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He created a cult fragrance, but he doesn’t wear perfume

Each fortnight, Stephanie Darling gets inside the head of an industry expert or media personality. This week, she talks to visionary Serge Lutens.

The perfumer prefers to seek inspiration from within: “My approach is a purely personal one.”Credit:Ran Reuveni

Born in 1942 in the north of France, Serge Lutens’ early life was hard but when he was 14 an apprenticeship at a hair salon prompted a fascination with the world of beauty. In the 1960s, Lutens worked with Christian Dior on creating a make-up line, then became the creative director for Shiseido in the 1980s. He launched his first scent, the cult unisex fragrance Féminité du Bois (, $213), in 1992.

What I’m loving right now Finding somewhere I can’t be reached for solitude and distance.

Favourite fragrance I don’t have a favourite, nor do I wear any.

Inspiration I haven’t been inspired by anyone; my approach is a purely personal one. It finds shape at a particular moment: a perfume can take shape in an aeroplane, a train, at home.

The rule I live by Life is fleeting. The idea that life will come to an end helps me quicken the pace.


Favourite colour Black, of course. It’s the refuge of all colours and complements all of them. Also shades derived from blue, including violet and fuchsia. I find it difficult to talk about colour without contextualising it.

My mantra I like simple, ordinary, unexpected things – there’s something wonderful about them. It doesn’t come from material, physical objects. It’s simply a connection with ourselves.

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