A new indie perfume brand from London, founded and created by Nick Steward, Gallivant works in collaboration with perfumers in Venice and Paris. The collection of eight hand-crafted fragrances, named after some of the world’s most vibrant cities, are designed to be travel-friendly with 30ml sized bottles, perfect for slipping into your holdall.
Nick Steward has two decades of hands-on experience in perfume making and was product and creative director of the pioneering niche house L’Artisan Parfumeur.
Handmade in the UK, unisex, vegan and cruelty-free. Gallivant is an ethical and sustainable independent artisan business.
TheChicGeek says, “The Phileas Fogg of perfume, Nick Seward, has produced a travelogue of scent. From Tel Aviv to Brooklyn, each fragrance is a modern take on a place memory.
I was hoping ‘London’ was going to smell like the inside of a red telephone box. Ewww!
If I had to pick a favourite, I would say ‘Tokyo’. Created with Nicolas Bonneville, it is a zingy, spicy, wood. A citrusy head of bergamot and yuzu with black pepper and cardamom, is electrified with a dash of wasabi. A woody heart of hinoki, cedarwood, and incense with orris root, rose and nutmeg mixes with a base of amber, sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver.
Tokyo has a slightly treacly cola top with an aquatic freshness. The warmed incense is there, but it’s deep and kept light with the fruit.”
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Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Gallivant for review
Following on from the hit Aventus fragrance, Aventus Cologne is said to be a fruity yet aromatic burst of ginger, mandarin and pink peppercorn, complemented by a heart of patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver. A leathery balsamic base of styrax, birch, musk and tonka bean.
TheChicGeek says, “Creed has become something of a cult, and looking at the prices, £155 for 50ml, they are certainly premium, even though they’ve managed to ingratiate themselves into the mainstream - John Lewis window anybody?
Colognes are usually lighter and easier to wear, and benefit from frequent reapplications. This is safe. No note really sticks its head above its tasteful parapet. Even the top, which usually dominates a cologne, doesn’t have much distinction and quickly disappears into a that soft and dry twiggy dry-down of vetiver. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you’re investing, like here, I’d advise to demand more.”
Disclosure - A sample was provided by Creed
The latest instalment of Guerlain’s L'Homme Idéal series, this ‘Cool’ release has ‘re-orchestrated’ the almond olfactory centre with coolness around three accords; the effervescence of top notes of bergamot and orange mingled with the freshness of mint. Patchouli and vetiver are the base notes.
TheChicGeek says, “This is the first of Guerlain’s L'Homme Idéal fragrances I’ve tried. (There are 4 in total). I’m not getting much of the almond centre, there's a slight warmed frangipane note when on the skin, but there’s plenty of the aquatic mint.
From the majority of mass fragrance brands this would be just another generic cool and fresh fragrance, but, Guerlain has a pedigree which takes it up a notch. While the name isn’t memorable - Ideal Home, anybody?! - and the fragrance isn’t very distinctive, it still has a decent quality for a reasonable price.
I really like the matt grey sides of the bottle and engineered top. It looks classy while in a pretty standard and classic shape. If you want something minty, fresh and easy for summer, then this could be it.”
Left - Guerlain - L’Home Idéal Cool - 50ml - £56
Disclosure - A sample was provided by Guerlain
To create Montblanc EXPLORER, three noses from Givaudan have combined their expertise: Jordi Fernandez, Antoine Maisondieu and Olivier Pescheux. Each of them brought their own knowledge of a specific ingredient and their emotional experience; bergamot from Italy, vetiver from Haiti and oatchouli from Indonesia.
The top note bursts with effusive Bergamot from Italy. Called OrPur®, this particular bergamot explodes with floral, green, and intensely fresh notes.
Left - Montblanc Explorer - EDP 100ml - £70
“I find this ingredient particularly luminous, like a young Mediterranean boy bursting with laughter: pure and eminently elegant,” says Antoine Maisondieu, who is a great fan of this citrus fruit. “Bergamot is also an icon of Calabria and symbolises the light of this region. We wanted to infuse Montblanc EXPLORER with this unique atmosphere, synonymous with joy, light and refinement.” This bergamot is paired with the masculine notes of French OrPur® clary sage and spicy orPur® pink pepper.
The heart note of this journey takes us to the most remote part of Haiti: in the extreme south-west of the island, in the region of Les Cayes, where the most refined vetiver is organically and ethically produced. Celebrated by perfumers all over the world, Haiti's vetiver oil is comparable to no other, thanks to its smoky hues and its slight overtone evoking hazelnut.
