Serge Lutens A Tribute

The luxury of the Beauty

Serge Lutens was born in Lille in 1942. In the early 1960s, he went toParis and started working as a makeup artist and creative stylist. He became the creative director at Shiseido in 1980, and released his first

perfume for Shiseido in 1981: the now legendary Nombre Noir.

The Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido, described by Lutens as “more of  reafined salon for perfumes than a boutique”, opened in Paris in 1992,shortly after the release of Shiseido Féminité du Bois. Subsequent

releases appear under the name Serge Lutens instead of Shiseido. In the late 1990s, Lutens decided to entirely devote his time to perfumery.

There are two Serge Lutens lines: the export line (50 ml rectangular bottle, which you can buy all over the world) and the exclusive 75 ml. bell jar bottle.

A typical Serge Lutens fragrance conjures an almost mystical kind of feeling on its wearers. One of my favourites is Tuberose Criminelle. Tuberose Criminelle is a very interesting note. For a long time, I thought it was a piercingly sweet floral, and perhaps the flower is extraordinarily sweet in real life. Not so real tuberose absolute. Rather, it carries a heavy aroma like rotten flowers and rubber. Perfume being what it is (a recreation of natural smells) the method for putting the sweetness into the tuberose absolute is to add it back via chemicals–or the few sweet natural substances that are strong enough to compete with it. That is why perfume that uses tuberose absolute is always sweet. Without these additives, it would be ghastly. No one would wear it. No more deviating from the point, on to the review of Serge Lutens Tuberose Criminalle. My favorite aspect about this house is that the perfumers often avoid side-stepping the natural smell of the main accord. Instead, they ramp it up with supporting notes. This perfume is no exception. Dispite all other notes, it still smells like natural tuberose absolute. Another beautiful example is Iris Silver Mist, which smells very nearly exactly like orris butter. So, if you like tuberose, you must try this one before you can claim any familiarity with the note. Either that, or buy a sample vial of the absolute–but you’ll never wear it.

Photographer, make-up artist, interior and set designer, creator of perfumes, fashion designer and designer of extraordinary objects, autodidact Serge Lutens is an “image maker” of genius. He first began working for French “Vogue” in 1963 where he worked with, among others, Bob Richardson, Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin and Irving Penn. At the age of only 27, already acclaimed for his inimitable style, he moved to Dior to develop the company’s image and create their make-up lines, after which he transferred his talents to Shiseido, where he has been “image creator” for over 15 years. He divides his time between Paris and Ben Youssef, the medina in Marrakech, and his work reflects a sophisticated blend of European refinement and rich orientalism, taking the femme ideale, or ideal woman, as its central motif. His first book – published in 1992 and now a collector’s item – was an “event” in the publishing world. Today, with his second book, produced in luxury edition, Serge Lutens returns to reconfirm his art, which brings together pure aesthetics and a quest for perfection.

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