Monday 3 June 2019

TOKYO by Gallivant

We live our lives through a mist of preconceived ideas about everything from music to fashion and places to people, but just recently I was stopped in my tracks because of my own preconceptions about a fragrance. I had imagined that Tokyo by Gallivant would be just another cherry blossom inspired floral that once again celebrated this delicate petal. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Tokyo, the latest release from the company, recreates the early morning in the city and mixes nature with neon and tanginess with tranquillity. The new addition to the collection fits perfectly into the style, although its individuality cannot be ignored.

When Nick Steward launched Gallivant in 2017 he wanted to create a collection of fragrances that truly embodied his favourite cities. However, what he didn’t want were cliched interpretations that merely drew on the current cultural stereotypes. The scents would be based around his own recollections of what made these cities so exciting to him, and it was this freedom that allowed his perfumers to really get creative. He launched with four fragrances, London, Tel Aviv, Brooklyn, and Istanbul, but these were soon joined by Amsterdam and Berlin. Nick could have stopped at six but Tokyo was on the horizon.

Nick Steward has had a long and distinguished career in the fragrance industry working with companies such as Paco Rabanne and Carolina Herrera, but his big break came in 2009 when he joined L’Artisan Parfumeur as their Creative Director. For almost six years he steered the company through numerous successes but he always had a desire to launch his own brand, and Gallivant was the result. He originally worked with a talented duo of perfumers, Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra, but for Tokyo he called upon Nicolas Bonneville to turn his ideas into a reality.

So, what exactly is Nick Steward’s vision for Tokyo? Well, as I mentioned at the beginning, it isn’t all about cherry blossom. For his fragrance he was really looking to celebrate the dual aspects of the traditional ceremony with the modern culture. He wanted to take inspiration from the Kōdō incense ritual, hinting at the five tastes of sweet, bitter, spicy hot, sour, and salty, but contrast this with electric cables providing a “big city neon energy.” Nicolas Bonneville (in the photograph) took these notes and created a fragrance that truly electrifies the old world spirituality and, at the same time, makes it unforgettable.

Tokyo opens with a dry spicy combination of black pepper and cardamom that almost immediately seems to pull you towards the sweetened incense in the heart. The accompanying citrus blend contributes to an electrically charged quality but also keeps the rose and iris notes crisp and lively. At this point you completely give in to the ceremonial feel as touches of nutmeg, cedarwood, and sandalwood almost hint at those Kōdō tastes but, in the distance, a whisper of an oriental base provides a perfectly measured warmth. The addition of vetiver helps to keep Tokyo dry and earthy but it always retains its calm elegance.

Tokyo is available from the website at and also from Roullier White priced at £65 for 30ml. [Sample provided by Nick Steward]

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