who is the countess who founded Sisley Paris

isabelle d'ornano

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In the annals of the beauty industry, between groups, neo-brands and TikTok tutorials, few are the realities that converge in a single dynasty of heritage, innovation, glamour, leadership and blue blood. The French d’Ornano family, among the few aristocrats who have embarked on the populist business of reducing pores and wrinkles, is one of them and their empire goes down in history under the Sisley logo.

It all started in the post-war period, when in 1934 the Polish Count Guillaume d’Ornano moved with his family to France and in less than a year co-founded the famous beauty brand Lancôme. It was the start of a family tradition that saw three generations subsequently create different cosmetics and skincare companies. The second are the sons, Hubert and Michel, who in 1946 opened a perfumery brand named Jean d’Albret, which their father joined three years later following the sale of Lancôme’s shares. Then it was the time of Orlane, also opened by the two young men from Orléans in 1954, and focused above all on body care, which after the expansion in the United States launched what was attested as the first cream anti-aging with a formula based on royal jelly, but which was also sold, despite its success, in 1968 after Michel had decided to pursue a political career. A keystone for Hubert, who after remaining seven years as Chairman and CEO of the company, decided to abandon Orlane to start with his wife Isabelle what is still recognized today as one of the greatest successes of French cosmetics. It was in 1976 that Sisley Paris was born. A winning partnership, therefore, that between Hubert and Isabelle, which has made it possible, from a small two-room office, to build an independent global company which today has more than four thousand employees and a large presence on five continents. .

But who is Madame Sisley? Born Isabelle Potocki, in Poland, she lived first in Madrid, then in London where she attended Oxford, and finally in Paris after her marriage to Hubert who guaranteed her the title of countess. She had family ties to the Kennedys – the first lady’s sister, Lee, had married her uncle, Prince Stanislaw Radziwill – and in the early 1970s worked in fashion alongside Jean-Louis Scherrer. She abandoned the discreet life of the international jet-set, between New York and Gstaad, to embark on the complex beauty-business machine as co-founder and vice-president of the company, overseeing the image of the House but also overseeing the creation and development of Sisley products and influence. A pioneer in phytocosmetics, Isabelle d’Ornano has always been interested in naturalness, homeopathy and the use of essential oils for body care – an avant-garde interest in the 1970s – and that is why focus the entire Sisley philosophy on research and innovation for the use of natural extracts in the treatment of specific skin problems. Attention is also paid to listening to the needs of consumers, which according to d’Ornano remains a key element of commercial success.

But the cult of beauty is not exercised only in the top secret laboratories of the House, Madame Sisley has made aesthetics and harmony a matter of life. First with the offices and spas of the brand, the details of which she has always supervised, but also with her houses scattered between Paris, London and the Pays de la Loire in France. With a unique sense of furniture and a marked interest in the arts, over the years he has created environments imbued with charm and elegance among kaleidoscopes of colors, contrasting textures, idiosyncratic objects, books, works of art. ‘listed and unlisted artists, Persians, tapestries and bespoke furniture that fill family apartments which have recently been the subject of a book bearing the name “Isabelle d’Ornano – What a beautiful world!”. The volume, written by Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery, with photography by Christina Vervitsioti-Missoffe, and edited by Abram, reveals the essence of the Sisley aesthetic, among the details of a gold sculpture by Claude Lalanne overlooking the Seine. , the elegance of a metal woman by Manolo Valdés in a country garden and the harmony of a painting by Alfons Mucha hung between striped wallpaper and an armchair by Jules Leleu in the London pied-à-terre.

What a beautiful world!

Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery


On the other hand, as she says herself: “Beauty is the sign that life has meaning. It’s not just an ornament. In the presence of beauty, you suddenly realize that the living universe is not a huge, inanimate, amorphous entity. But it is guided by a goal.

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