Two Centuries of History

Starting in the late 18th century, the famed “Bully”, established in 1803 on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, made a name for himself (which he then wore with a double consonant) with his perfumes and scented vinegars. At the turn of the 19th century, perfumers were still the heirs of the master-craftsmen from the Ancien Régime, and the keepers of their trade secrets. The vogue of perfumes followed in the wake of a fresh openness to the world and to its novel, sometimes exotic flowers – as with Joséphine de Beauharnais, who imported to France and acclimatized new olfactory species and audacities. Napoleon’s establishment of the Codex in 1806 helped usher in new requirements in the realm of perfumery, thus stimulating the inventiveness of practitioners and the quality of preparations. Bully welcomed the advances of science and cosmetics to formulate his inventions. Among these, his perfumes and skin care products achieved lasting fame. The “Vinaigre de Bully”, a patented aromatic lotion to perform ablutions and preserve skin tone, earned a flattering reputation across Europe. This classic beauty product ensured the officine’s unprecedented notoriety for more than a hundred years. Well-known for his skills as a distiller, perfumer and cosmetician, in 1837 Jean-Vincent Bully was Honoré de Balzac’s inspiration for César Birotteau, the eponymous protagonist of one of his novels from the Scènes de la vie Parisienne cycle in La Comédie humaine. Throughout the Golden Century of beauty, which witnessed the invention of the first formulations of modern cosmetics and perfumery, the officine gradually established itself as a trend-setter. Today, L’Officine universelle Buly is reborn in Paris, on Rue Bonaparte in the sixth arrondissement, with a different spelling.