The brand name Victor Maurice and its values are inspired by two of our ancestors.
Victor Vaissier: paternal great-great-grandfather; half-entrepreneur, half-genius; loved to
create handmade soaps and perfumes; built an extravagant and Oriental-inspired castle in Roubaix back in 1892.
Maurice Waucquez: maternal great-grandfather; passionate fabric trader; fascinated by horses; artist and maker of public sculptures.
When, in 1878, Roubaix-born Victor Vaissier (1851-1923), together with his brothers, took over Savonnerie des Nations, created by their father in 1869, he no doubt already had dreams of scented success. His opportunity came with the hygiene revolution at the end of the 19th century which profoundly altered social customs concerning odour and cleanliness, while at the same time industrialisation was taking over the perfume sector and producing synthetic fragrances.
Renamed Savonnerie du Congo in 1883, the company published an eponymous flagship product, Savon du Congo, which enjoyed daily versified advertising in the majority of French newspapers for more than twenty years, ensuring its success along with the fame of its creator. Endowed with a gift for grandiose publicity, Victor Vaissier was also the man behind legendary parades and an amazing oriental-style palace which led to the creation of a Roubaix legend.
Victor dreamed of building a residence that would live up to his expectations, his rank and his ambitions. Unable to bear living between the blackened walls of the factory on Rue de Mouvaux (Roubaix, 2 rue de Mouvaux), he lived in his mansion, Le château du Congo, located at 2 rue de Mouvaux in Tourcoing.
He commissioned architect Edouard Dupire-Rozan with instructions to create a sumptuous, majestic and original mansion with an oriental shape and style, topped with a massive dome containing coloured stain-glass windows. The mansion, also known as the Palais du Congo, was built in 1892 on a five-hectare park stretching from Rue de Mouvaux to Avenue Grau, and from the Rue du Congo to the canal. The mansion looked somewhat like the Taj Mahal and contained many references to Indian art.
Maurice Waucquez was born in Ixelles on 27 August 1896, the first-born child of Jules Waucquez and Maria van Glabbeek. He attended the secondary school Collège St Michel in Brussels. His father owned horses and rode every day. How could he not, therefore, have learned to ride at a young age? His passion for horses was awakened and would stay with him for life. To start with, this passion was expressed in pencil… he drew horses everywhere. First in his schoolbooks, then on restaurant napkins, and then on Board documents of the family business in Rue des Tanneurs.
He was not yet 18 years old when the Great War of 1914 broke out. With his father’s blessing, he signed up as a volunteer in the Guides cavalry unit, taking with him his courage and also his artistic sense. Throughout the First World War, he sketched many events in the life of a soldier. Unfortunately, few of these drawings have been preserved. After the war, he once again threw himself into things wholeheartedly, with both good cheer and good humour. When the tram drivers went on strike – not a problem, he played the role of Wattman himself… Maurice Waucquez shared his contemporaries’ enthusiasm for a few stars
who are still famous today. He admired the poise and smile of Maurice Chevalier, whose mannerisms he enjoyed mimicking for his family. He savoured the ambiguous and acerbic tongue of Sacha Guitry, held the courage and determination of ‘La Môme Piaf’ in high esteem, and recalled the scathing remarks of Jean Gabin. These actors offered an image of gaiety, elegance and humour of their day, which he endorsed.
Equestrian art continued to pursue him and he himself continued to create it. But drawing was no longer enough. He felt that the third dimension was needed and launched himself into sculpture. In the evening, when he left Rue des Tanneurs and went home, he would shut himself away in his studio and would refuse to allow his creative inspiration to be disturbed. In total, he produced an enormous number of equestrian sculptures and he distributed many plasters and bronzes during his lifetime. Some of his monumental works that have enriched the artistic heritage of Brussels include: – Monument to the artillerymen (Square de Mérode) – Column dedicated to the cavalry (Square Léopold 2) – Equestrian statue of King Albert I, life-size, exhibited at the Musée de l’Armée. He grew old surrounded by his grandchildren, whom he doted on. He died in Brussels on 19 February 1980.