Parisian apothecary Buly 1803 has opened its first store in Hong Kong, in a snug new space on Wyndham Street. The brand, a revival of the historic perfume apothecary originally founded by Jean-Vincent Bully in 1803, was created in 2014 by Victoire de Taillac-Touhami and Ramdane Touhami who were inspired by 19th-century beauty secrets and ancient recipes, based on natural ingredients.
The couple’s local partner, Arnault Castel – the founder of the Kapok concept stores – was the first to spot the narrow 70 sq m location sporting unusual 5m high ceilings. ‘It is extremely small but our French carpenter hand-made floor-to-ceiling walnut cabinets to look just like they came from an ancient apothecary, so it feels like stepping into a small, historic chapel,’ Castel says. ‘We nicknamed it Charlotte because it reminds us of the French cake with “ladyfinger” biscuits.’
The artisan look, further emphasised with decorative mouldings and vintage Italian clay floor tiles, is fitting considering Buly’s hallmarks: water-based perfumes, scented matches and candles, vegetable oils, aromatic creams and powders, most of which is formulated and bottled in France, in distinctive traditional glass or aluminium packaging. Keeping with its headquarters in Paris, laboratory-clad staff trained in the art of origata and calligraphy personalise each purchase.
‘We wanted to go beyond the usual idea of a boutique in Hong Kong,’ explains de Taillac-Touhami. ‘If someone visits us, it has to be a memorable experience.’ The store’s unconventional aesthetic is, however, unusual given the city’s notorious property market. ‘Sometimes success brings a doubling – or more – of rent so just in case, our interiors are moveable. The only problem would be finding such high ceilings again,’ says Castel.