Random musings on Guerlain Shalimar

Guerlain Shalimar advert 1Guerlain Shalimar advert 2

What follows is not, properly speaking, a review of Guerlain's Shalimar. Shalimar is so iconic that there isn't much to be said on the subject that hasn't already been said, and the only reason I'm writing about it today is that I'm planning to talk about the newest member of the Shalimar family, Eau de Shalimar, tomorrow, and my inner perfume geek insists that I can't talk about Eau de Shalimar without at least mentioning its parent first.

The oft-told story about Shalimar is that perfumer Jacques Guerlain was messing around with ethyl vanillin, a then-new synthetic vanilla, and he poured some into a bottle of Jicky to see what would happen. Apocryphal or not, the anecdote neatly connects the dots between the dawn of modern perfumery with Jicky in 1889 and the classic fragrances of the 1920s and 1930s.

Purists will insist that to appreciate the classic Guerlains, you must try them in Parfum. I wouldn't insist that you must prefer the Parfums (heathen that I am, I prefer Jicky in Eau de Toilette), but I would certainly say that it is worth the effort and expense to obtain even a few drops of the Parfum in Jicky, Shalimar, Mitsouko, L'Heure Bleue. With Shalimar in particular, you might prefer the lesser concentrations, but I don't think they'll tell you what the fuss is all about. Shalimar in extrait is, simply put, one of the glories of French perfumery. The base is rich, smoky and animalic; it smells mysterious and sophisticated, and frankly, dirty, almost indecently so. It hails from an era before fresh-from-the-shower became everyone's notion of sexy; Shalimar is sexy precisely because it smells unclean.

In the Eau de Parfum, the contrast between the brightness of the bergamot and the warmth of the base is still there, but it is less pronounced, and much of the richness is lost. Worn next to each other, the Parfum very nearly pulsates on the skin; the Eau de Parfum smells comparatively flat. The corollary to that is that modern consumers might find the Eau de Parfum considerably easier to wear, and perhaps the Eau de Toilette (which I have not tried) easier still.

Do I love Shalimar? That is a hard question to answer. One of my favorite paintings in the world is Whistler's White Girl (and don't ask me why, I've no idea). When I lived in Washington, D.C., I used to go visit it regularly at the National Gallery, but that doesn't mean I'd like to have it hanging in my living room. So it goes with Shalimar. It smells gorgeous to me, and I love to put on a few drops of the Parfum from time to time, but it doesn't fit me — Shalimar wears me rather than the other way around. According to John Oakes, "if you're not sophisticated, witty, seductive and incurably romantic, forget the fireworks of Shalimar" (The New Book of Perfumes, p. 243), and perhaps that explains everything.

As I've nothing original to say about Shalimar, I'll leave you with two of my favorite quotes on the subject. First, Roja Dove:

It has an extraordinary round and sensual base, but nearly no heart. It is so sensual that it goes perilously close to the edge of good taste. What makes it magical is the way in which Jacques Guerlain counterpointed it. That's something few other perfumers have managed to do with the oriental accord. Counterpointing is the ability to balance the rough with the smooth, the rich with the light and fresh. When you make a perfume as sensual and rich as Shalimar, you have to find a way to balance it, so that you don't end up feeling that it is just too much. (quoted in Michael Edwards' Perfume Legends, p. 56)

And from Luca Turin:

[...] Unlike modern perfumes eager to make a good first impression, Shalimar is an intricate machine designed to project an olfactory effect remote in both time and space. It does not smell "good" in the strict sense for at least half an hour after being put on skin. It also often feels rather strange up close, while radiating a quietly melodious aura. But just as we patiently sit through an overture in anticipation of the aria at the end of the first act, we rightly expect Shalimar to come on-song in an hour's time, and to be better appreciated from the stalls than the stage. How does Guerlain achieve this? A century of practice and two or three perfumer geniuses along the way certainly help, but there is another, more earthbound reason: Guerlain's raw materials are of a different order than the stuff that merely mortal firms can get their hands on. Their vanilla absolute is sensational, their civet tincture is unique, and they have the sort of know-how that makes great cuisine more than the sum of its parts. (quoted by Chandler Burr)

More information: Guerlain Shalimar was introduced in 1925 and the notes include bergamot, lemon, rose, jasmine, patchouli, opoponax, vetiver, civet, musk, vanilla, iris and tonka bean. It was named for the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore (and you could find worse ways to waste an hour than clicking through a search on Shalimar at Flickr). While I think of Shalimar as the quintessential French perfume, according to Susan Irvine, Shalimar "at first, found more success in America where its potency was appreciated" (The Perfume Guide, p. 139).

