Serge Lutens Baptême du Feu
Baptême du Feu (Baptism by Fire), is the new genderless, export fragrance by Serge Lutens. It is no happenstance that a reflective fragrance - as Lutens is known to create them - comes out evoking a climate of weaponized violence in a world and era which seems to be becoming increasingly violent. As storytelling is key to the French artist's conception of perfumery, the red jus is meant to capture something of what a massacre in a funfair - real or imagined - feels like...
Lutens suggests much and reveals little. The eau de parfum, which was created together with perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, explores anew the olfactive range of ginger, this time in a recipe of gingerbread. Five O'Clock au Gingembre in 2008 revealed the interest of Serge Lutens for its scent and sensory associations, but also his initial movement of disgust towards it, in an interview he gave to the blog.
Gingerbread and gunpowder are linked in this new scent. The creator appears in a very short film holding a rifle - Niki de Saint Phalle like - and talks about biting into heart-shaped gingerbread cakes. The scene is a lugubrious funfair shot in black and white, emptied of its potential customers, the continuum in space of a forest from which Lutens emerges.
In light of a series of recent attacks in Orlando and a tragedy in Disneyland - but also before that in Pakistan - the least one can say is that Lutens shows he is capable of prescience.
Places of public gathering and pleasures can quickly turn into bloodsheds in the time we are living in. Baptême du Feu seems to be born of the foreboding that everyone, one day, will have to experience gun violence, one way or another, a little like when Andy Warhol promised everyone their 15 mn of fame. Today, fame has become perversely associated in many cases with mass shooters and mass shootings - and that Andy Warhol did not see the seeds of.
If we interpret what Lutens is saying in a maximal way, we certainly hope that he is wrong and that this is but the pessimistic pamphlet of a sensitive artist. If we interpret what he says in a minimal way, we can but acknowledge the fact that it is already too late and that most of us have been exposed to the visuals of gun violence on TV, in the press, and walk by gun-wielding women and men on the streets, as military patrols criss-cross cities living in a state of emergency.
Available from July 1st 2016 at the Palais Royal and on the brand's website.
SRP: 120€ for 50 ml.