STRAIGHT FROM THE VINES

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Beauty -

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.

IN­STANT CON­NEC­TION

“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.

PAS­SION PLAY

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

Ken Lim

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