Ohh Toyko, you East estuary you, how I wish to walk you and drink you in; to glimpse the shy eyes of a Maiko in flower town, on her way to a tea house; to traverse the Shibuya crossing, where I move from traditional to modern. Ohh to gather in Ueno Park, and absorb like osmosis the first cherry blossom of spring. To traverse your manically busy metros too closely -but not quite – rub shoulders with your 11 million inhabitants, to turn my eyes upwards in awe of your skyscrapers. To find my traditional temple with its incensed shrine and quiet dignity right next to a frantic pachinko parlour.
One day, one day we shall merge, meet and fall in love; until then I have you bottled. Gallivant, the indie perfume brand created by Nick Steward in an urban exploration within seven hand-crafted fragrances, of seven cities, with his latest adventure being Tokyo.
Nick’s take on Tokyo is this:-
“I love travelling to Tokyo. I’ve been going there for over twenty years and I’m continually fascinated by the place, the people, the food, the style, the language – the finesse and attention to detail. What I am trying to evoke with this fragrance is that very special feeling of early morning in the city. The air is humid and misty. Wandering the back streets, electric cables overhead, everything is tranquil and surprisingly quiet – like being in a village with small wooden houses. I also wanted to capture the tastes of izakaya eateries – fruits, spices, wasabi – sour and sweet – a zing on your tongue. The earthy dampness of potted plants outside shrines and wooden temples. It’s refined, spiritual – the kōdō ceremony – sandalwood and smoky incense. A calm elegance amid the big city neon energy.”
So how does Tokyo smell for Nick and what has he captured of this dream destination within in bottle? Unsurprisingly, it starts with fizzy sharp citrus of bergamot and yuzu, yet this is almost heightened by black pepper, cardamom, and the shock of wasabi. Its heart is woody yet soft, with light wood of cedar and the wonderful hinoki wood fused with incense orris root rose and warming nutmeg. Its base: dreamy amber, sandalwood, patchouli, and all rooted in vetiver.
The bottle is very much where old meets new. It is that dilemma of Tokyo with both ends of the elastic band being simultaneously pulled; the contrasts at once fighting yet in harmony. It’s spicy and zingy with its fresh cheeky start yet unashamedly dives into its ancient woody base.
Other cities you may well not be able to get to physically, you can travel to via Nick’s creations. There is Amsterdam, Berlin, Brooklyn, Istanbul, London, Tel Aviv, all of which have a clear signature. Across the range, the perfumes are deceptively simple which means the experience is a congruent one; you get to dive straight in. But this is not because these are short formulas but because they are superbly designed by someone with knowledge love and passion for fragrance, Nick has, after all over twenty years of experience within perfumery and he collaborated with young dynamic noises: for Tokyo it was Nicolas Bonneville a rising star in the world of fragrance who a pupil of master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, and also trained under Françoise Caron.
The seven scents are not only about capturing the experience of travel but about making life easier – which is why GALLIVANT has designed travel-friendly 30ml sized bottles, perfect for slipping into your bag.
Finally, Nick says of his own brand:-
“it is about feet-on-the-ground exploration. The freedom to wander and travel. It’s about getting out into the world, discovery, mixing it up”.
Should you, like me, not have been able to get yourself to one of these intriguing cites, start by travelling via a bottle of GALLIVANT.
Available on www.gallivant-perfumes.com and retailers globally.