“I love the fact that it takes time to truly understand all the richness of vetiver,” explains Olivier Pescheux. “It's not a common or easy-to-access smell. It's authentic, raw and earthy. Vetiver is a root with strong masculine accents: the combination of complexity and roughness gives it real virility.”
A final stopover takes us to Indonesia, east of Borneo, in the heart of the rainforest, more specifically on the island of Sulawesi to discover a new type of patchouli of unparalleled quality. This patchouli has been developed exclusively for Montblanc fragrances.
“Patchouli is often at the centre of my creations, as it brings a rich and complex character to the perfume, it is the beating heart of the fragrance,” explains Jordi Fernandez. “This incredible custom-made patchouli gives a unique olfactory dimension to our palette. I used it in Montblanc EXPLORER to bring its iconic signature to it. It enhances the leather and cocoa notes of the composition, without showing its earthy facet.”
TheChicGeek says, “Mont Blanc has become a reliable go-to for mastige men’s fragrances and this is their best since Legend. Three strong noses work here and they’ve kept it simply layered with their three main and quality ingredients.
The bergamot gives the fragrance a wetness which suits the dry and earthy vetiver; you can imagine lush tropical forests and the smell from the damp undergrowth. While nothing raises its head above the scent’s parapet, it all works and resonates with a pleasing quality. The bottle has something of the Frédéric Malles about it.”
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Mont Blanc for review
Each Ostens ‘Impression’ is a fragrance created as an ode to a single inspirational ingredient. Here is patchouli. Melting wax. The resinous dust from a violin’s bow. Crushed biscuits, cooked molasses. Old bricks, decorative tiles, worn stone floors are just some of the references said to be conjured up by this scent by Domitille Michalon-Bertier. Other notes include rosemary, lavandin, lavender absolute, immortelle absolute LMR and ciste labdanum absolute.
TheChicGeek says, “Ostens is a new fragrance company - see more here - and they’re starting with one quality ingredient and asking perfumers to create fragrances around it. Here, everything rides on a classic patchouli heart without its earthiness.
This is addictively good. I’m getting a lot of incense and wooden church pews, but without that screaming and clawing depth you get from some niche fragrances. This is a gorgeous patchouli and very easy to wear. It's one of my favourite fragrances of the year so far and it's the kind of fragrance you want to say to everybody 'smell me'."
Left - Ostens Impression Patchouli Heart IFF-LMR No. 1 - 50ml - £85
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Ostens
Made in Britain, palm oil and paraben free, ‘Evolution’ is the debut fragrance from men’s grooming brand, Kings. A mix of essential oils including patchouli, cardamom, vetiver, copaiba, ylang ylang and eucalyptus, Evolution has been approved by the Vegan Society and by Cruelty Free Bunny.
Started by founder, Blué O’Connor, as a result of a successful crowd-funding campaign, Kings will be helping to fund two charities in Blué’s hometown of Bristol, Mentoring Plus and Bristol Mind, as well as the national male suicide-prevention charity, Calm.
Left - Kings - Evolution 50ml EDT - £39.99, 10ml EDT - £14.99, 1.7ml EDT Sample Bottle - £2.49
TheChicGeek says, “Price isn’t a signifier of anything anymore, especially in fragrance, and this is great value.
This is really good. It starts with a liquoricey top which turns into an attractive warm rubber. I’m not crazy about the branding, but nobody sees that when their salivating around your neck!
It is suppose to smell like a jungle in bloom, but it’s drier than that. It’s a slow mover from the top to the base, but the journey keeps you engaged. It’s a calming fragrance which also complements its mental health connections. In a nutshell, it smells like sexy car mats!"
Disclosure - The product was gifted by Kings to review
Jo Malone has teamed up with Savile Row tailors, Huntsman to release 4 fragrances aimed at men. They are: Amber & Patchouli, Assam & Grapefruit, Birch & Black Pepper and Whisky & Cedarwood.
TheChicGeek says, “The first thing to point out is that none of these fragrances are new. They were all part of Jo Malone’s limited summer editions over the last few years - see more here - As many of those probably passed guys by, they’ve brought back these four.
Huntsman is one of Savile Row’s most famously expensive tailors, but doesn’t have the design identity to play around with, so I think they’ve done really well just replicating the gold huntsman lettering on the front window onto the bottle. Simple yet classy.
They could have gone all silly prices with this, but I’m glad they’ve kept it in line with the rest of the Jo Malone brand. My favourites are Assam & Grapefruit, which gives you that yummy and zesty Earl Grey aroma and Birch & Black Pepper, which is the simple punchy notes of smokey birch tar and spicy black pepper. The Amber is fairly forgettable and the Whisky one just isn’t boozy enough for us boys. Cheers!”
