Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Serge Lutens

In anticipation of Paris Fashion Week for men which begins today, let's take a look at one of France's most interesting designers...

Serge Lutens is not only a fashion designer but a photographer, filmmaker, hair stylist, and, most famously, a perfume art-director as well. In the 1980s, the Japanese beauty product company Shiseido hired Lutens to develop their product image for Europe and North America. What resulted was an astounding output of package design, make-up design, art direction, set design, and commercial direction. His make-up creations and styling tended toward a pale white face with dramatic dark colors on the eyes and lips, a look that fit well with traditional Japanese ideas of beauty. These highly stylized, nearly hallucinogenic commercials for Inoui, a Shiseido brand, owe a debt to the magical film work of the great Jean Cocteau.

Lutens also directed a very memorable commercial for Jun Ropé, the Japanese fashion brand. I find this one to be the spookiest of the lot. There is something inexplicable and dream-like about the positioning of the woman in the car--she is presented almost like a cardboard cutout, all torso and no lower extremities; see how she is facing the window as if she has no lower body. The sheer nylon around her head gives her an unsettling, ghostly appearance. And the final tableau of the couple in the backseat, staring disconnectedly out toward nothing, seems so frozen and stiff...a cold approximation of what that moment could be. It gives me goosebumps every time.

Lutens is alive and well, and has created over fifty scents for his own perfume empire, Les Salons du Palais Royal.

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