Health & Beauty

City Scents

October 29, 2018

Nothing awakens the senses like a visit to a foreign land. The sights, smells and sounds become synonymous with the experience, firmly implanting in our memories. After crafting fragrances for years as creative director for Paris house L’Artisan Parfumeur, Nick Steward founded his own London-based artisan brand, Gallivant Fragrances, last year and bases each scent on cities he loves to wander (or gallivant!) through. Visiting Vancouver’s Secret Location to launch his newest, Tokyo, we sat down with Nick to chat fragrance philosophy, travel and Japan’s charm. —Rachel Johnston


Hi Nick! Tell us about Gallivant.

Gallivant is a brand I launched last year in 2017. I’ve worked in perfume for a long time but I wanted to go back to basics and do something high quality but very simple at the same time. I love to travel So I always knew I wanted to do something inspired by cities. I’ve never learned to drive a car so I’m really a city person. I love to walk in cities—hence the name “Gallivant,” the joy of gallivanting around a place. And I also wanted to do something in travel-friendly bottles. I really do believe people should have a wardrobe of fragrances. I believe people should use them and not just keep them for special occasions. Play with it, have fun—fragrances shouldn’t be serious. They should add something to your existence, the same way good food or good wine does.

Why are all of your fragrances unisex?

Generally, when I work on a fragrance, I don’t think of who it’s for. For instance, I don’t imagine that it’s for a 55-year-old woman or a man that’s 20. I think that’s distracting. It’s important for me to really listen to the fragrance and how it’s expressing itself and I hope it connects with people and their skin. I really do believe perfume is personal and that the person chooses what suits them. People in the perfume industry like to categorize things but I’m not like that.

What do you love about Japan?

I had to a lot of business in Tokyo for a stage and traveled there every month. The jetlag was awful but I discovered I loved Japan—I love the culture, I love the language, I love the people, I love the finesse of everything.

So how did that play in to the development of your newest fragrance?

Tokyo is my seventh fragrance and my first truly Asian city. I didn’t want to do a cherry blossom fragrance, I wanted to do a quiet backstreets of Tokyo scent—wooden temples and incense. I describe it as a smoky, woody, spicy fragrance. Despite the fact that it’s a mega-city, I actually find Tokyo quite calm. I think the Japanese are very calm—at least on the surface. The culture is very into good manners and decorum. I think it’s very important to listen to perfumes. Most people smell in colour so they’ll see a scent as very green or purple or brown. To me, when I smell something, I’m very aural—I listen to the pitch. And I find Tokyo is very low and very calm.

Can you share some of the ingredients used in Tokyo?

The scent is based around incense so it’s a mix of vetiver, patchouli … also Hinoki, which is Japanese cypress. It’s very earthy, woody and counterbalanced with a yuzu citrus note to give it some freshness. And of course finished with a dash of wasabi!


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