S.T. Dupont - A Legacy Of Design

Aug 2, 2023

Founded over 150 years ago, the design and manufacturing maison of S.T. Dupont has lead the industry in luxury, quality, and expertise, building for itself a singular reputation as a market leader and trendsetter.  From less-than-humble beginnings as craftsman to Europe's royalty, S.T. Dupont forged a path that would send his aesthetic sense into the coming century and famously into the well-documented possession of such media icons as Humphrey Bogart, Jackie Kennedy, and innumerable more.  For decades the house of S.T. Dupont has brought us only the best in luxury design and, as they are fond of saying, "authentic quality," and that legacy has brought with it a catalog unmatched amongst almost all of its contemporaries.

Simon Tissot Dupont, a person of many hats and an entrepreneurial spirit, served as photographer to Napoleon III before turning his hand to the luxury goods market.  The appointment was a feather in Dupont's cap towards endorsement to employment as the monarch was nephew to the well-known Napoleon I and self-proclaimed Emperor of the French.  Dupont had founded a carriage company, seemingly unable to be content with rubbing elbows with the then-current sovereign of the nation, which unfortunately was lost in a fire in 1872.  However, rather than be dissuaded, in that same year, at the tender age of only 25, he purchased a workshop specializing in the design and manufacture of leather briefcases.

Dupont had long held an eye for aesthetics and a keen business acumen, and with these qualities was able to steer the business into becoming a substantial success, garnering a large base of exclusive and loyal clientele and becoming the supplier to Les Grands Magasins du Louvre, one of the world's largest emporiums at the time.  You'd have to assume as much, with the word "Grands" right there in the title.  

By 1919, Dupont had achieved all he had set out to do with the company and gladly handed over the booming concern to his sons, André and Lucien, who happily undertook the business under the rebranded name of Les Fils de S.T. Dupont, or "The Sons Of S.T. Dupont," an unmistakably accurate appellation, if nothing else.  Focusing on high-quality luggage, cases, travel pieces, and accessories the brothers leaned on the business's decades of leatherworking expertise to produce some of the most high-quality and stunning luxury leather goods being released at that time.

The brothers expanded and concentrated their efforts greatly, and made the decision to move their production facility from the haute streets of Paris to their family home in Faverges in Haute-Savoie.  Employing highly-skilled craftsmen and securing patents to further guard the valuable trade secrets utilized over the company's decades of development, it was necessary to build up a base of employees.  To create their fabulous cases, tradespeople from a variety of disciplines were employed for their expertise and knowledge, including leatherworkers, locksmiths, engravers, lacquersmiths, fine woodworkers, and goldsmiths.  At the time of the move to Favreges, 250 workers and 17 discrete traders were involved in the manufacture of S.T. Dupont's fine leather goods.

Louis Cartier, another name that might possibly be recognizable in the context of the luxury goods market, invited Lucien to New York to present his unimpeachable travel cases within their boutique on 5th Avenue, a valuable foothold into the lucrative American market.  Travelling across the Atlantic to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity,  news reached Lucien of the Wall Street crash and, before even landing in the U.S., he had already decided to ramp up the S.T. Dupont market to cater to clientele that would be able to weather the financial storm with them.

In the years that followed, S.T. Dupont continued to solidify their position in the luxury goods market by developing revolutionary and industry-shifting techniques to deepen their mastery of their craft and broaden their available offerings, including a method to condition leather with diamond dust giving it even greater durability and suppleness, as well as mastering the art of lacquer application which of course opened up a great many new products in their catalog.

In 1934, S.T. Dupont was lauded by the media as the "trunk-maker of kings," having amassed a notable stable of dignitaries, royals, celebrities, and fashionistas as dedicated, zealous clients.  The crowned heads of Europe as well as the glitterati of Hollywood would turn to S.T. Dupont for all their top-tier travel case needs, and were greeted with all the pomp and luxury they had come to expect from such a reputable retailer of bespoke, high-quality goods.

Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor and American socialite, commissioned a custom travel trunk from the Maison in 1945, creating its last travel trunk for Elizabeth II in 1947 to celebrate her wedding to the Duke of Edinburg, and André himself designed the "Riviera" handbag featuring its trademark secret compartment for Audrey Hepburn.  One of the most iconic custom items, however, was made for none other than Humphrey Bogart who requested a lightweight travel bag to accompany him on his jet-setting world travels and weekends aboard his yacht.  To this day the "Bogie" travel bag is an icon of S.T. Dupont's style, durability, and dependability.  Jackie Kennedy famously commissioned the Maison to design the first luxury ballpoint pen, and they failed to disappoint, as the high-profile First Lady was one of their staunchest supporters, never to be found without her solid gold lighter.

Today, S.T. Dupont continues to amaze and inspire us with their intricate and mesmerizing guilloches, their unfailingly lovely and usable leather goods, and their litany of accessory luxury goods that never fail to each individually scream the name "Dupont."  Their Haute Creation line of wildly creative and unimaginably lush writing instruments alone, available on a limited basis and by special order on ThePleasureOfWriting.com makes for both a fun browse through their extended catalog but also a grail pen set for which to shoot for any writing aficionado who longs for the ultimate in luxury. 

From leather to lighters to, our favorite, their exquisite writing instruments, S.T. Dupont has spent a century-and-a-half building up the name, the reputation, and the industry knowledge to cement itself solidly into to absolute apogee of its industry - a fine legacy to Simon, and that initial leatherworking shop in Paris.

Here's hoping for another 150 years of magnificence.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.