Collage curtesy of MYNA MORAMENTO RAFI

Libertine is a song from Mylène Farmer’s first studio album, Cendres de lune released on 1 April 1986. It is the third single extracted.

Libertine’s music was composed by Jean-Claude Dequéant

 in 1984 and it was associated with a very different text, written by Georges Sibold. The song was called, “Love tutti frutti”.

Authors faced refusals from record companies. Mylène and Laurent Boutonnat, close to Jean-Claude Dequéant, were interested in this title from its creation, and in 1985 Laurent Boutonnat suggested to Jean-Claude Déquéant to have it sung by Mylène and rework the lyrics.

Musically, the song initially quite rock becomes more pop and thus adapted to the repertoire of Mylène.

Two remixes, “Remix” and “Remix Special Club” were produced by Laurent Boutonnat in 1986.

In 1992, it is a completely new and very successful remix of the title which is proposed on the album Dance remixes, the “Carnal Sins Remix”.

Mylène then re-recorded the vocals especially for this new remix produced by Laurent Boutonnat and Thierry Rogen.

Interesting, so very interesting to see this exploration of sexuality from young Mylene. She is innocent through and through although calling herself “une catin” (a whore). You know what they say: laugh at yourself before others do 😊 It seems like ashamed once of her attractions and being teased in her early (Catholicly charged) childhood, she forever wants to put the end to that shame – yes, I am a whore – so “fuck them all” as she would say in the later more mature days.

But now back to the little Bambi Mylene (aka Libertine). The only “libre” here I can see is the “liberation” – to me this is the true meaning of this text. And I am ok with you disagreeing. Of course, the clip took this idea to the whole new level but nevertheless its not the first time the video takes the life on its own very often separate or even contradictory to the lyrics. And that’s one of the reasons we love what Mylene and LB have created! There is always that element of unpredictability that makes you tremble from excitement!

Did you spot the first line “bulle d’écume”? doesn’t it remind you of the future Ainsi Soit Je… line “Bulle de chagrin, boule d’incertitude”?

Finally, on the RemixeS album in 2003, Y-Front remixed Libertine . Syd, one of the members of Y-Front confided in an interview that they had been contacted directly by Polydor to remix Libertine without guarantee that the remix would appear on the album. All the instrumental has been redone.

“Libertine seemed to us to be a good choice because it is one of the oldest titles, which allowed us to make an update quite easily while keeping its “single” format, a kind of “80’s electroclash” version with guitars ” (Fanzine “MF & You”)

The text of Libertine is entirely rewritten by Laurent Boutonnat. So Mylene only played a role and not written a word from this epic song.

We note that the first sentence of the song contains the title of the future album.

A text which, multiplying the metaphors, especially on the theme of sexuality, is a small revolution in mentalities very often still clinging to chaste values ​​in the mid-1980s. Therefore, Libertine could be considered as an “introduction” into even more graphic Pourvu qu’elles soient douces written by the hand of Mylène months later.

Libertine could also be considered the first feminist song in Mylène’s repertoire, affirming the sexual freedom of women. A few years later, other very feminist texts will be born under Mylène’s pen: XXL, Méfie-toi and so on.

Little info from Mylène on the lyrics of Libertine.

“This song came instinctively during the recording sessions of the album. I was in the studio with a crew and at that point there was no lyrics, only a few notes that I already had in mind. . I started singing to the music and suddenly I said “I’m a whore. ” (Mylène Farmer -” Top 50 “- 22.9.1986) M ais, ” lyricist preferred whore, it was bigger century.”  (Mylène Farmer -” Girls “- 09/24/1986)

The words ” Between my dunes, rest my misfortunes – It is naked that I learn virtue ” could have been influenced by the book of the Marquis de Sade which Laurent Boutonnat mentions indirectly – Les misfortunes de la virtue published in 1787. An author that Mylène will often cite especially in the 80s among his favorites. Mylene comes back to the “dunes” in her playful Appelle mon numero“En forme de dune” (Dune shaped)

At the beginning of 1986, already three singles for Mylène. A first success with Maman a tort in 1984. A bitter failure in 1985 for On est tous des imbeciles.

