Mark. W. Cross & Co. was founded in 1845 in Boston, Massachusetts as a purveyor of carriage saddles and harnesses. The house became known simply as Mark Cross when Patrick Murphy acquired the company after its namesake’s death, and opened shops in New York and London. Expansion overseas translated to first-time access to luxuries yet unknown to the American market. Beyond leather goods, Murphy brought the finest china, crystal and other delights from abroad to the States.
From the young Gerald Murphy’s years at Yale, it was clear his talents lay not in traditional academics, but in art and his eye for beauty, which led him to marry the lovely heiress Sara Sherman Wiborg. Gerald Murphy would, in the end, take over Mark Cross, but not before living a legendary life overseas.
In 1921 the Murphys moved to Paris, France, then decamped south to Cap d’Antibes and set up house in Villa America where they entertained many of the celebrated characters of the Lost Generation: Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter (a friend from Murphy’s Yale days) and the Fitzgeralds all fell under the couple's charm. F. Scott Fitzgerald notably modeled the main characters Dick and Nicole Diver in “Tender is the Night” after his frequent hosts and friends. The Murphys ignited a taste and trend for spending summers sunbathing in the South of France; Sara would sit with pearls tumbling down her back while her husband worked nearby on his paintings. The Murphy’s coined the phrase “Living Well is the Best Revenge,” which would later become the title of the renowned book about Gerald and Sara Murphy, written by Calvin Tomkins.
In 1934, Gerald officially took over the Mark Cross brand. He expanded its offerings to include luggage, cigarette cases, and even jeweled evening bags, some of which he collaborated on with Seamen Schepps. In Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary film Rear Window, it’s none other than a Mark Cross overnight case in which Grace Kelly packs her clothing.
The family would eventually sell the company, even though Gerald would stay on as president until retiring in 1955. Even under new ownership, Mark Cross continued to flourish. It changed hands again in 1961 and subsequently closed its doors in the 1990s.
In 2011, Mark Cross was resurrected and now produces pieces in the same factories in Italy as the celebrated originals. The aesthetic of the current collection is inspired by the vintage archives, which have been translated into a modern vision. Every move made on the creative side of product development is geared toward attempting to incorporate the unique aspects of Mark Cross for today’s world.
The collections are inspired by the archives of decades ago. The Grace Box bag, for example, was originally created by Gerald Murphy for Grace Kelly's role in Rear Window. Today’s Grace Box bag, a version inspired by the original, is part of the core collection and is one of the brand’s best sellers. Women collect it in the colors of the season.
The Mark Cross Men’s collection, introduced in Spring 2014, combines vintage luxury with a new vision of sleek sophistication. The aesthetic of the Men’s collection is also rooted in the brand’s rich heritage and several designs are inspired by the archives.
Both the Women’s and Men’s collections are identifiable as Mark Cross, the collections are inspired by the brand’s rich heritage, dedication to fine craftsmanship and use of the finest leathers in the world, devoid of excess hardware and logos. Customers know a Mark Cross product when they see one!