I met Nick Steward, the founder of Gallivant in Milan during Esxence 2019 in April, all smiles as he pulled out a sample of “the new perfume” and sprayed some on my hand.
I received a sample of the new Gallivant fragrance – Tokyo months ago before it’s official launch this September. I knew that it was an addition to the line launched in 2017. when Gallivant started out with fragrances Amsterdam, Berlin, Brooklyn, Istanbul, London, and Tel Aviv.
It was the beginning of September, „Pitti time“: things were getting quite busy as I prepared to leave for Florence. I was really hoping to meet Nick Steward, the owner and brand’s creative director there.
I took a couple of quick sniffs, glanced around and noticed that there were many reviews already written, and since I try not to read any before writing a review myself, it seemed reasonable to postpone getting acquainted with Tokyo for some time after Florence. I like to wait until waves settle down, in my own time, with my own opinion.
Additionally, I believe in getting to know „people behind perfumes“ when possible: I like to think that perfumers and/or creative directors bottle small pieces of their souls in each and every artisan/indie bottle of perfume.
Gallivant. I must admit that I hear this word rarely. It’s not often used, so let’s take a look at its meaning:
-to travel, roam, or move about for pleasure.
– to visit or go to a lot of different places, enjoying yourself and not worrying about other things you should be doing. (Cambridge Dictionary)
(from:gallant (“wooing women”), originally in sense “to flirt”, broadened to mean “roaming without a plan”).
When translated to perfumes, then:
„GALLIVANT is about hidden corners. Unexpected finds. The uncelebrated. Getting off the grid. It’s about finding that new place, the next neighborhood. Favored old haunts. Chance encounters. Taking the pulse of a place and drinking in the vibe. It’s an antidote to our fast-paced lives … slow-paced, it’s about being in the moment.“
My thoughts: as if I’ve written this myself! I found my travel-philosophy soulmate!
At times, I admit, I have no speed at all when exploring, or rather – gallivanting, around cities. I like to get lost, take unnecessary breaks, take roads less traveled, daydream, forget to take photos, change my mind about where to go next: this is one of the reasons I’m not really an enjoyable organized tours participant…or sometimes, a travel companion. Which reminds me of a quote often used quote, somewhat less practiced, the one that gallivanting is all about:
“The journey, not the arrival matters.” –T.S. Eliot
While gallivanting around Florence, and trying to organize my daily visits to Pitti Fragranze, it happened that I didn’t manage to meet Nick Stewart at the Gallivant stand whenever I passed by…You can probably guess what happened: a totally unplanned meeting, in the middle of a street, during a crowded opening of a store, and my last evening at Florence.
Let me tell you more about Nick, not the things you might’ve already known. Yes, he comes from the Industry, yes, he’s been around for quite some time, and yes – he reached that stage when he wanted to do it – his way. Pretension- free way. Seven seconds after we met and exchanged a couple of sentences, I loved him. The more we spoke, the more this affection grew.
He is a well-traveled and educated gentleman, soft-spoken with a gracious smile, honest, simple in all his complexity, and walking his talk. A linguist, a traveler, lover of urban lifestyle, intelligent and stylish. He says that he often – hears smells! He is also promoting honest perfumery, simple pleasures of original and wearable perfumes, or in his own words:
„I wanted to do something clever and interesting, avoiding all the froth … focused on beautiful perfumes, honest materials. It’s about provenance and craft, simplicity and elegance. The packaging is chic and minimalist. Beautiful, but also practical – ‘travel light!’ – something pleasurable to accompany you as you go about your life.“
Gallivant follows the execution of this concept in packaging and all the other materials used, with tiny paper airplanes instead of blotters:
Karine Chevallier created Berlin, Istanbul, London, and Tel Aviv. Giorgia Navarra is the perfumer behind Amsterdam and Brooklyn (Bertrand Duchaufour‘s protegee!), and Paris-based Nicolas Bonneville (trained by Master Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian) is signing Tokyo.
