Who in their right mind spends $475 on a tiny pot — 1.6 ounces, to be exact — of moisturizer? Well, enough women seeking wrinkle-free skin that Saks Fifth Avenue has to ration it.
The upscale department store limits each online shopper to six batches of Sisleÿa Extra-Rich Cream per month as demand is so high.
Thanks to this sort of cult following and rapid growth in Asian markets, Sisley Cosmetics’ French founder is a new Forbes billionaire.
Forbes estimates that Hubert d’Ornano has a net worth of $1.3 billion. He and his family own 100% of Sisley, the private skin care and fragrance company he founded in 1976.
D’Ornano is considered cosmetics industry royalty: his grandfather Guillaume co-founded Lancôme in 1935 before selling his shares in the 1950s. Hubert joined his father and brother Michel to launch Orlane, a luxury skincare brand they went on to sell in 1968.
For 36 years, d’Ornano and his wife Isabelle have overseen Sisley’s growth from one Parisian storefront to a brand sold in 90 countries in only the most exclusive stores, like Corte Inglès in Madrid, Selfridges in London and GUM in Moscow. Two of the couple’s four children have been heavily involved in Sisley’s recent success: son Philippe is president while daughter Christine runs its English subsidiary. Hubert and Isabelle remain chair and vice chair respectively.
So what suddenly pushed d’Ornano into the billionaires club at age 86? In a word, Asia. Sisley’s biggest duty free market, of all the world’s airports, is in South Korea. The company operates subsidiaries in China — its largest overseas market — as well as Macau, Singapore, and half a dozen other Asian countries. Its 2011 revenues were $768.7 million, up from $429 million in 2004, according to Women’s Wear Daily’s annual beauty sector report.
Sisley certainly isn’t the first European beauty brand to benefit from recent popularity in Asia. In 2011, Austrian former packaging exec Reinold Geiger took L’Occitane public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, becoming a billionaire in the process. That year, half of the French artisanal cosmetics firm’s $844 million revenues came from Asia, with 25% from Japan alone.
Hubert d’Ornano isn’t just cosmetics royalty, he’s a true blue-blood: a Count. Isabelle d’Ornano also comes from aristocratic stock, descended from Poland’s Queen Barbara Radziwill (yes, that Radziwill — her uncle was Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ brother-in-law).
The family’s patriarch and matriarch keep a low profile, splitting their time between a large, lavishly furnished apartment on Paris’ famous Left Bank and a 6,000 acre estate in the sought-after Loire Valley. They chose not to comment for this story.