bal had founded in 2008. The now 'new' Ecole offers programmes, courses, and workshops that lead towards the earning of a certificate or diploma of higher education level.

 

Old view on the city of Laval, France. One can see at the far right the roofs of Bourg Hersent, the hamlet where many of the Paré family members were born.

 

Within the micro-group Ecoles des Malletiers Paré - Gilbert, which also comprises the Belmal Collection, each unit has its own role and specialty, and all within the vast domain that encompasses the design, the manufacture, or the restoration of travel trunks and antique travel requisites and equipment, and the design of far more contemporary luggage items, if not definitely futuristic ones. 

 

For more information please check the centralised contact page for the schools and Belmal museum collection. The same applies for contacting the (earlier) ancillary units in Laval, in Paris, and in Charleville Mezieres. Or the flagship showcase Ecole des Malletiers of Belgium, and campus; showroom at Durbuy.

 

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All rights reserved. Update: 2021-01-02