Tomorrow: Eau de Shalimar & Shalimar Light

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Very nice Shalimar round-up, Robin.

    Shalimar is one of those fragrances I like to have around, even though I don't wear it incredibly often. It's my “safe” perfume, especially in the EDT concentration, which is rather soft, powdery, and a little sweet.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks :-)

    Curious if you can comment on how the EdT compares to the EdP?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Shalimar (only the extrait) being discontinued one day would be the biggest thinkable perfume catastrophe – for me, that is.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The thing I find with Shalimar is that it's so easy to identify that it's also easy to say, “Oh, it's Shalimar” and then stop paying attention to the real depth of the scent. It's like listening to Beethovan's fifth, or something like that, where you know the basic tune well enough that your brain files it away as “heard that, been there” and doesn't appreciate the fullness of it.
    I'm definitely wearing Shalimar today.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I entirely agree — even though it is hardly a signature scent of mine, it is unthinkable to imagine it ceasing to exist.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Oh, so true! Which concentration do you prefer, A? I really meant to get my hands on the EdT before writing this, but didn't manage it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, well, to my nose, the EDP is much richer and holds on to that smoky leather note for longer. I bought my bottle of the EDT a couple of years ago at the Guerlain flagship store, so I'm determined to use it up, but if I'd have known better, I'd have shelled out for at least the EDP.

    I've never smelled the extrait. Next time I get to a Guerlain counter, I will have to!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I remember when I visited the National Gallery a few years back. I entered a room, rounded a corner, and was stopped in my tracks by the White Girl. Thanks for bringing this back to remembrance.

    Regarding Shalimar: love it. Curious to see how the new formulation works. I wonder why Guerlain felt the need to do 3 versions of “lite”. I'll probably stick with the parfum.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The extrait is really just fantastic — even if you end up liking the EdP better for everyday wear, the extrait is an experience. Smokier, dirtier than the EdP.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I seriously don't know why I feel such a strong connection to that painting, but I do. Last time I was there (some time ago) it wasn't even on display for some reason, and I was quite upset.

    And on the 3 versions: I wonder too!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I like the parfum best. I haven't tried the EdT for years–I used to have a bottle when I was in my early 20s, but in those tender years it was too hard for me to wear. I found a half ounce bottle of the parfum in an antique store a few months ago, and I've been loving it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn't mind having it hanging in my living room. It's absolutely lovely.

    As for Shalimar, much too much vanilla. Can't abide it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is one that I tried to like, but I kind of find it hard to do so.
    I though the smell directly from the bottle was pleasant, but when I put it on my skin it didn't smell as nice. When I had it on it left a very harsh, acrid, powdery scent on my skin. Not a good scent for me, personally.
    I've smelled it on others before, and it does smell nice on them. Just wish it could do the same for me =0[
    I will agree though that it's such a classic that it's hard to think of it being discontinued.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I should have known you'd not only have the extrait, but in vintage, and purchased at a decent price, no doubt. You ARE looking for some vintage Diorissimo for me, right, LOL?

  15. Anonymous says:

    HA — if forced, I'm sure I'd find some suitable place to hang it in my house ;-)

  16. Anonymous says:

    If you don't like the base note, Shalimar Light/Eau de Shalimar might be perfect for you…more on which tomorrow!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a great, useful post on an oft-discussed topic, R. Without saying anything totally new – and nobody could do that with Shalimar, as you say! – it seems original. I've never read a post about Shalimar that makes me think “Yes! That's how I feel!” in such a way before. I just put on the EdP and Parfum and am thinking “Sunningly wonderful!” but I almost never do wear the non-diet version. I can't say why, but it just doesn't suit me. Or do I just not wear it because it seems so obvious? I would hate for that to be the case. My favourite perfumes are the counterpoint/chord ones, perfumes that contrast creamy and raspy, bright and rich, and I love bergamot, smoke, civet and vanilla – so why don't I connect to Shalimar? At least I am not alone…

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thank you E. It is a funny thing — I feel like I do, on some level anyway, “love” Shalimar. I've written here many times about my long term efforts to come to terms w/ Mitsouko — on some intellectual level, I know it's a masterpiece, but it doesn't smell *good* to me. Shalimar smells more than good, as you say, it is stunningly wonderful. But yes, I don't “connect” to it. You could be right about the “so obvious”, I don't know — I don't have that same problem with Diorissimo, which is almost as obvious at this point (?)

