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A trunk-maker of French Maine settles in Paris


In the beginning of the 16th century, Jean Paré, the brother of the much celebrated Ambroise Paré, surgeon of the kings of France, was a trunk-maker in Paris, established in the rue de la Huchette, close to the Notre Dame cathedral. He was born in Bourg Hersent, near Laval. One day he left his hometown, and undertook a journey to Paris. He settled in the City of Lights, along with his brother. Historic research about Jean revealed small episodes of his Parisian life and anonymous work. As a matter of fact, for many centuries trunks and chests rarely carried a signature or seal of their artisans. It is in the 19th century that the use of a malletier's family name as a label-tag or brand-name, really became commonplace. Then came the rise of leading or premium brands, and of the famous Houses (maisons).


500 years later: the tribute to Jean and Nicolas


In 2009, Jean-Pierre Bal, founding malletier of the PARÉ school, launched in Belgium a pilot-project of a structured education curriculum in the profession, while guiding trainees originating from other craftsmanship schools. In 2018, European Year of Cultural Heritage, he launched the GILBERT school in Belgium. Nicolas Gilbert, a Brussels' malletier, was a contemporary of Jean Paré. The new school, a world premiere, actually took on the shape of a renaissance. In former times, to learn the malletier profession, being the design and manufacture of travelling trunks, and of high luxury or prestige casings for the transport of precious objects, one needed an opportunity of joining a malletier company, a Maison, as a trainee towards attaining mastery, or else be driven by self-taught craft, with a deep sense of aesthetics, of beauty, and rely on one's entrepreneurial skills. 


In truth more than 60 years had passed since the last school offering a malletier training, in Paris for that matter, relinquished that education path. Bringing in all of his experience, Mr. Bal created a first new school of malletier art and craft in Belgium. And, with his working in French higher education since more than ten years, the launch of the second school, and the brand, tribute to Jean Paré, naturally followed. It's sort of a 500 years' jump, from the 16th to 21st century; a journey that only just started... 


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ÉCOLE PARÉ is an entity within INSIL, a private institution of higher education in France

The BELMAL museum collection of travel trunks is curated by the Gilbert & Paré schools


© copyright 2022, OGISPES for BELMAL, Ecole PARÉ, Ecole des Malletiers Nicolas Gilbert of Belgium and  Ecole PARÉ France, Paris, Charleville-Mézières, Reims, Manhay. All rights reserved. Reproduction forbidden. Update : 2022-01-13