The story of OLVERUM is as rich as rare as the oil itself. From a twelfth century physic garden to the latest modern laboratories, it's a story involving a family secret carried for decades, and several lifetimes of passion and specialist knowledge.
The dawn of the twentieth century in Europe saw a resurgent interest in natural health and wellbeing. Germany had been the centre of the world's aromatherapy renaissance since the 16th century, and by the 1920s, citizens from every corner of society would make regular visits to its many historic spa towns to take the waters. One keen enthusiast was Franz Otto Klein, a successful winemaker from the Mosel Valley.
Along with the fine wines he created by day, Franz had two other great passions: international travel and essential oils, the therapeutic benefits of which ascinated him. Together with his wife Edith, an accomplished pharmacologist, he indulged both these interests by scouring the globe, sourcing the finest essential oils for their personal collection. But throughout his travels, nowhere did Franz find such an exquisite blend as in his favourite spa in Baden Baden.
During a fateful visit in 1929, the spa announced that they could no longer supply the renowned house blend of organics the Kleins found so invigorating. Franz and Edith were struck with an ambitious idea. Taking the spa's infusion as an inspiration, they would employ all their skills acquired in both winery and laboratory, and the knowledge learned through the pursuit of their passions, to produce the perfect therapeutic oil.
Inspired, the Kleins returned to their home, Mönchhof, a former monastery farmhouse on the banks of the River Mosel. The original occupants of the estate were Cistercian apothecaries, who had established a carefully cultivated physic garden of rare plants. The Kleins' loving care of these singular herbs, and the curation of their enviable library of exotic tinctures, now paid dividends.
Franz and Edith experimented with blend after blend, seeking the definitive formulation. Two years later, in 1931, they finally perfected an oil of extraordinary quality, with the preternatural therapeutic and restorative qualities they sought. The couple initially made just seven litres of their signature oil, which they decanted into traditional clay bottles on July 21st, 1931. Later that year, the Kleins presented their creation to close friends as Christmas gifts. The response was universally rapturous.
As the reputation of their exceptional elixir grew, the Kleins could barely keep up with demand. By 1943, however, the war had made it impossible to source oils of sufficient quality and Franz, unwilling to compromise, halted production. The remaining stoneware jars of oil were carefully stored in the wine cellars of Mönchhof, and under cloak of night, the secret formula was buried in the monastic garden for safe keeping.
It wasn't until 1948, facing demand from devotees of the Kleins' unique oil, that the formula was retrieved and production was restarted. Now their son, Peter, devoted himself to continuing the tradition of his parents' creation. Over time, Peter further refined the production process, utilising technological advances in the extraction of therapeutic grade oils. He renamed this rarefied version OLVERUM, taking the name from the Latin oleum verum, meaning 'true oil'. A perfect encapsulation, he felt, of both its quality, and the devotion with which it was created.
For many years, OLVERUM survived by word of mouth – a cult product known only to a small number of passionate fans. Then fate intervened, in a typically unusual form. Michael Hawksley chanced upon the oil while visiting his Mayfair hairdresser, Truefitt & Hill. Barbers by Royal Appointment, they had been asked to carry a small number of bottles for the Royal Household. Intrigued, Michael tried the oil for himself, and was so impressed he knew he had to bring it to a wider audience.
Together with his wife Betty, founder of legendary perfumery Les Senteurs, Michael travelled to Germany to meet with Peter Klein and secured exclusive rights to distribute OLVERUM in the UK. Finally, in 2014, the Hawksley family acquired OLVERUM in its entirety, creating new packaging to embody the quality and impeccable attention to detail which defines the brand.
With a vision to preserve OLVERUM’s unique heritage for another generation, Michael’s son, Dominic, began work to develop the brand further. OLVERUM has now embarked on a new chapter with the launch of several new extensions to the line. Honouring the authentic spirit, traditions, and therapeutic ethos that have stood the test of time for almost nine decades, be assured that OLVERUM is a new word in luxurious self care.