Skin-deep, with Marc-Antoine Barrois

For the launch of Encelade, the new, highly exclusive ‘juice’ by Marc-Antoine Barrois, the Parisian designer/perfumer paid à visit to Senteurs d’Ailleurs.

A designer perfume unlike any other. As its creator suggests, the best way to perfume yourself is your own! He talks to us about memories and emotion.

Notes of rhubarb, cedar wood and vetiver express the ambivalence of this fragrance between shadow and light. Add the (almost) animalistic sensuality of smoked leather mixed with sandalwood and tonka bean and you are drawn to Marc-Antoine Barrois’ imaginary, new ‘world’. Encelade would be a “volcanic illusion”, as if the lava were belching from the depths of the Earth into a lush and soothing jungle.

Is every fragrance you create with your ‘nose’ partner, Quentin Bisch, the expression of an imaginary universe?

Marc-Antoine Barrois :Yes. With Quentin, we create rare, precious fragrances, directly from our imagination, our inner child, and our taste for beautiful things. I have to admit that I have a poetic universe that can sometimes seem at odds with our day and age when everything happens so quickly.

Your first creation?

The first perfume we created was B683. A nod to the timeless, charismatic elegance of my mentors. The fragrance is like an invitation to travel on the planet of Saint Exupery’s Little Prince. It is the outcome of my meeting with Quentin Bisch that our childhood memories and ‘olfactory references’ brought together: the noble leather of my university-professor father’s satchel, his too; saffron; woody, vegetal scents reminiscent of our family walks in the forest; notes of violet leaf that remind me of my grandfather, an elegant man in every sense of the word, always dressed to the nines… Just so you know, B683 is the fragrance I wear every day. I also wear it in its ‘extract’ form.

Ganymède - Eau de parfum
Encelade - Eau de parfum

Then came Ganymède

Yes. What strikes you when you smell this perfume, is the rare feeling of discovering an astral scent unlike any other: a combination of mandarin, violet and immortelle for a ‘leathery’ yet solar result, which is breathtakingly tenacious. I noticed that women really want to stray off the beaten track. For them, this fragrance with its intense trail is quite simply the opportunity to stand out and express their personality. It should be noted that the perfumes I create are inclusive: They are suitable for both men and women.

Tell us about your career path.

I’m originally from the Lille area. I went up to Paris, as we say, to work in men’s haute couture. I worked for major fashion houses, for designer Dominique Sirop, for the Hermès couture workshop under the supervision of Jean-Paul Gaultier, and for Jean-Claude Jitrois, for example. I even had the honour of working for Monsieur Huber de Givenchy. All these experiences helped me to establish my style. And in 2006, I presented my first couture collection. I was 22.

What’s your definition of luxury?

Time. Taking time to do things well. Also taking the time to pause, contemplate, live. But, more generally, it doesn’t mean anything much to me, because luxury is such a subjective value. Let’s say, for me, it represents something exceptional, an asserted identity and accomplished creations. However, even if our perfumes are highly exclusive, it should be said that they are still affordable and appeal to the curious, and aesthetes who want to treat themselves.

I understand that you are involved in eco-responsibility. How is this reflected in your creations?

You can make a beautiful, refined product and have a strong business ethic too. For example, our boxes are 100% recyclable and made in France as are the other components of our perfumes. We recycle our packaging and shipping products. Our perfumes do not contain preservatives or controversial UV filters. And you can refill your perfume bottle in our boutique in the Véro-Dodat gallery in Paris.

A legendary perfume?

Arpège by Lanvin. First, because it was my grandmother’s perfume. Then, because it is a classic ‘juice’ that has stood the test of time, appealing to generations of young women. I like this sense of timelessness.

Let’s talk about Encelade, your latest creation.

The name comes from the mythological giant, son of Gaia (the Earth) and Uranus (the Sky). Legend has it that Encelade was buried in Sicily and that his breath can be felt through Mount Etna’s smoke and eruptions. Beyond Greek mythology, there is the sheer emotion of the incandescent fusion on the skin of a few sumptuous woods (vetiver, sandalwood, Atlas cedar) and sharp and refreshing green rhubarb. An elevating fragrance, which I consider to be resolutely sophisticated.

Posted in: Parfum, Style