Perfume that aspires to take us on a trip tends to rely on our perceptions. I have been taken to parts of the world I have never visited through scent. It has been one of the magical properties of fragrance for me. My confidence comes from when a perfume takes on a locale I know well I can see myself back there. When it comes to a place I have no knowledge of my perceptions are my guide. I have not visited Tokyo, but Gallivant Tokyo makes me feel if I have been to a shrine nearby.
Nick Steward founded Gallivant in 2017. He has one of the more clear-eyed aesthetics for a young brand that I have seen for a while. Mr. Stewart came from a tenure at L’Artisan Parfumeur which made me excited to see what he produced. It was a funny twist that I couldn’t get on board with the early destinations. He worked with two different perfumers creating an obvious coherence which I admire. It just came down to the part of the city he wanted to visit didn’t interest me until Amsterdam late last year. This was the perfume which made me want a ticket to Tokyo.
My first surprise was that Mr. Steward decided to work with a new perfumer, Nicolas Bonneville. I do think the formation of an early brand style is abetted with a concise creative director-perfumer partnership. The success of Tokyo makes me realize that a delineated vision can supply that no matter who the perfumer is. Mr. Steward has that in abundance.
Where are our perfumed travel agents taking us on our trip to the Japanese metropolis? The neon saturated Ginza? A bit of Kabuki theatre? A ride to the top of the Skytree? The open space of Ueno Park? The answer is something more contemplative. A trip to one of the shrines perhaps the Senso-Ji Temple as Tokyo the fragrance is a spicy, woody, incense construct.
M. Bonneville opens with the Japanese citrus of yuzu contrasted with black pepper. The pepper parallels the tartness of the indigenous lemon with a zesty pop. As we approach the shrine there is a hint of spices on the wind in the guise of cardamom and nutmeg. The cardamom feels like it rises out of the yuzu and finds nutmeg waiting for it. We then have a lightly floral phase as a transparent rose and iris accord lead into a cedar paneled interior. Incense burns in braziers all throughout the contemplative space. M. Bonneville devises a fantastically woody trio of hinoki, cedar, and sandalwood through which he weaves filaments of patchouli and vetiver. It is not one of those kind of woody base accords where you can’t see the forest for the trees. This is opaquer than it sounds. It is not a hard-core wood and incense style it is something which has a lighter feel throughout.
Tokyo has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
It may have taken me a while to join the Gallivant itinerary, but I am now hoping to be a frequent flyer. The trip to Tokyo is what sold me on that.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.