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La Belle Famille

For three generations, the d’Ornanos have been in the business of restoring youth and radiance to faces kissed by time. Now, skincare’s royal family unveils the most potent anti-aging cream in Sisley-Paris’ 40-year history.

TABLE TALK
Philippe and his sister, Christine d’Ornano, share ideas around the table with Madame Isabelle d’Ornano and the late Hubert at their Paris home.

In this era of corporate takeovers and multinational conglomerates, there’s something so endearing about Sisley-Paris—the Parisian beauty brand that’s been lovingly owned and operated by the same family, the tight-knit d’Ornano clan, for 40 years. Most extraordinary is the close relationship the family members maintain, not only with each other, but also with their 4,000 employees, from the highest level research and development executive all the way to product specialists in the more than 90 countries in which Sisley-Paris products are sold. Open communication and a happy work environment are as important to the company’s success as quality, integrity and innovation. This winning formula is impressive, to say the least.

At this moment, the big news is the brand’s groundbreaking launch—Sisleÿa L’Intégral, the next generation of best-seller Sisleÿa Global Anti-Age cream formulated to correct the genetic, environmental and behavioral signs of aging. To mark the occasion, I’m at Sisley-Paris headquarters in the city of lights to meet with the family and key company players; they’re giving me a behind-the-scenes look at their game-changing new product and insight into the family-owned business itself.

It all began in 1976, after Hubert d’Ornano, son of cosmetics industry giant Guillaume d’Ornano, sold Orlane (the company he co-founded with his brother Michel), took over a failing business and converted it into Sisley-Paris, the first company to formulate luxury beauty products out of plants and botanical essential oils—a revolutionary approach at the time. “My husband’s philosophy was that, in plants, we can find the most interesting active ingredients, not only for cosmetics, but also for medicine,” says Madame Isabelle d’Ornano, Hubert’s widow and the vice president and reigning matriarch of Sisley-Paris, which has grown into a phytocosmetics powerhouse. “The ecological conviction we had back then has become one of the hottest trends today,” she marvels. Even so, the original idea of harnessing the power of plants to benefit the skin “was not a marketing concept,” says Philippe d’Ornano, son of Isabelle and Hubert, who stepped into the role of president and CEO a few years before his father died in September 2015. “My father created a new brand utilizing extracts because, in his opinion, this gave the best results.”

As technology has advanced over the years, hundreds of newer brands producing plant-based and organic products have emerged. But what sets Sisley-Paris apart, says Madame d’Ornano, is the high caliber of its scientific research, formulation and quality of every one of its products. “It’s the genius of the formula that counts. You have to have the chemist who is capable of putting the right plants together in the right proportion. If you give me the same paint that you give to Picasso, Picasso will do a work of art, and I’ll do nothing at all.” Most modest, but Madame d’Ornano is, in truth, quite artistic herself; she has been very involved with product creation, package design and brand image building from the start.

FACE FORWARD
Active ingredients in the potent new Sisleÿa L’Intégral effectively target three parts of a cell’s life cycle—rhythm, energy and longevity—in order to combat the hereditary, environmental and behavioral factors that lead to aging. At the same time, the luxe elixir hydrates, tones and protects against free radicals. $525, by Sisley-Paris at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and sisley-paris.com

Philippe believes the company’s lack of limitations on time and money spent in the course of developing its cosmetics is also a critical differentiator. “My father said, ‘If I want to use the optimal dosage of extracts, which is not necessarily the highest concentration, it’s going to be expensive. And I don’t want to limit myself or say to my research and development team the product cannot cost more than this or that.’” The goal at Sisley-Paris, he continues, has always been to create the absolute best product. “You need to give research the time to work on the product. The formulations are quite sophisticated. Sisleÿa, for example, has 50 different actives and is a very complex formula.” In addition, Philippe’s team works closely with agriculture companies around the world in order to source the best possible natural extracts from organic, sustainable plants cultivated near and far. Since there’s no need to cut corners or keep their eye on the clock, there’s no limit to the exquisite quality and effectiveness of Sisley-Paris’ age-defying, beautifying products.

“When you work in other companies, you have a planned time to launch a product, and you have to do it; there are no excuses. Here at Sisley-Paris, we don’t have the same rhythm, the same philosophy. We launch a product when it’s ready,” says Jose Ginestar, director of research and development and head chemist, whose background in pharmaceuticals and photobiology includes the study of melanoma and other skin cancers. “It’s important to know exactly what the cells need, what makes the skin work, all the pathologies and their different end points that we have to adjust and fine-tune in order to make the skin work better,” explains the scientist, who has been working at Sisley-Paris for six years.

This season, Sisley-Paris is debuting a host of new products, including the So Curl mascara with a new, innovative curl-enhancing wand; two shades of SPF 30 tinted moisturizer; new colors in both the Phyto-Lip Twist and Phyto-Eye Twist lines; and one new shade in the Phyto-Cernes Eclat, which diminishes dark circles and puffiness. But the award for most exciting, history-making product goes to Sisleÿa L’Intégral, a formula nearly two decades in development that is even more effective at melting away wrinkles and fine lines than the wildly popular Sisleÿa Global Anti-Age cream that it is replacing.

In addition to fighting skin aging due to heredity and environmental factors (sun, wind, air conditioning, pollution), this advanced formulation—rich in lindera extract, Persian acacia, and a yeast and soya protein complex—also tackles behavioral and emotional assaults on the complexion. Researchers believe fatigue, sadness, worry, anger, stress, poor diet, excessive drinking and smoking are the worst offenders. “It’s the daily dramas, the stress, the attitude,” says Ginestar. “A positive attitude is very important for good, healthy skin.” Further boosting the efficacy of this miracle cream, he adds, is its carefully crafted texture—rich, velvety, opulent—and the sensual pleasure it delivers during application.

For her part, Madame d’Ornano is delighted with the newest weapon against aging. “I can really say it from the heart: This is a wonderful cream. And it’s quite irresistible,” she tells me. “I very much believe in the pleasure of the texture too.”