SANS CONTREFAÇON


Collage curtesy of MYNA MORAMENTO RAFI

Sans contrefaçon is a song from Mylène Farmer’s second studio album,  Ainsi soit je…  (1988). It is the first single from it.

I have to be honest I am a bit intimidated to write about this iconic piece. Its not just a song and not just a video – this is a beginning of the era. Not just for Mylene herself which of course divided her music career to before and after the Sans contrefaçon but also for so many of us who saw her in the whole different light.

I remember this clip been shown on the Russian TV station over and over every morning around 7:45 AM. Its funny how its almost impossible to find it here in the US (what’s up with that!?)

I still don’t know why exactly it been shown so often during prime time and were they even aware of what they are showing but for me it was a comfort to wake up and face the world with Mylene by my side. So much of me I could see in this video and in this song. So often I felt like the dummy doll being tossed around. So many times I was hoping for someone to notice I was in fact alive and with my own quite often unconventional feelings.

But since this is not really about me but about Mylene, let’s jump to the time machine and see how this masterpiece has come to life.



The song’s lyrics seem to be autobiographical. Indeed, in interviews, Farmer often explained that when she was younger, a lot of people thought she was a boy because of her androgynous look (she had short hair). To create even more doubt, she confessed she “put a handkerchief in her trousers”, as it is said in the song’s lyrics. About the period of her adolescence, Farmer said: “I was half-man, half woman, it was quite strange. I never liked playing with dolls at the dinette… I always preferred boys’ games. I was not a tomboy, but a failed girl.”


Oh boy, how much I can relate to that! I was just like Mylene a tomboy with long body and lacking any curves, short hair, and absolute absence of girl-ness in any of my habits. No dolls, by rather climbing trees and fences with a bunch of neighborhood boys, stealing apples and plumes from the nearby home gardens. I liked making fire and run around in shorts and a t-shirt.

So many times, people called me a boy. I do not recall being overly upset about it either, I just tried to figure out who I was and how it all fits to the world around me. Well, it didn’t fit at all! Or perhaps, its me who was the misfit. This feeling was with me for many years until perhaps my mid -20s at least.

Apparently, the lyrics were written very quickly (taking somewhere between thirty minutes and two hours) by poolside according to Elsa Trillat.

“During these holidays, we drove a lot in the car with Mylène. Moreover, I remember that I was playing music all the time, in particular a compilation by Marie Laforêt, Les pickles by Nino Ferrer on which we have fun like crazy, and especially Syvlie Vartan who I love since I am very small. Notably Like a boy . She then told me that as a child, she had short hair and that everyone took her for a boy and that, to make the confusion even more disturbing, she often put a handkerchief in the hollow of her pants (anecdote that Mylène also tells in different interviews, editor’s note).


Later, I ask her if she is planning a new song soon. She answers me immediately: “In any case, I already have the title and it will make you happy: ‘”Sans contrefaçon, je suis un garçon”.  The title will finally be shortened. For the verses, we sat by the pool with a dictionary of synonyms and she said: “ You’ll see how we write a song !” And we started to rhyme the words. is chained fast in half an hour, we had invented his next tube!
the same evening, Lawrence had brought a small synth, sees the words; in a few minutes, he found the music hangs before our eyes!


For the voice of the intro, “Tell me mom, why am I not a boy? “, it’s a little nod to a private joke between Mylène and me. In fact, when we went down to the village to do some shopping, and especially coca, our drug to both, I defied Mylène the shy to address the saleswoman at the grocery store with that girlish voice. And she did! Imagine her talking to the grocery store with the voice of the intro to “No Counterfeit”: “Hello Madam Vegetable Merchant of leeks “! It was overwhelming. ” (Elsa Trillat- IAO – 2005 )



Farmer decided to change her dress style to match the song theme. In the French magazine Elle, she spotted a checkered and striped suit and asked Bertrand Le Page to wear it for the sleeve covers that illustrated the various single formats. These photos were shot in Paris by Elsa Trillat. Finally, the song was chosen to be the lead single from Farmer’s second album, Ainsi soit je…, and its title became “Sans contrefaçon, je suis un garçon”.


music video



The video, a Polydor production, was filmed by Laurent Boutonnat about a month after the single’s release. For the first time, Farmer participated in the writing of the screenplay along with Boutonnat and initially wanted the shooting to take place in a concentration camp, but this idea was rejected.] The lengthy video was shot over four days in La Hague, near Cherbourg, France and cost about 300,000 francs (55,000 euros).

It was inspired by The Adventures of Pinocchio, a novel for children by Carlo Collodi, Le Petit Cirque by Dargaud and “Les Saltimbanques”, a poem by French poet Guillaume Apollinaire. In the video, the first sentence pronounced by Farmer with a small childish voice is a reference to a joke between the singer and Trillat.



