Friday, May 23, 2014

The Great She Wolf

Feast your eyes upon one of the (less than) 30 limited edition engraved bottles of Serge Lutens's Louve perfume bottle. The familiar aesthetic will warm the cockles of every sincere collector's heart. The Iron Cross will create discussion…

"The she-wolf returns to her den, leaving nothing but her footprints in the snow.
Shining like a seven-pointed cardinal star.
Engraved with the cardinal coat of arms in enamel."

Numbered from 1 to 30, dated and monogrammed edition.
An exclusive bottle, hand engraved.
A few bottles (3 at the time of writing) are available through the online boutique for 800 € each.


  1. OK, so let me be the first one to comment on that iron cross then. Distasteful, ugly, and in combination with the word wolf ill thought to say the least.
    This is a bottle designed for whom, exactly? I probably do not want to know.

  2. the cross could be a templer cross, as well as some other older religious-specific things. in combination with the cardinal's hat, that seems more likely? and as it is a she-wolf referenced, one thinks more of the foundation myth of rome; or possibly some old european folk stories of werewolves...or a tongue-in-cheek allusion to a wolf in clerical clothing?

  3. The cross has been used by Nazis and Crusaders. I am genuinely surprised that SL would go there.

  4. I find it sort of engaging to see. A cross is a cross, to me... and the Maltese cross is not a symbol of the Nazis. The Maltese cross historically does definitely has some negative connotations because of Baron Von Richstofen (sp? sorry) and WWI. He had that cross on his Fokker Triplane. However, oddly, he has gone down in military history admired, like some sort of knight of olden days... and not vilified as a German symbol of evil. Please don't gang up on me for saying that. I am not a proponent of German supremacy. I come in peace! Even my All American, very patriotic father, who served, with the rest of my family, during WWII-- right from the beaches of Normandy to the day the war was declared over, never objected to "the symbol of the Maltese cross".
    Nofixedstars probably has the mystery of the art on this bottle unveiled. I think you can take it or leave it but there are a lot more serious things than this bottle to be concerned about, I figure.
    I am simply curious about it, personally. It is puzzling but not evil, I think.
    Thank you for showing it to us!

    Sincerely, jean

  5. Sabine,

    great thing you started the discussion! Thanks :-)

    Well, it's definitely a bit puzzling. Who is it aimed at? That's easy. People with a disposable 800€ sum to have a curio in their collection ;-P

  6. NFS,

    brava, amazing break down!

    I think the wolf in clerical clothing is spot on. I always think of the illustrations of old gospels from Medieval times which often use animals as human figures to create powerful metaphors. The hat on top of the iron cross definitely reminds me of clerical attire (bishop?). Combined with the garlands and tassels, I think this is the connection with the plush of the Catholic church.

    I also have another personal reference, in Neil Jordan's In Company of Wolves (which involves a she-wolf and a girl warned against wolverines as being corruptors of flesh) there is a scene with people of the church growing canine teeth and jaws.

    Besides, yes, the iron cross comes from the Teutonic order cross being fused with the cross of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, I believe? So the Crusades are also relevant.

    My personal impression is that Lutens is attracted a lot by both mysticism and aestheticism and he fuses the two with impressive (if derisive) results.

  7. TPV,

    hmm, he hasn't been exactly prudish so far in what concerns derisive themes. Think of La Vierge en Fer or La Fille de Berlin. The Crusades plus arabic inspiration perfumes make for an explosive mix as well!

  8. Jean,

    you are assured not to be ganged upon here. This is a civilized forum where the ideas can be clashing violently but where we respect the people who argue. :-)

    Having said that, very interesting train of thought. You know, the history of symbols is fascinating (hope I'm not coming too Dan Brown now!) since they shift so much in meaning throughout cultures and time. The swastika is a good example of that.
    To abhor the symbol instead of the actions that happened is transposing evil into a common signal as if we could make dealing with evil an easy process. But in life things are more complicated than that and people are never 100% evil or 100% good.

    How great that your family fought in Normandy and came back. Such historic moments.

  9. Anonymous21:08

    Addressed to the author of Perfume shrine: please explain this quote of yours:"Feast your eyes upon one of the (less than) 30 limited edition engraved bottles of Serge Lutens's Louve perfume bottle. The familiar aesthetic will warm the cockles of every sincere collector's heart."

    I am sure the company OF Serge Lutens appreciates your help with PR of their business, which in this case would be highly questionable (se other readers comments above). I am quite certain that many will find the aestethichs offensive, in contrary to your stated opinion, that the "familiar aesthetic will warm the cockles of every sincere collector's heart". Your answer/statement on the use of Nazi iconics on perfume flacons would be much welcome! Maybe you should write something about perfume business, bloggers and ideology on your blog?

  10. Miss Heliotrope02:51

    I sometimes feel a sarcasm font would be a value on the interwebs.

    Nevertheless, to me, this looks a bit like a jumble of symbols as displayed in so many tattoos these days. The use of the cross - it can be read as something used by foul people and groups for their own purposes, and it can be read as something with a greater meaning than some debased adoption has put it to. While it may have been intended as cutting edge, to me (am not assuming anyone else has to agree) it is a little childish - it could not be used without upsetting someone & is that how you want to sell your scent? The hat, in conjunction with the cross, does make one think of the cardinal's hat, but I also got a vaguely Spanish-feel from it all - is it aimed at members of the Inquisition, perhaps (insert sarcasm font for that bit)?

    Also, the she-wolf thing - while there is some record of she-wolves being nice (just ask Romulus & Remus), it is tends to be used as a negative description of women who not only dont know their place, but tend to be uppity & "agressive" (more sarcasm font please).

    On the whole, based purely on appearance & being totally superficial about it all, I think it's rather adolescent - trying to shock or look tough, although there seems some confusion about who. Also, it's probably not aimed at the Middle Eastern market...

  11. Anon,

    you went out on a tangent and wrote a treatise.
    SL fans are aware of an aesthetic that is often derisive and the bottle are invariably beautiful to look at. Read my above comments. It's not a condoning of questionable symbolism, nor PR.

  12. MH,

    as always, nail on the head. Sarcasm emoticon to the rescue. :-D

    Yes, there are valid points in everything you say. Still, we're talking 3 measly bottles on the online boutique. I don't think they're aching to sell!! They're producing what feels tongue in cheek to them and whoever is interested and would lay down 800 euros for it, so be it.
    SL has a long tradition of being a bit "shocking", not least with his scents themselves, especially when he began his trail at Les salons du Palais Royal. As to the Middle East, the inspiration is clearly on the west and I think the west is already pretty upset by it all, so…

    Anyway, things could be beautiful even when they're ugly, know what I mean? ;-)

  13. Looking at the iron cross and knowing that one of Hitler's military headquarters was called the Wolf's Lair, I don't think this was a good choice.

    If Mr. Lutens wanted controversy then he got it and if that's the case it's sad that he chose to go about it this way in using that symbol and description.

  14. Poor choice of image,the iron cross, and description, the wolf. Hitler had a military bunker called The Wolf's Lair. No matter how it's spun the iron cross was ruined by the Nazis.

    If Mr. Lutens was looking for controversy then he got it and if so how very sad this is what he used to get it.

  15. penandink,

    I agree that some symbols can be ruined by dubious/despicable use (like the iron cross by the Nazis).

    Hmm, the cardinal's hat makes me think it's the Crusades he was thinking, not Hitler's lair. But then again, that is a questionable reference as well.

    Oh well… :-)

    Τhanks for commenting anyway!


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