Buly, Reborn: The 200-Year-Old French Apothecary Brand Graces America

Buly, Reborn
Courtesy of Buly

Created under Napoleon’s reign in 1803, L’Officine Universelle Buly popularized the art of refined grooming in France and introduced the first water-based perfumes to the world. Napoleon’s wife, Joséphine, was an early fan, and its famous founder, Jean-Vincent Bully, was the inspiration for Honoré de Balzac’s fictional perfumer César Birotteau, from his literary series La Comédie humaine.

Inexplicably, Buly faded from the spotlight for decades. But with artist-designer Ramdane Touhami, the man behind Cire Trudon’s regal expansion, now at the helm, the officine is eyeing global domination with an ethos that taps into its heritage while catering to very contemporary needs. Its new stores’ stunning wood-carved interiors, complete with hundreds of vials and ceramic bottles, have been designed to look as if they’ve been around for centuries. Fittingly, its products, which are paraben-free and use locally sourced thermal water instead of abrasive alcohol and glycerin, make you feel like you’re pampering yourself the old-fashioned way. You can engrave one of its superfine dermatological soaps with your initials, choose from an array of vegetable and botanical oils dedicated to your skin’s specific needs, or sample an enticing curiosity like emu oil, an extract taken from the animal’s fat that can be used as a healing ointment and antiseptic for the face. The 19th century–style packaging for these delights feels fabulously lavish compared to the current minimalist aesthetic in bathroom paraphernalia.

After refreshing its flagship in Paris, and opening new outposts in London, Seoul, and Taipei, Buly will hit the U.S. this spring, as a shop within a shop at New York’s Bergdorf Goodman. At last, a stateside conquest to add to its already illustrious history.

Buly 01

Eau Triple

Buly’s signature water-based Eau Triple fragrance comes in 12 scents and won’t stain or parch. Our favorite: Yuzu de Kiso, a mix of exotic fruits, mint leaves, and wood notes. 2.5 oz., $158

Buly 02

Opiat Dentaire

Enriched with thermal water from the Gers region, this toothpaste has invigorating flavors of coriander and cucumber. A bit steep, yes, but, trust us, it’s that good. 2.53 oz., $27

Buly 03

Handle Comb

It’s made of a high-quality acetate, bronze, and a cellulose-based plastic invented in France in the late 1800s. Not enough? It’s hand-carved and hand-polished in Switzerland. $64

Buly 04

Savon Superfin

The pH-neutral soap has been endorsed by dermatologists, it’s available in Buly’s 12 signature scents, and if you really love him, you can customize it with his monogram. 5.29 oz., $39

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Tags: Grooming

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