Thursday 17 September 2020

BUKHARA by Gallivant

Experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of an unknown country is one of the things that I love so much about travelling. Being in a totally unknown environment, and veering away from the tourist route, always creates incredible memories. With restrictions still in place on which countries we can visit, it’s thanks to ingenious perfumers and visionary creative directors that we can be transported instead through scent. Step forward Nick Steward, who is continuing his anthology of inspirational cities with the release of his latest Gallivant fragrance. So, grab your passport because we’re about to discover the magic of Bukhara.

The idea behind Gallivant is to celebrate through scent some of the most fascinating cities in the world. Using locations as inspiration for fragrances is nothing new, many perfume companies have attempted it before, but with Gallivant there is a difference. Gone are the cliched cultural associations and instead we are treated to an emotive interpretation of the city in question. Nick Steward launched the company in 2017 with four fragrances, London, Tel Aviv, Brooklyn, and Istanbul, but these were soon joined by Amsterdam, Berlin, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. With such a diverse collection, the question was where he would go next?

Evelyn Waugh wrote in his 1930 book, Labels: A Mediterranean Journal, that “every Englishman abroad, until it is proved to the contrary, likes to consider himself a traveller and not a tourist.” For me, this encapsulates Nick’s attitude towards the fragrances. They are a journey of discovery borne out of spending time with the locals as “a traveller and not a tourist.” Nick told me, “Our perfume formulas are genuinely original, and move people. We’re small and independent, and goodness knows it’s not easy, especially this year, but I feel proud that we’re putting something good and honest into the world.”

The idea for the fragrance came from Nick’s journey across Central Asia. He travelled part of the famous Silk Road, a major historical trade route, and fell for the charms of the Uzbekistan city of Bukhara. He describes it as “a chalk-pale city of whitewashed houses, peaceful inner courtyards, a thousand shrines, and a kaleidoscope of faces alongside silks and spices.” The task of creating the perfume was given to New York-based perfumer Ralf Schwieger. After international successes with Frederic Malle and Hermès, could he bring to life the city’s sights and sounds, and provide Nick Steward with his “promise of adventure”?

Bukhara opens with the star ingredient of iris providing an expansive powdery quality but it’s joined by a beautiful pear eau de vie note, which is like a crystal clear fruit brandy. This gives it a bright intensity that links seamlessly into a distant background pairing of rose and jasmine. The development of the scent however brings in the spice aspect with luxurious saffron butting right against a tempered note of clove, but the lasting trail on the skin is of a fur-like musk and amber imbued cedarwood that radiates heat, dryness, and a feeling of history. Ralf Schwieger needs to be congratulated because perfumery doesn’t get better than this. In a world of upheaval, Bukhara has a delicate stillness throughout and stays close to the skin like an intimate memory.

Bukhara launches on September 28th but can be pre-ordered from the Gallivant website at priced at £65 for 30ml. [Sample provided by Nick Steward]

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