Behind the scenes of Officine Universelle Buly 1803, a brand born in the sign of the 19th century French cosmetics tradition
Edited by Francesca Gastaldi
Regardingevoke the charm of 19th-century Paris, the undisputed capital of beauty, drawing on an invaluable legacy of ancient knowledge: born of this desire Workshops Universal July 1803Brand founded in 2014 by creative couple Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami. Lhe history of Officine Universelle Buly takes us back in time, precisely in Paris in 1803, to the shop on rue Saint-Honoré of Jean-Vincent Bully, a famous perfumer known as one of the best distillers in the city. In fact, it was in Paris that the new beauty codes and rituals were created, including powders and rice pastes for the complexion and sophisticated lotions. Precisely in these years, the perfumer Bully marked a turning point in the history of cosmetics in the 19th century with the launch of his Vinaigre de toiletteamazing vinegar created by his father destined to revolutionize personal care.
Fruit of savoir-faire, of talent, but above all of love for the universe of cosmetics, The formulation launched by Bully, which was originally designed for toilet and facial cleansing, immediately conquered the Paris of that time. Compared to the classic eau de cologne, very common at the time but whose quality varied according to the many imitations produced, Bully’s vinaigre became an essential beauty treatment, a must-have prized at the world fairs and a Symbol of the most authentic Parisian spirit. “Sweet to the skin, pleasant to the nose, as the prospectuses say, he stays in the front row like a brave old colonel, proud of the medals that adorn his label,” he wrote of the Vinaigre de toilette Le Petit Journal in its April 12, 1869 issue. Thanks to this bestseller, the reputation of the Bully boutique went beyond the borders of France and the experienced perfumer became so famous that he even inspired the writer Honoré de Balzac, who wrote of his life, was inspired to create the famous character of César Birotteau in the novel of the same name.
The Boutique Officine Universelle Buly 1803 in Milan, in Via Brera
It’s in that golden age of Parisian cosmetics from which the Officine Universelle Buly 1803 brand is inspired – the new spelling with a single L is intended to symbolize the beginning of a new chapter – born from the desire to revive the tradition and the art of perfumery, but also all the typical atmosphere of French shops. A desire that Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami share from the start, together with a marked taste for perfumery, characterized by original formulations and characterized by a timeless style. He is a designer, entrepreneur and art collector, she is a fashion and beauty expert (for years responsible for the public relations of the famous Colette concept store), Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac were able to merge their vision with the opening of the first Officine boutique in 2014 Universal Buly 1803 at 6 rue Bonaparte in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. In 2003, the duo founded the Parfumerie Générale, the first store for alternative cosmetics in France, followed in 2010 by The French Beauty Club, a platform dedicated to the French ideal of beauty. Today Victoire de Taillac devotes himself entirely to the Officine Universelle Buly 1803, the development of new products or the research of rare ingredients. It’s no coincidence that his was released in 2017 Atlas of Natural Beauty, an authentic encyclopedia that has become a point of reference for those who want to know the secrets and virtues of natural ingredients such as vegetable oils, powders and clays, but also ancient and effective remedies for self-care, summarized in easy-to-prepare recipes . Ramdane Touhami, on the other hand, was the head of the rebirth of the Maison Cire Trudon (the oldest French candle maker, also favored by the kings of France) as well as the inventor of the perfumed ritual based on candles enclosed in a bell jar. Thanks to his inventiveness and expertise, Touhami designed the remake of Officine Universelle Buly 1803, an experience he recounted in his The beauty of time travelpublished in 2021. In this volume, the designer illustrates his artistic and philosophical vision of the Buly universe and the way he managed to revitalize the brand.
Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami in front of the case of the Officine Universelle Buly 1803 in the Louvre Museum special project, 2019
Combination of natural ingredients and ancient recipes with innovative technologies Aimed at contemporary cosmetics, the brand has signed a line of iconic products, all made in Paris and formulated in a French laboratory. Illustrious example is the Perfume de Peau a l’Eau, a collection of water-based skin perfumes. These alcohol-free perfumes are characterized by pure and delicate emulsions that allow you to breathe in the fragrance in all its integrity as soon as it is released. These alcohol-free perfumes required years of work and experimentation and marked a real turning point in the world of perfumery Alcohol is traditionally an essential standard and soon becomes a symbol of the Maison. Among the proposals stand out perfumed soaps, bath salts with refined scents, but also personal care items such as retro-style combs, made with the most refined workmanship. In fact, no fewer than 12 steps are required to make each Officine Universelle Buly 1803 comb: we start by cutting the acetate according to the shape of the selected model, followed by polishing and matting to round the corners and sharpen the teeth. The processing continues with the careful shaping of the teeth, the smoothing of the surface, the steam bath that gives shine and the final polishing done by skilled craftsmen. Finally some unusual finishes like e.g The Plumeau relaxantOstrich feathers surrounded by a leather handle intended to evoke the pleasant sensation of a caress, or Le Baume de MusesLip balm made from natural ingredients with moisturizing and repairing properties, enclosed in an elegant vintage style box. And then again the purifying clay powder, which with its valuable trace elements restores a radiant complexion to all skin types, eliminating impurities and toxins.
Instead, the unprecedented collaboration with the Louvre Museum dates back to 2019: for the first time in the history of perfumery, the Maison has involved the most famous French houses and their illustrious noses to create a collection capable of passing through different olfactory notes to interpret eight of the masterpieces kept in the Louvre. between these The Venus de Milo, created by master perfumer Jean-Christophe Hérault, who interpreted the famous sculpture in a perfume characterized by an olfactory triptych of tangerine, jasmine and ambergris. With the greatest belief that true luxury lies in the details, the brand has also become famous for a range of personalization services that make each object even more unique and special. The recipient’s initials or monogram can be hand engraved onto combs and soap bars, with a choice of up to 253 graphic combinations, also available in gold. Thanks to the origata experts, the Japanese art of paper folding, the boutiques of Officine Universelle Buly 1803 wrap unique gift packages, tied with an elegant ribbon and sealed with labels artfully decorated in the old style by the officers, the sales staff of the time were written.
Personalized combs, toothbrushes and bars of soap thanks to the engraving service available in the Officine Universelle Buly 1803 boutiques
From Paris to Kyoto, from Seoul to London to Milan – where in 2022 the first Italian store was inaugurated in the heart of Brera – the brand, now part of the LVMH Group, has more than 40 boutiques, each one inspired in style and architecture by the city in which it is located , At the same time, it remains faithful to the atmosphere that has always characterized Officine Universelle Buly 1803, namely that of the French workshops of the 19th century. All Maison Buly, characterized by their elegant showcases, are equipped with walnut furniture and boiseries, marble-clad counters, antique-style faucets and laboratory cabinets displaying flacons, small bottles or apothecary stills in glass or ceramic. It’s as if time has stood still: in each of these boutiques, you really don’t have to close your eyes to imagine how the brilliant perfume inventor Jean-Vincent Bully intends to distil his perfume Vinaigre de toilette for the most demanding Parisian clientele.