Girl in Green and Red by Balthus
Among the press materials for the upcoming launch of Jeux de Peau (see review) was an in-house interview with designer Serge Lutens.
1°) You often describe your fragrances in terms of memories. What memory is involved this time?
If it’s a memory... A memory is so... A part of my life... A life that is part of me... A throwback to childhood...
Childhood coming back at you... At present, a ball bounces... A present, a ball that bounces...
It is seized with both hands... Both hands seizing it... Every time, the hands let it go... The hands let it
go, every time... Quickly misses us... Quickly missed by us... If it goes away, it’s the better to find you,
my child... If it’s my child, it’s better to find you if it goes away....
2°) That’s the adult. What about the child?
I was assigned a job to do after school. It took me down a gently sloping street. On the right-hand side,
above a low wall, there was an embankment covered with soot-blackened tufts of grass that became
green when it rained. Sometimes, if you looked up, you might see a freight train passing against a
background of empty space. I used the path on the other side of the street, which gave onto a row of
houses that became familiar to the point of being invisible.
There’s no magic involved. A child superimposes blue skies over grey or, when it’s time to mourn, has
to pinch himself to stop laughing. At the end of this nonchalance, taking a left immediately after my
comma, at the end of a dead-end street, there is a full stop. A golden place that was necessary to me. It
was just as much a part of my personal territory as my neighbourhood, my house or my comb.
3°) You forgot the job…
That’s true, I was often distracted: “Don’t forget to get the bread!”
If I described the bakery as a “golden place”, it’s because that’s how I saw it. Part of its bright aura was
due to the amber loaves of French bread - bâtards, ficelles and baguettes - waiting in fragrant rows.
When I got to the bakery, I woke up from my day-dreaming to enjoy the sight of the bread. “Bread
opens your eyes” just as surely as it whets your appetite. The crowning touch was
the whiff of freshly baked bread, still warm, coming through the basement window.
At first glance, there was nothing but good humour on the face of the lady at the bakery. Her makeup
gave her face a jolly look, yet one suspected that it was a mask concealing bitterness.
What could she have been suffering from that would, at busy times of day, make her purse her lips
sharply and suddenly? The fact that it was barely perceptible made it even more obvious. Obeying
a suspicious mind, her mouth, like the seal affixed to a judicial document, passed judgment on all
comers. The smile that she gave when returning change had infinite variations: it could be suspicious,
jaded, resigned, disdainful, stiff or disillusioned. Although she is dead and gone now, I’m
sure that her skeleton still wears her glossy white dentures in a smile.
4°) What about the bread?
He said: “Eat, this is My body.”
Balthus had this in mind when he stuck a knife in a loaf of bread and made it bleed.
It would be a fine thing to be consubstantial with bread, which wards off hunger and soaks up all
sorts of good things!
5°) Your last word?
I set out to use this fragrance like a lovely invisible ink to write a message on the air.