Change of record company: Mylène then left RCA for Polydor. Plus Grandir has the merit of precisely defining the outlines of the character and the universe Mylène Farmer, but the title does not achieve the expected success despite a very successful first clip and having benefited from a substantial budget. At the start of 1986, Mylène no longer had a choice, she needed a hit.

“Mum is wrong, after there was We are All Fools, now Libertine, it’s true that I have a taste for provocation but it’s a bit like wanting to undo things, a little, to provoke, Yes…” (Mylène Farmer – FR3 Alsace – 04/20/1986)

On March 25, 1986 Libertine, the new single from Mylène Farmer is available in stores.

Mylène Farmer Libertine 45 Tours First pressing

with Bertrand Le Page

It was Libertine Mylène and Laurent Boutonnat hoped to release in 1985 as a single but the record company then imposed Plus Grandir.

We find on the cover (for this first version) a photo of Mylène with still brown hair and wearing an orange dress. That image of Mylene is about to become obsolete.

On April 1, 1986, Mylène’s first album, Cendres de lune, was released. The title Libertine hardly unleashes passions, at the moment …

Two clicks will allow this song to become a great success. Two essential elements without which one can think that Mylène’s career could not have taken off.

A hair color, and the clip.

During the summer of 1986 the 45 rpm and the maxi 45 rpm were offered in a second version.

On the 45 rpm, place for the new Mylène with a photo taken on the set of the clip by Eric Caro. The song will become Mylène’s first big hit in radio, the title reaching the first position of radio airplays in France during the summer of 1986. Mylène Farmer Libertine 45 Tours Second pressing

“Libertine is the song chosen by the radio stations. But I’m not trying to make hits.”  (Mylène Farmer -” La Dépêche du Midi “- 08/24/1986)

The title enters the French top 50 at the end of the summer and it will reach 10th place, remaining classified twenty consecutive weeks.

“The French Bible is currently the Top 50! (…) It’s true, we are in the Top 50. It means that the record sells, that is, that the artist works.” (Mylène Farmer – Antenne 2 – 09/01/1986) ” I really had a meeting with the public on Libertine. So there actually happened, a click, namely that we say to ourselves, finally: “There are some people who love you, who listen to you! ” ” ( Mylène Farmer – Sud Radio – March 1989)

Libertine will sell more than 300,000 copies in France and become the first silver disc of Mylène’s career.

An English version of the song, Bad girl, is recorded but will never be released (see link)

The album Cendres de lune was reissued in a new version in 1987 with, among the “bonuses”, Libertine’s “Remix Special Club”. On November 26, 2001, Mylène’s first best-of album, Les mots, was released. We find the third track Libertine in a “new mix”. On February 02, 2018, Polydor Universal Music France is offering a reissue of the Maxi 45 Tours (1st orange dress pressing).

Mylène Farmer Libertine Maxi 45 Tours 2018 Reissue

Libertine becomes number 1 in France for the first time almost 32 years after its release. The title ranks first in the top sales of singles (physical + downloads excluding streaming) with 2567 copies sold in the first week.

Mylène Farmer Libertine Maxi 45 Tours Collector Translucent 2019 which appears on Mylène’s third best-of, Histoires de, released on December 04, 2020.

Success requires, several times of the title have emerged. The best known is that of Kate Ryan who, after having met with great success in Europe with her cover of Désenchantée, proposed a very Eurodance version of Libertine in 2003.


The Libertine clip is directed by Laurent Boutonnat. A mix of everything that will make the success and “uniqueness” of Mylène’s future clipography: a scripted short film, a rigorous historical reconstruction, sex, blood and a bit of scandal.