  19. Anonymous says:

    Being a relative perfume newby, I love discovering the classics. But Shalimar (from the testers I've tried) smells like powder and gasoline on me. And I used to work with someone who wore it and smelled great; you just never know about skin chemistry. I actually own a bottle of the vintage spray cologne I picked up at an antique mall, still shrink wrapped from 1967 (according to the box), but I've yet to open and try it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    As we know, the first Shalimar Light was by Mathilde Laurent and the second was a tweaked version by Jean Paul Guerlain. Now the new “Eau” is a limited edition intended to recruit new customers to be aware of the iconic original. In a perfume world of so many launches, I think it brings renewed attention to the name and success of the old classic. Of course, if Eau de Shalimar is really popular, it just might stop being a limited edtion. While completely appreciating Shalimar for its legendary place in “perfumedom”, its not for me. However, the new version IS!

  21. Anonymous says:

    LOL at “powder and gasoline”! But for the love of perfume, OPEN THAT 1967 PACKAGE!!! And send it to me if you hate it ;-)

  22. Anonymous says:

    You can have the Eau de Shalimar, I'll take the Shalimar ;-)

  23. Anonymous says:

    It *is* funny. Love it too, just don't wear it. I try to redeem myself my using my Habit Rouge. :)

  24. Anonymous says:

    I think I would like “powder and gasoline” (I love the smell of gasoline), but on me, Shalimar edt smells like pepto-bismol. I have not tried the other formulations.

  25. Anonymous says:

    And I redeem myself with my beloved Apres L'Ondee, I guess!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Oh me too, Apres is my fave. But I guess I think of Habit Rouge as the masculine equivalent to Shalimar.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Shalimar extrait is nothing less than breathtaking. It's like a set of 22 karat Indian gold jewelry, translated into perfume.

    And yet, I find it rather difficult to wear. There's a musky note somewhere in there that does not quite agree with me. L'Heure Bleue (it took me three years to really appreciate this one! ) is my favorite among Guerlain's big classic heavy-hitters.

    I love that vintage ad, by the way!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Ack, pepto-bismol!! Agree, I'd rather have powder & gasoline.

  29. Anonymous says:

    It is seriously musky-animalic. It can't approach vintage Jicky parfum for roughness, but still.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Now I feel that I need to hunt down at least the EdP – I was so nonplussed by my lemon-marmalade-and-vanilla-ice-cream Shalimar experience. I'm going to Amsterdam this weekend, does anyone here know of any good perfume places there?

  31. Anonymous says:

    A slightly OT, but similar, question: has anyone compared the three concentrations of Habit Rouge: EdP, EdT, and EdC? And who even sells the EdP?

  32. Anonymous says:

    I just *discovered* Shalimar a couple of years ago. I have no history with it, like older female relatives and the scent that remained on their fur coats kind of thing, but I loved it instantly. I remember smelling the tester and thinking, *where has this been all my life?* Truly not making that up. I just put on a couple of drops of my vintage parfum and yes, it's mesmerizing. I have it in the edt & edp, too, but the parfum is by far the best.

  33. Anonymous says:

    There are a few listed here, although don't know how up-to-date the listing is:


  34. Anonymous says:

    I will be no help at all on that score, sorry — hope someone else will chime in.

    Your best bet for any hard-to-find Guerlain is usually Bergdorf Goodman in NYC.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Rosarita, are the EdT & EdP pretty much the same other than strength?

  36. Anonymous says:

    I find the extrait more subtle. It is deeper and richer than the EdP and EdT, but stays closer to the skin; it melds with it. Personally I can't wear any other concentration of Shalimar because they make me stand in the middle of a cloud of fragrance. The perfume doesn't.

  37. Anonymous says:


  38. Anonymous says:

    The edt feels *thinner*, but I actually prefer the scent more than the edp. I love the opoponax the most, the way it bounces off the lemon/ vanilla, and I get this particular scent more in the parfum & edt. The edp brings out more sweet vanilla and tonka bean, imo, and that's not my especially favorite part of Shalimar.

