Actor Alexandre Styker was building his budding beauty brand La Reine Capricieuse while filming “Jeanne du Barry,” the Cannes Film Festival’s opening night movie.
Passionate about his new product, Styker produced special samples for the cast and crew. Star Johnny Depp joked that the honey-based face cream smelled sweet enough to eat; director Maïwenn became so enamored with the scent she made the brand the official partner of the film.
Now special guests at the world premiere will be gifted one of only 2,000 bottles produced each year.
“We respect the miraculous work of our black bees and the slow-growth process of plants. We use our spring water sparingly. Our philosophy is to create demanding, authentic and vibrant beauty,” Styker told WWD of the limited quantities. The Luxembourg-ish actor was also keenly aware of the damage harsh products can do after years of sitting in makeup chairs and wanted to create a natural product.
The story started when Styker revisited an old childhood cabin to find it had become a beehive over time. He was struck by the scent, and in an instant decided to revive the colony of wild black bees. Situated on a secluded estate in the mountains of the Vosges Natural Park, near the border of Switzerland, the bees feast on wild chestnut and hazelnut trees, as well as century-old apple, cherry and plum trees on the estate’s organic orchard.
Thyme, arnica and wild roses also grow nearby, and the estate cultivates lavender and poppies. All of these scents are woven into the honey.
At first Styker didn’t even imagine a beauty product. “My first instinct was to understand how to save the colony of wild black bees and revive this abandoned place,” he said. “The sweet smell of wax and warm honey mixed together were indeed a trigger for me. It was the smell and energy of life and I immediately knew that I had to step in.”
After producing his first batch of honey, a chance meeting with a phytobiologist from the University of Strasbourg led to testing. The honey showed extremely pure levels of B3, and the idea of skin care was born. A three-year research period, dozens of tries and four patents later, the formula was created.
The name comes from the hive’s mercurial queen. “We were working with beekeepers, putting a new swarm of black bees into a hive, but the queen kept escaping. We had to catch her at least five times before she finally agreed to settle in her new, safe home. I screamed, ‘What a capricious queen!’ Since that day, we have renamed the domain after that phrase,” Styker said.
He created the delicate milk glass and gold bottles with a bit of royal flair — each is crowned with a gilded metal top inspired by vintage fragrance bottles.
During a long shoot at Versailles for “Jeanne du Barry,” Styker started talking up his formula with chief makeup artist Tom Pecheux, who used it on set and found it “amazing.” The actor then passed samples to the other cast and makeup artists, who provided positive feedback.
Added Styker: “Being named ‘The Capricious Queen’ and partnering in a movie which was largely shot in Versailles — destiny is sometimes quite amusing.”