Milanese parenthesis | Limited series

Ramdane Touhami et Victoire de Taillac dans leur appartement milanais, au milieu d'un pêle-mêle où se glisse une touche d'humour bien à leur image.

Posted Sep 9, 2022, 3:50 PM

They have been an amazing, extraordinary, endearing and wonderfully creative couple for more than twenty years. All lovers of decoration and beauty products know Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac. They are at the origin of two of the finest French successes in the world of the art of living. The first is called Trudon. Iconic brand of scented candles today, it was moribund when Ramdane Touhami became interested in its destiny in 2006. The traditional know-how is intact, the history which dates back to 1643 impeccable, but the visual identity is a disaster, non-existent positioning. “There were even candles in the shape of a camembert”, slips into a smile Victoire. His companion sorts, redraws everything, imagines the famous green glass bottles and the golden label that will make these candles decorative objects in their own right and a worldwide success. “Not to mention the perfumes. Everyone copied Diptyque. Ramdane created new smells according to his instinct. I must admit that it was he who had this vision. I, at first, was quite skeptical. I found scented candles very boring…”

The Buly store in Milan.

The Buly store in Milan.© DR

The second adventure is even more edifying. On paper, things start a little the same way: a famous name fallen into oblivion, enormous potential, an identity to be completely recreated by giving it the appearance of being old. It was through 19th century catalogs that the couple discovered the saga of Jean-Vincent Bully and his son Claude. Famous for their toilet vinegar and their care products, they are intimately linked to the birth of modern cosmetics and perfumery. Renowned throughout Europe, patents and medals at universal exhibitions, then slow decline. “The last shop had to close after the war. Passionate about the world of beauty, Victoire is this time 100% at Ramdane’s side to revive the brand. And when it comes to perfumes, they are not neophytes because, before the Trudon experience, they had opened the Parfumerie Générale concept store in Paris in 2001, already with an innovative outlook.

magic names

While they keep certain products with magical names – Pomade Virginale, Huile Antique, Baume des Muses – they are rethinking the formulas, the cosmetics industry being particularly regulated, always with naturalness as the principle. When they opened the first boutique on rue Bonaparte in Paris in 2014, they knew they were offering something different and that there was a clientele for it, but they were far from imagining the enthusiasm they were going to trigger. Ramdane has carefully thought out the decoration, it is that of an old shop that has stood the test of time and moreover the name has become Officine Universelle Buly. “Universal because we wanted to keep the idea of ​​products coming from all over the world, as was the case originally, with plant oils, clays, powders. If there is a form of nostalgia, our approach is also very modern, with the choice not to use plastic but glass bottles, aluminum tubes and to create water-based perfumes, without alcohol. As for the “l” which has been deleted, its disappearance has a more prosaic reason: “Bully has a pejorative connotation in the United States. He’s a rough guy. Which is really the height when you see with what delicacy the saleswomen surround the customers. Careful packaging and calligraphy are part of the Buly ritual. A very Japanese delicacy and it’s no coincidence: this country means a lot to the duo. Victoire’s older sister has lived there for years, Ramdane took her first steps there as an artistic director in fashion and the couple lived in Tokyo when the Buly boutique opened in 2016. “A traditional house with tatami mats that Ramdane loved arranging. »

In the living room, “Barcelona” daybed by Mies van der Rohe and 19th century gravel.

In the living room, “Barcelona” daybed by Mies van der Rohe and 19th century gravel.© Luc Castel

This adventure outside France was not the first. In 2008, Victoire and Ramdane offered themselves a two-year break in Tangier. “It was at the beginning of Trudon and Ramdane traveled a lot, explains Victoire. Me, I was a freelance press officer and I teleworked. Already ! I was a pioneer. Then the couple moved to the United States where they spent another two years. “We were opening the Trudon store in New York. It was good to be there. The three children, 7 years old, 5 years old and 3 years old at the time, follow these parents with nomadic creativity without flinching. In 2012, return to Paris and start thinking about Buly. Then a trip to Tokyo, but which will only last a year. “We realized that with the time difference it was impossible to manage the company remotely. The desire for a change of scenery is still there, however. For a long time, Ramdane has had his habits in Milan, for fashion, design and the surrounding factories. The prospect of opening a Buly boutique there gives her the pleasure of going there again. “It’s my favorite city in Europe,” he explains. And I found the pied-à-terre before the boutique…” Inaugurated last April, in the very pleasant district of Brera, it is a few steps from the elegant apartment for which he had a real crush.

The ghost of Gio Ponti

From the majestic entrance of the building, we understand why the lover of places that have a history has been seduced. There floats the ghost of Gio Ponti. A presence that Ramdane respects for the development. Its decoration is faithful to this Milanese aesthetic of the 1950s-1960s, with carefully chosen colors for the walls and vintage Italian furniture. “Almost everything comes from the antique fair in Parma where I go twice a year. “Example with the sconces in the hallway, the “Superleggera” chairs by Gio Ponti, the Ginori coffee service or this baroque bed, bought from a Neapolitan merchant. “On the other hand, the dining room table was found at an antique dealer in Milan. The carefully restored period ceilings and floors complete the great stylistic harmony, barely disturbed by a few personal touches, such as these two large portraits of Italian political leaders in the dining room. “One was a communist, the other a socialist. Which is not lacking in humor in a city known for its upper middle class. Objects were also brought from Paris, such as Mies van der Rohe’s “Barcelona” daybed, Cassandra posters unearthed at the flea market, a drawing by Martial Raysse bought at Kamel Mennour, or an engraving from the beginning of the Nineteenth century. “She comes from my family home,” explains Victoire. It is part of a series of portraits that hung in my mother’s bathroom. She had given us some to decorate the first Buly boutique. In a window, like an echo, the amateur recognizes the Fragrant Lantern, one of the last objects created by Ramdane.

In the dining room, a large table unearthed in Milan and Gio Ponti's

In the dining room, a large table unearthed in Milan and Gio Ponti’s “Superleggera” chairs sit enthroned under the gaze of an Italian communist leader.© Luc Castel

Since last October, the pretty brand has been purchased by the LVMH group. “Ramdane was tired of day-to-day management. He is now solely responsible for the artistic direction, independently, through his creative agency,” comments Victoire, who still has one foot in the house: “I am very attached to Buly. For his part, her husband is teeming with projects. A publishing house, fashion and the resurrection of a third sleeping beauty… Between two round trips to Milan.

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