JETSETTER'S GUIDE

Why Tokyo is the Best City for Home Design

Inside the homes of the jet-set Touhami and de Taillac clan, for whom Tokyo is just the latest pit stop. “Nowhere—not New York, not Paris—comes close. It’s my favorite place in the world,” Ramdane Touhami says.


Photographs by Takashi Homma

For the past two decades, Ramdane Touhami and his wife, Victoire de Taillac-Touhami, have led a nomadic life, popping up in London; Paris; Jaipur, India; and Tangier, Morocco. Until a few years ago, the couple and their three children appeared to have settled down in a Brooklyn brownstone filled with vintage furniture and family heirlooms.

Alas, “when we get bored, we find a new location,” says Touhami, a French-Moroccan multihyphenate whose past stints as an artist, a fashion designer, an artistic director, and the chief executive of the French candle company Cire Trudon paved the way for the family’s traveling show of a life.

Last summer, they found themselves in Tokyo, where the couple opened two stores for L’Officine Universelle Buly, a 19th-century French beauty brand they purchased and proceeded to revive in 2014. And while Buly is quickly expanding around the globe, with stores in Paris, London, Seoul, Taipei, and New York (a shop-in-shop bowed at Bergdorf Goodman in April), the clan is staying put in Tokyo—for now, at least.

The interior of the Buly store in Paris.

Photographs by Takashi Homma; Styled by Yoko Kageyama at Eight Peace Agency; Hair by Tano at Eight Peace Agency; Makeup by Rie Shiraishi. De Taillac-Touhami wears Comme Des Garçons Comme Des Garçons top and skirt, her own jewelry. All others wear their own clothes.

It was somewhat inevitable that the clan would set up camp in the Japanese capital. Victoire’s sister Sophie lives there with her husband and child, and, well, “Ramdane was Japanese in his past life,” de Taillac-Touhami says. Their home—two landmarked 1960s houses in Shinjuku that they combined—reflects their ease with the culture.

“It’s very zen,” says Touhami, noting that the family stored all its belongings in Paris and moved with only two suitcases.

To fill the space, he designed a series of blocky, colorful, “totally strange” furniture, which was then made by local artisans using fabric from the Danish textile company Kvadrat. “We wanted it to be happy,” Touhami says. “And a bit teenager.”

Aside from a Brionvega Totem stereo system bought in Italy, a Garrard 501 turntable procured in France, and the movie and ’60s anarchist posters on the walls (including one for the French release of Larry Clark’s Kids, given to the couple by the film’s coproducer, Cary Woods), every bit of their funky, modernist decor was found in Japan.

“Tokyo is the best city for home design,” Touhami says. “Nowhere—not New York, not Paris—comes close. It’s my favorite place in the world.”

A Study in Jet Set Elegance, from Tangiers to Japan

Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac-Touhami with their children, Noor, Adam, and Scherazade (from left), at home in Tokyo.

Photographs by Takashi Homma; Styled by Yoko Kageyama at Eight Peace Agency; Hair by Tano at Eight Peace Agency; Makeup by Rie Shiraishi. De Taillac-Touhami wears Comme Des Garçons Comme Des Garçons top and skirt, her own jewelry. All others wear their own clothes.

The kids riding a camel on a vacation in Jaipur, India.

Courtesy of the Touhami and de Taillac-Touhami family

The swimming pool at the house in Tangier.

Courtesy of the Touhami and de Taillac-Touhami family

The living room of the Brooklyn town house they left 
behind in 2012.

Julie Ansiau

Touhami designed most of the furniture for the house.

Photographs by Takashi Homma

Victoire de Taillac-Touhami at home in Tokyo. De Taillac-Touhami wears toga skirt; her own shirt and jewelry.

Photographs by Takashi Homma

A British Garrard 501 turntable and speakers between the seating designed by Touhami.

Photographs by Takashi Homma

Eames chairs spruce up the dining area.

Photographs by Takashi Homma

The interior of the Buly store in Paris. 10. One of the beauty products designed by the couple: Buly Eau de la Belle Haleine.

Photographs by Takashi Homma; Styled by Yoko Kageyama at Eight Peace Agency; Hair by Tano at Eight Peace Agency; Makeup by Rie Shiraishi. De Taillac-Touhami wears Comme Des Garçons Comme Des Garçons top and skirt, her own jewelry. All others wear their own clothes.

One of the beauty products designed by the couple: Buly Eau de la Belle Haleine.

Courtesy of L’Officine Universelle Buly
1/10

When an acquaintance told Touhami that he reminded him of César Birotteau, the perfumer in an Honoré de Balzac novel, Touhami—who exited Cire Trudon in 2011 after successfully rebooting it—started researching the character. It turns out Balzac was inspired by a real-life cosmetician named Jean-Vincent Bully, whose scientifically advanced skincare products (particularly his Vinaigre de Bully) were popular in the early 1800s.

“It was the L’Oréal of its time,” says Touhami, who dropped the second L to create Buly.

With the help of a French lab, he and de Taillac-Touhami, a beauty writer with a book coming out in the fall, are expanding on Buly’s original formulas, incorporating knowledge picked up on their world travels. Among Buly’s some 750 products are a skin oil inspired by plant macerations used in ancient Greece; an orange-and-ginger-flavored toothpaste enhanced with thermal water from the French region of Castéra-Verduzan; sulfur-free matches scented with Egyptian amber; and minebari-wood combs made in Nagano, Japan, for the imperial family.

Just as meticulously crafted are the shops, designed to resemble Old World French apothecaries. Take, for instance, the countertops, which are sourced from a rare block of once-popular brèche de bénou marble that Touhami tracked down in the Pyrenees.

“You’ll find it at Versailles—and in our stores,” he says.

Related: Inside Yanaka, Tokyo’s Forgotten Jewel of a Neighborhood

All the Fantastically Unconventional Street Style from Tokyo Fashion Week

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com

All of Tokyo’s best street style looks during Tokyo Fashion Week SS ’17. Photo by Keisei Arai.

Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com
Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com
Photo by Keisei Arai at droptokyo.com
1/30

Watch W’s most popular videos here: