May 9, 2019
When two storied French houses such as LVMH’s Guerlain and Bernardaud come together, the result cannot be pedestrian, even if it is for a new skincare cream.
Out first with the facts: Guerlain’s Orchidée Impériale Black is a $1,340 cream with a $1,025 refill in a reusable porcelain jar made by Bernardaud. The cream is sourced from a rare Peruvian orchid and no ordinary pot would do to house that formula.
“Guerlain wanted to partner with the brand that could create a vessel for the Orchidée Impériale Black Cream, while also making it a luxurious refillable keepsake and knew Maison Bernardaud would deliver just that,” said Marie-Line Patry, vice president of education at Guerlain, Paris.
“We would like the consumer to walk away with the understanding that they have invested in the ultimate in sustainable luxury skincare,” she said. “The formula and vessel are truly like no other in the world.”
For Bernardaud, the affliliation with Guerlain is another step towards diversification from its staple porcelain tableware.
“Cosmetic content is a new path for us, as porcelain is an ideal material for this market,” said Michel Bernardaud, chairman/CEO of his family-owned brand. “The Guerlain pot becomes like a bathroom jewel. Being refillable, it allows the client to keep it and cherish like a precious object.
“Guerlain wishing both our names on the pot, it is a proof and a security for customers, that, like all our products, this pot has been made in France, in our manufacture in Limoges,” he said.
“For French luxury companies, Made in France is a must.”
In this interview, Ms. Patry and Bernardaud chairman/CEO Michel Bernardaud discuss the collaboration, qualities of the cream, plans for their respective brands and how sustainability underpins the launch of this new skincare product. Please read on:
What is so different about this partnership with Bernardaud? LVMH-owned Guerlain obviously has paired with other brands in the past
Marie-Line Patry: Guerlain’s longstanding partnership with Bernardaud is very special. They’re a beautiful institution as is Guerlain, with the same sustainable vision.
We are both French heritage houses that share common core values.
Maison Bernardaud is a prestigious family manufacturing business based in Limoges that has embodied French porcelain craftsmanship since 1863. The quality and luxury of the porcelain is unmatched.
Guerlain wanted to partner with the brand that could create a vessel for the Orchidée Impériale Black Cream, while also making it a luxurious refillable keepsake and knew Maison Bernardaud would deliver just that.
It does seem that two storied French luxury houses coming together for the launch of a skin-friendly, orchid-based cream was thought out quite carefully. What would you like the consumer to take away?
Ms. Patry: We would like the consumer to walk away with the understanding that they have invested in the ultimate in sustainable luxury skincare.
The formula and vessel are truly like no other in the world.
High-performing cream working on regeneration paired with Bernardaud to give a jewel-shaped jar to complement the quality and highly effective result of the product.
Orchidée Impériale Black is a $1,340 cream with a $1,025 refill in a porcelain jar that itself is a collectible. Who is the target for this product?
Ms. Patry: Luxury doesn’t have an age, price or category, so it’s for everyone.
Orchidée Impériale Black Cream is for a consumer looking for the highest quality in skincare technology who also has a passion for sustainability and understands they are investing in their beauty routine and the environment with this prestigious purchase.
What need does the new skincare cream fill in the market?
Ms. Patry: Every woman looks for the ultimate anti-aging cream. The Orchidée Impériale Black Cream will provide just that.
Orchidée Impériale Black Cream brings the result that all women are looking for with the most efficient results in anti-aging.
What are the qualities of the cream?
Ms. Patry: Fifteen years of research in the world of orchids have gone into this formula.
Orchidée Impériale Black is the most covetable skincare range in the Guerlain portfolio, made with exclusive raw materials like no other.
At the heart of the formula is black orchid extract, identified by our orchid research center, the Guerlain Orchidarium, to be the most remarkable orchid on earth for its ability to adapt to its environment to increase longevity.
Native to the Peruvian Andes, the black orchid is a wild orchid the color of ebony.
We sustainably harvest the orchids, and re-forest the region immediately after to ensure the biodiversity and richness of the soil.
The ultra-premium, exceptional complete anti-aging care harnesses the power of Black immune technology.
The rare black Peruvian orchid has the capacity to adapt its metabolism to external aggression to ensure cell survival and longevity. [The] skin’s youth is preserved, regenerated and revitalized.
How will Guerlain market the product? Will Bernardaud also sell the product in its stores?
Ms. Patry: No, Bernardaud will not be selling the product at their store.
Guerlain will market the product with both digital and specialty store promotions and campaigns.
We’re also planning a campaign in collaboration with an exclusive retailer, to still be determined, along with ongoing visibility through our own social media channels and Guerlain.com.
Is this partnership with Guerlain an indication of the direction Bernardaud wants to go in the future?
Michel Bernardaud: If Bernardaud is well known for its tableware collection, we have been seeking diversification for quite some time.
Home furniture, lighting, jewelry and limited editions made in collaboration with designers or major contemporary artists are also in the DNA of the company.
Cosmetic content is a new path for us, as porcelain is an ideal material for this market.
The Guerlain pot becomes like a bathroom jewel. Being refillable, it allows the client to keep it and cherish like a precious object.
Guerlain wishing both our names on the pot, it is a proof and a security for customers, that, like all our products, this pot has been made in France, in our manufacture in Limoges.
For French luxury companies, Made in France is a must.
How did Bernardaud work with Guerlain to decide the shape, color, texture and size of the case?
Mr. Bernardaud: Like any collaboration, we try to meet the expectations and requirements. Our only limit is the material’s own limits.
Porcelain is the most complex ceramic to work with. Because of a very high firing it shrinks 14 percent and we have to anticipate many deformations.
The concept of the pot had been created together and we worked many months to obtain this high glossy black glaze, which is applied by hand on every single pot.
Bernardaud is known for china, votives, lamps and decorative items crafted from porcelain. This deal with Guerlain opens a new category, right?
Mr. Bernardaud: Bernardaud is interested by any new markets that could involve porcelain. This material, apart from being beautiful, has astonishing qualities such as hardness – people thinks porcelain is fragile, but truly it is the hardest ceramic material and today our porcelain paste is extremely resistant – and whiteness, translucency, sensuality and sonority.
But, also, nothing alters porcelain, especially not time.
Porcelain is only made of clay, therefore highly sustainable, which is key today.
With more than 150 years of knowhow handed down from generation to generation along with the newest technology, we are able to respond to unexpected demands in all fields.
Our wish is to make porcelain completely part of the 21st century.
What does Bernardaud hope to achieve with this partnership? Will it promote the new cream in its stores and marketing?
Mr. Bernardaud: This partnership shows that we are capable of entering new fields apart from tableware, and that Bernardaud brings some value to a product.
But clearly, nobody better than Guerlain knows how to promote their products. I doubt it would make sense to sell them in our boutiques.
What is next for Bernardaud this year?
Mr. Bernardaud: We are pursuing some collaborations with artists; Jeff Koons and Julio le Parc, developing a new jewelry line with Iris Apfel, responding to some interesting and complex projects linked to architecture, creating new content for chefs, etc.
We are never short of projects. Some take a few months, other a few years, but for sure we like to stretch our limits to go beyond to offer porcelain pieces that are different, unexpected, unseen.
Guerlain's Orchidée Impériale Black: How Bernardaud creates the porcelain jar for skincare cream