Monday, 14 March 2011

An Introduction to the Genius that is Serge Lutens

Surprisingly a lot of people do not know about Serge Lutens. I didn’t know of him until about two years ago, and it was a backward discovery. I first saw images of exquisite makeup done by Kabuki, a legendary makeup artist who emulated Lutens in a shoot for the jewellery designer Majo Fruithof. Not realising that they were re-interpretations of an earlier original I went on a manic google search for more such work, which led inevitably to the genius that is Serge.

At first I assumed that Serge Lutens was a makeup artist, but I soon discovered that he is so much more. He is one of those rare, obscenely talented individuals that has creativity pulsing through his veins; who bleeds creativity into the world around him. Now, Lutens is known mainly as the greatest perfumier alive, but he started out as a hair stylist and photographer. He also created a makeup for Dior, Vogue and Shiseido and it was at Shiseido that he started conjuring fragrances.

Lutens's visual style is very particular and immediately identifiable. He styled all his own perfume advertisements, and created his signature look by applying the makeup himself to his self-selected model muses. His look is always very pale, with strong Asian lines, meticulous finishing and an exotic edge reflecting his passion for heady, other-worldly scents.

Shiseido owns the Lutens brand, and has given him free reign over his fragrances to the extent that he launched the Shiseido Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris in 1992, dedicated solely to his perfumes. There he painstakingly crafts new scent combinations year-on-year and now has more than 60 fragrances to his name.

Les Salon du Palais Royal - Shiseido
Parfume boutique of Serge Lutens

Inevitably Lutens' unmistakable style has infiltrated and inspired the world of fashion and art. His visual work has been imitated and emulated time and again, and arguably none has utilised this inspiration better than the makeup artist Kabuki. The images below are of original Lutens designs and of the Kabuki re-interpretations created to promote the jewelery of Majo Fruithof. Although the poses and ideas are almost identical, Kabuki has managed to make the look even more refined and contemporary. It takes a true artist to imitate such beauty without making it look like an easy rip-off. Along with Serge Lutens, Kabuki provides me with much inspiration on a daily basis and I always return to his work when I need to kick-start my creativity.

Original Serge Lutens

Kabuki Makeup for Majo Fruithof

Original Serge Lutens

Kabuki Makeup for Majo Fruithof

I would recommend looking at Kabuki's website - the collection of his work is intimidating and marvellous! Click on the image below of one of his Vogue covers to like directly to his site (

Kabuki makeup for Vogue

I would also highly recommend watching this wonderful series of videos for Shiseido makeup styled by Serge Lutens. They are truly one-of-a-kind and exquisite beyond words. They also make one appreciate just what perfection can be achieved without HD, photoshop and airbrushing!

Click image for link to videos
styled by Lutens for Shiseido

I hope this has supplied your inspiration fix for the week! Enjoy!

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