We all have different olfactory impressions of cities we visit or dream about visiting. I write about my experiences in a series of blogs What’s Up In Da City: when I started to explore Gallivant perfumes, I wasn’t trying to compare what I’ve felt to the matching perfume. That would’ve been so wrong (expectations, expectations), even more so because I’ve traveled to all these cities except Tokyo. You might want to put away your old olfactory postcards and take a fresh, new, perhaps totally different view of:
What a perfect match with the weather outside: a late Autumn vibe, cloudy sky, leaves of all shades of brown falling… This time of a year is a “nesting” period for me: I tend to spend more time at home, enjoy candles, hot chocolate, soft blankets, and cuddling. I realized today that all Gallivant perfumes make me smile. Amsterdam brought this self-content, relaxed smile on my lips. Maybe it’s because of Szechuan pepper note (which I love!!!), smooth and comfortable. The floral heart is present yet unobtrusive: it resembles a bouquet made of tulips and roses in a woody-spicy vase. Amsterdam feels like I am spending a late afternoon sitting in a dark and cozy room overlooking canals, comfortably seated on a big brown, old and plush sofa, wrapped in a blanket while nibbling saffron and spice biscuits. Yet, this pepper-rose-saffron combo is elegant! It lingers above the perfectly smooth base of cedar, musk, sandalwood, and amber – heartwarming hues of inner happiness. It stays skin close, intimate, and I kept sniffing my wrist, asking for more.
When I tried to recall my first trip to Berlin years ago, what immediately came to my mind was Bowie’s The Berlin Trilogy, especially the song Heroes. I remember images and sounds of Berlin as it was then when the Wall was still standing. I always thought it was gloomy back then.
I remember also my later visits and the wind of change, even before it became the capital city (again). I also see fresh images of Berlin today: it is lively, vibrant, cosmopolitan, yet somehow very relaxed.
Monuments, huge roundabouts, ruins still standing as a reminder, typical socialist architecture of square concrete apartment buildings, lovely houses on surrounding woody hills, wide avenues, parks, and a multicultural vibe …this is what this fragrance is all about!
Again we face a well-blended story of citrusy freshness, spicy heart, and vetiver-cedar wood-patchouli base, yet this is not what defines it: Berlin is an optimistic and lively olfactory composition. Light and dark, fruits and spices, with the freshness of youth and dusty curtains of the past, moving and shifting in a slow, well-paced dance. Relaxed, just like I was when we were gallivanting in Berlin!
Brooklyn is… wow-tsss-ommmm!
That sparkly flash of citruses! I haven’t smelled so breathtaking freshly squeezed lemons and oranges – addictive! – in a long time! Alas, this sparkling, energetic vibe with a feeling of walking down a busy street on a workday -doesn’t last long. I wish it could. So energizing! Yet, the way it changes makes a fine contrast: softer musks and raisins add a comforting vibe. Like a work-day morning, breakfast and a coffee-to-go, bright skies and optimistic looking people.
Me happy. It moves, it shifts, it is so…urban in a funky, fast way.
Apart from the wow!bam! opening, it remained skin close, with moderate silage on my skin. Maybe I should’ve sprayed more: all I had was a small sample…
Maybe it will perform better during Spring or Summer, but those citruses shook me up and woke me up on a cloudy cold winter day, so hello Brooklyn, I’m still running around, thank you very much!
Notes: Lemon and orange juice, magnolia and transparent flowers, musks.
What a beautiful, fragrant hommage to this amazing city! Also, fully cold weather-appropriate perfume- a very fine blend of spiciness and sweetness. Sugar, spice, and something nice: a bit of smokey incense, too. It is neither gourmand nor floriental, yet it has elements of both, flirting with fougere as well. Placing it in one specific drawer is pointless, just as trying to explain all the different facets of Istanbul, the city.