It features Frédéric Lagache (the puppeteer, who also played in the video for “Beyond My Control”) and the Swiss artist Zouc (who plays the woman). Farmer explained that she had greatly appreciated Zouc’s shows, which dealt with the strange and sordid themes and the world of childhood. The two women met in the program Mon Zenith à moi and Farmer absolutely wanted Zouc to play a role in the video for “Sans contrefaçon”. The puppet was created by Benoît Lestang who shot the video for “Q.I” in 2005. François Hanss was Boutonnat‘s assistant (he also directed the videos for “Je te rends ton amour“, “Innamoramento“, “Dessine-moi un mouton” and “Redonne-moi“).

The video below is a rare one. I personally only stumbled upon it while researching for this articles. I really don’t know much about so just enjoy!

The song mentions the Chevalier d’Eon, a French diplomat, spy and soldier who lived the second half of his life as a woman, which provides some ambiguity regarding the search for identity, as well as the figure of European gay icon Eva Kotchever, whose nickname was Queen of the 3rd sex, dressed as a man in New York at Eve’s Hangout and in Paris at Le Dôme Café before World War II and assassinated at Auschwitz. After that, the Resistance in concentration camps will also be tackled four years later by Farmer, in the video Désenchantée on she also wears male clothes.

It was in 1987 that Mylène will massively attract the favors of the gay community thanks to Sans contrefaçon .


Some gays will quickly be won over by the titi Parisian look à la Francisque Poulbot / tomboy of Mylène in the photos of Elsa Trillat. 
The androgyny of Mylène (who is “chameleon”) is also highlighted in the clip directed by Laurent Boutonnat with the little disjointed puppet whose gender we do not really know and who will come to life under the Mylène features.

I can’t say for sure if this is the Dawn of the Aquarian Era that needed to bring messages like this to our boxed out society or was it just a very smart marketing – either way this song along has probably contributed to the changing the mass prospective on gender identity, gender perception and finally acceptance. Our world is so much different now 34 years later after the Sans contrefaçon.

Chas Bono and Caitlyn Jenner is no longer the impossible cases. We are outgrowing our rigid lines of gender understanding and Mylene for sure added a substantial contribution to the progress we are witnessing now.


The song was inspired by “3è Sexe” song by the band Indochine and “Comme un garçon” by Sylvie Vartan 


The song reached the 2nd position, its best ranking, on February 20, 1988 
The hit of the time of the Italian singer Sabrina “Boys, Boys, Boys” prevents her from reaching the first step of the podium.



Sophie TELLIER - Biographie, spectacles, films, théâtre et photos

This is Sophie Tellier (actress, dancer, the “rival” in the video Libertine) worked with Mylene on the cast of dancers for live performance of Sans Contrefaçon

In 2009 tours the dancers are in tutus (which they already wore on the previous title, Libertine) created by Jean Paul Gaultier.

In 1994, Sans contrefaçon was the flagship song of the film Pédale Douce directed by Gabriel Aghion. We obviously find her on the soundtrack, and it is she who opens and then concludes the film, resumed in chorus by Fanny Ardant.

You know what occurred to me the other day…

When she uses the famous line: Je suis caméléon (I am a chameleon) do you think that it is somehow inspired by the big hit of the early 80s by Boy George “Karma Chameleon”?

Here is an anthology of the live performance of the song:


LIVE PERFORMANCES


Collage curtesy of MYNA MORAMENTO RAFI

tour 1989


It is the only song that Mylène has performed (in whole or in part) at all of her concerts since 1989.

Sans Contrefaçon is one of the most anticipated titles by fans along with Libertine and  Pourvu qu’elles soient douces . It is sung on all dates between May 11 and December 8, 1989 .Arrangements for the stage: Laurent Boutonnat and Bruno Fontaine.Choreography: Mylene Farmer.

It follows A quoi je sersin the setlist (from September 1989). Mylène then turns her gray jacket over giving way to a black and white checked jacket. A cap screwed on her head, here she is transformed into a modern-day Gavroche. She is accompanied by her male and female dancers, also entirely dressed in black and white, for a frenzied choreography. Mylène asks the public to take over the choruses with her. It is undeniably the cheerful touch of the concert. Did you notice how she is imitating the Michael Jackson’s moon walk and other signature moves like turns, taking the jacket of he shoulders and putting it back and she even wears white socks? Very playful! 🙂

By the way, initially Thierry Mugler was supposed to make the costumes for Mylene and dancers with the matching patterns. While creating them, he decided to surprise Mylene with plaid that is different!



tour 1996


On the 1996 Tour , Sans Contrefaçon is a bit like the gay touch of the concert. It was performed on all tour dates from May 25 to December 15, 1996 .
Arrangements for the stage: Laurent Boutonnat.
Choreography: Mylène Farmer & Christophe Danchaud.
Mylène is surrounded by her dancers, only men, dressed as Drag Queen. Along with Libertine , it is the most colorful tableau of the concert, the white lights of a large part of the show giving way to more diversified and warm colors in perfect harmony with the colorful costumes.



mylenium tour


In 1999/2000, for the Mylenium Tour , Sans Contrefaçon was included in the Medley , but Mylène only covered one chorus of the song, this medley gave pride of place to Pourvu qu’elles soient douces  (the medley was slightly modified for dates in Russia, Without counterfeiting is sung there over a longer period)


avant que l’ombre… a bercy 2006


During the thirteen concerts Avant que l’ombre… at Bercy from January 13 to 29, 2006 , Sans Contrefaçon is there with the stage arrangements: Yvan Cassar. Choreography: Mylene Farmer.
After performing Porno Graphique , Mylène slips away. 

