Friday, May 21, 2010

Photos from the Moroccan Abode of Serge Lutens

W magazine goes inside perfumer Serge Lutens's secret Moroccan hideout in the heart of the Marrakesh medina, asks questions (via Christopher Bagley) and posts a pleiad of gorgeous photos (by Patric Nagel) in their June issue. Curiously, the hideout of the grand master of artistic direction is just that ~a secret hideout. It's been constructed for the last 35 years, yet it hasn't been lived in yet! Lutens has trouble coming up with a clear explanation, attributing it to filling the “awful, horrible emptiness that we all have.” He says, “There are times where you just have to be completely occupied; otherwise you fall apart".
The house is respendid with orientalised motifs, Berber jewellery and fibulae, Syrian chairs and paneled coloured windows alongside an impressive memento mori desk. All around a big walled garden full of exotic blooms like daturas, tuberoses and brigmansias. Anyone who knows the admiration Perfume Shrine holds for the Lutensian universe knows we're thrilled...

The interview includes such Lutensian gems as “I felt like the director of the pyramid at Cheops” (on the 500 people working on it), “You could call it obsession. But obsession is a necessary part of creation” (on getting carried away on the building process) and “It’s happened very quickly, like a hysteria. Everything’s a hysteria with me” (on his amassing moody Orientalist art-pieces from the middle of the 1980s onwards).

But maybe the most interesting of them all (and the most romantic) concerns smells: The greatest perfumers of them all aren't perfumers, but rather the bees, the winds, the rivers, carrying and mixing scents in space...In a home like this one, this is tangible reality more than poetic fantasy.

Visit this link to read and see the Serge Lutens slideshow.

And might we remind you that two new fragrances by Serge Lutens are coming up soon: Boxeuses and Bas de Soie. You can read about them here.

Photographs by Patric Nagel for W Magazine.


  1. Sointu09:12

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. Beautiful but still sad to see all the photos. A house never been lived in, and it doesn't look (or sound) like it will ever be lived in. Is it possible for a place to be clinically opulent? Well, Lutens house is just that.

  3. B,

    there is a spooky atmosphere if one thinks of it as a museum not to be lived. It looks so baroque and so perfect that one would have a noli me tangere attitude about it, true.
    "Clinically opulent": a brilliant phrase!! An oxymoron elevated to new heights. Love it!

  4. weird, super-cool, and kind of creepy. I wonder why Lutens doesn't just move into part of it or something. What a spectacular Orientalist fantasy, and how very perfect for Lutens! I wish we could see more perfumers' houses. I bet it'd be VERY revealing. Thanks so much for a surprising and revealing article!

  5. Anonymous02:37

    Beautiful! What an exotic feast for my eyes!

    I think Lutens has simply outgrown his need/want of the home. The process of creating it was enough. To live in it, seems to be something he just doesn't want to do. Maybe over the many years of work on the Morrocan hideaway, his tastes have changed and he's downsized in needs and surroundings.

    Still, a pleasure to look at! And, I wonder if that's a monkey skull on that quasi-altar?

  6. Oh my goodness... but a house is meant to be lived in, is it not?

    I'd be happy with just a tiny, cozy room somewhere in Marrakech... if I had the time and money to be able to spend one month a year there.

    The photo of the the light coming through those stained-glass windows makes me swoon.

  7. LBV,

    perfectly said! Actually he must have lived in some part of it or else the gardener's lodge or something (I'm sounding all E.M Forster now, aren't I?) because he spends some time in Morocco and in his garden (which I had written about a while ago) so it doesn't compute to want to be in solitude and stay at a hotel, now does it.
    It's too marvellous to be sanitised into a museum though, I wish he'd stay there.

  8. brownie,

    excellently said, I think you hit the bull's eye. Judging by his commentary on wanting to now move on to Spartan values (which, come to think of it, aren't widly different than his favourite Japonesque themes from his past work as an art director) you might have provided the most wise interpretation on this.
    It could be a monkey's skull! It's too small for human and it would be a little creepy if it were human, so...It provides a very impressive corner of decoration at any rate. :-)

  9. Joe,

    Morocco is wonderful if you have the means (I mean if you live in a wealthy abode), so I can't argue with you. Of course I have my own little plan on a white volcanic rock in the Aegean blue but don't let me put ideas in your head. :P

    It's glorious, a very impressive house (which also fits the surroundings perfectly, so it's ωραίο ie. of its time and place, not just beautiful) that could have been a home too. Wonder who will get it in the future!

  10. Ha! Forster novel indeed!

  11. Probably not as eloquent, just taking bits and pieces of Victoriana. :P


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