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Sylvie Chantecaille, Founder, Chantecaille Beauté

An early evangelist for botanicals, she harnessed the anti-aging power of flowers to build a luxury beauty company that prioritizes protecting nature.

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Shortly after Sylvie Chantecaille (nee de Bois de Soheit) moved from Paris to New York, she and her friend Diane von Furstenberg launched a cosmetics line. Its success with the chic set caught the attention of the Lauder family and changed the course of her life. Instead of becoming a gallerist, as she had intended, the Lauders tapped her to launch its newest line, Prescriptives. After spending years building it into a forward-thinking success based on innovations such as custom-blend foundation, she went on to found Chantecaille in 1997, first as a perfume company, and then as the first skincare company based on flowers and her beliefs in holistic health. It is still, and has always been, family-run, with all three of her children and her husband involved in the day-to-day. And as important to the family as the luxurious products it makes are the causes it supports. Each season, Chantecaille launches a “cause-metics” collection with a percentage of the sales of those palettes benefitting specific environmental and animal conservation efforts.

“We are, before anything else, product people. We are obsessed with our textures and results, and we won’t approve a formula until it is pitch-perfect.”

You pioneered the use of botanicals in skincare. How did you get interested?

Twenty-five years ago, I studied the healing power and energy of flowers. Then I met a doctor who had developed the top luxury skincare lines in the world. She told me I was the first person to bring her flowers to create a product. Years later, I was in the South of France to meet with scientists on the study of flowers and flower stem cells, and science proved what I had thought all along. Flowers are wonderfully gentle, ideal for sensitive skin, and healthy for us.

What makes the Rose de Mai so powerful?

The Rose de Mai is rich in Vitamin C, and one of the most extraordinary anti-aging secrets in the world! It's a breed that dates back to the 17th century and has the most divine, crinkly, delicate petals. The healing properties are known to help with inflammation, irritation, and sunburn. It also revives and refreshes skin, and calms the mind and spirit. It blooms only once a year, only during the month of May, and just for a few weeks, and we distill it—immediately.

If someone is new to your line, which product would you suggest she start with?

Future Skin is certainly the best foundation in the business, so start with that. It was the first makeup we launched after starting as a small fragrance house. Next is the Bio Lifting Mask, because it makes a real, visible difference.

Tell us about your morning routine.

The first thing I do when I wake up is spritz myself with Pure Rosewater and meditate in bed. I also always have hot water and lemon out of a fine china teacup.

Describe your style.

Both clean and bold. Never stuffy, always creative. I like pieces with thought, design, and craft. I love Dries Van Noten and loved Phoebe Philo’s Celine. I also love craftsmanship and discovering new pieces during my travels.

What is your daily uniform?

A good pair of pants. I’m partial to great fabric, usually Italian. A pair of comfortable but stylish shoes, and a tunic.

Philanthropy is built into your brand. How do you choose which cause to champion each season?

Philanthropy is a universal language. We find new causes that move and inspire us constantly. I always pay close attention to the world, to the environment and the animals we share it with by constantly reading, researching, and listening. It has become a rewarding challenge each season to discover new issues and challenges facing the world’s animal species and ecosystems that Chantecaille can support.

What is your great hope for women in the future?

I want for every little girl in every country to go to school.

What inspires you?

We are inspired by people, animals, flowers, and the earth: things that possess great beauty inside and out. Also, I am inspired and urged to act by animals in crisis. There is an urgency to bring attention to the diminishing animal population.

“I am proud I am able to give back and utilize our company as a platform to discuss the environment and the urgency to save endangered species and, ultimately, the planet.”

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