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L’innommable, the alter ego perfume by Serge Lutens

23 August 2018

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The latest scent by Serge Lutens is called the Innommable. A spicy-amber scent, as in its early days; an almost animalic balm, which envelops, behind which one could hide. But what does the perfumer hide behind the name of this scent? - Isabelle Cerboneschi, Paris.

He called it the Innommable. One had to dare to make and undo at the same time, to baptise for fake, to give a name to what cannot be named. Serge Lutens is not a paradox. It is his life that is at stake in the perfumes that bear his name. This one bears his name, but no first name is acceptable. What did he mean by not saying? Where is the key that belongs to the world of shadows, which carries in itself its own negation: it could have been « nommable"but the prefix "In" forbid him.

Discovering this new perfume by Serge Lutens, by inhaling it, by discovering these smells of its beginnings, powerful, amber, resinous, spicy, peaty as a malt Scottish drunk on a rainy day, I remembered an episode of his childhood, that the perfumer had told me a few years ago. "My mother was adulterous. The laws of Pétain forbade adultery. We were separated. She had imposed on me the middle name of my father who did not want to marry her: Lucien. Think about what it means for a child born out of wedlock: Lu, sien, lu comme le sien. As an accusation. The words were of enormous importance to me. They kill me and make me reborn at the same time. "

This father who did not want to marry her, did not want to recognise him either. "He, I hate him," he said to me again. Despite the years of depression, psychoanalysis, I still hate him. And at the same time, I do not regret anything in my life: I find it amazing. Is it to purify himself of all this, that he has chosen to add to the formula benzoin, used when one wants to have a great clean?

And if the story had been written differently, in reverse of common sense and good manners, would Serge Lutens have become the artist he is? His perfumes are like the blood of his wounds, his moods, his hopes, like holes in a stormy sky, like reminiscences. He draws on all that, whether good or bad, to write his perfumed biography.

And while I thought about it all, Innommable sat on a table, atMusée des Arts Décoratifslike a black skyscraper. Motionless, intangible, imposing his presence not negative, as his name would have us believe, but in positive, black totem erected in memory of a child without a name.