It contains fresh air breezing in from Bosphorus, smell of freshly brewed Turkish coffee served with sugar cubes and Turkish delight, mouthwatering scent of fresh halva cut into thin slices, feeling of sitting down on big silk pillows in front of a sofra filled with small dishes, in a cozy, dark room where traces of incense lingering in the air, scents of spices whirling around me, and a silky lavender feeling of times long gone.
I see deep green, rich orange, velvety purple, ruby red, gold, and dark brown leather ‘n’ myrrh tones, warm yellow-amber – modern yet tradition influenced opulence only Istanbul can offer on a big silver platter.
Fragile violets, rosebuds, a soft, new black leather jacket. Feels like sitting carelessly on a red brick wall, surrounded by lush greenery and flower bushes, waiting for a bus to take you to London center on a sunny and rainy at the same time Spring day. Suburban London for me. A hint of orris provides just enough feathery softness. It smoothes the edges of that funny and playful cucumber accord, which rises every now and then. The rose I felt is…an English rose, a rosebud covered with traces of morning dew, not opulent or seducing – it is naive and playful.
Intriguing, well-crafted, optimistic: London is definitely a fragrance that makes me feel energetic, youthful and optimistic. What surprised me the most is this wonderful leathery feeling in the dry-down, crisply elegant, not old nor dusty leather. It reminded me of my neatly polished Dr.Martens boots, light Spring rain in the morning, and a bright and cheerful beginning of a new day.
My memory of Tel Aviv is of newly built skyscrapers, concrete, glass, Mediterranean beaches, palm trees, street cafeterias with Bouganvillea tree branches in full purple bloom hanging from above, huge ripe pomegranates, sea, sand, and suntan lotion with a hint of dry desert wind blowing downhill from the surrounding mountains.
This perfume portraits a different side of Tel Aviv: here we also have a citrusy opening with bergamot and oranges. Not as fizzy and sparkling fresh as in Brooklyn – these citruses are sun-kissed, warm and ripe, surrounded by big clouds of jasmine/freesia.
Very floral, like walking through a garden above a beach, going to an after beach party, drinking cocktails, laughing. At some moments it felt like a ripe watermelon broke open and cut into sweet-smelling cubes.
Maybe a bit too sweetish-and-flowery on my skin, but if you like that kind of freesia with jasmine synths, greenish and jolting – go for it. This is just not my cup of tea…
Notes : Clementine, jasmine sambac absolute, musks and deer’s tongue absolute
Well…well! I’m certain that Tokyo will have many fans, it seems like this is going to be a bestseller! Or, most widely accepted one, for sure. It is certainly, like all Galivant perfumes, well blended, not killing itself with overcomplicated structures and screaming notes…
Beautiful in its simplicity, contemplative, yet optimistic. I loved it from the first sniff and kept closing my eyes while wearing it for the first few times. Images rushed in my brain, of a place I’ve never visited: back streets of a big city, calm and breathing softly, like watercolor paintings with soft hues of emerald green, sepia, orange, bright yellow and grayish-blue. I feel moist dew on my skin on a foggy morning. It is fresh and smells green, fruity green. A glass of yuzu is on the kitchen table, traces of black pepper and a couple of rose petals that fell off. A nose tingling wasabi scent is present, very interesting and finely placed. And smoke, delicious smoke, some wonderful, soft, gentle incense is swirling around. Quite contemplative, but again: never too demanding, never too loud. There are traces of well-groomed shrubbery and wet asphalt outside and elements of the inner beauty of your simple-and-so-convenient-and-cozy lodging, somewhere in the big city of Tokyo…
Notes: Yuzu, cardamom, hinoki, incense, sandalwood, and vetiver.
Gallivant fragrances are available from the Gallivant website: 30ml Eau de Parfum – 65 GBP, 2 ml samples – 4,50 GBP, Discovery Set (4x2ml) – 18 GBP.
Just the right size, too: 30 ml bottles are a blessing! I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did!
Elena Cvjetkovic, The Plum Girl
Photos by: The Plum Girl, Julia Solonina/Anjana Menon/Tom Parkes – Unsplash
Samples provided by Gallivant, opinions of my own.