Japanese culture and aesthetic captured by Victoire de Taillac, co-owner of “Officine Universelle Buly”

The anachronistic apothecary-style beauty label “Officine Universelle Buly” reopened in Paris in 2014. It has a long history, was established in 1803 by Jean-Vincent Bully a well-known perfumer at the time. The brand, which has built a high position in Paris, quickly gained popularity when it revived on the Seine promenade, Rue Bonaparte, and opened stores in Taiwan, London, New York, and in 2017 in Daikanyama, Tokyo. Ceiling paintings and the general counter that match the image of Paris when it was established. Perfume bottles, medicine jars and historical furniture are lined up. The artistic packaging reminiscent of France in the 19th century, rich fragrance, and skincare products made with luxurious natural materials have won the hearts of many people, and there are currently seven stores in Japan.

”Officine Universelle Buly” was reopened by co-owner and artistic director Ramdane Touhami and his wife, beauty specialist Victoire de Taillac. Ramdane is a well-known creator in Paris who worked on the art direction of the long-established candle brand “Cire Trudon” after working for “Le Bon Marché” and “Liberty”. After experiencing the PR of “Colette”, Victore has been active in Paris as a beauty expert. The two jet setters sell their own products as well as traditional Japanese beauty products at stores in Paris. Victore, who supervises the products, loves many Japanese products at her home. She talked about her personal experience in Japan and the aesthetics of France and Japan.

――When did you visit Japan for the first time? What impressed you most?

Victoire de Taillac:When I was fifteen years old with my best friend, my sister was working for Comme des Garçons in Tokyo back then. Like all foreigners, our eyes were not big enough to catch everything we wanted to see and we got lost thousands of times.

Two of us took the train to visit Kyoto. I still remember thirty years later; my feeling of astonishment and enchantment when we visit Ryōan-ji (a Zen temple). Also, our first Japanese bath that night in the tiny ryokan owned by a charming old Japanese lady. For fifteen years old girls, our first stroll at Kiddy Land was the best shopping experience!

――You and Ramdane have traveled the world and came into contact with different cultures and products.  After all the experience, why did you decide to carry the Japanese traditional beauty products at your stores in Paris?

Victoire:Ramdane and I are very fond of Japanese culture. We have family in Japan,  a great team too, so it’s not difficult to discover Japanese products to share with our French customers.

Our first Japanese product selection was “Rice bran powder” to wash your face. After that, we add “Camelia oil” and “Minebari comb.” All the Japanese products are selling well, especially the most popular is camelia oil.

Every week I do a treatment for my hair with “Camelia oil”. I also personally own a “Minebari comb” and use Japanese bath salts quite a lot.

――The whole family has come to Japan many times. Are there any other Japanese products that you use at home other than beauty products?

Victoire:There are so many Japanese products in our home! Many kitchen tools, Japanese ceramics, books, magazines (Ramdane’s favorite magazines are Japanese). He loves Japanese patches when he has a backache.

Our kids love Japanese rice, so I brought back a rice cooker from Japan. I keep at least three different kinds of Japanese tea, also a wide variety of sauces such as soy sauce, ponzu sauce, bulldog sauce. Happily, I can find most of our family favorite things as there are great Japanese grocery stores in Paris.

Toppo biscuits is the only item I don’t understand why it’s not easy to get in France, our kids’ most favorite. We find only Pocky. It’s a very serious problem…

――How do you perceive the aesthetics of France and Japan as you are familiar with Japanese beauty, food and culture?

Victoire:I think in both of our cultures, “esthetics” comes first. The pursuit of beauty and harmony is respected and valued. Of course, styles are very different in Japan and France, but both our cultures teach us to watch and enjoy the beauty visually.

――About four years have passed since the first store in Japan opened. Have you found any differences from France or other countries?

Victoire:Japanese customers spend more time inside the stores to learn everything about Buly’s world and products. The sales tend to take longer if I compare to French customers are more of speedy shopping.

Since the first store, Japanese customers are very attracted to natural beauty, plant oils, plant powders and clays. They seem like be ready to commit to a natural beauty routine.

After I would say, all our customers worldwide enjoy more or less the same things about Buly: the quality, the esthetics, the perfumes, the store, the natural beauty selection.

――What is the most inspirational source of product supervision, such as new product development and package design?

Victoire:Ramdane’s mind! He has the most amazing ideas. When you have your company, the best thing is you can create your ideas.

We see “Officine Universelle Buly” as an endless work in progress. We create, improve, experiment with the products one after another. We love to surprise ourselves and to surprise our customers. The only criteria is quality.

――How would you describe “Officine Universelle Buly”  in a straightforward way?

Victoire:Reinvention of French style beauty. An emporium of beauty secret from all around the world.

――In the end, can you share with us about upcoming products?

Victoire:Scented Stickers for masks are coming out in Japan in March: the scented refreshing patches purify the air in your mask. Our book ”Atlas of Natural Beauty” will finally be published in Japanese this summer. As well as a new formula of soap will come out soon.

Victoire de Taillac
Born into a French noble family, after working as a press for “Colette” and beauty journalist, she launched the comprehensive beauty magazine “CORPUS.” Alongside with her husband Ramdane Touhami, they opened a boutique “Officine Universelle Buly” in 2014 in Paris. She is involved in product supervision for the brand as a co-owner.

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Elie Inoue

Paris-based journalist, born in Osaka, Japan, in 1989. Having a dream of living abroad since she took a trip to Europe with her mother when she was 12 years old. After graduating from Mukogawa Women’s University, she started living in New York City and gained experience as a fashion journalist and coordinator.The more involved in fashion, the more she was strongly drawn to European fashion culture and history, then she moved into Paris in 2016. Currently, she has been covering fashion weeks in various cities, interviews with fashion designers, as well as working on lifestyle, culture, and politics.