    YNMV :).

  39. Anonymous says:

    I was given an ounce of the Eau de Cologne a while ago. I tried it, hated it, and it's in the back of my scent drawer right now. Is it even worth my taking it out and trying again or should I wait until I can try a better concentration?

  40. Anonymous says:

    You're on, Hon. I'll definitely try the stuff & if I hate it, it's yours!

  41. Anonymous says:

    De-lurking to finally declare my undying love for Now Smell This! Been under the perfume spell only a few months, and this blog has been my guide. I thank you tremendously! (My husband, and our credit card, on the other hand…)

    I've just tried Jicky EDT today, and am in love! I have more samples of the classic Guerlains to go through, but no Shalimar. My question is: I see this at my local Fred Meyer (grocery store), and I'm tempted to buy a small bottle, but will it be the same? I'm sure it will, and maybe it's just the perfume snob in me developing already, but I hesitate to have my first Shalimar experience be colored by a “inferior” version. Thoughts?

  42. Anonymous says:

    Perfect description.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Interesting — will have to get some EdT and try it out. The EdP seems flat to me — if they amped up the lemony opening in the EdT, I might really like it.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Undeserved, but thanks anyway ;-)

  45. Anonymous says:

    Gosh, I don't know. On the one hand, it is always worth re-trying something after a few months — some of my favorites are things I did not like on the first or even the second try. On the other hand, you know, sometimes you just don't like something.

    If you're seriously interested in perfume as a “pursuit” or a “hobby” or whatever, then yes, I think you ought to at least try the parfum.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the kind words!

    Yes, I promise, it will be the same thing, really. In fact, if you can find it cheaper than at Fred Meyer, take advantage of it. I buy from online discounters whenever I can. (I would, however, avoid street vendors — some (maybe most) of them really are selling fakes).

  47. Anonymous says:

    L'heure Bleue (and I prefer the parfum) is everything I love about Shalimar but it stops before the part I can't quite resolve to my senses. It stops before the dirty part. So, I guess I don't like dirty. Wow! What does that say about me? Totally boring….must work on this.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Puleeze…nobody is going to accuse L'Heure Bleue of being dull & pedestrian, are they? I'm not, anyway. As far as I'm concerned, if you can find one classic Guerlain to adore, you're in. Whatever that means, LOL…

  49. Anonymous says:

    Indeed. The day they discontinue Shalimar I`m giving up perfumes and start knitting.

  50. Anonymous says:

    My dad bought me a small bottle of Shalimar for my 14th birthday. My mother was furious that he gave such a sophisticated scent to a teen. While it is undeniably smoldering and sensual (I assume that’s why Mother objected), it will forever be associated in my mind with my dad, who I lost 3 years later. It’s been **35** years since I received that gift, and I haven’t worn Shalimar in a couple years. But when I’m feeling nostalgic for those times, I can picture the purple velvet box and the small elegant bottle, and recall that beautiful envelope of scent, that initial sharpness mellowing to a gorgeous, smooth, dense fragrance. I can’t tell you how many bottles I’ve gone through, both the perfume oil and the EDT. However, my last visit with this perfume left me disappointed; it just doesn’t obscure all other proximate scents as well as I remember. But that doesn’t diminish its place, or importance, in my memories.

  51. Anonymous says:

    I can't knit, but I'm sure I'll find something else to do ;-)

  52. Anonymous says:

    What a lovely story, thanks for posting.

  53. Anonymous says:

    I own only the EdT and haven't had the privilege of trying either EdP or Extrait. But on me the EdT is pretty dirty – no harmless, gooey, warm vanilla, this one. Vanilla of the jungle translated to big city jungles – high heels, sharp teeth, no morals to speak of, but innate elegance and beauty. More dangerous than I am, but as dangerous as I'd sometimes like to be. On my friend Ursula, however, this is warm, elegant, well-bred. I prefer the pointy teeth and twitching, furry tail of mine.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Perfect description for me too — “more dangerous than I am”, and would also go for “no morals to speak of”.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, I'll definitely hunt it down at some point. I just wondered if the cologne would even give me an idea of what the parfum/edp/edt were like.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Neitther can I. ;) And I hear that buying yarn is almost as spendy as perfumes.

    So I`d have to think of something else. Hopefully I won`t have to.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Oh yes, it would give you a perfectly good idea. I'd just say that it is quite possible to not care for the EdT and/or the EdP but to adore the parfum — or vice versa.

