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Serge Lutens is a true Renaissance man. He’s Shiseido’s image maker, chief of Parfums-Beauté Serge Lutens, makeup maestro, fragrance developer, photographer and filmmaker, among other artistic pursuits. Two decades after creating the first symbolic sign for Shiseido, Lutens was asked to conceive a second. Here, the highly individualistic Lutens on style, beauty and remembrances of things past.
WHAT DO YOU FIND BEAUTIFUL?
The moment when someone lifts up her head. It is someone who leaves something, who creates a spirit of rupture. We don’t all have our eyes turned the same way. We do not all see the same thing and do not see in the same fashion.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU FOR YOUR WORK?
I believe that from the age of eight everything is done—that is to say, everything is filed away. The rest is to be remembered. After this age of reason…what we have seen, what we have loved, it is all the same. These memories are found. Creation for me is not an idea. Ideas are nothing.
WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF CREATION?
The moment of creation is when you don’t doubt anymore. To leave incertitude, to leave doubt, it is necessary that I utter something.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOUR STYLE?
Style is a consequence. It is not for me to say I have a style.
DO YOU WEAR FRAGRANCE?
Almost never. I wear fragrance when I go out in the evening. That is to say, three times a year, about. What is a perfume? When everything is finished, one adds it like a jewel.
WHICH OF YOUR CREATIONS ARE YOUR FAVORITES?
The past doesn’t ever interest me. What is finished is finished. What interests me is what moves forward.
DO YOU STILL HAVE MEMORIES OF WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BEGIN CREATING MAKEUP AND FRAGRANCE?
Everything started with the same creation. When I was 14 years old, in 1936, I was placed in a hair salon because I was someone who had a lot of difficulty putting myself in the logic of others at school. All that I learned, I learned after leaving school. At 15, there were a lot of people in the salon. There was a pretty girl with a rather oval, long face. I was told to do her hair. I took my scissors and in one sole snip, I cut her hair. At the time, no one cut hair like that. The lock of hair fell on the floor, and it was very important because it was a rupture.
WHAT INFLUENCES YOU?
Everything has influence. One observes, one looks at everything.
WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE IN THE WORLD?
I admire an enormous number of things. Beauty, music….It’s not possible to delimit.
DO YOU HAVE FAVORITE COLORS OR SMELLS?
No, I don’t think like that. I search for the best in each thing.
YOU RECENTLY CREATED A NEW SYMBOLIC SIGN FOR SHISEIDO. HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM THE ONE YOU DESIGNED 20 YEARS AGO?
The first was a very simple red circular form on a black background with a woman who has a mask on her face. I launched the cosmetics brand with a masked woman. Her body was hidden behind the round representing the Japanese sun. This time, I wanted to seize upon other things, since time has gone by. I kept the same symbol, but it’s almost as if I had put it in profile. This time, the woman begins demasking herself. Her presence is not stronger than that of the mask. One is not surprised by what is under the mask. This mask, this woman, is not erased. It is so much of an evocation.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ONE HOPING TO FOLLOW IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS?
I would advise not to follow me. Voilà. I am not a man of advice.