- Living at a distance
- A style is born
- The Dior years
- The Shiseido years
the awakening of the senses
- The Serge Lutens foundation
Living at a distance
Serge Lutens was born during the war, on March 14th, 1942 in Lille, in northern France. Separated from his mother when he was just weeks old, his personality was indelibly marked by this original abandonment. Permanently torn between two families, he lived life at a distance and through his imagination. He was a dreamer. At the École Montesquieu, they said he was “on the moon”: he paid no attention, although his teachers recognised that he was a gifted storyteller.
A style is born
In 1956, at the age of 14, he was given a job against his will - he would have preferred being an actor - in a beauty salon in his native city. Two years later, he had already established the feminine hallmarks that he would make his own: eye shadow, ethereally beautiful skin, short, plastered down hair. He also became known for the colour black, from which he never deviated. He confirmed his tastes and his choices with the female friends of his whom he photographed. He was 18 when he was called up to serve in the army during the Algerian War. He was remoulded. This was an important break that led him to make his decision: to leave Lille and head for Paris. This was 1962. Helped by a friend, Madeleine Levy, and bearing large prints of his photographs of his friends, Serge Lutens, experiencing his first years in Paris at a time of insecurity and want, contacted Vogue magazine. For him, this magazine represented the essence of beauty: a sort of convent that he mythologised. Three days later, he collaborated on the Christmas issue. The creator of a vision through make-up, jewellery and extraordinary objets, Serge Lutens quickly became the person to call, and the fashion magazines made no mistake: Elle, Jardin des Modes, Harper’s Bazaar were constantly after him: he worked with the greatest photographers of the time, all the while pursuing his own photographic work. During these years, his talent was fully acknowledged.
The Dior years
In 1967, Christian Dior, who was preparing to launch its make-up line, called upon him. For the House of Dior he would create colours, style and images. Finally, his vision was unified through photography. In the early 1970s, the famous editor-in-chief of US Vogue, Diana Vreeland, was unstinting in her enthusiasm: “Serge Lutens, Revolution of Make-up!” His success was resounding. Serge Lutens became the symbol of the freedom created through make-up, for a whole new generation. In 1974, mirroring his taste for films and the legendary actresses in them, he made a short: “Les Stars.” During this period, he travelled widely, exploring Morocco and later Japan. These two countries, with their rich and yet so different cultures, came together in him and confirmed his way of seeing and feeling.
The Shiseido years
He recalled them some years later, in 1980, when he signed on with Shiseido for a collaboration that was to enable the Japanese cosmetics group, until then unknown on the international scene, to establish such a powerful visual identity that it became one of the world’s leading market players in the 1980s and ‘90s.
the awakening of the senses
Although this first perfume made its mark on the 1980s, it was the creation of “Féminité du bois” and the opening of the Palais Royal shop – with its dreamlike décor – in 1992 which stamped Serge Lutens’ first olfactory revolution on the perfume world. Deeply moved by his discovery of Morocco, more specifically Marrakech (where he bought an old house in the heart of the Medina in 1974), this was where Serge Lutens established his perfume business. Waxes, cedarwood, orange blossom..., Marrakech provided the inspiration for his first perfumes: Ambre sultan, Cuir mauresque, Chergui... Now well-established, at the time they wrote a whole new chapter in the history of essences. In 2000, Serge Lutens took the logical step of creating the brand which carries his name and embodies his uncompromising style. Perfumes, make-up… distributed through specialist retail channels and, for the select few, his own network of shops.
The Serge Lutens foundation
In 2007, Serge Lutens received the “Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters” accolade and went on to receive many awards for his multifaceted talent, before he set up the Serge Lutens Foundation in 2014. Based in the house he purchased in 1974, in the historical heart of the Medina in Marrakech, this vast museum-like space of over 3,000 m2 is today a vibrant testimony to an artist who breaks norms and never rests on his laurels.