The art of perfume-making should be treasured and preserved like any other craft according to Nick Steward.
Sick of the gaudy, mass-produced fragrances flooding the market, he has launched his own independent brand aimed at jet-setters with discerning tastes.
Inspired by his love of city-based adventures, he set up Gallivant at first from his home in Dalston, moving to the recently launched Trampery Republic near East India DLR.
“I’m in love with the creation of perfume,” said Nick. “Sometimes it becomes all about celebrity endorsement and big budget advertising and that’s not really what perfume is about.
“I have heard stories of them never even smelling anything before it is sold.
“I wanted to go back to the simplicity of the making, that is what is beautiful about it.”
His first four fragrances, entitled London, Brooklyn, Istanbul and Tel Aviv, launched in March just in time for National Fragrance Day (March 21) and Mother's Day (March 26).
Aimed at savvy global travellers they come in 30ml bottles for £65, making them small enough to go through airport security.
“Travel is my biggest passion apart from fragrance,” said Nick, “and I really love cities. I’ve tried to capture the essence of some of my favourite places in the world.
“Also I really believe that people should take their time with fragrance, wear it, let it develop on their skin. As it will smell different after a few hours.
“The smaller size lets people try out my perfumes without committing to a big bottle.”
Nick became a perfumier by accident after taking a marketing job at the London office of fragrance and fashion brand Puig. There he became fascinated by the product development side of the business.
He went on to work at L’Artisan Parfumer for seven years, most recently as product and creative director, but left in 2016 to set up Gallivant.
His perfumes are made in collaboration with independent female perfumers, Paris-based Karine Chevallier and Venice-based Giorgia Navarra, who is the Italian protégée of master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.
It took two years to perfect the formulas for his city fragrances, which are composed in small batches at the famous French lab and sourcing house Art Et Parfum in Cabris, and hand finished in England.
“Everyone told me not to expect any orders in the first six weeks, but I’ve had four in two days so I have a big smile on my face,” he said.
“I don’t have a massive marketing plan. My vision has always for it to be a small artisan brand, which is about doing things slowly and properly.
“People are looking beyond the big brands now as they can see the smaller. non-corporate brands have more charm and humanity to them.
“When you walk into a shop these days it can be overwhelming as there is so much choice; they are desperate to sell you something.
“My desire with Gallivant is to make it really approachable and to encourage people to experiment, try on a perfume, go away, see how it evolves on their skin.
“The industry in general is too quick with too many launches and newness all the time. I want to slow that down.”
“I grew up in Islington and now live in Dalston and love this city. It’s addictive, with so many facets.
“This fragrance is roses from Columbia Road, Georgian architecture, a hint of dustiness.
“The hero note is rose de mai, which is rarely used these days because is one of the rarest, most expensive ingredients you can get- about 14,000 Euros for one kilo. It is only harvested at certain times of the day in May in the south of France.”
Also contains notes of cucumber, violet leaves, absolute, rose oil, orris root (from the iris flower), leather, sandalwood, patchouli and cedarwood.
“The city is a home from home for me and I wanted to capture that American energy. It is mainly a musky fragrance (white woods, benzoin, amber) which when used well create a feeling of comfort and beauty.
Incense and cardamon give a fresh spiciness and orris root is one of those really rare ingredients that gives a balmy feel.”
Also contains notes of bergamot, squeezed lemon and orange juice, magnolia and transparent flowers.
“I have connections there from when I lived in the Middle East.
“This was the most complicated formula in the collection, capturing that feeling of an ancient city, but with a freshness, a modernity.
“I used Egyptian geranium essence. People think they know what geraniums are but the raw material is very different. Also patchouli heart, which people often associate with hippies and jos sticks, but the heart is less fusty and earthy.”
Also contains notes of bergamot, cardamom, red thyme, lavender absolute, sweet myrrh (opoponax) essence, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean, amber and musks.
“It has never been done as a fragrance before. So that was interesting to me.
“It is a very big floral fragrance with very rich jasmine sambac absolute. But I’ve tried to modernise it and make it less cloying with the use of fruity notes like clementine.
“Deer’s tongue absolute is slightly smokey like the smell of hay in a field and made from an American leafy plant.
“Don’t worry, no deers were harmed in the making of this fragrance.”
Also contains notes of bergamot, blackcurrant bud, comoros’ ylang ylang, rose oil, freesia, sandalwood, musks and benzoin.Follow The Wharf on Twitter and Instagram @thewharfnews
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