Q & A With Serge Lutens - Part 2 {Perfume Q & A}

Photography by Serge Lutens, reproduced with the permission of  Peter Gabor - © Reproduction is forbidden, used for pedagogical purposes.

As people will see in the second part of our interview with Serge Lutens (see Part 1), he is a mind that always thinks beyond the predictable limits set by a question. Here he expresses himself regarding Baudelaire's legacy, his line of makeup, the mythical Nombre Noir fragrance, niche perfumery, and his contribution to contemporary perfumery.

Marie-Helene Wagner:

16 – Do you think that speaking of perfumery, we are the heirs to Baudelaire?

Serge Lutens:

- Perfume, in and of itself, is not just an aroma. It is potentially a carrier for the imagination. Perfume is thick; it is poison and pure desire. It is Eros in prison! I think that we are first and foremost the heirs to frustration, but also to revolt, with means that the ones who have not subjected themselves still have aspirations….

"Coiffe façon Tatlin Tower"  by Serge Lutens, an interpretation of the unfinished Tatlin Tower built by architect Vladimir Tatlin.



17 – Could  you tell us a little bit about your line of colors? [editor's note: available at Barney's]


- It is a beauty set that was minimally conceived. Through an ensemble of details that are either invisible or barely perceptible (compacts with beveled mirrors, the sculpturing of the lipstick, the silk in the cases…), it corresponds to my need for image. The rare offers the sensation of being able to consider oneself rare.

Every object in this beauty set has been conceived as an ideal (if it exists). It is a maximum for people who only like the minimum!



18 – Is there any chance to see the mythical Nombre Noir back in the market?


- This perfume is mythical through its name, its black-on-black packaging. It is a kick in the gilt tackiness of perfumery! The scent itself is a white flowers fragrance. At the time, my shyness had not allowed me to develop the luxury vitriol that I had wished for.

I think that it was a mistake to suppress it (I have by the way nothing to do with it), but also that it would not be interesting to reintroduce it into the market. Deprivation is the beginning of desire.


19 – How would you define that so-called “niche” perfumery? Do you like this expression?


- The “niche perfumery” designation is not an apt one. It is a perfumery of amateurs [editor’s note: connoisseurs, lovers] contrasting itself with the perfumery of the “survey juices”.

By the way, I will not let myself be put in a kennel [editor’s note: “niche” also means “kennel” in French]. I am a stray dog and would favor the dog pound in that case.


20 – What is your contribution to contemporary perfumery?


- I don’t know if I made any contributions to anything. I just did what I liked in the moment. If I contributed to anything, great, otherwise….I don’t care!

For absolutely breathtaking photographs by Serge Lutens, please go to this gallery of pictures

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8 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. With few pithy sentences he has answered many of my questions... "Deprivation is the beginning of desire". I like that.


  2. I am glad you enjoyed his answers.

  3. God, those Serge Lutens promotional pics are scary and psychotic..

  4. I absolutely (and respectfully) disagree with you. They are beautiful and mysterious. Stunning actually. They are not promotional pictures but part of his body of work as a photographer and makeup artist.

  5. these pictures are considered masterpiece works of art by many in this industry, here 's a great website entirely dedicated to Serge Lutens photographic work



    Aline et Valcour
  6. Thanks Aline et Valcour. I actually linked to Peter Gabor's site under the picture itself. He is the one who authorized me to use these two pictures.

    The gallery of pictures is indeed stunning.

  7. I am impressed at all that you drew out of M. Lutens in this interview as compared with other interviews I have read recently.

    • Thank you for your kind words, it was a rewarding interview.

      Chant Wagner

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