It’s a new week, so let’s introduce a new brand. We recently had the pleasure of talking to Ramdane Touhami, who along with his wife Victoire de Taillac have re-launched an age old perfumery in Paris- Buly 1803. Situated in the charming Rue Bonaparte in Saint Germain de Près, the husband and wife team have wonderfully restored the decadence and prosperity to a brand more than 200 years old.
Originally formed in 1803 by Jean-Vincent Bully (a charismatic perfumer) he was known across Europe in the 19th century for his scented vinegars and signature scents. His scent ‘Vinaigre de Bully’ has been coined as the Chanel No 5 at the time in Europe. Eccentric from the very beginning, you realise Buly 1803 is a brand with a strong vision, one for traditional cosmetics reinterpreted for the modern age.
Buly 1803 evokes the spirit of by-gone age, and remains rooted in its heritage. The store’s interior is reminiscent of an 18th Century apothecary, lined with antique shelving and dotted with mysterious amber bottles. The marble slabs with pestle and mortars grinding all natural ingredients to heal all skin ailments. Filled with a number of fascinating concoctions, Buly has stayed true to the spirit of their founder but the products themselves are completely up-to-date with the latest skincare innovations- all wrapped up in dainty Parisian packaging which we find so appealing!
The products adorned with hand-drawn graphics, the 19th century style packaging are straight from the hand of Buly’s owner Ramdane. Every item in the store has a story to tell, whether that be a unique water based perfume or a bottle of exotic emu oil, each Buly product is produced from the finest natural ingredients and has an array of beneficial properties that will enchant the senses. Also stocking a range of gifts like hand-crafted Bell-Jar candles or oriental incense, these pieces don’t merely become gifts or products but they become the centre of conversation and add a touch of glamour to your bathroom counter.
Saturated in history, Buly stocks a range of cosmetics presented in their raw form. Clays and oils are stored in thick glass jars, such as green desert clay and lavender flowers and are served to you in an original tinier jar (the original wrapping in an 19th century apothecary. Look out for other rarities including green tea toothpaste or scented matches- each one an exquisite work of art.
Buly has been reborn- thanks to the creative ingenuity behind its current owners. Passionate about preserving Buly’s ancient ethos and decadence whilst producing products fit for the modern day consumer. It’s this clever balance that make’s Buly so special. We could all use a touch of old Parisian charm and these products will transport you to a time of aristocrats, powdered wigs and atomisers. You don’t just buy a product; you are buying a little piece of history.
We caught up with Buly’s saviour during the week to discover more about what makes Buly 1803 so special and his plans for the future.
You have re-invented and modernised a historic brand, how to you stay true true to the original concept?
We kept the essential elements of the brand, one foot in the past and one in the future. The DNA of the brand, producing the best products that we can do and we also tried hard to create a store like the old Buly1803 outlet. The way that we produce and sell products is the most important thing for us. We didn’t keep any of the old recipes, they were too old and not interesting enough.
What product are you renowned for at Buly?
Definitely the water based perfume - a good perfume adapts to the person and the personality. It must neither precede nor follow the wearer too intensely; it shouldn’t emanate imperiously. Thus, it never inconveniences but always delights. It can be smelt on the wrist, or in the air disturbed by the motion when someone’s hair is shaken loose. Modest as well as faithful, it imposes nothing. It lingers but never clings - it is politely perceptible.
The alcohol, ethanol and ethylene glycol used in most perfumes are aggressive solvents that alter and usually dilutes their scents. After applying an alcohol-based perfume, you must wait for the alcohol to evaporate and for the fragrant notes to gradually reveal themselves. We invented the first water-based perfume for the skin. A unique aqueous solution which doesn’t stain or unbalance the skin, the perfume can express itself fully, in all its plenitude and authenticity.
You both seem to travel frequently, which country inspires you most and why?
Japan for sure. I lived there and I love their Hon Mono philosophy. ‘Honomono’ is best understood as ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ when translated literally. It consists of two Kanji, though to my surprise this combination of Chinese characters don’t form a word in English; ‘Hon’ means origin and ‘Mono’ means thing or material. I apply this philosophy to everything I create.
What’s a typical day in your life, working and personal?
Our live is finally very simple - we have moved 8 times and lived in 4 different continents in the last 15 years.
We have 3 children whom we take to school in the morning then I start straight into my emails from the Asian market while Victoire does some gardening before going to the store. We arrive to the studio at 9.30am to prepare all projects for Buly1803. I cook everyday - lunch and dinner and I never do business lunches, I prefer drinks. Around 7pm, I’ll go to the market to buy the vegetables for dinner preparations.
I travel quite a lot in Europe and Asia looking for oils and products and right now Victoire is in India with the children and also on business, testing out some new oils.
Tell me something unique about you both
We are planning to move in the future to a house in the countryside to grow our own vegetables - let’s say in 10 years!
Story by Scott Wilson
Interview by Sean Loughran
Photos courtesy of Ramdane & Victoire's Instagram