Silence in the room. Then, the first bars of Sans Contrefaçon resonate. The audience screams. The title has been re-orchestrated, a more muscular version with powerful drums. Mylène appears on stage. The costume she wears, created by Franck Sorbier . We find among the dancers (eight girls this time and no boys) a checkered costume as in 1989 but very colorful which recalls the 1996 Tour . Mylène is dressed in a feathered black outfit and wears a top hat. Franck Sorbier confided about this costume that it was one of the only ones in the show whose design had been directly inspired by the song.

” Mylène seemed delighted by the idea of ​​the hat because she had never worn one on stage before. I think it fit quite well with the spirit of the song with a Dickens, street kid side. ” ( IAO – Mai / June 2006 )Mylène’s hat was covered with different laces, which highlights the expert work done by Franck Sorbier on these Haute Couture concerts.


tour 2009


For the 2009 Tour , Sans Contrefaçon is sung on all dates of indoor concerts and then in stadiums.
The re-orchestration of the title for the stage by Yvan Cassar is this time very marked with a more rock version. The dancers are in tutus (which they already wore on the previous title, Libertine ) created by Jean Paul Gaultier.
As always, an atmosphere of madness, the public not failing to proclaim “I am ca-mé-lé-on”.

This is one of my most favorite lives of this song. I love how they imitate the playing guitar (probably all of us did when we were younger). Mylene’s suite by JPG is just as yummy as herself looking simply stunning. The entire concert is very joyful and energizing and this song is no exception.



timeless 2013


For Timeless 2013 , Sans contrefaçon is again offered on all tour dates. this time it is choreographed by CHRISTOPHE DANCHAUD in the style of martial arts. It is beautifully done! I love the creativity, i love the music arrangements to go with that. It took a lot of practice to achieve all the dancers’ synchronization. Beautiful performance all in red!


Paris La Défense Arena 2019


Mylène sings Sans contrefaçon during the nine concerts at Paris La Défense Arena from June 07 to 22, 2019 .
Stage arrangements: Olivier Schultheis.
Choreography: Aziz Baki and Mylène Farmer.

She looks adorable with the striped sailor like top and white wide legged paints (created by JPG). She looks incredibly youthful and gives us a strong flashback to 30 years ago.



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lyrics with translation


Dis maman, pourquoi je ne suis pas un garçon?
Puisqu'il faut choisir,
À mots doux je peux le dire,
Sans contrefaçon
Je suis un garçon
Et pour un empire,
Je ne veux me dêvêtir,
Puisque sans contrefaçon,
Je suis un garçon
Tout seul dans mon placard
Les yeux cernés de noir
À l'abri des regards
Je défie le hasard
Dans ce monde qui n'a ni queue ni tête
Je n'en fais qu'à ma tête
Un mouchoir au creux du pantalon
Je suis chevalier d'Éon
Puisqu'il faut choisir,
À mots doux je peux le dire,
Sans contrefaçon
Je suis un garçon
Et pour un empire,
Je ne veux me dêvêtir,
Puisque sans contrefaçon,
Je suis un garçon
Tour à tour on me chasse de vos fréquentations
Je n'admet qu'on menace mes résolutions
Je me fous bien des qu'en-dira-t'on
Je suis caméléon
Prenez garde à mes soldats de plomb
C'est eux qui vous tueront
Puisqu'il faut choisir,
À mots doux je peux le dire,
Sans contrefaçon
Je suis un garçon
Et pour un empire,
Je ne veux me dêvêtir,
Puisque sans contrefaçon,
Je suis un garçon
Puisqu'il faut choisir,
À mots doux je peux le dire,
Sans contrefaçon
Je suis un garçon
Et pour un empire,
Je ne veux me dêvêtir,
Puisque sans contrefaçon,
Je suis un garçon
Tell me mom, why am I not a boy?
Since you have to choose,
Soft words I can say it
Without counterfeiting
I am a boy
And for an empire,
I don't want to undress,
Since without counterfeiting,
I am a boy
All alone in my closet
Eyes circled in black
Behind closed doors
I defy chance
In this world that has neither tail nor head
I do what I want
A handkerchief in the hollow of the pants
I am a knight of Eon
Since you have to choose,
Soft words I can say it
Without counterfeiting
I am a boy
And for an empire,
I don't want to undress,
Since without counterfeiting,
I am a boy
In turn, they chase me away from your associations
I do not admit that my resolutions are threatened
I don't care what we say
I am chameleon
Beware of my tin soldiers
They are the ones who will kill you
Since you have to choose,
Soft words I can say it
Without counterfeiting
I am a boy
And for an empire,
I don't want to undress,
Since without counterfeiting,
I am a boy
Since you have to choose,
Soft words I can say it
Without counterfeiting
I am a boy
And for an empire,
I don't want to undress,
Since without counterfeiting,
I am a boy

The page last edited July 13, 2022


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