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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 coffermaker in Paris, in the rue de la Huchette, near 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, as well as his brother did later on. 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 trunkmaker's malletier family name, or other motto, 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 with a structured curriculum in the malletier profession (note: not the fine leather goods' craft); inviting and guiding trainees from other schools of related craftsmanship areas. 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, in order to learn the malletier craftsmanship - the design and manufacture of travelling trunks, and of high luxury or prestige casings for the transport of precious objects - one needed an opportunity to join an established House, as a trainee towards attaining mastery, or else be driven by self-taught craft, with a deep sense of aesthetics, of beauty, and by an entrepreneurial drive and skills. 


In truth more than 60 years had passed since the last school offering a classical 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. Then, since he had also been active in French higher education for more than twelve years, the launch of the second school, in France, tribute to Jean Paré, as well as the launch of the PARÉ brand, naturally followed. It's a 500 years' jump, from the 16th to 21st century; a journey that only just started... 


Follow M. Bal on instagram @doublanse


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


© copyright 2023, 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 : 2023-07-19