With Mylène, the clip is no longer a simple promotional object but becomes a true timeless work of art.The Libertine clip will propel Mylène to glory and profoundly change the codes of clips in France (and hopefully around the globe)

In the video, Mylène is redhead, and she will stay that way. A color in perfect harmony with her face making her features shine.

“I should have been born redhead.” (Mylène Farmer – “Elle” – 04/05/1999)

The clip was shown for the first time at the “Mercury” cinema on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on June 18, 1986.

The budget of the clip didn’t exceed 76,000 euros … Just that … A small booty for such a clip. Moreover, for the sake of economy, some extras were secretaries from the production company who participated completely on a voluntary basis. And I am sure they are glad they did! 😊

It is Sophie Tellier who embodies the role of the rival. Sophie will be contacted by Mylène to become her “coach” and thus work on posture and body language for television appearances. Sophie Tellier will also be in the clips of Tristana and Libertine II. She will also help Mylène in the creation of choreography and dance on stage during the tour in 1989.

The clip is broadcast on television but rarely in a long version (it begins after the duel and ends when Mylène leaves the living room).

Director François Hanss offers Mylène fans a little gift for the New Year with unseen photos from the filming of the Libertine clip posted on social networks. François Hanss was first assistant director on this clip directed by Laurent Boutonnat in 1986. He had also told about the shooting for Starfix magazine in August 1986.

The atmosphere of the clip, in particular the candle lighting or the make-up is inspired by the film  Barry Lindon directed by Stanley Kubrick. in 1975

Another influence, a film which Mylène confided to appreciate much at the time and which inspired the initial scene of the clip, “The Duelists” directed by Ridley Scott in 1977.

The clip was mainly shot at the Château de Ferrières (the bath scenes were shot at the Château de Brou) with a team of around fifty people over a period of four days.

The clip required 180 shots to be shot.

The budget would be 76,000 euros, which remains low for such a clip (cheaper than more than half of the clips made at the time). How to do the best while spending as little as possible.

with Boutonnat

The clip is produced by Laurent Boutonnat and Movie-Box an advertising company then directed by Alain Grandgérard.

A clip which is a real short film with a screenplay written by Laurent Boutonnat and Mylène.

Among the actors, we recognize Rambo Kowalski who plays the duelist at the beginning of the clip and who was the “rapist” in the clip Plus grandir. Later, he will become the athletic coach of Mylène (under the name Hervé Lewis) but also many other stars including Johnny Hallyday. He will also take pictures of Mylène (notably for the Tour 2009 program or the Timeless 2013 poster).

Sophie Tellier appears for the first time in a clip of Mylène in the role of the vengeful rival.

She had met Mylène in 1984 at the Juan-les-Pins music video festival.

Mylène will contact her when Libertine is released for, initially, the work of the posture and the gestures during the televised performances for the song.

We will find her in the clip Tristana in the role of the tsarina and then in Pourvu leur sont douces (LibertineII) in 1988 again wearing the clothes of the rival of Libertine.

An important meeting for Mylène. Sophie Tellier will dance alongside him for a long time and will contribute to the creation of numerous choreographies.

“The filming of the clips was a magnificent experience because it was in the conditions of a feature film. With the perfectionism taken to the extreme that we know them: everything was very precise, very calculated. done, as far as I’m from classical dance. I have fond memories of all three of these shoots. ” (Sophie Tellier – IAO)

Extras would have been cast in the streets of Paris at night to find very expressive faces.

For some scenes, Mylène is replaced by an understudy (the shots with the galloping horse, some shots of the fight scenes) but she doesn’t hesitate to get involved in very “physical” scenes.

Thus, for the slap, it is not doubled!

The decorations are created by Emmanuel Sorin who completely redesigned the main room of the Château de Ferrières to create an 18th century style.

The costumes are created by Carine Sarfati. Wigs are specially designed for the clip.

