Modest; But Not So LA LA…

By Jo Phillips

Talking about perfume is dangerous. Ok not dangerous as cycling on a not well-lit road without care after drinking too much vodka on a Saturday night out. It’s dangerous in as much as it’s extremely important to explain what it is you are writing about in regards of its meaning rather than just the facts and the substance.

It’s very important not to make sweeping comments about ingredients which can so easily be misunderstood.  Mention tuberose or patchouli, pineapple or musk for example, and you may well have a standard reaction
“Ohh I can’t stand fruity scents, maybe, those musky smells chock me, or hells bells patchouli is that horrid hippie smell”
And this is why when writing about perfume we must be beware.  Yes, personally patchouli is not a fragrance I ever want to smell on its own. I literally can’t stand the scent and yet there it is, present in just about every perfume I love. And that’s why making statements about ingredients when writing up perfumes is dangerous.

So if a new fragrance review says it contains pineapple and you dislike that smell you are instantly turned off you think “yuck that’s not for me”. But wait!

“A really good perfume is about the blend of the ingredient, not really the ingredients themselves”. So says Nick Steward, founder and creator of Gallivant perfumes.

Any great perfume is all about the balance and the absolute genius of know-how to ‘put the piece of the puzzle’ together in a fresh and intriguing way.  It is only a master that understands how to bring together often quite contrary smells and in doing so creating a compensation that is everything.

He can say this because this is exactly what he has done.  His latest juice is a divine road trip to Los Angels, a city he has been visiting since he was a young lad in rather well short shots… it was the 80”s!  Los Angels as a fragrance is the meeting of neon pink lights showy sparkly with the underbelly that sits behind many a big city that sits on a seaside town.  The surface all that glitters is gold yet there will always be that underbelly.

Here it is, transcribed by bubble-gum blown into bright pink balls,  gritty tarmac, smoky smoggy roads lingering with the scent of burnt rubber.  It’s the gentle whiff of salty seaside and the mixture of glitz and immigrant.  Think of LA all Hollywood stars and then Hispanic community; think those Hollywood hills with tall dark trees and scrublands.  Think how all of this meets in a perfect fragrant jigsaw.

Los Angeles by Gallivant - bottle 2

Now I’m going to contradict myself and talk notes here, but only to give an overview and to prove the point that names don’t make a scent.  Because listing the ingredients only gives a hint of the overall scent.

It starts out with an unusual mixture of eucalyptus clary sage mandarin and pineapple, so this means it starts sweet and cool all in one.  This initial hint is unusual as it’s warm and sweet yet cool and green all in one. Alongside the ‘mentholly’ fresh eucalyptus is Ethyl maltol a sweet smell that can be described as caramelized sugar, think where candyfloss meets strawberries so the meeting together of them all shaves off the sugary hit and levels out anything overly sticky aided by clary sage which is herbaceous and almost medical.  There is almost a hint of an aniseed sweet.  As the notes meet there is already a delicious contradiction.

Next comes the love or hate Tuberose, (but SO misunderstood)  the most curvaceous of all florals but here she is treated differently.  Think of her before as a curved buxom wench laid out for Rembrandt to paint draped in a white sheet, here, however, she is wrapped into a corset which allows for other facets of her to come alive.  So we get facets of rubber and smoke from the methol tuberose which sits with the tuberose absolute, and layers perfectly with narcissus which by its very nature is indolic, and animalic with a green freshness and a hint of sunny yellow. An erotic centre but not polite and pretty; partly because there is also included is watery salty sea tone. Think the freshness of a crashing wave as opposed to a still rock pool.

And the steady the ship in its base?  Start with delicious guaiac wood, a wonderful rosy warm honey smoky, waxy even tarmac and even rubber facets to this luscious wood, then there is cade, which comes from the wood of red juniper with a sense of burnt smoky leather giving a guttural base to the fragrance alongside musk’s (always remember there a literally thousands of musk’s) Cyproil oil which is warm and a slightly  dirty sexy facet and finally the rather misunderstood heliotrope. An almond vanilla even cherry sweetness but powdery like a fine cloud finishes off this magnificent perfume.

Think Chiaroscuro shadow and light, where opposites attract and expel, creating an excepted rhythm and structure all of its own.

LA Sunset By Nick Steward

This is the eighth fragrance in the range. A collection of fragrances built around different cities across the world. Each perfume is a celebration of the specific location and ingredients vary drastically, yet there is always a sense of congruence to the whole collection. A style if you like that gives a sort of identity to them and brings them together as a collection. Following in the new tradition of non-French perfume makers not so worried about working only with ‘noble’ essences but creators who love to play with the constituent parts and treat the ‘less noble’ ones with the same irreverence.

These are not shouty-loud show off style scents but carefully crafted to craft a selection of juices with a level of complexity that is subtly combined;  they pull you in, draw you towards them and let you sink into their joyous song.

Ultimately Los Angels is no different from the others in its house; an angel after all.  Just because the list of ingredients seems to be a bit larger-than-life or even a touch ‘showy’ don’t be fooled. It is glitzy and glittery, showy and shinny, yet it’s also cool aloof sexy and very, very smart.  Enjoy LA, it is a smog of utter deliciousness.

Los Angeles Neon on a Wall

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