When you think of Sisley — the luxe cosmetics line developed by one of the most storied families in beauty — you think first and foremost of Paris.
But White Plains also plays a role in a brand that’s sold in more than 90 countries. It’s the headquarters of Sisley USA, with sleek, modern white offices near The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester and Mary Jane Denzer — making Sisley virtually the only major cosmetics company based in Westchester County.
With a pioneering use of botanicals in its luxurious, nurturing products, a commitment to quality over cost and an approach to service that makes you feel as if you’re the center of the universe, Sisley Paris is a top-selling brand at such select stores as Bloomingdale’s White Plains, Neiman Marcus Westchester and Saks Fifth Avenue Greenwich.
No doubt patrons will be flocking there for the Feb. 3 release of Sisleÿa L’Intégral Anti-Âge. It’s a product designed to address the signs of aging caused by such behavioral factors as stress, smoking, poor nutrition and excess sun exposure through a combination of a yeast and soy protein complex and lindera and Persian acacia extracts. It’s the latest in a family of skincare, makeup and fragrance products created to enhance natural beauty.
“You can always see a Sisley woman coming down the street,” says Jim Maki, president of Sisley USA. “She’s just glowing.”
That radiance is the pursuit of the d’Ornanos, a remarkable, aristocratic Franco-Polish family whose members served both countries with distinction over centuries and whose blood ties embrace a swath of notables from Marie Walewska, the blond beauty beloved by Napoleon, to Stanislaw Radziwill, onetime husband of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ sister, Lee.
Sisley paterfamilias Count Hubert d’Ornano was the son of Guillaume d’Ornano, who was already experienced in the field of beauty, working with legendary perfumer François Coty, when he created Lancôme with Armand Petitjean in 1935. (It was Hubert’s mother, Élisabeth, who suggested naming the new cosmetics line after the lush Lancosme Forest near the d’Ornano country home in the Indre Valley she so loved.)
Guillaume — who would earn the Croix de Guerre and Legion d’Honneur for the key roles he and Élisabeth played in the 1944 surrender of German Gen. Henning Botho Elster and his 20,000 men — believed in a more global approach to business and so parted ways with Petitjean. (Ultimately, Lancôme would be sold to L’Oréal.) After World War II, Guillaume helped sons Hubert and Michel start a perfume business, Jean d’Albert (named after the mother of Henri IV, who had made Alphonse d’Ornano the family’s first Maréchal, or Marshall, of France.) That success led them to launch the complementary Orlane cosmetics — named for Élisabeth’s wordplay on Ornano, which is of Corsican origin — a modern, scientific brand that produced the first royal jelly-based cream, made from bee secretions.
Though Hubert would become chairman and CEO of Jean d’Albret-Orlane after the family sold it in 1968, he ultimately decided on another beauty adventure, this time with artistic wife Isabelle — the Polish-born, Portuguese- — and Spanish-reared and English-educated scion of two of Poland’s most prominent families, the Potockis and the Radziwills. Purchasing the small botanical cosmetics business Sisley in 1976, they transformed it into a multinational company that does not even consider cost when it comes to creating products that promote wellness along with beauty, says Cristina Bisono, public relations manager of Sisley USA. Sonya Menon, Sisley USA’s senior vice president of marketing and education, points to the So Intense eyeliner, fortified with a vitamin peptide to nourish lashes, as one such product.
Together Hubert and Isabelle have overseen Sisley’s distinctive look, working with Polish sculptor Bronislaw Kryzsztof, who created the pensive heads that top their fragrances.
Today, oldest son Philippe is CEO and youngest daughter Christine directs international marketing while continuing to build the U.K. subsidiary. (Another daughter, Elisabeth, was the face of Sisley in the 1990s.)
“These days you don’t risk a precious and solid legacy on someone who is not up to the job, just because they are part of your family,” Hubert wrote in his charming book “Boundless Beauty” (Félix Torres Éditeur, 2014). “When we realized that our children were interested in the business and capable of succeeding, Isabelle and I decided that Sisley would be a family business, a family brand.”
For more, visit sisley-paris.com.