La Prairie combines art, science and nature to create luxurious skincare based on the cellular-therapy treatments of its founding doctor
“Not only to add years to life, but to add life to years”. This was the ambition set out by Dr Paul Niehans that would lead to the creation of the house of La Prairie, a specialist skincare brand that takes its name from the Clinique La Prairie, the lakeside clinic founded by Dr Niehans in 1931 in Montreux, Switzerland.
Dr Niehans was fascinated by the human body. In his quest to answer age-old questions about ageing and mortality, he discovered cellular therapy – the injection of fresh cells into the body to promote revitalisation and regeneration. He used this method to treat thousands of patients, among them some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Following Dr Niehans’ death in 1971, La Prairie was founded on his principles in 1978. It now produces luxury skincare products to rejuvenate the skin, including the iconic Skin Caviar collection, the White Caviar collection and, from 2021, the Platinum Rare Haute-Rejuvenation collection.
At the heart of each La Prairie collection is the Exclusive Cellular Complex, inspired by Dr Niehans’ cellular therapy research and based on a topical cream he would offer his patients following treatment. Twice patented, the formula for the Exclusive Cellular Complex has been refined through the decades and remains a closely guarded secret. La Prairie uses three separate laboratories to ensure that the Exclusive Cellular Complex remains a mystery – no single laboratory technician or chemist is allowed to know the exact composition of the elixir.
Deep within the DNA of La Prairie is the scientific spirit of Dr Niehans’ enquiring mind and capacity for inspiration and innovation. In his own time, he became a celebrity thanks to the personalities who sought out his treatment. Among those who came to Montreux to experience his cellular therapy were artists, authors, musicians and actors, including Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Somerset Maugham, Miles Davis, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo. In 1954, Dr Niehans was credited with saving the life of a Pope – Pius XII – who subsequently named Dr Niehans a Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Blessed by the Church, Dr Niehans was personally inspired by art, science and nature, and these remain integral parts of La Prairie’s story. The Skin Caviar collection was developed when the scientists at La Prairie turned their attention to the egg and discovered that caviar, replete with the richest of nutrients, was beneficial to the skin. The Platinum Rare and the Pure Gold collections are both inspired by the precious metals that enhance the rejuvenating powers of the Exclusive Cellular Complex.
The brand’s respect for nature extends to supporting conservation, including through a long-term partnership with the Department of Glaciology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Their pioneering work helps to protect the Swiss landscapes that continue to inspire La Prairie for generations to come.
Similarly in the spirit of its founding father, who valued his relationship with the great artists of the 20th century, La Prairie collections are contained in bottles and packaging inspired by Bauhaus principles of form, function and beauty, and use an iconic font exclusively reimagined in 2022. The brand also builds connections with the art world, supporting artists and establishing partnerships with art fairs and foundations, including Art Basel, Frieze and Fondation Beyeler. La Prairie’s vision of timeless beauty, “inspired by nature, mastered by science, elevated by culture”, is above all audacious and forward-looking, but rooted in the richest of 20th-century legacies.