Through innovation and development, Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac have revived a French beauty brand famous since the Napoleonic Era, L’Officine Universelle Buly (now presented as Buly 1803). Since opening their first shop in Paris in 2004, they have expanded their business to London, New York, Taipei and Tokyo. They officially landed in Hong Kong this September.
Strolling on Wyndham Street in Central, it’s almost impossible to miss Buly 1803, with its elegant arched wooden door and its display cabinets lined up like the ladyfingers around a Charlotte Aux Fraises. Entering the shop is like travelling back in time to a 19th-century French beauty boutique. The walnut cabinets and marble table tops merge harmoniously with the vintage-looking products identified by a low-profile decorative type font applied by a French master of calligraphy.
Buly 1803 combines ancient recipes and contemporary technologies, with natural ingredients. Among them, I find the perfume and toothpaste the most fascinating.
During my visit, I spent time with Victoire who explained the process to behind the introduction of the brands signature fragrance. Unlike most of the alcohol-based perfumes on the market, the couple invented a water-based perfume, which allows one to retain their favourite scent unchanged for 6 to 8 hours. At the same time, their fragrances are gentle and soft to the skin to avoid causing any allergic reactions. But their most attractive aspect is their “polite perceptibility”, which limits your scent to just you and those who are intimate with you; you’ll not be concerned about “sharing” your scent with strangers in the lift nor pedestrians walking behind you.
Victoire’s eyes gave away her deep pride as she explained that the couple’s work resembles parents sharing the beautiful memories of their children.
She followed with an introduction to their exclusive toothpaste. Distinct from the traditional mint flavoured variety, Buly 1803 features wheat, green and orange coloured packages representing the flavours of Montauban Apple, Mint-Coriander-Cucumber and Orange-Ginger-Clove respectively. Victoire smiled as she shared how she and her husband spent many hours experimenting with ingredients in their bathroom creating a toothpaste that satisfied their standards.
“In fact with our toothpaste, only children have more of a choice of flavours. We did wanted to have a chocolate version, but we found after thousands of tests that it’s hard to get the proportion of cacao exactly right.
Buly 1803 also features accessories perfectly displayed on red velvet cloth; Victoire explained that most of them were brought back by the couple while exploring the world. “These are all traditional crafts. For instance, the brushes are made by Japanese craftsmen, while our combs come from Swiss artisans and have a particular texture we have spent years looking to find. It turned out we just bumped into them in Italy!”.
If you are searching for shop owners who have a trusted aesthetic sense and the ability to appreciate beauty, then the lovingly curated offerings by the husband and wife team of Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac at Buly 1803 are worth your time.
Asked if combining elements of ancient and modernity was the key to their success, Victoire thought for a few seconds and slowly said, “I think…everything is about having a balance.”
L’Officine Universelle Buly 1803
20 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong