STRAIGHT FROM THE VINES
Abou t 500 miles from Paris is Château Smith Haut Lafitte, where storied cobblestones guard the untainted soils of Bordeaux and rustic grapevines produce some of the best CabernetSauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Halfway across the world, on the corner of Gough Street in Hong Kong, is Caudalíe’s first official Asian store, where the Château’s white-stone archway, grape-sculpture chandelier, and rattan-weave vaults bring to life the story of the French skincare brand. “Everything here is inspired by the vineyards in Bordeaux. We want this place to open up a window to a view of life at the Château,” says co-founder Mathilde Thomas. “It is beautiful. I will probably live there when I am older, but not now; it is too boring.”
Working with renowned designer and family friend Hubert de Malherbe, the Hong Kong boutique is just the beginning of an extensive expansion plan across the globe. Thomas explains: “We chose Hong Kong because our regional office in Asia is here, and this street to make a statement of the brand because it is still traditional but trendy. It has a quirky charm and a lot more personality than a shopping mall.”
Mirroring a journey through Bordeaux, wide flat-panel screens pane slowly across the natural vistas of vineyards and the luxurious Les Sources Caudalíe Spa. The Beauty Barrel Bar with its furnishings reminiscent of wooden crates in wine cellars displays a comprehensive range of skincare. Vinotherapists are also on hand for one-to-one consultation.
Further inside is the Fresh Crushed Cabernet Lab where you can make your own 100-percent-natural scrub with grape seeds, honey, essential oils, and crushed herbs – the same used in the Vinothérapie spas. If you have the time, enjoy Caudalíe’s divine treatments upstairs.
“We have taken into consideration the crazy lifestyle of Hong Kongers and included a Beauty Under An Hour section,” Thomas reveals. There is also a Natural Nail Care site where Kure Bazaar (an eco-natural nail lacquer brand) is used to touch up tired-looking hands.
Driven to improve and invent formula that’s natural and environmentally friendly yet effective, Thomas is not resting on her laurels. After all, this is the same woman who once met editors in person to promote Caudalíe without the substantial budget of a beauty conglomerate.
“We just signed with University of Harvard for a three-year programme research. They have been studying resveratrol for ages. Now we are studying something that could generate another ingredient to stimulate protein in the skin. It is an epi-genetic research, so with fingers crossed, we will discover another breakthrough by 2015.”
Meanwhile, expect to see even more of Caudalíe. “The next opening will be in Los Angeles, then London, and Montreal. We live in New York, but we are looking to move again.” She smiles. “Maybe Asia next?” Available at all Kens Apothecary and Sephora stores nationwide. What attracted you to the brand and convinced you to bring it to KL? I brought in Caudalíe when I started Kens Apothecary a decade ago because I fell in love with its story – a beautiful story of a family business, which started from an iconic French vineyard. Mathilde’s sister now manages the spa with Mathilde and Betrand Thomas. I also love how this brand is very eco-friendly and far-sighted. The founders always team up with the best scientists to create new patents and fight ageing. What do you think of its success now, as compared to the first time you brought it in? The brand did not do exceptionally well the first round because it was focusing on the European and US markets. However, the timing is absolutely perfect for a relaunch, now that the founders have diverted their focus onto the Asian market. Mathilde and Bertrand sent their children to study Mandarin and actually have intentions to move to Hong Kong. The team in Hong Kong has doubled in less than two years as well; and that does speak a lot about the brand’s future. And what do you have in mind this year for Caudalíe in Malaysia? In 2014, we will continue to expand our distribution through Kens Apothecary and also through Sephora. Eventually I will introduce the standalone concept, probably in 2014 or later. It is only a matter of time!
A sketch of the boutique in Hong Kong
A view of the boutique, with the Beauty Barrel Bar in the centre
Founders Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas