“I never wear black. It’s too easy,” says creative powerhouse Ramdane Touhami. For someone who just opened a shop in the Marais—the center of all things Parisian cool—opting for color because it takes more effort seems counter to the neighborhood’s unstudied chic.
But Touhami and his wife, Victoire de Taillac—who together started the cult French beauty line Buly 1803 three years ago and prior to that successfully revived the historic candle brand Cire Trudon—are not ones to follow the crowd. Their company, which draws on old-world methods and all-natural ingredients, launched stores in London, Tokyo, New York, and Hong Kong this year alone, and the couple’s first book, An Atlas of Natural Beauty, was released in October.
The Marais outpost is the second L’Officine Universelle Buly in Paris, and it operates much like a laboratory. In addition to housing the company offices and apothecary, the roughly 2,000-square-foot space encompasses a neon-lit onigiri takeout counter, a small shop for dried and preserved flowers, a light-filled concept studio with rotating collections, and a Belle Époque–inspired café with homemade madeleines arriving daily.
The ambitious mash-up of styles, eras, and offerings could easily get lost in translation, but each corner shares a sensitivity to detail, quality materials, and craft—from calligraphed labels to water-based perfumes.
Another unifier: richly layered colors—with barely a swatch of black in sight. Contrasting deep burgundy and bottle-green marble countertops subtly differentiate the café from the apothecary, where Pompeian-style frescoes and polished oak cabinets crawl all the way to the ceiling in a playful trompe l’oeil.
Crimson velvet-lined display cases and 1930s-era brass clothing racks come from Touhami’s own collection (he has hundreds more in storage).
Like “a wink at the past,” Touhami and de Taillac allow the history of a space to inform how they will transform it. And the building is not short on stories.
Tucked in the back courtyard, the concept store was the former foundry where Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker was cast, and the plaster molds artfully scattered on the flower shop’s floor were made by the same company that created those at the Château de Versailles—and meant to look “as if the previous owners simply left some things behind,” according to Touhami. Laissez-faire style—done with intention.
[A display in the flower shop.]
[The cafe serves fresh madeleines, sweets, and a full coffee menu. Deep burgundy marble countertops set it apart from the apothecary’s forest green marble.]
[Shades of bubblegum pink, cherry red, and cobalt blue pop against the boutique’s dark wood and marble surfaces.]
[The velvet-lined display cases and 1930s-era brass clothing racks come from Touhami’s own collection.]
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This story originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue under the headline The Imaginarium.