“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: THE SYBARITIC WORLD OF BULY 1803



 

blason


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If you are a ‘flâneur‘ in Paris, you will be familiar with seeing olde worlde façades of apothecaries. Very few, however, have kept the original interiors.
Not too dissimilarly to Antoinette Poisson (see last Monday’s post here), today’s feature, steeped in history, showcases how an establishment founded in 1803 was reborn and re-imagined for 2014 in St Germain-des-Près.

On the instruction of his friend Christophe d’Aboville (previous artistic director at David Hicks France), A-Gent of Style made his way last week to Buly 1803,
6 rue Bonaparte, to see for himself the new beauty brand and its unique boutique launched on April 1st which has been garnering a lot of attention and press since.


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The evocative universe of Buly is twofold; it is a decorative tour de force as well as a step back into early 19th century history. As soon as you walk in L’Officine Universelle Buly, you are transported into a space and an age celebrating the apothecaries of yesteryear and the refined establishments of the master perfumers. Parisian Jean-Vincent Bully was one of them and a famous one at that; his “Vinaigre de Toilette” was highly popular then and Bully even inspired Balzac to create one of his eponymous protagonists for one of his novels, César Birotteau. Inspired by archives of his 18th century officine (dispensary) and business, a new, modernised Buly was resurrected and rejuvenated, losing one l on the way to the 21st century to avoid the pejorative connotation in English. The timeless and charming result is a complete success; it is as if the store had always been there and its products simply a ‘remembrance of things past’.


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Self-described as a “universal trading post for beauty secrets amassed over the centuries”, Buly 1803‘s universe is filled with scents and aromas but also heritage, traditions, memories and mysteries. Glass jars and vials filled with oils, perfume bottles and flasks, soaps, powders, creams, clays, candles, scented matches and accessories, all adorned with traditional but terribly chic packaging inspired by old documents, grace the dressers and shelves.

The decor is awash with striking elements: antiqued, glazed terracotta tiling made in Tuscany in glorious turquoise, ceiling and original beams delicately painted in white and blue à la française, reminiscent of faïence, that would make Mark D. Sikes weak at the knees, counters with deeply veined, swirling, rare Italian marble, antique lamps, mirror and ‘swan’ tap, all found at the flea market of Clignancourt and, throughout the boutique, imposing oak and walnut burl woodwork constructed by a carpenter just as in olden times, also inspired by old photos of pharmacies Hôtel Dieu.


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The creative mastermind behind this rejuvenation is Ramdane Touhami, entrepreneur and art director, who has worked in the past with Le Bon Marché, Liberty and who has also renewed bell-covered Cire Trudon candles, now internationally famed.

Behind the concoctions is his elegant wife, Victoire de Taillac, a proficient connoisseur of cosmetics and an expert on the history of beauty in feminity. In partnership with Touhami, de Taillac launched Parfumerie Générale, the first alternative cosmetics store in France. Victoire is also the co-founder with Touhami of Corpus Magazine, a yearly and bilingual publication on beauty of the bodily and spiritual kind.


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A breath of fresh air from the saturated, mass-produced and mass marketed beauty market, Buly 1803 has invented new skin care products for the face, body and hair, as well as personal and atmospheric perfumes, drawing on the most innovative cosmetic techniques (extraordinarily, the perfumes don’t use alcohol or glycerine but are water-based, which leaves the skin unctuously smooth) and on the virtues of natural ingredients, such as lavender flowers, iris root powder, raspberry seeds, baobab seed oil, sweet almonds, and green desert clay, that contain neither Parabens, phenoxyethanol or Silicon.

A-Gent of Style dutifully tried, only for the sake of research of course, the Pommade Virginale, a miraculous cream for the face. Needless to say, he is now a convert. And so will you, after your compulsory visit to this atypical, trend-setting boutique next time you are in the French capital.


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– Photos by Buly 1803 and A-Gent of Style






2 comments


  • Dear Thorough Gent,
    Thank you for this wealth of photographs. You have well documented the brilliance of this design and given me another star to follow in Ramdane Touhami. Sincerely, Beth

    May 19, 2014
  • Nancy Sykes

    This is one of the most exquisite shops I have ever seen.
    Fortunate enough to live nearby, I shall visit it tomorrow.
    You have found yet another treasure for your readers!

    May 20, 2014

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