The French non-toxic beauty brand you need in your life
Back to basics
There's something so compelling about Provence in the south of France, who knows if it's the fragrant fields of lavender, the vibrant green of the olive trees or the distinctive French country architecture - it just looks like a place where life is good, happy, simple.
And according to French celebrity hair stylist, luxury haircare brand founder and now lifestyle brand co-founder, Frédéric Fekkai - that image is entirely correct. Which is why he's sharing that idyllic French lifestyle with the world via his non-toxic, made-in-Provence bath, body and fragrance brand, Bastide.
On a sunny Sydney day I met with the dapper and charming Fekkai to chat about Bastide, the brand he and his incredibly cool wife, Shirin von Wulffen have founded - or rather taken over and relaunched - and why using local artisans to produce their products in traditional non-toxic ways is changing the beauty game.
You had a very successful hair business in the US what drew you back to your home-town of Provence?
So, I live in New York, but we spend a lot of time in Aix-en-Provence. The family who started Bastide were having trouble, the children didn't seem to be very passionate about it, so Shirin and I, we bought it. We rebranded it, from Cote Bastide to Bastide, and we wanted to make sure we were celebrating not only the rich, important history of Provence, but also the artisanal and really the beauty of Provence.
'Bastide' is the local term for a manor house in Provence and you bought a bastide as well as the brand - did you plan on both those purchases?
We bought that (the house) before, without knowing that we were going to buy Cote Bastide (the brand). And I mean (it has a) great garden, great vegetable garden, great lavenders, olive trees, cypresses, rosemary. It's very rich in the essence of Provence.
Tell me about the locally-made ethos behind Bastide?
We wanted to make sure that we were working only with local artisans and everything was hand crafted. The liquid soap for the hand or liquid shower soap are made by this wonderful lady that does everything the old way like in the Roman times - not toxic and all the ingredients are sourced locally. And we want to work with the people that respect the environment that don't use any chemicals and so, that's Bastide.
It's just a beautiful way of doing business, you know? Working with the right people, the right ingredients, celebrating the artisans and the scent of France, of Provence. Working with the most talented young artists, which is great.
When we bought the brand all the customers were very afraid that we will change totally the brand. However... we respected the heritage of the brand but we also work with the artisan, which the brand didn't do prior to us because the manufacturing was scattered around Europe. And so we changed everything and brought everything back to Provence. We support the locals, so that's great.
Tell me about the non-toxic goal of Bastide?
So, it's amazing that we basically do a line of products that today is so respectful of people's way of life. You know, the non-toxic. And the ingredients, the formulation, the ability to be able to do things very simply, but yet so sophisticated. We carefully make sure that we have a product that when you wash yourself with and it goes down the drain you know that it's not going to damage the environment.
What are your favourite products from the range?
We just launched this new fragrance called Figue Amour... it's like summer. And we also have this product, Huile Seche Epatante - it's a dry oil, so it's not greasy and it smells great. And it makes the skin absolutely fantastic. So this goes all over your body, it's great.
Bastide is available from Mecca Cosmetica and online from mecca.com.au. Bastide's new fragrance Figue Amour will launch in store in May.
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