The main men of Chantecaille—Olivier, Philippe, and Ren—don’t just work here. They’re part of the family. Which means they are both key to the company’s operations, and serious brand ambassadors. They help develop fragrances, use our neck cream as aftershave, and advise their friends on how to properly wash their face. For Father’s Day, they dish on what it’s like to work (and live) with so many fierce females, and what men ask about most when it comes to upping their skincare game.
A native of Bordeaux from a renowned winemaking family, Olivier—husband of 48 years to Sylvie; father of Olivia, Alex and Philippe—is the consummate French gentleman, always impeccably dressed in blue Loro Piana shirts and often with the family’s golden retriever, Ella, in tow. He joined Chantecaille as CEO a year after its start, in 1999.
As a young man, did you ever think you’d get to know so much about women’s beauty?
No, but I was raised by a mother who loves to be made up, and have three sisters. It prepared me well.
Do your guy friends ask your advice on skincare? Do you offer it?
Not so much, though my male friends are beginning to understand SPF more and more.
By marrying Sylvie, you aligned yourself with a force of nature. What has that ride been like?
It’s been a great ride knowing we could do it, and setting up new challenges all the time. Overall it is fun, sometimes scary, but never boring. She is the ultimate driver, but she respects everyone’s point of view, then makes her own decision.
Has Sylvie instilled in you her love of the natural world?
I was brought up in France on a vineyard/farm with a meadow and fruit trees, though few animals. Here in the U.S. we lived in the country in New Jersey and East Hampton, where we surround ourselves with flowers but no elephants. The wildlife exposure came from her.
As Chantecaille’s First Father, how does it feel to see your three children assume such key positions in the company?
It is a great joy, especially the feeling that your support along the way matters. We all respect each other, and knowing that they now know more than I do is as it should be.
How is being a grandfather [to Olivia and Ren’s daughter Delphina, age 5] different from being a father?
It’s totally different. You first have to earn their attention and be patient knowing you might at some point offer guidance, but mainly you just need to make yourself available to read a book, play…and then send them home!
I gather you were the inspiration for the new Vetyver Cèdre (a fragrance that is described by Sylvie as being for “the ultimate gentleman—sporty, sophisticated and chic”). Did you help develop it?
It is one of my favorite scents. I wore Vetiver de Guerlain for many years. We get samples from the lab, then we smell, judge, comment on them, and return them for new ones with a different balance of the beautiful floral notes, citrus, and cedarwood. Sylvie taught us that the process is tediously slow, but that you should trust your nose.
What are your favorite Chantecaille products and how do you use them in your routine?
My routine is never...routine. I like the Pure Rosewater for its freshness, its natural qualities, and a scent that lingers. Retinol hand cream is a must, as my hands get exposed to the sun all year and hands tend to show damage faster. I like the qualities of Bio Lifting Serum+ and its freshness on the skin; then I apply the Magnolia Jasmine cream [the Magnolia, Jasmine, and Lily Healing Emulsion].
Do you have any plans for Father’s Day?
The youngest of the Chantecaille offspring (brother to Olivia and Alex), Philippe is our media director, overseeing video and photography. He can often be found shooting products in the office studio, or leaning into his huge computer screen finessing a video edit.
What was it like growing up with two older sisters?
My role when I was younger was really to entertain them and make them laugh. I think secretly they always wanted a younger sister, so they would try to dress me up. It was my first introduction to makeup, though not willingly.
Was it inevitable that you were going to work here?
I didn’t always think that, being interested in other things. But I had a background in photography, having interned with a few photographers—most notably Annie Leibovitz—and first came on board to produce video content. Eventually I started to take on the photography, and as my mother’s passions for wildlife expanded, there was a need for more visual storytelling, which took me on these amazing trips to Kenya, Rwanda, and most recently Svalbard and the Arctic Circle.
Photographing wildlife is hard! Any close calls?
One time we were in Rwanda tracking a group of mountain gorillas. It was roughly a 3-hour trek to the nest of this one family, with a Silverback known to be the oldest in the wild, around 45 years old. I was photographing him slowly walking towards me, when all of a sudden he’s not in my sights anymore—he’s running at me! I dropped my camera and got into what the guide called the “submit” position, on your knees with a bowed head. This Silverback stood maybe two feet in front of me, beating his chest, then he just sat down and started eating bamboo. It was pretty surreal. He just wanted to show his dominance.
Do all your friends turn to for skincare advice? What do they ask?
Yeah, 100 percent. Guys are concerned with how to deal with the under-eye area, rosacea, or good sun protection. But the bulk of it is how to hydrate dry skin.
How do you incorporate Chantecaille products into your daily routine?
I use the Bamboo and Hibiscus Exfoliating Cream in the shower—it’s a good exfoliator and helps open the pores so you can rinse the dirt that gets into your face. If I have razor bumps from shaving on my neck, I use the exfoliating cream for a couple of days, which knocks it right out.
