In 1826, Jean-Baptiste and Augustin Gellé purchased a perfume store that belonged to Jean-Louis Gargeon, Marie-Antoinette’s perfumer in Versailles. Their perfumes and cosmetics were those of aristocrat and upper-middle class women in the 19th century, and then of icons in the early 20th. In 1945, the brand left the group of the Gellé heirs to turn towards more confidential herbal medicine and open a salon on Boulevard Haussmann.
As he believed in the potential of this historic heritage, Simon Ménard took over the brand to put it back in tune with its time. “We started back from scratch and worked with historian Elisabeth de Feydeau to make the heritage DNA emerge,” explains the Director.
Three great values emerged from this DNA and were brought up-to-date.
Gellé Frères is the brand of queens – from Marie-Antoinette to entertainment queens Mistinguett and La Belle Otero, the first beauty icons. Now, Gellé Frères intend to target today’s queen, the hyper-connected “girl next door”, with a global digital approach. The Queen Index digital test “What queen are you?” to be filled in store or online offers to help every queen choose the best-suited perfume for them.
The products have always been designed around flowers, and this world actually persists in the fragrance compositions. Every new perfume was developed by a perfumer and an olfacto-therapist to choose the flowers for their emotional benefits. “The idea is to make perfume become an emotional treatment,” says Simon Ménard. “To explain this emotion in store, we have associated it with music, by designing every one of the five fragrances listening to music. So, you can listen to your perfume.”
Lastly, this brand has an innovation-oriented culture. The Gellé brothers were the first to use the hydro-distillation technique in the first steam plant located in Levallois, just west of Paris. Gellé Frères also innovated by adding glycerine to cosmetics for the first time. Today, innovation invites itself with a concept based on alcohol-free perfumes showcased in opaque bottles and formulated with the micro-encapsulation technique by Laboratoire TechnicoFlor.
This more “natural” concept is especially popular in Asia, where the brand has high ambitions and was awarded the Organic Prize at the last Cosmoprof Asia show in Hong Kong.
Already present in China with six 40m2 points of sale, they aim to develop in Japan and Korea with the support of their Chinese shareholders. France already counts a store on Avenue de L’Opéra, but the brand could soon inaugurate stands in department stores.
“It took two years for the brand to develop until the store opened in March 2017, 19 Avenue de L’Opéra in Paris, just a short walking distance from where the Gellé brothers had opened their first store a century earlier. It is a global 4 to 5-million-euro project,” Simon Ménard reveals.
The development of Gellé Frères is topped with an extension of product lines, mainly based on five fragrances and associated body care products. About sixty references will be added to the thirty existing ones.
As for digital technologies, new experiences will soon be unveiled: customers coming to the store will be able to smell their perfume, while having a walk in mythical Parisian spots like Jardin du Luxembourg, thanks to a virtual helmet.