For the last few years I’ve taken holidays exclusively in cities and while not exactly restful, I’ve loved every minute of it. There’s something exhilarating about exploring a metropolis and seeing how you slot into it.
British indie perfume house Gallivant has recently launched with four fragrances that intend to capture this free-wheeling feeling. Founder Nick Steward has worked in the industry for many years, most recently as product and creative director of L’Artisan Parfumeur. He created the collection with two independent perfumers, namely Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra (the latter being the Italian protégée of Bertrand Duchaufour).
Notes: Cucumber, Rose de Mai Absolute and Leather
Being a born and bred Londoner, of course I was curious to try a perfume inspired by my city. Cucumber is a note I struggle with but I don’t notice it specifically. Instead the opening is generally very fresh, green and water-filled, but with something almost skanky just beneath the surface. Once it dries down, the leather comes across as raw and a little musty, like the leather jackets on the vintage clothes stalls in Camden Market, turning lightly rosy over time. London is an unconventional shape-shifter, morphing from a green aquatic into a floral leather. Like its fragrant namesake, London is full of eccentric contrasts; a place where you can be your own strange self.
Notes: Cardamom, Geranium, Patchouli, Vanilla and Amber
I fear the city of Istanbul might rather overwhelm me but I bet it’s a fascinating place to visit with its coming together of east and west, ancient and modern. There is certainly a novel opening to the fragrance of the same name. The combination of cardamom and herbs makes for an unusually fresh, almost mentholated, spice accord. The aromatics continue into the heart with geranium and lavender backed by spiced amber. It has the texture of suede and gets progressively drier and dustier in the base. Istanbul takes a few unexpected turns on this well-trodden oriental path.
Notes: Clementine, Jasmine Sambac Absolute, Musks and Deertongue Absolute
It’s nice to see a city represented in scent that is not one of the usual suspects. Tel Aviv brings the laid-back beach vibe into the heart of the city. It’s an easy-to-like tropical floral with a relaxed feel. After a brief burst of clementine, the clean jasmine and fruity ylang-ylang combine to give that luscious, languorous effect so typical of this much-loved genre. You can almost see the bright white light reflecting off the buildings and feel a refreshing airiness among the flowers. I’ve heard Tel Aviv is a hedonistic city and Gallivant were aiming for “lingering 1970s glamour”. The warm, lightly musky base gives us a taste of that.
Notes: Lemon and Orange Juice, Magnolia, Transparent Flowers and Musks.
I stuck to Manhattan when I visited New York but this feels like a good fit with how I imagine Brooklyn to be. The fragrance is bright and fizzy which chimes with what I assume is the buzzy and hip borough of the city. It reflects the intellectual, creative types you’d expect to find hanging out on the sidewalks. They probably wouldn’t wear anything fussy so this citrus with substance seems to hit the mark. Fuzzy musks and cardamom massively extend the life of the sherbet-y citrus into the soft, white floral heart and beyond. Somehow Brooklyn manages to feel lively and breezy at the same time.
The focus on top quality materials is clear and I can imagine the streamlined approach appealing to the urban explorers Gallivant is aimed at. While sleek and accessible, each composition still has a quirk of its own.
It’s also good to see a new brand in the indie/niche sector enter at a sensible price point with the “nomad sized” 30ml EdPs coming in at £65. Individual samples are available as well as a Discovery Set, via the website.
Let me know your thoughts about the sound of this new brand in the comments. Do any of the cities appeal to you?