Vital Essence has become vital to my life. I use it as soon I get out of the shower. The water in New York is quite hard, so my face is always super dry, especially near my hairline. I use it right away, before a sealant of moisturizer over my face. I’ve also been using the new Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum, which is an instant plumper. I’ve got a lot of laugh lines, having had a fortunate life, I guess, and so it really plumps the fine lines incredibly quickly.
At night, I like to blend two drops of the Rose de Mai Face Oil with a dollop of the Bio Lifting Cream+. It’s for more extreme moisture. I always get compliments the next day that my skin looks vibrant and glowing. And I use the Bio Lifting Neck Cream as an aftershave.
What do you say to guys who can’t be bothered to take care of their skin?
I’d say it’s their loss! You can have good skincare as quickly as you can brush your teeth.
You’re such a good advocate! Is there a downside to a family business?
Around the dinner table growing up, I saw work come home, and I was adamant about keeping it separate. And I still very much am. My mother will often say, “I don’t ever see you!” and I’m like, “But I see you every day!” And still, it’s true—over the weekend I’m usually at home in Brooklyn, doing my own thing. I’ve told her, “If we didn’t work together you would probably see me more often.”
A veteran of the finance world, Ren married Olivia nearly a decade ago; their five-year-old daughter, Delphina, was the inspiration for Chantecaille’s Bébé line. He works in operations and business development.
How has marrying into the family changed your personal grooming habits?
I had no grooming habits. I mean, I shaved, I got my hair cut, but I didn’t use any product. Except soap—and not even on my face. No moisturizer, no SPF. Then I met Olivia and realized that there is a reason to take care of your skin.
How did you cross that particular barrier?
I was in a meeting with Sylvie one day, and she stopped the meeting, picked up some moisturizer, and just started rubbing it onto my face, saying I can’t stand to see this! But Olivia has been educating me ever since, and I admit I’ve developed my own curiosity about it.
So you wash your face now?
Yes. The Rice and Geranium Foaming Cleanser is easy—you squirt a Tic-Tac-size amount in the shower onto your finger. Every guy can remember that. It washes off easily so there’s nothing left on your skin.
And then what do you do?
I shave with the Jasmine Lily Healing Mask. I admit it’s a little decadent. But it feels better than shaving cream, and moisturizes the skin at the same time. It’s a good trick. I use Stress Repair Concentrate around the eyes. I have always been a Vital Essence guy, but recently started using the new Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum. It’s super lightweight, and comes in a pump—men love pumps. It’s so easy. The blue light protection is important because we spend so much time in front of our computers and phones. I brought that up on a recent boys’ trip. No one was aware that blue light is a kind of pollution that we’re being hit with all day. They were obsessing about it.
So do your friends ask you for tips?
All the time. My friends definitely want to get rid of the little wrinkles on their face—they’re more obsessed than they’ll admit—and that’s where Stress Repair Concentrate is so good. Men don’t really like putting on a lot of products, so Vital Essence, a hydrating serum with antioxidants, is very easy to use quickly and see the benefits. The ones who are losing their hair love the Anti-Pollution Mattifying Cream; apparently, bald guys don’t look good with shiny heads.
I also recommend the Gold Energizing Eye Recover Masks for travel. They depuff your eyes so if you have to go to a meeting the morning after an overnight flight, they do the trick. And no one can really see them on the plane; you just take them off when you land and you’re good to go.
What’s the story with your bracelets? [Ren wears a wristful of layered, tiny blue and grey beads.]
A few years ago we were at a dinner in Capri at Diego Della Valle’s villa. I’m holding Olivia’s hand and all of a sudden I feel a little funny; I look down to find that I’m holding the hand of an older Italian gentleman. It’s a joke he plays—he replaces the hand of a young woman with his own hand and sees how long it takes for the guy to notice. He said, “Either you’re very much in love with your wife, or you’re newly married, because most of my friends don’t notice for a good 10 minutes.” That’s how he introduced himself. It was Luca di Montezelmo, the [now former] chairman of Ferrari. We started talking and he was just the chicest guy. It was like that Gianni Agnelli idea of sprezzatura—“perfect imperfections.” Luca had a whole wrist of bracelets and he gave me one to get started. Now Olivia gives me one on every vacation and I wear them until they break or fall off.
What has becoming a Chantecaille by marriage, and working in such a female-dominated environment, taught you about women?
I’ve always had a very healthy respect for women. My mother’s a very strong woman, but I am impressed every day with what they’ve created here. It’s extraordinary, and the work ethic women here have is certainly better than any male-dominated company I’ve ever worked at. There’s also a patience and taking time to explain things that—at my old firm at least—certainly wasn’t there.
Do you and Olivier and Philippe bond or commiserate over being the Chanteguys? (Mantecailles?)
We have fun; we tend to joke around a lot. We also like to play tennis and other racquet sports together. And there’s no talk of cosmetics.