Make-up, essential to the “Libertine look” is by Nicolas Degennes. Nicolas Degennes became in the 2000s artistic director of Givenchy. During a chat in 2007 on the site, he mentioned his work with Mylène:

Question: “Among the stars that you have made up, which did you prefer to put on make-up and why?”

Nicolas Degennes: “For reasons of passion: Mylène Farmer. It was the first. It is therefore the most beautiful.”

Question: “What is your best memory?”

Nicolas Degennes: “The filming of Libertine, magical because we had no money, and the clip became famous.”

François Hanss who will direct several clips of Mylène in the 90s and 2000s but also concert films ( Before the shadow … at Bercy in 2006, Mylène Farmer Stade de France in 2009, Timeless 2013 Le Film in 2014) is already assistant director on this clip.

The clip ends with footage of Libertine and her lover lying unconscious on the floor, their clothes stained with blood.

Is Libertine dead? Everything suggests it and we can also understand that at the time, even the creators of the clip thought it:

“In the clip, we killed the heroes. It’s part of the references that we have of romanticism. ” (Mylène Farmer – “Cool” – N ° 23)

But, in 1988 Libertine will rise again from its ashes for the clip Pourvu qu’elles soient douces which begins where the clip Libertine had ended.

In 1996, Mylène will present the California clip directed by Abel Ferrara as the 90 version of Libertine (and on American soil I must add)

Mylène Farmer talks about the Libertine clip: “I wanted to do the stunts myself in” Libertine “, but it was ultimately a stuntwoman who climbed into the saddle on the galloping horse and doubled me for some fight shots: if I had had an accident, everything would have been canceled!” (Mylène Farmer – TV Vidéo Jaquettes – June 1986)

“I would never say how much this clip cost exactly, but it cost much less than half of the clips. that investing in a clip is a bit of a loss for producers, I have everything to gain from it. ” (Mylène Farmer – Girls – September 24, 1986)

“The shoot took place, I believe, in four days and there was about a week of preparation. And, he mainly turned to the Chateau de Ferrières, which is near the Chateau de Guermantes, to situate a bit. The main room has been completely refurbished, because it was a completely baroque style at the start, and therefore the 18th century style had to be created. So, it was a decorator who did that. “(Mylène Farmer – Azimut -FR3 – September 24, 1986)

“That is to say that in the clip, we killed the heroes. It is one of the references that we have of romanticism. It is true that it is always taken to the extreme, that the hero must die, because it takes on a more important scale, maybe that is it, the tragic side. ” (Mylène Farmer – Cool – October 1986)

Mylène will defend this title on television by interpreting it more than twenty times. I found a good chunk of them:

Mylène performs the choreography of Libertine alone for all her televised performances.

A fact that will remain unique: Mylène and Laurent Boutonnat are invited together for an interview during the “1 pm news” of Antenne 2 on September 1, 1986.

Mylène will multiply the interviews in the media (press, radio, TV) for the promotion of Libertine and the album.

1986-12-17 Interview Antenne 2 (with Russian subs)

“This Libertine character is part of me. Transposed to the 18th century or not, I am not a whore but that does not prevent the desire to express certain things through their theatricalization ”  ( Mylène Farmer – “Télé mosquito” – 13/10/1999 )

Tour 1989

Mylène performed Libertine on all the dates of Tour 89 from May 11 to December 8, 1989. Arrangements for the stage: Laurent Boutonnat and Bruno Fontaine. Choreography: Mylène Farmer. The song takes place at the end of the show. A very long version which recreates the 18th century atmosphere of the clip on stage. We even find the duel of Libertine with her rival embodied by Sophie Tellier.

“On the first scene, apart from two or three outfits, Thierry Mugler was not that far ahead. That is to say, he agreed to lend his talent but also to respect my universe. allusion to Tristana , for example, who was Russian coats with scarves, gloves: it’s not very Thierry Mugler!  ” (Mylène Farmer – Radio Nostalgie – 11/30/1996)

TOUR 1996

Libertine is sung during the 1996 Tour from May 25 to December 15, 1996. Arrangements for the stage: Laurent Boutonnat. Choreography: Christophe Danchaud.

