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Ganymede – leathery and spicy and contemporary

Ganymede - NASA image of the Galilean satellites (moons) of Jupiter

 26 June 1996

I've been circling around Ganymede, a men’s fragrance from Maison Marc-Antoine Barrois, since the time I read about its launch in 2019. I was impressed when I read that it had won the "Extraordinary Perfume" prize from the Fragrance Foundation UK and even more so when the Fragrance Foundation France awarded Quentin Bisch the award for the best perfume from an independent niche brand for Ganymede. The more I learned about Ganymede, the more intrigued I became.

Maison Marc-Antoine Barrois is a Paris based French fashion designer of clothes for men. Of course, all clothes need accessories to complement them, like ties, bowties, scarves and jewelry, which Barrois creates as well. And, since fragrance is the ultimate fashion accessory, Barrois teamed up with avant-garde perfumer Quentin Bisch of Givaudan, to create scents for the brand.

The first, B683, was launched in 2016. Ganymede is the second fragrance in the line. Both scents are fantasy scents. B683, a gorgeous leather-spicy creation, "is inspired by the asteroid of the Little Prince by Saint Exupery and by the birth date of the couturier who made it his own imaginary planet." Similarly, Ganymede was named for the third of Jupiter's four moons that make up the Galilean moons. Wikipedia says that "Ganymede is composed of approximately equal amounts of silicate rock and water. It is a fully differentiated body with an iron-rich, liquid core, and an internal ocean that may contain more water than all of Earth's oceans combined." A fragrance based on a moon encouraged Barois and Bisch to imagine what the essence of this satellite might be.

A scent journey to a moon 628.3 million km away is, pardon the pun, way out there, yet modern and exciting too. The first whiff told the story: they had pulled it off and beautifully.

Ganymede is one of those abstract fragrances that defies the typical pyramid structure, making it difficult to break down. Instead, it has a fluidity to it that has to be experienced.

On me, it opens with a note of sparkling, juicy mandarin that's joined by spicy, leathery saffron. Violet softens and refines the leather, making it more suede-like with its floral lightness and elegance. Leather nuanced osmanthus gives the juice a sensuality. The journey continues when immortelle appears. I'm familiar with the maple syrup/curry aspects of immortelle in fragrances, but in Ganymede it's the dried hay aspect that is highlighted to give the scent a salinity and minerality – like the smell of a sidewalk after it rains – that suggests the rock and water of a Jovian moon. This stage smells fabulous. At the base, Akigalawood, a perfume note created at Givaudan, is woody, spicy and floral and brings the entire fragrance together.

The drydown is textured, sophisticated and contemporary, with echoes of classic men's fragrances. I think it's fabulous.

The European Space Agency's Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer or JUICE (I kid you not), is due to launch in 2022. It will do flybys of the three icy Galilean moons, before the probe enters orbit around Ganymede. What will we learn about Ganymede I wonder? Here's what I've learned: I’m over the moon for Ganymede.

Ganymede is available in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Image - wikipedia.com