Shirin von Wulffen wants you to join her in the South of France—via her new Provencal beauty line, Bastide.
The onetime Director of Public Relations for North America for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Tom Ford was born in Iran to German parents, who raised her on a Virginia farm and instilled an appreciation for fresh food and the great outdoors. She maintained that connection with nature’s aesthetics and bounty throughout her adult life in Germany and New York City.
Ultimately, she and her husband—beauty world heavyweight Frédéric Fekkai—moved to Provence, where she fell in love with the evocative, natural lifestyle. Together, in January 2017, they launched Bastide, their toxin-free skin, body and home collection—not only inspired by Provencal joie de vivre, but also created with regional herbs, flowers, oils and honey by local artisans.
Here, von Wulffen describes creating her dream beauty line and sharing it with the world, while working to stay true to her authentic self:
Live The Process: From where did your interest in wellness and clean living emerge?
Shirin von Wulffen: I grew up in a German household on a farm in Virginia, and I can remember my mother being the only parent who would pack us homegrown apples for snack—everyone else had Twinkies! We also never ever had soft drinks; and the first time I went to McDonalds was when I was 12. For bake sales, my mom would bake apple crumbles from scratch. The teachers used to love her cakes so much that they would buy them before they hit the sale. We always cooked from scratch at home and ate fruit and vegetables from our own garden. My parents were not militant, and we were also allowed to eat candy on occasion, but I do think that I grew up with an awareness of eating seasonally and with fresh ingredients. Likewise, we spent a lot of time in nature and with animals, which I remember as a great way to relax after school. To this day, I am a healthy eater, but I never think about what I eat. I try to listen to what my body needs: sometimes that’s a salad and sometimes it’s dark chocolate or a glass of rosé!
LTP: Coming from your fashion background, how did you come to launch Bastide?
SVW: My husband, Frédéric Fekkai, and I launched Bastide in January of 2017, and we opened our first store in Aix en Provence in June of this year. I think that my background in and love for fashion helped me to appreciate the beauty when we first moved to Provence. It was exciting to experience such a naturally potent way of living. Eating from our vegetable garden and shopping at the Provençal markets is a literal feast for the senses. We quickly realized that we wanted to create a line of product that was as curated and natural as the food we were eating. We work with “beauty artisans” (or category experts) with the intention of making each category the best it can be. The savoir faire of our beautisans is the foundation, and then we add based on our experience to create the skin and body care line that we dream of for our own lives—in planes, trains and big cities. Our idea is to always bring the senses back to Provence and the awareness back to the present.
"be more present and aware."
LTP: What separates Bastide from other clean beauty collections?
SVW: As I mentioned earlier, we work with experts to make the best product in each category. Our line is 100 percent made in Provence, and we work tirelessly to uncover and discover all the natural beauty that Provence has to offer.
LTP: In addition to using your own line, what rituals, practices and products keep you feeling balanced and healthy?
SVW: Both Frédéric and I love to hike. Above our Bastide, there is a regional park that is lush with wildflowers and bushes (as well as a Roman tower called “La Tour César”!). Even if it’s only a short hike, the smells of the plants are a form of relaxation. Both in Provence and in the city, I try to do a full yoga session once a week and a daily dose of yoga stretches and mini-meditations whenever I can. In the evenings, especially when I am traveling, I love to soak in our Camargue Bath Salts. I drink tons of tea: Black tea in the morning and herbal tea like chamomile or verbena (we pick our own verbena from the garden in Provence) in the evening. I recently read a book called, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, and, so, I am trying to be more present and aware in my everyday life. According to him, our simple goal is to be “our most authentic self.” I am trying!
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
SVW: Kisses from my kids. Being true to myself and living in the moment.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
SVW: Again, I am liking Eckhart Tolle's advice to keep our ego in check and be our most authentic self. We often get caught up in the thoughts and emotions swirling through our bodies. If we can appreciate and live in the present more, then everything else falls into place. Believe me, I am not there yet, but it helps to have a plan!