  58. Anonymous says:

    So true — nice yarn is outrageously spendy. My girlfriend who is a serious knitter has more yarn than I have perfume, maybe. I'll have to think of a cheaper hobby. LOL — macrame??

  59. Anonymous says:

    UPDATE: I opened and tried it and it's…actually quite nice. The powder and gasoline I get from the modern Shalimar is harsh and sharp. This vintage cologne, though, is smooth and rich smelling. A bit of (nice) gasoline in the opening and then a rich lemony vanilla drydown, with some other notes I can't identify. I'm beginning to see what all the fuss is about. And I'm going back to that anitque mall!

  60. Anonymous says:

    Oh how wonderful!! Good for you, it's probably far superior to what they're making today.

  61. Anonymous says:

    I have loved Shalimar since the first time I smelled it, but I can't wear it. I always smell somehow much older. I am waiting for the day (not so very far away now) when I am old enough to not feel old when I wear it.

  62. Anonymous says:

    LOL — that day isn't far off for me either!

  63. Anonymous says:

    I'm not sure what this means, but I'm 19 and I wear Shalimar (the original parfum) maybe once a week and always get compliments on it. My father had given it to my mother because it's his favorite (his mother wore it) but she didn't like it and had take to putting dabs of it on our dog after washing her. (It weirded me out too.) I traded her Bulgari Blanc, which I had bought and immediately regretted for the Shalimar and I like to wear it when I go out at night. It makes me feel sexy and full of possibility for the future. I was actually really surprised when I saw all the discussion of it being for old people.

  64. Anonymous says:

    I think it means you have great taste!

  65. Anonymous says:

    You're lucky! I was about your age when I first discovered it but my body chemistry has never done it justice. My scents at that age were Chanel No. 5, Jontue, and Tatiana, 2 of which I don't think you can get anymore.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Found a sample of the Eau de toilette in my dresser drawer. Not at all what I tend to go for. I probably (definitely) would have described it as “old lady” before finding this site and reading like mad in the past few days.
    The first whiff was extremely sweet and vanilla scented, unpleasantly so. Then it turned spicy, but I couldn't identify anything specific. I put it on my skin then to see how it would change, and it became very powdery pretty much right away. At this point, it's settled down to something that basically smells like baby powder with a heavy vanilla and light cinnamon. Or I could say it's mostly baby powder, but with a cinnamon bun sort of nuance.

  67. Anonymous says:

    If you still hate it, put it away for 6 months and try it again — perhaps it will grow on you.

  68. Anonymous says:

    I didn't hate it now that I am paying more attention to these things. I find it is often the case that something I would have hated because I dismissed it too quickly in the past is often actually kind of cool. I should have been more clear that, though I would have called it “old lady” a little bit ago, I wouldn't now.

    It makes me feel (and I gather that this impression is really weird for any sort of Shalimar) that I should be wearing a baby doll dress and wearing petal pink blush. It makes me feel like a doll.

    I've seen people here talk about perfume that wears them versus the other way around, and that's how this seems to me right now.

  69. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it usually wears me too :-)

  70. Anonymous says:

    Robin, I couldn't agree with you more on the dirty sexiness of Shalimar. As I am beginning my journey into the fragrance world, I naturally headed for the “classics”. Many of my female friends who are my age or younger (I'm 29) resist this fragrance, citing it's “old lady” quality. Their loss! Ah, the ignorance! Shalimar certainly brings into highlight the difference between perfumery today versus the early part of the last century. Times have changed, but there's a reason these beauties hang around.
    Being a man, I wear Shalimar myself. I think it's precisely because of the “dirtiness” of it that makes me feel I can pull it off. That, and I'm a bit of a rebel and am not afraid to cross that gender line. But, I think it's because these perfumes come from a different time and so can be worn in a new way. I can also relate to Oakes' comment you cited, so maybe that's why I must have Shalimar!
    Shalimar to me is one of the shrines of luxury and makes me realize every time I smell it that perfumery is an art. Wearing it I feel absolutely a part of that world of high value, and I am reminded of what it's like to be priceless- long live Aphrodite!

  71. Anonymous says:

    Agree entirely on the “their loss” — but will be interesting to see what's in favor 20 years from now, when Shalimar will have literally no associations in the minds of the young because the generation that wore it is entirely gone.

