Mustache, Maison Bonnet, Molli, Heeley and Astier de Villatte
Family business | Christian Bonnet and his sons Franck, John and Steven
“Discreet ostentation is a good way to describe our work”, says Steven Bonnet, one of the three brothers at the head of this high French eyewear company. Maison Bonnet has been loved by the international jet set and connoisseurs for four generations, counting Le Corbusier, Yves Saint-Laurent and Jackie Onassis among its clients.
Its know-how and its reputation are inseparable from tortoiseshell – so fashionable in the 1930s, when Alfred Bonnet, the scion of the family, launched into eyewear – but today Maison Bonnet also offers more affordable models in buffalo horn and organic acetate.
Prices for the latter start at €1400 (over $2100) and can get stratospheric for tortoiseshell. Trade in tortoiseshell, the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, has been banned worldwide since 1973 under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). But Maison Bonnet continues to manufacture frames from a stock of scales that it claims to have acquired before the ban, and affirms on its website that it remains “the most noble material: rare, luxurious, light and lively.
Whatever the material, all Maison Bonnet frames are made by hand, following a series of 12 extremely precise measurements taken on the skull, nose, eyes, cheekbones and ears. She also adapts the frames to the personality of her clients.
For three generations, customers have come to the Parisian workshop of Maison Bonnet by word of mouth. Today, under the direction of Franck Bonnet and his brothers John and Steven, it strives to bring bespoke eyewear to a wider audience while preserving its unique know-how.
She opened her first boutique-workshop in 2009 in the Passage des Deux Pavillons, an enchanting passage leading to the Royal Palace, and a second boutique in London’s Mayfair in 2018. www.maisonbonnet.com
Owner and General Manager | Charlotte deFayet
Deriving its name from the German word soft, meaning cozy and snug, contemporary French knitwear brand Molli was established in 1886 in Switzerland as a factory for “fine knit underwear”. In the 1950s, when nylon, rayon and latex became the textiles of choice for underwear, Molli adapted and transformed its know-how into luxury baby clothes.
Fast forward to 2015, when 35-year-old Parisian Charlotte de Fayet discovered Molli while looking for a project of her own after the birth of her second child. With a long experience in marketing, she fell in love with the legendary but flawed house and its incredibly refined and technical knitwear.
Today, with de Fayet at the helm, Molli has transformed into a Paris-based womenswear label, producing incredibly desirable collections of contemporary, easy-to-wear knitwear.
“A lot of people think that knitwear is difficult to maintain… But it’s a magical material, you can roll it into a ball in a suitcase and it stays perfect!” said de Fayet.
The house uses carefully selected quality raw materials: either merino wool or combed and mercerized cotton, supple, soft and pleasant textiles to wear and hang elegantly. But de Fayet’s real innovation lies in the brand’s modern cuts and colours: flowing skirts, collared knit blouses, ruffled tops or knit capes – in a contemporary palette.
There are three Molli boutiques in Paris. molli.com
Founder and Perfumer | James Talley
The saga of modern perfume has been played out in Paris since L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain (1912) which sounds the modernity heralded by Impressionism. It was shortly followed by Chanel No. 5 (1921), a radical new synthetic fragrance for modern women, and Dior’s upbeat and glamorous post-war “new look” in a bottle, Miss Dior (1947) . If these houses continue to monopolize our fantasies, it is more thanks to their know-how in algorithms and marketing than to their legendary founders.
By comparison, niche perfumer James Heeley practices the art of perfume as pure self-expression. The London-born autodidact – “The only way to make perfume is to do it!” – studied philosophy and law at King’s College London before moving to Paris for a year in the 1990s. He never left.
His creative journey was winding: the design of vases led him to florists, flowers, perfume… It was a revelation when he “realized that there was a whole creative process behind perfume “.
He launched a range of scented candles in 2001, and his first perfume, Menthe Fraîche, five years later. “I was walking around Corsica where wild mint grows among the grass, and I just thought it was an amazing scent, and I had the idea for a very green, fresh, natural scent,” he said.
Today, Heeley sells over 15 unisex fragrances, each made in France from the highest quality ingredients, and all evoking precise and complete natural worlds. Fig tree is green, fresh and sunny, Sel Marin evokes the sun, the sand and the sea air.
The brand opened its first boutique under the arcades of the Palais Royal in 2020. jamesheeley.com
Astier de Villatte
Founders | Ivan Pericoli and Benoit Astier de Villate
Astier de Villatte’s collections of white glazed ceramic tableware evoke times past or imagined – intimate scenes we’ve glimpsed perhaps in still lifes hung in the Louvre, or photographed set inside ruined castles. .
The founders Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte met at the École des beaux-arts de Paris in the 1990s, where their taste for figurative art was out of step with a diktat of the time advocating minimalism and the ‘abstraction. Their first pieces served as accessories for the compositions they planned to paint, made using the same technique and the black terracotta used by their sculpture teacher, Georges Jeanclos.
The duo launched Astier de Villatte with the elders of Benoît a few years later in 1996, and opened their first boutique on rue Saint-Honoré in 2004. A second on the Left Bank followed in 2016. These are two exquisite little universes dedicated to beauty. and beauty. exuding a delicate nostalgia for a pre-industrial era. Everywhere you look, a rich and romantic composition appears.
All Astier de Villatte ceramics are handmade in Paris, in a workshop run entirely by political refugees from Tibet, many of whom are or have been Buddhist monks. Every piece in the house’s extensive catalog sparkles with the unique, almost spiritual buzz of handmade.
Today, Astier de Villatte’s catalog includes not only tableware but also an olfactory universe: scented candles evoking Hollywood or Marienbad (a spa town in the Czech Republic); an eau de Cologne inspired, for example, by the extraordinary Grand Chalet by the painter Balthus in Switzerland; or dishwashing liquids scented with pepper and bergamot. astierdevillatte.com
Kate van den Boogert is the Melbourne-born founder of mkrs.family, a digital and physical ecosystem that champions the people and places that make its adopted city vibrate. The project was born from his book Designers Paris (Prestel, 2020). Creators Paris 2 will soon be published by Editions Ofr.