Available at Jo Malone London Boutiques and at Huntsman Savile Row - 100ml - £120 each
New British fragrance brand klaxon. Founded by Michael Donovan and named after the ancient, Central London parish of St Giles - it’s that bit just near Tottenham Court Road station, where the coloured Renzo Piano buildings are - where he was born, this new collection of five fragrances is based on different characters.
Michael has worked in the fragrance business for many years with some of the biggest names and noses. Here, he has teamed up with perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour, and spent the last three years creating the five scents: The Tycoon, The Writer, The Stylist, The Actress and The Mechanic.
TheChicGeek says, “It’s always great to see new British fragrance brands. Especially from somebody with over 20 year’s experience in the business. Michael sent me the three most masculine fragrances to try - The Tycoon, The Writer and The Mechanic.
There’s a lot going on, but it works. I actually found it difficult to choose one standout. I liked all three and underlining it all is quality.
The Tycoon is a classic chypre with notes of patchouli, labdanum and oakmoss augmented with a castoreum.
The Writer opens with fresh ginger, rosemary absolute and the focusing sparkle of aldehydes with castoreum absolute plus sandalwood, cedarwood and driftwood.
The Mechanic has a base of hot rubber, musk, oakmoss and a balsamic, cracked styrax with an earthy geranium and patchouli opening.
The Mechanic is the most interesting as it doesn’t fit in as easily with the other character names. The market for niche fragrances continues to grow and this is definitely a collection worth seeking out. I just wish the branding and labelling had more personality and fully represented the fragrances’ depth of character.”
St Giles Collection - 100ml - £130
Exclusive to Selfridges
The latest edition to the Blu Mediterraneo series is centred around the extremely rare chinotto fruit. Called Chinotto di Liguria - Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy. Its capital is Genoa - it is a small orange-type fruit which had been used by the Italians to make fizzy drinks, but had somewhat disappeared.
The top notes of the fragrance are enhanced by the bittersweet notes of the chinotto fruit and the sparkling crispness of mandarin. At its heart, jasmine and geranium bloom with the dynamic and refreshing notes of cardamom and rosemary. It is rounded off with the peace and tranquillity accorded by the base notes of musk and patchouli. A fragrance reminiscent of an early morning stroll along the rocky coastlines of western Liguria.
TheChicGeek says, “Nothing makes you want to book a Summer holiday like the launch of a new Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo scent. The blast of sunshine and the hypnotic blue of the bottle makes you want to rush down to Lunn Poly and take a one way flight to Southern Europe. ANYWHERE.
Left & Right - Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo - Chinotto di Liguria 75ml - £66
This tiny orange had somewhat - or should that be kumquat?! - fallen out of use in Italy. It has a thick skin and the fragrance is extracted by fermenting the entire fruits.
This isn’t your standard sparkling citrus fragrance. It’s more interesting than that. It has a warm spiciness - cardamom - which seems to keep the fragrance in the background, but it has a heat and intensity that keeps it resonating. It's like the heat from coastal rocks after a long day in the sun.
This is the kind of fragrance that would keep people guessing regarding the ingredients and is a welcome addition to the citrus category.”
The first fragrance for men from Nejma, Koeptys - from the latin coeptis, meaning project or endeavour - is a collaboration between the brand, master perfumer, Alice Lavenat, and French rap phenomenon, Booba - no, me neither!
Booba is the most downloaded music artist in French history and is said to have been closely involved with the whole creative process.
Left - Koeptys - 100ml EDP - £130. Exclusive to Selfridges
Koeptys opens with notes of incense, cinnamon and pepper before revealing a floral woody heart. Pure vanilla and patchouli inject power and sensuality to the base of this highly aromatic and addictive scent.
The alternating upper and lower case letters highlight the word ‘key’ and are a reference to the street culture that has been a major influence on Booba’s life and music.
TheChicGeek says, “When I first saw this I wanted to try it. I know nothing about Booba, but the name and font was giving me Egyptian hieroglyphic vibes and I was intrigued.
Nejma is known for centring their fragrances around oud, but it definitely doesn’t feature here. What starts off as something wet and metallic, and what you think could be the same predictable men’s scent, quickly whooshes into something more floral and much more interesting. It has a big feminine slant with the base of vanilla, but isn’t sickly and doesn’t dominate.
The woody floral centre dominates and is warm yet green and this fragrance is definitely something that twists and turns depending on whether it is on your skin, clothes and your mood.”
Right - French Rap Star, Booba, with whom the fragrance is a collaboration