  72. Anonymous says:

    I tried this in extrait recently and have been converted (I think!). It's interesting reading this discussion as I have had a similar reaction to Shalimar over the years – something about the animalic, very smoky, skanky quality of the perfume disturbed me. Plus, I cannot wear this in EdT or EdP, although EdP is my favourite concentration for Mitsouko. This is a perfume which has to be rich to the max, I think. More diluted concentrations are tinny and shrill on my skin.

    I kept going back to it and that's a testament to how intriguing it is – it does work for me in extrait, but it is all about the dry-down, with its rich, smoky, animalic quality. The top notes I find, quite frankly, frightening.

  73. Anonymous says:

    I think I prefer the extrait first, then the first incarnation of Shalimar Light — the EdP just doesn't do it for me either. It's a shame they aren't still making the Shalimar Light.

  74. Anonymous says:

    I hadn't even thought to try this in extrait- thanks for the idea! Those dry down notes sound right up my alley.

  75. Anonymous says:

    I've never actually tried the light version, although I'd be interested to do so. Does it differ considerably from the original or it is literally just less heavy? It gets an approving write-up in LT and TS The Guide, as I recall.

  76. Anonymous says:

    Really is well worth trying in extrait – it really is a completely different beast.

  77. Anonymous says:

    No, it's quite different — not like an EdT version, more like a modern version. But very enjoyable!

  78. obsernity says:

    I’ve tried the EdP and find it a heavenly sweet garden of intoxication. Is this were fragrances like Angel got their inspiration?
    Now I can understand why Sigourney Weaver wanted her Shalimar so quickly to seduce Harrison Ford in Working Girl :)

  79. parfumliefhebber says:

    Ofcourse, again I have a question. Shalimar was one of my first “serious” fragrances. I have been wearing it happily for years. I do not know whether it was EdP or EdT. I now found on Ebay a small bottle of Vintage Parfum Extrait (never used). Is it worth a try? Do you know, Robin, when Shalimar has been reformulated? Thank you so much for the info.

    • Robin says:

      It’s been reformulated more than once, and no, don’t know the dates. But a well-stored bottle of extrait would be lovely!

  80. RedKitten says:

    Shalimar is one of the perfumes that I’m trying in my quest to find a proper, womanly scent. I just put it on about two minutes ago, and so far, I think we might have a winner. I also tried Fracas, but am not used to such a flowery scent. But this? The spicy warmth? Yes, I think this is something I could wear.

  81. RedKitten says:

    Okay, it’s been 20 minutes since I dabbed a bit of Shalimar on each wrist, and I’m in my husband’s bathrobe, wearing a ponytail, and feeding my infant some pablum with banana mashed in. I have spitup on one shoulder. But yet…I feel glamorous! Is that weird, or is this perfume that powerful?

    • Robin says:

      It’s a pretty darned glamorous perfume!

    • dee says:

      Earlier today I said to my husband, “I like wearing a black-velvet-gown perfume with hiking boots.” I was–and am–wearing the parfum.

      Shalimar is so exquisite it seems to lift you up above life’s circumstances. I love that even spitup can’t ruin the mood!

  82. Laurel says:

    I’ve been haunting the macy’s fragrance counter every day in an attempt to ‘live’ with Shalimar EDP. I broke down and ordered it today; Tomorrow, after searching my PC coupons for the current one, a dribble of the extrait(?). I’m hoping that I don’t love the good stuff, as I’m not sure I can afford it!

    It is different each time I sniff, I get an odd combination of powder and taudry sex in varying amounts.

    I wonder how summer heat will treat it?

    • Robin says:

      Oh, I’m afraid you will love the extrait then. It’s lovely. But possibly not as wearable on a daily basis, so perhaps you’ll be happier with the EdP.

  83. Laurel says:

    For the price of the extrait, I hope it’s NOT wearable on a daily basis!

    (I should tell you thank you, too, as your review leading to Eau de Shalimar pointed me to Shalimar and opened up a whole new world to me-turns out there really are nice perfumes out there that aren’t noxiously sweet!)

    • Robin says:

      VERY happy to have turned you on to Shalimar :-)

  84. Owen says:

    I’ve never smelled shalimar or indeed any Guerlain fragrance I don’t think. and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen shalimar in stores unless I subconciously glanced passed it.

