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12 posts tagged "Serge Lutens"

Self-Portrait of an Artist


Makeup artist Nick Barose is clear on one thing: He is not quitting his day job. Barose is the man behind the maquillage for celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o and Kate Mara, but like many other face painters—Serge Lutens, Tyen, François Nars, and Kevyn Aucoin (whom he assisted)—taking photos, and sometimes starring in them, is how he makes his dreams a reality. “It gets frustrating when you have a vision in your head and you can’t bring [it] to life because nobody would shoot it, or it ends up being their vision,” Barose explained. In order to assume creative control, he took the lessons he learned at the International Center of Photography—and from working on the sets of Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, and Patrick Demarchelier—eliminated the flaky models, and created a series of self-portraits in which he explores his Asian roots. “My grandfather was a well-known classical Thai dancer for King Rama VI and had his own troop,” he said. To make these exotic looks appear more authentic, he explored traditional methods of makeup application—opting for fingers and sticks over a bevvy of brushes. Here, the behind-the-scenes mainstay talks us through his time spent in front of the lens:


“I was inspired by the iconic image Monsoon Girl by photographer Brian Brake. I re-created it by using cream bronzer to make my skin more coppery—outdoorsy, like the kind of guy that’s out farming all day, every day—and a little bit of black kohl liner to make my eyes more exotic. The fake raindrops were created with a garden hose, and the bananas came from my parents’ backyard in Thailand.”


“I enjoy looking at photographs of sadhus [holy men] in India. They use only a few colors to paint their faces and all are from nature, like yellow, red, black, brown, and white—which usually come from cow dung and mud. I only used the palms of my hands, fingertips, and a few sticks to create this organic, earthy look.”


“Inspired by Red Boy by Steve McCurry—a photo of a boy at the Holi festival in India that appeared in National Geographic—I used my grandmother’s vintage teacup as a prop, as well as my dad’s ruby rings. The red face paint was actually MAC blush in Frankly Scarlet.”


“This is Princess Rojana and Prince Sung Thong from iconic Thai [folklore]. In this story, the prince has a beautiful golden body inside, but only a person worthy enough would see his true form—an ugly version is on display for everyone else. I interpreted this with gold face paint and the mask on top. Princess Rojana sees the prince’s true [self], so she threw a garland at him and chose Sung Thong as her husband. I had to drape that costume a certain way so that it would cover my bicep and make my arm appear more feminine!”


“I love looking at my grandparents’ vintage portraits. They got all dressed up and posed properly—sometimes with props like flowers, a fan, etc. For this portrait, I painted a unibrow, like in an old Indian painting. I lit it very specifically so the sparks in my eyes mimic the sparks in the earring.”

Photos: Nick Barose

Cloche Call


Serge Lutens is one of the beauty industry’s more fascinating characters. Best described as an image maker, Lutens was a creative force at Paris Vogue in the sixties, working with luminaries like photographers Richard Avedon, Bob Richardson, and Irving Penn to produce stunning beauty and accessories shoots. He was ultimately hired by Christian Dior to design its makeup range before Shiseido picked him up to direct its ad visuals in the 1980s. But it’s Lutens’ passion—and aptitude—for perfume that just may be his lasting legacy. He opened Paris’ famed Les Salons du Palais Royal in the late nineties and filled it with a signature line of fragrances in unique belled—cloche, in French—bottles, and thus began Lutens’ world-spanning reputation for scent formulation. Seasonal releases came and went thereafter, arriving at select locations across the globe wherever perfume aficionados demanded them, but the original cloche collection, Lutens’ most exclusive blends, remained at the Jardin du Palais Royal—until Barneys managed to get a hold of them last week. Starting this month, for the first time ever, 34 of Lutens’ prized perfumes—from Ambre Sultan and Bois et Musc to Santal Blanc and the exceptional Encens et Lavande, the perfect union of smoky, spicy, fresh, and sweet—are yours for the spritzing on Madison Avenue. Each flacon rings in around $300, which is not cheap; but minus the airfare to Paris, it’s a total steal.

Available at Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., NYC. Call (212) 833-2425 to check on availability.

Photo: Courtesy of Serge Lutens

Serge Lutens Plays It Cool


Last spring, Serge Lutens ventured into semi-uncharted territory. The creative director of makeup turned producer of rich, opulent fragrances released L’Eau—a fresh, concentrated eau de cologne that he branded as “the anti-perfume.” Something of a palate cleanser, the sage, mint, magnolia, and white musk elixir was deliberately missing the heady resins that have become a Lutens signature over the years. This month, he is trying his hand at another eau de cologne, mostly because he remains unsatisfied with the category’s current offerings. “I dislike cologne,” he admits, “but I love the feeling of freshness that it gives at the beginning but which unfortunately fades after a couple of hours.” To counteract this effect, Lutens has released L’Eau Froide, a “more polar, neutral, and colder” offering in which he has layered a specific Somali incense sap that lacks the smokiness of other varieties with four different musks. The result isn’t charred or heavy, as you imagine it might be, but sheer and airy while still substantial. “It gives you a feeling of coldness, like a fan,” Lutens contends—something that will make it particularly easy to spritz on come summer.

Photo: Courtesy of Serge Lutens

Serge Lutens’ Deviant Duo


Serge Lutens has taken on many a scent challenge since launching his impressive library of fragrances. He gave patchouli a new, post-hippie lease on life with Borneo 1834, which is peppered with hints of galbanum and chocolate. And last year, he rocked the olfactory establishment with L’Eau—”the anti-perfume,” as he called the sage, mint, magnolia, and white musk elixir that was designed to be a palate cleanser to heavier oriental eaux. For his latest trick, Lutens has set out to capture violence through a new scent duo. “A particular kind of violence not to be confused with blind, indifferent brutality,” he assures Instead, Lutens focused his aggressions on “disfiguring” familiar florals so they are barely recognizable when spritzed onto the skin. “Tubéreuse Criminelle is impossible to classify,” Lutens says of the tuberose-heavy flacon that’s been spiked with clean hyacinth and bitter snowbell essences for an effect that is vaguely medicinal, “like flowers in a newly cleaned hospital room.” Its companion scent, Vitriol d’Oeillet, alternatively features spicy notes of clove, cayenne, and carnation. “The use of the carnation was accidental,” Lutens says of the decorative flower. “What I liked was the corrosive part of it,” he says. Neither is your average perfume, but then again, Lutens isn’t your average perfumer. “Only one tendency matters to me: Don’t follow trends.”

$140 each, available at Barneys New York, (800) 222-7639.

Photo: Courtesy of Serge Lutens

Serge Lutens’ Water Works


Serge Lutens has a knack for taking a seemingly straightforward makeup product and elevating it to new heights. In his hands, a classic eye khol liner became an objet d’art, while a lipstick, that most essential of beauty items, was rendered the most chic (and, at $75, likely the most expensive) accessory in your makeup trove. Lutens’ new interpretation of lip tint is likewise an elegant affair. The Encre de Chine (French for Indian ink) Water Lip Color has the consistency of liquid silk, a delicate, foam-tipped slanted applicator, and a polished black lacquer case. The plum shade saturates the lips with a matte wash of blackened violet, while still allowing their actual hue to peer through for a natural effect. This water is one we won’t have any problem getting our daily serving of.