Discover the picturesque world of Aix-en-Provence with this month’s newly launched Bastide, a lifestyle brand founded by French celebrity hairstylist Frederic Fekkai and his wife, Shirin von Wulffen. At its heart, Bastide is a commitment to living life with respect for yourself, nature and tradition. Their product line is a curated collection of luxuriously simple, naturally potent beauty and lifestyle goods for your skin, body and home. Today, we’re talking with co-founder Shirin von Wulffen about Aix-en-Provence, winter beauty tips, and her ultimate vision for la vie Bastide.
OuiPlease: Are you both from Provence?
Shirin von Wulffen: Frederic was born and raised in Aix-en-Provence. I am German, was born in Isfahan, Iran and grew up in Virginia.
OP: What is your background? Did you work in the beauty industry?
SVW: My background is in communications and branding. I worked for Gucci, Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, and was also the fashion director of German Amica.
OP: What is your favorite thing about Provence?
SVW: The light, it makes you want to dance and to create.
OP: In what ways is the life in Provence different from the US?
SVW: Obviously the pace of life in Aix is very different from New York. At the market, people take time to select their foods careful according to season and producer. Afterwards shopping, they set a beautiful table, cook, and sit down for a proper meal among friends or colleagues. I believe that this focus on living and being present in the moment allows people to experience life more deeply and fully.
OP: Why did you decide to start Bastide?
SVW: Bastide was born out of our love for Provence. A “Bastide” is a traditional manor house in Provence and is the beating heart of a French family lifestyle. All summer long, we eat almost exclusively from our own vegetable garden and we wanted the same for our bath, body and beauty rituals. Bastide is a curated collection of natural soaps, scents, salts and oils. All of our ingredients are sourced in Provence and are carefully selected for their natural potency. We work exclusively with eco-certified artisans to ensure that everything we make is good enough to eat. Initially, we made this for ourselves and our friends, but pretty soon we realized that we wanted to be able to support the artisanship of Provence and to share this healthy authentic lifestyle wherever we are in the world.
OP: Who is the quintessential Bastide individual?
SVW: The Bastide man or woman likes to travel physically and mentally, and lives respectfully and harmoniously with nature. The Bastide individual is someone who understands that in order to live better, we need to take the time nurture our bodies with only the best, most authentic ingredients.
OP: What is your favorite product in the Bastide line?
SVW: I love everything but especially the Corps a Corps body butter for slathering on my kids after their baths.
OP: What are your beauty tips for the winter?
SVW: I have very dry skin so I like to exfoliate with bath salts and then relax in a warm bath drizzled with our Huile d’Aix bath oil. I also keep lip balm with me wherever I go, and of course the Crème Intense for dry hands and feet is a daily essential. Also during the winter, a glass of red wine by the fire with a piece of dark chocolate doesn’t hurt either!
OP: How are Bastide beauty products different from others?
SVW: In the spirit of picking up our favorite bread from our favorite boulangerie and then trekking across town for the best cheese, we chose to work with different category experts to create all of the Bastide products, instead of going to a one-stop-shop commercial lab with generic formulas. From our savonnier to fragrance nose to candle-maker, our Beautisans (that’s what we call them, beauty+artisans) are single-mindedly focused on their craft; they’re equally well versed in chemistry, herbs and generations of beauty secrets. For our family, and especially our kids, we are careful about the foods we eat everyday, so we also want to give equal care to what we put on our bodies. We only wanted to work with eco-certified labs who understood this vision, and we researched what chemicals we did not want to include (and it’s quite a lengthy “black list”). The team worked together to find better, natural substitutes so that our products are as natural and delightful as can be. Also, since we are a family business, we also love that our partners are all privately owned family businesses, too. We understand each other better this way, I think.
OP: What is your ultimate vision for Bastide?
SVW: Our purpose is to share a little bit of the peace, health and happiness that we have found from living in Provence. We all need to find the time to renew to appreciate the daily pleasures of life. Bastide is our renewal and our great passion, so we will continue to find, share and celebrate the artisanal beauty of Provence.
Discover Bastide in OuiPlease Vol.2.5 Winter in France. Their three beautiful, fragrant soaps, Abre Soir, Miel de Lavande and Figue d’ete are more than 95% natural and are made in eco-certified labs using artisanal formulas and traditional ingredients. Bastide soaps are sulfate-free, so your skin remains moisturized, soft and protected with every use. All packaging is recyclable and gentle on the planet.