There is no city on Earth quite like Tokyo. It’s a sprawling metropolis, all clean and orderly, outlined by strips of neon, connected by expansive crossings and filled with more vending machines than anywhere else in the universe. It’s a singular, unique place awash with contrasts, where a fastidious obsession with perfection is the veneer that hides a dark underbelly of strangeness, and even darkness. There is beauty and art aplenty (in Japan, even pouring a cup of tea is an art form), and Dear Reader, the food is just out of this world.
I really do love Tokyo, can you tell? But I’m not the only one – British indie outfit Gallivant appear to be a fan too and they’ve created a fragrance inspired by this most unique city. Gallivant is a brand for “urban explorers” that creates scents inspired by iconic destinations. In their collection of seven fragrances they have traversed the globe, stopping off places such as Amsterdam, Istanbul, Brooklyn and of course, Tokyo. Much like the city – Tokyo the fragrance is my favourite. This review will tell you why.
What I am trying to evoke with this fragrance is that special feeling of early morning Tokyo. The air is humid and misty. Wandering the back streets, electric cables overhead, everything is tranquil and surprisingly quiet – like being in a village with small wooden houses. I also wanted to capture the tastes of izakaya eateries, fruits, spices, wasabi – sour and sweet – a zing on your tongue. The earthy dampness of potted plants outside shrines and wooden temples. It’s refined, spiritual – sandalwood and smoky incense. A calm elegance amid the big city neon energy.
– Nick Steward, Gallivant
Hermès’ Un Jardin series, which was started by the previous in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, is an ode to nature that doesn’t necessarily rely on nature to showcase the botanical. Through both natural and synthetic ingredients, the collection takes one on a journey through many gardens around the world, capturing specific and often surprising elements of these landscapes. For Un Jardin En Méditerranée, the piquancy of tomato stems evoke fig trees in a Tunisian garden, whilst in Un Jardin Apres La Mousson paints a watercolour of rainsoaked concrete through melon and spices, creating a mineral, atmospheric beauty. In my favourite, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, plasticky notes of kumquat and jasmine create a collage image of an imaginary garden – one that could only exist in the mind. Each of these ‘jardins’ is full of suprise.
Now Hermès has Christine Nagel as their nose and with their latest garden, Un Jardin sur la Lagune, Nagel continues the story. Her first jardin is inspired by a dream – a secret Venetian garden imagined in the deepest part of her subconcious. Nagel describes this garden as a “cycle of trees and flowers, nature still enduring within it”. From an olfactory perspective, la Lagune is a soft aquatic floral pieced together with transparent colours – cooling and warming as the sun moves across this most dreamlike of olfactory gardens.
There’s something really exciting and free about new niche brand KIERIN NYC. They may not offer any complicated gimmicks or a wildly unusual olfactory point of view, but they do something really surprising for niche: they offer accessible, genderless fragrances at a price point this is more reasonable than many designer brands. But this is the spirit of KIERIN NYC – a brand that wants to be for anyone and everyone, making high quality, niche-style fragrances easily available to anyone who is interested.
KIERIN NYC was founded as an “uncompromising New York centric brand” by Mona Maine de Biran (co-founder) that aims to tell the stories of the city through the art of olfaction. KIERIN NYC partnered with perfumer Mathieu Nardin, a Grasse-native who has lived and worked in the Big Apple, to create their debut collection of four fragrances. The brand has a distinct point of view with strong values. They believe in fragrances that are cruelty free, eco-conscious, genderless and inclusive. Those are things that resonate in the fragrances and are absolutely things I can get on board with.
The four KIERIN NYC fragrances are: Sunday Brunch, 10 A.M. Flirt, Santal Sky and Nitro Noir.