Fragrant travels along the Silk Road take us on a dreamy, ethereal journey. Bukhara, an ancient city in Uzbekistan, is our destination. The latest city to be captured by this wandering perfume brand.
Caraway, pear, coriander, bergamot, orris, jasmine, clove, apricot, benzoin, saffron, amber, wood, soft musks.
Spray Bukhara on the back of your hand, or a wrist, and then stop. Close your eyes. Imagine the sun just rising, imagine heat-baked clay walls, damp with morning dew, clean, still air, glints of light as rays of sun catch white tiles. Inhale. Exhale. Relax. This is Bukhara by Gallivant.
One could describe the opening of Bukhara as a very pleasant orris, with the faintest hint of a savoury caraway lurking in the background, but it is also so much more than simply, and rather unromantically listing the notes. There’s such a profound sense of peace and quiet contemplation in the scent. It feels like a new day, it feels like a stillness before the hustle and bustle starts, it feels like the deepest of deep breaths. It feels like those mornings when you are the first one up and the streets of wherever you are feel like your own.
Bukhara begins cool but warms up as the spices in the composition fully unfurl and come closer to the fore. Bukhara also alternates between feeling dry and then more damp – the sort of dampness that is like dew, or a light shower. The scent doesn’t give the impression of something sodden, but more the idea of a layer of moisture overlaying parched and greedy earth; feel it on your toes before it is gobbled up. This whole idea is enhanced by the ever so slightly stoney nuance that it was possible to detect, pebbles, cobblestones or concrete, an earthiness which felt so incredibly real that in my mind’s eye I could feel the texture of them beneath my feet and smell the damp warmth that lifted as the dawning of the day dried the stones.
In a way when a perfume is this evocative, this powerful in its sorcery, it ceases to matter what the ingredients or the listed notes are because it taken on a whole new life of its own. It ceases being orris and caraway and a touch of bergamot and actually becomes this city, this transportive place, that you can imagine yourself standing in so fully.
For many of the people who smell this fragrance, Bukhara the city will feel a long way away and they perhaps stand little chance of visiting especially given current pandemic conditions which curb even our domestic travels. Bukhara gives the wearer the chance to journey though, if only through the sense of smell. Is it a real, olfactive portrait of the actual place? I couldn’t say, but the imagining feels real enough to convince me that the spirit is there for sure.
The cities Gallivant examines in their fragrant creations are like cities remembered in dreams – ethereal, impression-filled. The brand have managed to continue this feeling into the base of Bukhara which is softer, more diffuse than the earlier phases. The orris does linger, but it becomes less earthy and more rounded out by the fruity notes that join it. Rather than being able to detect apricot itself, what I observed was the velvety texture of apricot skin coupled with a rounder, fleshier sweetness. This is joined by a rougher woody texture that carries on the sweet warmth that the fruit and spices have begun – they draw a clear, almost narrative arc through the scent and tie its journey together.
As Bukhara reaches its final phase, you are left with the impression of wandering through the magical moments before the day dawns and watching it resolve into something more of this world, more familiar, but no less pleasurable. The musks that complete the composition are airy, gauzy and clean. They are soft cotton sheets washed and line-dried in the breeze. The scent takes us from magical, expectant moments, to pleasurable real-life experiences and makes that transition really gentle like subtle shifts in the light.
As someone who doesn’t always get on with orris scents, this fragrance has definitely helped me shift that perception. It is neither trite nor overly powdery, neither dull nor predictable. There’s hints of paperiness and stone, spicy warmth and the whole scent is very beautifully and deliberately blended. The only joins you see are the ones that the perfumer choses to show you to lead you through. Bukhara, as a result, is appealing, wearable and a very strong addition to this brand’s line up.
The other stuff
The longevity of Bukhara is solid. It lasts a good six to eight hours following application and really has more guts and backbone than one might imagine for what is a gentle and magical scent.
The projection of the fragrance is fairly polite, reaching to hugging distance or thereabouts. You don’t need a lot of this scent to notice it though, so applying more liberally would perhaps get you a further throw with the fragrance itself.
Bukhara is a new release and this feels like the perfect time of year to wear it: Autumn or Spring, when the air is both warm and cool all at once, and when my wanderlust at least finds its annual peak.
Gallivant are a UK-based brand with a founder from London, although they really are a brand of the world – seeking inspiration from all corners of the globe for their range of scents.
The Gallivant stable of fragrances feel very modern, and wearable. It isn’t fair to say that they have a minimalism about them, but they do feel like everything that goes into a scent – from the packaging to the fragrance itself – is very considered and restrained. In an overcrowded market, that quiet confidence and understated chic speaks volumes. There is no “beast mode” here and the brand is so much more likeable for that.
Gallivant are a vegan and cruelty-free brand, who have given thought to their impact and sustainability. You can find out more on their ethos on their about us webpages.
Bukhara is available from the Gallivant website, where it is priced at £65 for 30ml EdP.
We received a sample of this fragrance from the brand, with no strings attached, and we thank them for their kindness.