The Moleskine, the traditional notebook for the likes of Van Gogh, Hemmingway, Picasso and Chatwin, is actually bound in oilcloth and cardboard. I say traditional (and the Moleskine website calls them ledgendary), but the name Moleskine was not coined until 1986, and not registered until 1996.
The 'original Moleskine' (the notebook so favoured by the intelligensia) was made by a French bookbinding business that supplied a fashionable Paris stationary shop; but production ceased in the mid 1980s. The modern Moleskine, now printed in China and sewn in Italy, did not come into being until 1998. Since 2006 the brand has been back in French ownership.
Moleskines feature a handly elastic strap (for keeping your space pen in place), and a spine that allows the book to be laid flat. Many different sizes and colours are available, although 'traditionally' Moleskines were black.
According to their blurb, "red is the new black", so, clearly, some clever marketing men are in charge of things now.
For more information see the Moleskine website