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
Jimmy Choo new ‘Urban Hero’ “combines sophistication and sensitivity with a touch of rebellion, an artist at heart; the city at night his canvas.”
Jimmy Choo has cast renowned street artist Jules Dedet, aka L’Atlas, as the face of the fragrance. A woody aromatic designed for Jimmy Choo by Antoine Maisondieu and Marion Costero of Givaudan, it starts with lemon caviar and black pepper. The heart opens with rosewood and vetiver with a drydown of grey amber and leather.
”We wanted to create a modern urban signature, in order to capture the spontaneous nature of street art, using blends of colours and textures, the way that street artists do.” explain Antoine Maisondieu and Marion Costero.
TheChicGeek says, “For some reason I had ‘Urban Decay’ in my head for the name of this fragrance. ‘Urban Hero’ isn’t quite so bad. You know how old ‘street art’ is when the artists start to look like somebody’s dad! L’Atlas - no? me neither - is giving Jimmy Choo some urban edge. (I can’t imagine this one getting messy on the railway sidings any evening soon).
This fragrance is about as edgy as a Jaffa Cake. It has a very safe set of masculine ingredients and, while nothing bad, it’s nothing we haven’t seen many times before. Mass fragrance brands need to start taking risks if they’re going to stand out from the crowd. Fragrance saturation is catching up on luxury brands and people aren’t as seduced by the designer name anymore.”
Jimmy Choo - Urban Hero - 100ml - £70 - Stockist: The Perfume Shop
Disclosure - A sample product was gifted by Jimmy Choo to review
Brand new and exclusively available at Superdrug, Bespoke London is a new collection men’s fragrances. One of four, ‘Fresh Citrus & Vetiver’ is said to be zesty notes of fresh ginger and mandarin with classic notes of vetiver, amber, musk and patchouli.
TheChicGeek says, “It’s always best to try a fragrance before you look at the price. It takes it back to what fragrance is really about, and this surprised me being under a tenner. Okay, so it doesn’t last long, but there nothing wrong with its fresh fougère - there are hints of lavender - appeal.
While the packaging and bottle is bland, it’s not really trying to be anything it is not. Which is good. This is the same quality you’ll find with the mainstream designer fragrances, and it’ll make you a cleverer consumer to get your everyday fragrance fix from something like this.
This is fast fragrance.”
Left - Bespoke London - Fresh Citrus and Vetiver - 100ml - £9.99 from Superdrug
Disclosure - The product was gifted by Bespoke London to 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
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
Launched in 2017, MARRAM Co offers a luxury, personalised natural shave with the finest of essential oiled infused foams and chrome hardware kits. Hoping to transform shaving into a pleasurable ritual, MARRAM Co believe that the preparation behind the shave is key and have created shaving creams to match your mood, all manufactured in the UK.
Left - MARRAM Co - "Power Up" - Metal tubes and quality fragrances makes this shaving to remember
Using organic essential oils sourced from 212 organic farms all over the world, the creams are therapeutic even for the man with the most sensitive of skin. Choose from “Wake Up Call”, “You’ve Got This”, “It’s Cold”, “Power Up”, “Night Out”, "The Morning After”, “Time Out” and “You Might Get Lucky”.
TheChicGeek says, “When you think about shaving products it’s interesting how, for something we literally put under our noses, quality fragrance hasn’t played a more dominant role.
Named after the grey-green tufts of Marram grass found on British coastal sand dunes, MARRAM, also a palindrome - the same forwards as backwards - is a collection of shaving creams offering distinctive and quality scents.
The brand centres on the traditional barbering routine of cream, bowl and brush. Most guys won’t be bothered with this faff on a daily basis, but it’s definitely for a time when you can enjoy the ritual.
The brushes, razor handle and bowls are really top quality and are priced to match. The razor takes a Gillette head and everything, including the shaving creams, is made in the UK.
Right - MARRAM Co - Brush & Bowl Set - £250
While the hardware is expensive, I like the way they’ve made the shaving cream realistic in pricing - in two sizes, £8 for 20ml and £20 for 100ml - it also means you can play with the fragrances and try a few.
There are 9 different scents, all with fun names, 7 are permanent and a couple are limited-editions. It’s light and foams up nicely and easy to apply with your hands.
I think people are willing to pay more for products with quality scents. I feel £20 is good for 100ml, here, and those essentials oils are the things that transport you, for a few seconds at least, to another place and makes shaving less of a chore and more of a pleasure. The heat and steam of shaving is ideal for these essential oils to really do their best work.
