First look inside the new Officine Universelle Buly 1803 store in Milan – WWD

MILAN – The beginning of April marks a lucky time of year for Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami, founders of the prestigious perfume and cosmetics brand Officine Universelle Buly 1803, which was acquired last year by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

The founders of the French brand opened their first store in Paris in April 2014 and that month, three years later, they launched a successful unit in Tokyo. After cutting the ribbon on other doors across Asia over the past five years, they are planting the Buly flag in Italy this week, opening a store in Milan.

“We love Italy, of course, but my husband really has a special preference for Milan, so we’ve been dreaming of opening a shop here for three years,” de Taillac said in an interview before the launch.

The co-founder recalled how several locations had been explored before the COVID-19 outbreak put retail plans on hold. “We could have opened three years ago, it was a question of things that sometimes don’t go as planned. Here’s why when he [Touhami] I found the shop last summer and loved the location, it was obvious that the first Italian shop would always be in Milan … There was really no other option, “said de Taillac.

The unit is set in Via Brera, which connects the famous Teatro alla Scala to the artistic district of Brera and is a reference destination for buyers interested in art and niche beauty brands, with a concentration of perfume retailers and cosmetics such as Campomarzio70, Montale Parfums, Olfattorio Bar à Parfums and Acca Kappa, among others.

The Officine Universelle Buly 1803 store in Milan.

The Officine Universelle Buly 1803 store in Milan.
Federico Torra / Courtesy Officine Universelle Buly 1803

The Buly store should stand out with its distinctive aesthetic that evokes an old-school pharmacy shop, here optimized to “pay respect to Milan and what we love about local architecture,” said de Taillac.

A warm palette of beige and mahogany tones dominates the space, while the lacquered wood of the furniture should be reminiscent of iconic Riva luxury boats, de Taillac said. The wooden displays are complemented by arched niches covered in plush beige velvet, dark marble panels with gold lettering or topping counters, and enameled plates with the product names in Latin appearing on the drawers.

On the floor, beige and black travertine tiles create a graphic pattern, while rhombuses painted in shades of blue and gray create a geometric pattern on the ceiling, from which opaline glass chandeliers and wooden fans hang.

“The painted ceiling is somewhat inspired by Gio Ponti in a certain sense,” continued de Taillac, stressing the importance of not having the same interior concept in all cities. “Otherwise you could be anywhere in the world … and don’t know when you walk into the store if you’re in New York or Paris, which we don’t like … Sure, you know right away you’re in a Buly store, but I think here you know you are in an Italian Buly store, and this is very important. The same anti-standardization philosophy is applied to all Buly doors around the world, with the boldest and most striking solutions crafted in Tokyo furniture combining modern design with a 19th-century-inspired aesthetic.

Inside the Officine Universelle Buly 1803 store in Milan.

Inside the Officine Universelle Buly 1803 store in Milan.
Federico Torra / Courtesy Officine Universelle Buly 1803

The assortment of products remains the same all over the world. The Milan store will contain Buly’s entire portfolio of 800 storage units, which includes water-based perfumes, hand and body creams, oils, powders, clays, scented candles and matches, incense and accessories. high-end such as brushes, handmade acetate combs and silk bristle toothbrushes.

“Even if the aspiration to beauty is universal … each taste is very personal and very particular and that is why we want to offer our customers options,” said de Taillac.

Asked which categories she thinks will resonate best with Italian customers, de Taillac said she wasn’t sure yet. “It’s nice to be surprised. From what I understand from the city, [the Milanese] he’s a very sophisticated customer, ”he said, predicting perfumes and body care products will be popular.

As well as Buly’s personalization services, which make up a large quotient of the brand experience. These include people’s names written on products in calligraphy, initials engraved on items such as lip balms and soaps, and a number of special packaging solutions.

“The Italian team came to Paris to take hour-long calligraphy lessons,” confirmed de Taillac, adding that a sales assistant usually spends two to six months practicing calligraphy. She credited the sales team’s expertise and range of services as resources that help brand success along with product quality, noting that this hat-trick attracts a broad spectrum of customers in terms of age and nationality.

A selection of Officine Universelle Buly 1803 products.

