Beauty Insider: meet Victoire de Taillac of L’Officine Universelle Buly

If you love your fragrance and skincare with a true touch of history, the brand Officine Universelle Buly 1803 is most definitely for you. The beauty house, opened in Paris in 1803 by perfumer and pharmacist Jean-Vincent Bully, has most certainly come back to life in the hands of lifestyle and beauty superstar couple, Victoire de Taillac et Ramdane Touhami, who are constantly challenging themselves to create an offering that is truly unique.
After meeting in 1999, the creative pair’s first collaboration in 2001 was the cutting-edge beauty bar, Parfumerie Générale; then in 2006 they relaunched French heritage candlemaker Cire Trudon, before reinventing L’Officine Universelle Buly in 2014. “We came across Buly completely by chance,” Victoire has said. “We wanted to find a brand from the 19th century, and we fell in love with the story of the founder of this beauty house opened in 1803, perfumer Jean-Vincent Bully.” The pharmacist is said to have inspired Honoré de Balzac’s character César Birotteau, further cementing the myth and mystery behind the beautiful brand.
Available locally via the always-ahead of the pack MECCA, I spoke to Victoire about scent, skincare as ritual and what makes the beauty insider always feel beautiful...

You worked for Collette and studied history. Was beauty a passion of yours that had always remained in the background until the advent of L’Officine Universelle Buly?
Since I was a teenager, I always enjoyed traditional beauty rituals, beauty experiments, beauty talks.. but it’s really when I worked at Colette that my knowledge on the topic increased a lot. I started to work mostly in beauty around 20 years ago.

You have the most beautiful stores all over the world, where are you personally based now?
I live in Paris with Ramdane and our kids, and have done since 2017. We have also lived together in New York, Tangier and Tokyo.

You were pioneers of sorts when it came to the creation of perfumes that were efficacious without the need to use harmful ingredients. Was that a challenge when it came to early formulations?
Yes a real challenge, perfumers were not convinced it would work. They were not keen to experiment with making their perfumes with water-based formulations - the beauty and perfume industry is very conservative. It was an ongoing conversation between our determination and their doubts. We won, and the formula is clean and simple with less than ten ingredients - and the perfume rendering is beautiful.

What was the first product/scent you created, and what was the thinking behind its evolution?
Pommade Virginale. Nurturing my skin is my favourite beauty ritual and it was the first product we worked on. A natural formula with a light texture, but very hydrating. Pommade Concrete, our hand cream, was the second product we created. I was not keen on the trend of making a watery hand cream, I wanted a very generous and thick balm to massage into the hands and feet.

You are constantly inspired by 19th century beauty formulas and rituals, why that era above all else?
It’s more of a movement between 19th century and now, one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Some products are really modern inventions, like our water-based perfume, alabasters or scented matches. The 19th century is the source of inspiration for the aesthetics of the period: charming, elegant and very French (not a global world!). Also, it was a time when perfumes and beauty products were created from the talents and properties of plants, nothing else…

You also offer plant oils and home fragrance, amongst other line extensions. Has this new offering emerged from personal need, or as an answer to your customers’ demands?
It all comes from our personal beliefs and the way we take care of ourselves. Our customers are very curious to discover these traditional beauty secrets though.

You have also now created an skincare regime, which is super exciting! What is a hero product from the collection, one you recommend to anyone wanting to start a journey into the world of L’Officine Universelle Buly beauty?
Ionized Water 1 or 2 to clean your face. The gentlest way to do so and very efficient thanks to the high performance trace elements.

You work with beauty every day. What makes you feel truly beautiful?
Being surrounded by nature. I am a keen gardener and spending my days out in the garden or walking in the forest makes me happy, and improves my complexion for sure!


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