Jami Morse Heidegger’s Skincare Grail

Dating back thousands of years, the secretive, apothecary world of bespoke skincare has come a long way since the days when a princess would commission rare powders and potions to brighten one’s royal visage. Whisperings of mythical private formulas still abound in the upper echelons of the beauty industry, a fact that Kiehl’s heiress Jami Morse Heidegger is setting straight with this week’s U.S. release of her very own four-product range. Crowned Retrouvé (the French expression for ‘found again’), the range is a veritable ‘haute couture’ line of premium creams originally developed with her husband Klaus Heidegger for their friends and family.

This also marks Morse Heidegger’s return to an industry she left in 2000, when she sold the family business to L’Oreal, signing a non-compete clause that saw her quietly mixing personal formulas at three to four times the regular dose with former Kiehl’s colleague and chief chemist Steven Musumeci. The results feature precious natural ingredients in potent concentrations (from white tea and Madagascan Ambiaty leaves to deep-sea marine algaes), with Morse Heidegger’s luxurious creations combating a multitude of sins—natural active ingredients promote skin cell and collagen reconstruction and surface repair, hydrate the skin with high-dose multivitamins, and protect against the harsh effects of pollution and sun. Mixed in their family laboratory in Malibu, California, the line debuted at Parisian boutique Nose in late 2013, but is finally making its way onto home turf this week, exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman. Interview spoke to Jami Morse Heiddeger about Retrouvé’s compelling charms, inside and out.

DAN THAWLEY: Even from the outside, Retrouvé looks like such a beautiful range…

JAMIE MORSE HEIDDEGER: Through our packaging, we wish to convey a sensuality and an emotional connection to the rituals of beauty and taking the time to care for oneself—a return to the romance of beauty. An important vision for us are the paintings of the Renaissance and the Romantic periods, where we see a woman sitting at her vanity surrounded by fine bottles of perfumes, creams, and other objets d’art. She is taking a moment to reconnect and re-find her inner self. With regard to the design, I wanted an impactful and innovative approach for Retrouvé since I was starting in the industry again with a fresh, blank canvas. I thus chose to have a creative duo based in Paris as my brand directors, artists who had never worked in skincare before. I felt that this would allow the brand to develop in a completely non-traditional and more creative way. Due to their involvement in fashion and music, they brought a new perspective, and conceptualized Retrouvé as they would a luxury fashion brand instead.

THAWLEY: Do you consider Retrouvé a more botanical or chemical formula?

MORSE HEIDDEGER: Wherever possible, we source the ingredients on the market from suppliers who have ethical and sustainable business practices. For example, our squalane (an emollient and moisturizer) is of the highest grade, and is more expensive due to the fact that it is plant-based, and not derived from animals.

THAWLEY: Where do you see the future of Retrouvé?

MORSE HEIDDEGER: We plan on growing the brand slowly and in a highly focused manner, carefully curating Retrouvé to provide unique essentials that I developed with the most demanding customer in mind—myself.

THAWLEY: Aside from Retrouvé, what is a beauty trick you swear by?

MORSE HEIDDEGER: I never leave home without sunglasses, a large-brimmed hat, and copious amounts of sunscreen!