A selection of Officine Universelle Buly 1803 products.
Courtesy Officine Universelle Buly 1803

The location of the Milan store should appeal to both local shoppers and tourists. The entire area surrounding the Buly store is a retail hub for niche beauty brands, including Diptyque, Le Labo, Dr. Vranjes Firenze, and Aesop. Also present is the 800-year-old Florentine label Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, which could represent a direct competitor of Buly given its common focus on natural ingredients, attention to service, retro charm and extravagant packaging design.

Yet de Taillac sees differences between the two labels. “This is a nice brand and their shop in Florence, well, nothing can compete [with it]”, He said of the flagship of Santa Maria Novella, known for its 14th-century frescoed ceilings, bronzed angels and the aromas that float in the air from potpourri based on local herbs. But de Taillac highlighted the difference in aesthetics – with Buly radiating a French aura – and product, highlighting Buly’s wider selection, more skincare-oriented focus and a bolder approach to innovation.

To that end, the latest product launches included the Fragrant Lantern, “a lamp under which you put your candle and the scent will spread due to the heat from the bulb”, and the Eau Gymnastique scented spray for sneakers.

All Buly products are made in France, without parabens, phenoxyethanol or silicon. Bestsellers include water-based perfumes – which generate about 30 percent of the brand’s revenue – scented body oils and hand creams. A new collection of six vegetal fragrances will debut at the end of September.

A selection of Officine Universelle Buly 1803 products.

A selection of Officine Universelle Buly 1803 products.
Courtesy Officine Universelle Buly 1803

As reported, de Taillac and Touhami have decided to sell Buly with the aim of continuing to grow the company through the support of a larger partner. LVMH supported and assisted Buly for nearly four years through its Luxury Ventures minority investment fund, before taking over the company in 2021.

After the acquisition, de Taillac remained Buly’s director of product strategy, image and communication, while Touhami remained focused on the art direction of the brand’s stores and products through his design agency Art Recherche Industrie, stepping down. from the role of CEO. Anne-Véronique Bruel has been named CEO, joining the company from the beauty brand owned by LVMH Fresh.

At the time of Luxury Ventures’ investment in October 2017, there were only two Buly stores in the world, while now the brand has multiple ports in cities including Paris, London, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hong Kong, Seoul and Taipei. .

After Milan, Buly will enter Germany with a store in Munich, as well as further expanding in Osaka, Kobe – where the retail format will include a café as one of the Paris units – and Nagoya Parco in Japan, which has become the largest market since the pandemic. big for the brand, followed by South Korea and France. For this reason, other store openings are also planned in South Korea, as well as in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

E-commerce is another key channel for the company, not only in terms of sales, but also as “a way to see where we could go if we wanted to,” de Taillac said. For example, she said that 30 to 40 percent of customers who shop online are from the United States “where we have no business” and there are no plans to open stores yet.

Victory of Taillac

Victory of Taillac
Mohamed Khalil / Courtesy of Officine Universelle Buly 1803

Sharing a love of travel and exploration, de Taillac and Touhami met in the early 2000s, with the former formerly head of public relations for Colette and the latter as an entrepreneur, designer and art collector.

Before Buly, in 2002 the couple launched Parfumerie Générale, their first concept store dedicated to niche cosmetics and perfumery, while in 2006 they conceived the relaunch of French candle maker Cire Trudon. Seven years later, they designed and published Corpus, a bi-annual, bilingual glossy magazine dedicated to the beauty of the body and spirit before founding Buly in 2014.

The brand has a fantasy quotient: its idea came in part from reading Honoré de Balzac’s 1837 novel “César Birotteau”, inspired by a late 18th-century perfumer named Jean-Vincent Bully, whose brand distinctive helped found the French perfumery.

Inside the Officine Universelle Buly 1803 store in Milan.

Inside the Officine Universelle Buly 1803 store in Milan.
Federico Torra / Courtesy Officine Universelle Buly 1803

The couple’s business and beauty experience was transformed into several publications, including the 2017 encyclopedia “An Atlas of Natural Beauty” in which they compiled natural ingredients and recipes for self-care. Last year Touhami published the book “Beauty of Time Travel” in which she explains her artistic and philosophical mindset towards Buly and how to renew a historical brand.

“We are now focusing enough on Buly because it has been a busy year for us, but my husband has a lot of projects on the design front,” joked de Taillac, suggesting that one of Touhami’s initiatives could point towards fashion.

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