    • Robin says:

      Neiman Marcus & Saks both have a decent (but not at all comprehensive) Guerlain selection. Sephora carries a few also, including Shalimar.

    • Owen says:

      I found the eau de toilette in a perfume shop in Tenerife
      and I can tell you, it’s not that great. I think it’s supposed to smell like a classic but it has a really weird twist. I never thought I’d own shalimar, I’ve just always wanted to know what it smelled like (I don’t like it) so I won’t be buying any :)

      • Robin says:

        Now you know!

      • Owen says:

        aha yes :) have you seen the new bottle design by Jade Jagger?
        I think it’s only available at Harrods (for now) .

        • Robin says:

          Yes, we’ve already posted pictures. A few stores in the US have it as well.

        • Owen says:

          I thought you might have lol

          I’ve been reading some comments on this. and I’ve been trying to find a word to describe shalimar and the only word for it is DIRTY. I don’t smell any clean notes vanilla, jasmine, rose or patchouli.

          but there is something kind of spicy and dark, is that tonka bean? this really is a weird scent, I don’t smell any sexiness in it either. I like the bottle though.

          I can see why it’s appealing and I can see why a lot of people think it nice. it smells like a classic fragrance (well I guess it is). it smells to me like Guerlain’s version of Chanel No5.

          • Robin says:

            It is dirty. Most of the iconic perfumes from that era were dirty, and that is what people found sexy.

  85. pauliestarr86 says:

    I always think of my moms warm hugs when i smell shalimar she always had this fragrance on her vanity always next to jicky and champ elysees.

  86. OVincze says:

    Unfortunately I have been unable to test the other classics from Guerlain and that makes me sad as I have a feeling I would love them. I do love Shalimar because it has the deep and dirty base that lacks in most modern perfume and I love civet as a note, it gives fumes that dirty, animalic, very sensual feel that I am in love with; anymore I almost inclined to only buy fumes that include civet:)))

  87. Gold.Wolf says:

    Ah Shalimar, the signature perfume that has never quite been replaced in my heart (and on my coats) and that I find myself going back to. Nothing quite impresses like this perfume, and on me it has this dirty/sexy animal pelt smell mixed in with the warmth of the vanilla; I’m nearly positive my husband fell for me because of this perfume. However, in modern times there have been so many flankers, reformulations and changes that I find myself needing to go online to a trusted Etsy seller and asking him to hunt me down yet another bottle of early 30’s Shalimar in a Baccarat decanter. Anyone who loves this scent seriously needs to find a way to budget in some true vintage Shalimar, if you think you love it now; wait until you smell what it used to be like.
    Does anyone else get angry when they see Shalimar being messed with, or dubbed as ‘old lady’ by the youth of today? When I saw that newest Shalimar Parfum Initial, I nearly gagged at the sheer fact they changed the colour of the juice from that warm rosewood sexiness, to some fluffy blushed out pink. I’m in my 20’s and the lady who was attempting to sell me a bottle couldn’t have been much older than me, she sprays it on my wrist without asking and declares; “Is that not the dirtiest, spiciest and sexiest smelling perfume ever?!”
    Needless to say, I walked away scrubbing my wrist with an alcohol pad, and she stayed in the store totally offended that I love and stand by the original “for old people” Shalimar.
    Such a shame, I loved how you guys put it; messing with Shalimar is like messing with the Mona Lisa.

  88. sweetgrass says:

    I got a few sample vials of the EDP from ebay in the mail today, and I don’t know if it’s just the current formulation or what, but I don’t get anything particularly animalic in this. I’m finding myself disappointed in how not-dirty this is on my skin. The top notes are really weird on me..it starts out with a burst of lemon, but then quickly turns very chemical. Not quite gasoline, as a couple of others mentioned, but kind of going that way. After about the first 10 minutes or so, the chemical thing goes away, but then I’m left with something that is evocative of baby wipes. It was one of the scent memories that I couldn’t place at first, but I was getting a picture in the back of my head of my mom changing a baby’s diaper, and then it hit me that it’s the wipes I’m thinking of.

    I narrowly missed getting a bottle of vintage extrait on ebay over the weekend, and I think I still want to smell it just to see how the older formulation compares, to see if I get the dirt I was looking for in the samples I have.

  89. sweetgrass says:

    Update: After about 4 hours, I think I can officially say that the baby wipe death march is over.

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