Nick Steward, Founder of Gallivant and award winning fragrance ‘London’
Hands up if, instead of conventional perfume and because you were strapped for cash, you used Vanilla Essence (as suggested by Woman’s Own) or Patchouli Oil (if you wanted to smell like you’d been hanging out in Marrakesh?) Did it work?
Did you then graduate to being a devotee of Body Shop Dewberry or White Musk, before settling on a couple of Major Brand fragrances that became your ‘signature scents’? And have you stayed with those ever since? If the answer is yes, and you think you’re in a ‘Fragrance Rut’, how about venturing off the beaten track for something different to redefine you?
Over the last few years, in line with many things ‘artisanal’ there has been a rise in niche fragrances. These are the ones created and launched by courageous, pioneering entrepreneurs aiming to distil something unique, that will capture the elusive – a feeling, association or memory that other scents don’t deliver. There has never been a better time to explore and discover a new ‘signature scent’.
Now, I’m not going to give you a list of ones to try- that’s no fun. Instead, over the next couple of Blogs, I’m going to tell you three stories about how I found the new brands that I currently love. This is not because I think you should buy them; signature scents and fragrances are just too individual for that. What I want to do is offer some food for thought and suggest pointers to some of the more rewarding hunting grounds. The less obvious places beyond Department Store franchises and the Duty Free at the airport, so you can enjoy making your own special finds.
Part of the pleasure I take in the fragrances has become the unexpected gems of shops I’ve discovered and the people I’ve met in them. And a little disclaimer here – these are my personal passions, I’m not affiliated with any of the names that follow.The first of my favourites is the new London Indie Brand, Gallivant by Nick Steward. I initially read about this collection via the Times Beauty columnist, India Knight (no relation to me, alas) who confesses she is ‘obsessed’ and has now written two articles about how she loves the brand.
Gallivant perfumes are like nothing I have ever come across before. Each of the Brand’s fragrances reflects the essences of the major city it is named after. In the words of their website ‘is about the pleasures of Urban exploration. Sights, sounds, smells…. The collection of unisex Eau de Parfum is inspired by the breezy vibe of the coolest, most creative urban destinations.’
And India Knight admits she would like to ‘bathe in Istanbul’, ‘and that they all ‘smell really, really good.’
She’s right! I’ve now bought three of them as I couldn’t decide – namely, London, Berlin and Brooklyn – something I’ve never, ever done before!
The little expedition to give them a try took me to Pulse of Perfumery in Knutsford – one of the few places in the UK outside London that currently stock Gallivant. This is a truly great shop: specialist, independent and selling niche, exclusive and unexpected fragrances.
From the moment you enter, your spirits are lifted by the wonderful smells and the sights of rows of sparkling bottles. The proprietor Peter’s expertise and enthusiasm are a joy and he allows you the time and space to deliberate. It all contributes to the pleasure of discovering something new and different. So now whenever I wear Gallivant, I have the memory of how and where I bought it as well as the city it evokes.
Gallivant stockists are scattered around the world – perhaps in an off-the – beaten-track ‘fragrance destination’ near you. Why not seek one out, experiment, get distracted and see if you can emerge feeling ever so slightly reinvented.
If you want to learn more about Gallivant, go to
Coming Next -Two more tales to follow in the next few days including:
Finally, as a post script, please don’t get carried away by my prose about niche fragrances and chuck all your mainstream ones out! The collections of the established Fragrance Houses are made with as much passion and attention to detail as the smaller newer brands. In my years of working in the beauty industry I’ve been fortunate to visit one of the factories where the Chanel collections are filled and get an insider view of what goes in to delivering that perfect little package. I’ve noted the time and great care taken to macerate the precious oils. On the filling line everyone wears white gloves so they can handle and inspect every single packaging component – bottles, stoppers, and labels for the slightest flaw. The boxes are then wrapped in Chanel’s own bespoke cellophane because standard film does not have the right level of clarity they demand. And, of course, the smell is wonderful.
And as for the packaging, I regularly marvel at the custom design of perfumes like Marc Jacob Daisy, Dior’s J’Adore or YSL’s Black Opium. They are little miracles of packaging engineering. When you’re next in a Fragrance Hall or Airport Duty Free, try unleashing your inner packaging nerd and take time to admire them.