Mylène offers a more rock version, sung in lascivious poses on a huge yellow velvet armchair surrounded by her dancers.


The title occupies a small part of the Medley with Pourvu qu’elles soient douces, Sans Contrefacon and Maman a tort during the Mylenium Tour in 1999-2000.

The title had been chosen to appear in the setlist of concerts Before the shadow … at Bercy in 2006 and was even repeated before being discarded.

TOUR 2009

Mylène sang Libertine during the Tour 2009 concerts (indoor and in stadiums) from May 02 to September 19, 2009. Arrangements for the stage: Laurent Boutonnat.

So many great live interpretations of the song! Which one is your favorite? Please tell us in the comments. I love them all. For me Libertine is the love at first site. I am in the Myleneverse since than and I never looked back. Well, maybe just a little for the Pourvu qu’elles soient douces 😊


Dereck reacts to the clip:


Embracing Your Spirit
how easy it will be for me
to reach very depth of You
in the moonlight seas…?

Imagining Your Dreams
how real it will be for me
to feel your implicit tremor
in the solitude of a winter night…?

Dissolving Your Fears
how tender my words have to be
to make you fall asleep
in the fields of gold…
Should I brew you a cup of a sunshine
first thing in the morning…?

To trust and believe –
How much is enough


lyrics with translation

Cendre de lune, petite bulle d'écume
Poussée par le vent je brûle et je m'enrhume
Entre mes dunes, reposent mes infortunes
C'est nue que j'apprends la vertu
Je je, suis libertine
Je suis une catin
Je je, suis si fragile
Qu'on me tienne la main
Fendre la lune, baisers d'épine et de plume
Bercée par un petit vent je déambule
La vie est triste comme un verre de grenadine
Aimer c'est pleurer quand on s'incline
Je je, suis libertine
Je suis une catin
Je je, suis si fragile
Qu'on me tienne la main
Quand sur mon corps tu t'endors, je m'évapore
Bébé tu dors et moi j'attends l'aurore
Quand de mes lèvres tu t'enlèves, un goût amer
Me rappelle que je suis au ciel
Cendre de lune, petite bulle d'écume
Perdue dans le vent je brûle et je m'enrhume
Mon corps a peur, la peau mouillée j'ai plus d'âme
Papa, ils ont violé mon coeur
Je je, suis libertine
Je suis une catin
Je je, suis si fragile
Qu'on me tienne la main
Je je, suis libertine
Je suis une catin
Je je, suis si fragile
Qu'on me tienne la main
Je je, suis libertine
Je suis une catin
Je je, suis si fragile
Qu'on me tienne la main
Je je, suis libertine
Je suis une catin
Je je, suis si fragile
Qu'on me tienne la main
Moon ash, little bubble of foam
Pushed by the wind I burn and I catch cold
Between my dunes, my misfortunes rest
It is naked that I learn the virtue
I I, am libertine
I am a whore
I I, am so fragile
That one holds my hand
To split the moon, kisses of thorn and feather
Rocked by a small wind I stroll
Life is sad like a glass of grenadine
To love is to cry when one bows
I, I, am libertine
I am a whore
I I am so fragile
Let them hold my hand
When you fall asleep on my body, I evaporate
Baby you sleep and I wait for the dawn
When you leave my lips, a bitter taste
Reminds me that I am in heaven
Moon ash, little bubble of foam
Lost in the wind I burn and catch a cold
My body is afraid, the wet skin I have no soul
Dad, they raped my heart
I I, am libertine
I am a whore
I I am so fragile
Let them hold my hand
I, I, am a libertine
I am a whore
I am so fragile
Let them hold my hand
I, I, am a libertine
I am a whore
I am so fragile
Let them hold my hand
I, I, am a libertine
I am a whore
I am so fragile
Let them hold my hand

The page last edited July 18, 2022

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