Starting in the late 18th century, the famed Jean-Vincent 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.
After a century of sleep, the most famous of French beauty dispensaries rises again to pursue its voyages around the world.
With audacity and precision, in the spirit of conquest and innovation, l’Officine Universelle Buly offers products that draw on the most innovative cosmetic techniques and on the virtues of natural ingredients. Dreamed up in Paris and formulated in a French laboratory, these products feed on the latest advances of contemporary cosmetics, all the while remaining true to the teachings of ancient recipes.
L’Officine Universelle Buly revisits traditions with the freedom and efficiency afforded by all the progress achieved by contemporary laboratories: day in and day out, l’Officine passes on and pushes forward the heritage of beauty, inspired by the excellence of the past whilst offering the very best of the present.
At the head of l’Officine Universelle Buly
Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami
Ramdane Touhami, an entrepreneur and l’Officine’s art director, has collaborated with Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche and Liberty , and master-minded the rebirth of the ancient Maison Cire Trudon, for which he notably created novel and now-illustrious interior “smells”. He was also the inventor of the odoriferous ritual of bell-covered candles. Under his impetus, Cire Trudon has been an international success, its products now available in 58 countries. Today, he runs l’Officine Universelle Buly, overseeing its renewal, designing its new counters and shops in Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, London and New York, and inventing new products and rituals with a retro-futuristic feel.
In addition to being a beauty traveller and adventurer, Victoire de Taillac is an expert on the history of beauty and femininity. In partnership with Ramdane Touhami, she launched Parfumerie Générale, the first alternative cosmetics store in France, and cofounded Corpus, a yearly bilingual magazine devoted to beauty of the bodily and spiritual kinds. Always on the lookout for new beauty accessories, products, rites and stories from across the globe, through l’Officine Universelle Buly she is working on the publication of an Atlas of beauty secrets from around the world, due out in September 2017.