The Aesthete: Victoire de Taillac-Touhami talks more personal taste

The Buly 1803 co-founder concludes her list of likes with fasting at Buchinger Wilhelmi, Tokyo’s specialist shops and the gastronomic delights of Gascony

Victoire de Taillac-Touhami at home in Paris
Victoire de Taillac-Touhami at home in Paris | Image: Alex Cretey Systermans

My style icon is my husband, Ramdane Touhami. He never stops experimenting, which makes him quite challenging to live with. Style is self-expression and it was his playful clothes sense that first attracted me to him. In the time we’ve lived together, he has been through many different stages. When he gets bored, I get lucky, as I inherit the clothes he no longer loves. We’re the same height and the same size, more or less, and have the same taste in coats, which is very convenient. 

The best gift I’ve given recently was artisanal neroli water that cost around €5 a bottle from a stall in the Souk El Tayeb in Beirut, which I brought back for my best friend and sisters. I like fresh, natural, uplifting scents and love tracking down local cosmetics wherever I am in the world. 

Buly 1803 Raspberry Seed Oil, €55 for 50ml
Buly 1803 Raspberry Seed Oil, €55 for 50ml

The last music I downloaded… well, I don’t listen a lot to music. I prefer silence or the natural sounds of my family, traffic or birdsong around me.   

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Shangri-La’s Secret in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, which specialises in mushroom shabu shabu. A hot broth arrives at your table with a huge selection of different mushrooms, vegetables and chicken on the side that you add according to your taste and leave to cook for seven minutes. There were six of us and it was fascinating to taste the differences in each of our broths. 4-11-11 Roppongi GM Building 4F, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032 (+813-6804 5095; ikyu.com).

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The book I’d recommend to a friend is one I wrote with my husband: An Atlas of Natural Beauty. Researching it was a labour of love – I’m a huge admirer of traditional remedies and rituals and their positive effects on our looks and wellbeing. I’ve also been reading a biography of the French actress Sarah Bernhardt. She was muse to Alphonse Mucha and appeared in much of his turn-of-the-20th-century poster work. After seeing the Mucha exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg, I was inspired to find out more about her life and powerful personality. Alphonse Mucha at the Musée du Luxembourg (until 27 January 2019), 19 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris (+331-4013 6200; museeduluxembourg.fr). An Atlas of Natural Beauty: Botanical Ingredients for Retaining and Enhancing Beauty by Victoire de Taillac-Touhami and Ramdane Touhami, €20; buly1803.com. Sarah Bernhardt by Sophie-Aude Picon, £16; gallimard.fr.

An indulgence I would never forgo is chocolate. Alain Ducasse’s chocolate almonds are a particular pleasure. lechocolat-alainducasse.com and see Coal Drops Yard, Unit 15, Bagley Walk Arches, Coal Drops Yard, London N1 (coaldropsyard.com).

Victoire de Taillac-Touhami’s husband Ramdane Touhami
Victoire de Taillac-Touhami’s husband Ramdane Touhami

An object I would never part with is a simple black and white print that our American artist friend Geoff McFetridge gave us as a wedding present. It’s of a man and a woman drawing each other. When we went to live in Tokyo for a year, it was one of the things I took with me.  

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Shibuya-Ku in Tokyo. The shops there are so well done, with specialist stores and vast selections – I always see something that I’ll never see anywhere else. I’ll go to interiors store D & Department’s Shibuya Hikarie for its made-in-Japan range and excellent café and bar; and we’ll visit Wego for our kids, who are obsessed with the vast choice of fashion and jewellery on offer there. Then there’s the legendary Daikanyama T-Site bookstore for books, magazines and coffee – it’s the perfect place to be if you’re jet-lagged and always seems to be open. Daikanyama T-Site, 17-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-Ku, 150-0033 (+813-3770 2525). Shibuya Hikarie, 2-21-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-Ku, 150-8510 (+813-5468 5892; hikarie.jp). Wego, wego.jp.   

An Atlas of Natural Beauty: Botanical Ingredients for Retaining and Enhancing Beauty by Victoire de Taillac-Touhami and Ramdane Touhami, €20
An Atlas of Natural Beauty: Botanical Ingredients for Retaining and Enhancing Beauty by Victoire de Taillac-Touhami and Ramdane Touhami, €20

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are the staff at Buchinger Wilhelmi, near Lake Constance in Germany, where I go to fast. If you have a complete break from rich food, drink and coffee for seven days, you feel much, much better. I also walk when I’m there – it has the same effect as meditation for me. It’s something I got into when we lived in Japan, where the only things open in the morning between the school drop and the office were either temples or gardens. If I can, I try to walk at least once or twice a week. Wilhelm-Beck-Strasse 27, Überlingen 88662, Lake Constance (+4975-518 070; buchinger-wilhelmi.com).

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Sofu Teshigahara, the sculptor who founded Japan’s famous Sogetsu School of Ikebana flower arranging in the 1920s and who was also awarded the Légion d’Honneur. He worked not only with flowers, but also with a variety of other materials and objects. Obviously, I can’t own his original work, but a picture would do nicely. 

Sculptor Sofu Teshigahara, who founded Japan’s famous Sogetsu School of Ikebana flower arranging
Sculptor Sofu Teshigahara, who founded Japan’s famous Sogetsu School of Ikebana flower arranging | Image: Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty

The beauty staple I’m never without is my Buly 1803 Raspberry Seed Oil, which is the best daily treatment for my jet-lagged, dry skin. I have a minimalist’s beauty routine, never wear make-up and rarely go to the hairdresser, although I do like Christophe Robin’s haircare range. And soaking in a bath of Epsom salts is a compulsory detox after an arduous day. Buly 1803 Raspberry Seed Oil, €55 for 50ml; buly1803.com. Christophe Robin haircare, from €16 for a shampoo bar; christophe-robin.com.

If I didn’t live in Paris, I would live in Auch in Gascony in order to embrace country life and swim year-round in the lake close to my family’s château. Gascony is gastro-paradise, so I’d go to the Thursday market in the lower town for the best local produce in Occitanie and get amazing bread from La Ferme à Naroques. For an intellectual feast, I’d browse the superb selection of art and design books in Les Petits Papiers. For eating out, I love Le Florida in Castéra-Verduzan, a picturesque village famous for its thermal waters. The restaurant serves classic Gascon cuisine and I always have foie gras when I visit. La Ferme à Naroques, naroques.fr. Le Florida, 2 Rue du Lac, 32410 Castéra-Verduzan (+0562-681 322; restaurant-florida.fr). Les Petits Papiers, 22 Rue Dessoles, 32000 Auch (+0562-593 810; lespetitspapiers.org).

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If I weren’t doing what I do now, I would be a gardener. My dream is that at some point we’ll buy some land and plant an orchard. I love to be outside, and growing things is a sensual, creative process. Even failures are rewarding as you learn from your mistakes. 

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