The COTTAN House as seen by the Cosmétothèque


In November 2021, the Cottan House took its first steps alongside Jean-Claude Le Joliff, President of the Cosmétothèque - the first Conservatory of cosmetic knowledge and techniques.

First guest of our Legato, a biannual booklet aimed at building bridges between eras, disciplines and thoughts, Jean-Claude Le Joliff also did us the honor of quoting our house in an excellent article entitled :

 "Welcome back Sir Cottan"

In this beautiful post, he first evokes with humor the origins of the Cosmétothèque, which were kept secret until now: 

"What's the point of "your thing"? This question has often been addressed to me by those who wonder about the purpose of the Cosmétothèque. My answer is almost always the same: nothing, but it keeps me busy!"

But very quickly his erudition takes over and he gives us his enlightening vision of innovation, at a time of superficial belief in a linear progress, in the image of a flight forward: 

"The simplistic approach to innovation regularly refers to the idea that technology is the driving force behind it by downgrading the achievements of the past. Hence a dichotomy confronting the past, which would no longer be of interest, with a future driven solely by technologies. In the midst of all this, our businesses are faced with a world in which green and natural are the unavoidable reference values. However, the vast majority of innovations are the result of long-term strategies that allow us to resist successive crises. Change while remaining oneself, as well as synergy between past and future, are the keys to this continuum."

To  us, It is in this sense that Jean-Claude Le Joliff is a mentor. R&D Director of the Chanel House for years, he is a true thinker of innovation and progress, whose contribution goes far beyond the cosmetic field.

By way of illustration, he mentions in the article his essential contribution to the revival project of the COTTAN House, in which he participated between 2019 and 2021 with the requirement and benevolence that characterize him:

"The bias was not only to do as before, as if things were better before, but to identify the basic concepts of the techniques of the time to reinterpret with the means of our time and thus to propose things by respecting the spirit of time with the force of the present. We were surprised to discover that some of the basic principles of today were already key success factors back then."

His words also echo those of Céline Couteau, Doctor in Pharmacy and Senior Lecturer at the University of Nantes. In her article, she also looks back at the history of the Cottan House and the formulas, in particular that of the evanescent cream. "Ah, it is good to see these beautiful marks of the past return", she writes. Beyond the analysis she proposes, Céline Couteau, also a scholar of cosmetic formulation, invites the Cottan House to develop new products, essential to the modern bathroom.

"We look forward to seeing hygiene products for demanding skin [...], skin care products for the face, hands and feet, high-performance sun protecting products (if Dr. Cottan had had the means, he would not have balked at the task) appear in the list of available products... In short, all the essentials for modern bathrooms."

Encouragements that supports us in our ambition to offer a range of products that meet the modern expectations of the cosmetics industry, while building on the heritage of a past rich in lessons learned.

Keeping the best of our history, while adding the modern touch of our time, is indeed the guiding line of the Cottan House when it reinvents the art of formulation.

Thus, we can only encourage those who are passionate about cosmetics, history and innovation to follow the newsletter, podcasts and articles of the Cosmétothèque and to read the book by Céline Couteau on cosmetic formulation for professionals and amateurs.

Professionals in the cosmetics sector can also join the Cosmétothèque association, which preserves cosmetic heritage and know-how: if you have a project to (re)invent a cosmetic product, you now know where to ask for a kind and precious expertise. 

We are delighted to see the art of formulation being reinvented over the centuries, and we will continue our research in this direction, with our loyal customers at our side!

NB : Since the first publication of our article, Jean-Claude Le Joliff has published a podcast on this subject, which you can discover on the of the Cosmétothèque, or listen directly here :

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