This reminds me of the shaving cream from Buly that smells like marzipan that I like - read more here - and my favourite is “Wake Up Call” with its earthy vetiver fragrance.
I think MARRAM & Co are onto something here. I like the branding, I like the metal tubes and I like the fragrances. I just need to shave more!”
Below - MARRAM Co - Shaving Cream - 20ml - £8 100ml - £20
Exclusive to MRPORTER.COM
Based on a 50 acre estate called “Keyneston Mill" in Dorset, Parterre - translated as “on the ground” - is a new and experimental British perfume brand aiming to grow many of the ingredients themselves. Two thousand plant varieties to be precise.
Founded by husband and wife, David and Julia Bridger, their backgrounds are farming and graphic design, respectively, Parterre launches with three fragrances, all limited in number and stocked at Fortnum & Mason.
Left - Not the Crystal Maze - Keyneston Mill, Dorset
TheChicGeek says, “Who knew you could grow vetiver in the UK? I always thought it was a tropical grass found in places like Haiti. Soon to be open to the public, Keyneston Mill looks set to be a destination in itself and not just for perfume fans. I can see a Monty Don special coming on!
No budget has been spared here with Sir Elton John’s ex-gardener Stuart Neilson and former RHS botanist Nanette Wraith being brought on board. Design plays an important part in the core of the garden with Renaissance Italy and Kandinsky referenced while the rest of the acreage is put to growing in volume.
Based on botanicals, obvs, the three fragrances, produced in collaboration with leading perfumer, Jacques Chabert, are “A Tribute To Edith”, geranium and rose, “Run Of The River”, bergamot mint and orange flower, and, the most masculine, “Root Of All Goodness”, bergamot, vetiver and leather.
I admire Parterre because they will be at the whim of the unpredictable British weather and, as such, they’re still trying to work out what works and what gives a decent standard of product. They’re also producing the oils themselves using steam distillation.
Right - Parterre - "Root Of All Goodness" - 50ml/100ml - £95/£160
Like the majority of gardens, things will get better with age. Everything seems quite new and experimental, and while the French will probably scoff and turn up their noses, literally and metaphorically, just remember they did that once to English sparkling wine and look how far that has come.
It would be nice to see which of the ingredients are homegrown - maybe a Union flag next to them? - I do think they’re missing a trick not doing at least one fragrance with 100% British grown ingredients, but I’m sure, in time, that will come. Also, they should use a British perfumer or try doing it in-house.
This plugs into the British obsession with plants and gardening and being able to visit and see the place will only add to the attraction. Of the three fragrances, the most masculine is the “Root Of All Goodness”, but I was drawn to the rose one. Men can wear pink and smell of roses, these days. I like the branding, it is fairly feminine, but the hand calligraphy numbering on the bottles is a nice touch. I’d just love to know what they could do with the stinging nettles, bindweed and Japanese knotweed in my garden!”
Coach introduces a new fragrance for men. It is said to have a New York attitude and an American authenticity. Coach For Men starts with an energetic top note of crisp and effervescent green Nashi pear. A spicy burst of cardamom adds warmth, complexity and a subtle touch of sweetness. The scent ends with a textured base of vetiver—earthy, woody and green—layered with hints of suede and ambergris.
Left - One of the best bottles I've seen this year Coach For Men
TheChicGeek says, “In the battle for mainstream luxury - which is where all the money is BTW - Coach have a real energy right now. They feel like they are leading, rather than following, and have, finally, made Coach a recognised and desired brand in the UK and Europe.
This is their first men’s fragrance under their new license deal - they were previously with Esteé Lauder.
I really like the packaging: the ombré flacon and embossed logo with the name on the a leather tag is strong yet subtle branding. Even the textured calf-skin-like finish on the box is a nice touch.
The juice is commercial, but, that’s expected. The best bit is the dry down which soft and warm and without anything jarring or dominating.
The face is James Franco. I thought they would have chosen somebody a bit younger. Coach has been pushing a more collegiate, youthful feel and James Franco, pushing 40, is a bit done and has been used by other brands before. I personally think of Chloe Moretz and Brooklyn Beckham as Coach’s target image now: young and cool. But, this fragrance certainly works on its own."
Right - Too old for the new Coach? The Coach For Men face James Franco.
Coach For Men - Out 12th September 2017 40ml - 100ml - £29 - £62