The sun was beating down on those gathered at Salon de Ning, the rooftop bar and terrace of The Peninsula Hotel in Manhattan.
Though there were bees seemingly everywhere, no one at the exclusive late-afternoon event was swatting them away.
No, these bees were meant to be there — serving as the focus of the conversation, the subject of original artwork and, most dramatically, buzzing about in a beehive.
All combined for Valmont’s clever launch of “Essence of Bees,” the latest in the company’s most prestigious skincare range, l’Elixir des Glaciers.
The Swiss cosmetics and wellness brand’s anti-aging products and services are known around the world and here, coast to coast from the Spa at Delamar Greenwich Harbor to the Hotel Bel-Air Spa in California.
On this day, Sophie Guillon — CEO of Valmont Cosmetics, playfully referred to as the afternoon’s “Queen Bee” — was in town from Switzerland to introduce “Essence of Bees” to America.
“It’s the top of the top,” she said. “It’s the luxury line of Valmont.”
Billed as “a tribute to bees, flora, science, crafts and luxury,” Guillon explained the collection is based on “three pillars.”
These include science; art (“You know that our group is very much attuned to art”); and “rehabilitation of bees all over the world.”
“Essence of Bees,” a complex with a focus on anti-aging effectiveness achieved by bringing together the essence of products from the hive, is formulated with extracts of moisturizing honey, purifying propolis and regenerating royal jelly, the most precious of a beehive’s products.
Together, she said, the line “gives a wonderful glow to your skin.”
Guillon discussed the new collection, spoke about limited-edition art pieces — by her husband, Valmont Cosmetics president and artistic director Didier Guillon — and how Valmont is investing in 50 beehives in Switzerland and donating proceeds of the honey to global bee charities.
To share details on bees and beekeeping, Andrew Coté, owner of Andrew’s Honey and a fourth-generation beekeeper who grew up in Norwalk, brought the beehive.
He spoke about the properties of bees and their importance to the eco-system. He also touched on his worldwide initiative Bees Without Borders, which, he said, “uses beekeeping as a means of poverty alleviation.”
Though he doesn’t work directly with Valmont and was on hand to help educate, Coté said he supports the way Valmont is approaching its work with bees, all with an eye on sustainability.
He met Guillon at an arts event in Italy and soon saw, “We share a love for bees and concern for their well-being.”
The “Essence of Bees” collection features Cure Majestueuse ($350), a face nourishing oil; Masque Majestueux ($425), a nourishing face mask; and Sérum Majestueux ($390), an eye-lifting serum.
“The specificity of this eye serum is also for the uplift,” Sophie Guillon concluded, motioning to her temples and continuing with comments that elicited laughter. “You put this on and it avoids the surgery… Well, it pushes it off.”
“Essence of Bees” products will be available starting in September at boutiquevalmont.com, Saks.com and SPA Valmont at Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Manhattan. To mark the launch, Valmont will conduct benefit auctions with limited-edition artwork and is also partnering with the Pollinator Partnership (P2), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of bees and their ecosystems. During September, for every purchase from “Essence of Bees,” Valmont will donate $10 to P2 to support the health of bees in North America.