Before moving on from yesterday’s discussion of Guerlain Shalimar to its newest offspring, Eau de Shalimar, it is worth taking a moment to consider how Shalimar fares in today’s youth-oriented perfume market:
I thought it smelled very “old lady” and not in a good way.
I get the vision of a bleached blond in mommy jeans who doesnt feel she is worth a nice fragrance.
On my skin, this stuff smells like musty old women.
I don’t smell vanilla, I smell a sour, old-fashioned scent that is a bit putrid.
I love fine french perfumes but this stuff is the essence of old age.
Speaking from my lofty position as a perfumista and a bleached blond in mommy jeans…no, seriously, I’m not quoting those remarks1 in order to elicit an onslaught of holier-than-thou perfumista scorn, but simply to acknowledge the truth: to women raised on Clinique Happy and Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue and whatnot, Shalimar might reasonably be compared to, as another reviewer so delicately put it, vomit.
Shalimar Eau Légère / Shalimar Light was, so far as I know, the first attempt by Guerlain to update Shalimar for the modern consumer. It was developed by perfumer Mathilde Laurent and launched in 2003 in very tight distribution. It became more widely available (and arrived in the US) in 2004, and after that, things get a little confusing. At some point, either in 2004 or in 2005, Guerlain apparently tinkered with the formula, and while I’ve smelled both versions, I’ve never smelled them together, and the two decants I’ve got on hand at the moment are probably4 both from the later, post-tinkered-with version. Many people felt the original, pre-tinkered-with Eau Légère was the better of the two, but I can’t comment on that — for a comparison, see Victoria’s review at Bois de Jasmin.
While hard-liners might scoff at the very notion of cleaning up Shalimar to appeal to modern tastes, even my possibly lesser-version is pretty charming stuff. The bergamot opening is more fluffy and candied (comparisons to lemon frosting are right on target) than Shalimar’s, and the base is far less skanky. The smoke is pretty much gone, and the whole thing is brighter — Shalimar Eau Légère is lively, rather than sexy-mysterious — but the basic structure of Shalimar is still there (ok, somewhat there), and more to the point, it smells pretty darned good. Like it or not, it’s a far sight easier to wear than Shalimar in extrait, and personally I find it more appealing than the Shalimar Eau de Parfum.
And so, on to Eau de Shalimar. The question about Eau de Shalimar is simply: why? Did Shalimar Eau Légère / Light not sell? Mind you, Eau de Shalimar isn’t massively different from Shalimar Light (if you’re not obsessed with such matters, you might not notice any difference at all2), but it’s a bit more “clean and fresh” in the opening and a bit more pallid in the base. It’s still a pleasant enough scent, but the change, however minor, inches the juice that much closer to the sort of thing you could reasonably use to scent those pre-moistened towelettes3 used to clean your fingers after eating ribs. This is not your mother’s Shalimar, indeed. What I would love is a Shalimar Eau Légère Extrême (HA!): a bit more bergamot and a bit less lime-y 7Up fresh stuff in the opening, a teensy little dash more skank and smoke in the base.
Guerlain Eau de Shalimar is available in 50 ml Eau de Toilette spray; the notes include lime, bergamot, orange, rose, jasmine, iris and vanilla.
1. The remarks are from the Productville reviews at MakeupAlley, and I should point out that the positive reviews for Shalimar there far outweigh the negative. Shalimar’s 3.8 Productville rating (out of 5) might not accurately reflect Shalimar’s widely acknowledged position as one of the greatest perfumes of all time, but nor is it dismal. And I can only assume that Shalimar still sells, otherwise, it would no doubt have been discontinued.
2. And in case anyone wasn’t reading carefully above, I’m not 100% sure which version of Shalimar Light I have. It is possible that Eau de Shalimar is the same as the more recent version of Shalimar Light. If anyone has smelled Eau de Shalimar and post-tinkered-with Shalimar Light and can comment on the distinction, please do!
3. And here I must link away to the Modern Moist Towelette Collecting website. Who knew?
4. Update: as of this moment, it appears that the decant I used to describe Shalimar Light above was probably the original, pre-tinkered-with version. That makes the whole post even more confusing than it already was, but you know, Shalimar Light is no longer in production so the whole issue is moot for most people.