Each scent comes in a sleek 30ml size flacon, retailing for $95 each. There is something refreshingly democratic, accessible (and travel-friendly) about such a product, which in turn offers all the more opportunities to enjoy each consecutive olfactive journey. “You can mix and match your fragrance wardrobe as you do your clothes and food — there's a fluidity to Gallivant,” Steward comments.
Given his own multicultural upbringing, the former creative director of L'Artisan Parfumeur wanted to emphasize the concept of universal communication, even in the now often jargon-jammed world of niche perfumery. “Fragrance is something really beautiful that we are passionate about. Given that, don't we want to invite more people into our world, rather than make them feel stupid because they don't know the notes or how to pronounce certain words? I don't like that kind of elitist attitude,” he states.
Not only is the packaging modernly minimalist, the fragrances themselves are equally subtle, with Steward commenting that “perfume doesn't have to be loud to speak, sometimes you need to listen close to the skin for it to express itself.” Take for example the noisy and constantly buzzing city of Brooklyn, which was translated into an uplifting orange, magnolia and musk concoction. “Brooklyn was never going to be grimy as some people imagine I would have done. Like the American Dream, it was always going to be something optimistic,” he says. Fittingly enough, the independently owned, Boerum Hill-based boutique Twisted Lily recently hosted Gallivant's stateside debut. “Places like Twisted Lily are really important gateways to discovering this kind of perfumery. I think it's the time where we need to get back in touch with business actually being about human connections,” Steward explains. “My hope with Gallivant is to create a brand which people can feel close to.”
Next stop on the voyage is London, a melting pool of grit-meets-glam set to to the soundtrack of Pet Shop Boys' West End Girls. The traditional English rose is given an edge thanks to rugged suede and gin-laced cucumber notes. Despite the name of style icon Kate Moss being on Steward's mind during the creation of the scent, even this one reads universally unisex. He notes that “there was a really positive energy in the co-creation of these fragrances. I tried to balance my own tastes with those of Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra, hopefully that has made for genuinely unisex fragrances. I also believe people are much more open minded than we give them credit for. A lot of men, if you tell them it is a rose or floral, might be put off. But if you just spray it and they smell it, most people don't have the binary that we think they have.”
Speaking of florals, Tel Aviv is awash with a plethora of them: jasmine, ylang ylang, rose and freesia. “Tel Aviv for me was quite an emotional one to work on, full of a lot of memories,” Steward reminisces. “There is something really comforting about it at the same time. And I'm actually not the world's biggest fan of jasmine, of itself. It can feel very introverted and dense sometimes, but in this it's open, fresh and fruity.” Said sheer complexity is gained through notes such as clementine, blackcurrant bud and deer's tongue absolute.
The last stop on the olfactive odyssey is filled with the patchouli, myrrh and cardamom notes of Istanbul. By incorporating lavender, geranium and thyme, there is a fresher kick to this composition which veers it away from a cliched oriental territory. “Istanbul has an incredible history as a meeting point between cultures, so I wanted to reference that on some level,” Steward explains. “Sometimes there is a slightly stereotypical view of what Istanbul is and then you go there and realize it's a mega city of 18 million people that stretches physically from Europe across the Boszporusz into Asia.”
Despite each scent having its own distinct personality and unique namesake inspiration, a vibrant modernity unifies the Gallivant line-up. Much like travel itself, once reserved for only the upper class elite, it offers an exciting and welcoming opportunity to explore. “I want Gallivant to be an invitation for people to travel the world in their senses, broaden their palette, mix things up,” Steward concludes. Thankfully of us fragrance nomads, with two additional releases on the horizon, the Gallivant journey is far from over.
Gallivant fragrances are available in the US at Twisted Lily, and in the UK at Roullier White. The brands website is at gallivant-perfumes.com