Oh Shalimar, where do I even begin? 🙂 It’s taken me a few years of wearing to get acquainted with and comfortable enough, to even dare spout off an opinion about this icon of a fragrance.
First off, I LOVE the story of Shalimar. It’s such an epic fairytale love story. If you are not familar with the story, look up the history and story behind the Taj Mahal.
This is a vintage classic that is luckily still in production. Created by Jacques Guerlain in 1925 Shalimar was a tribute to the love between the Queen of India, Empress Mumtaz Mahal and Emperor Shah Jahan. Shalimar was the quintessential Flapper’s “signature fragrance” back in its heyday. It’s also considered the first Oriental perfume, which are frags based around vanilla and it’s loaded thick with vanilla, with a thick leathery base of civet. To say the least, it’s a huge powerhouse in any concentration and definitely not for noses that cannot tolerate real musk smells, esp civet.
Like many of the older Guerlain classics, I got off to a rough start with Shalimar. As mentioned in my other vintage classics reviews, My into yo perfumes came in the late 80s/early 90s with the sweet fruity, soapy clean, acquatic floral bomb types. Shalimar is not a squeaky clean, Americanized type of perfume. In fact, it is the epitome of a classic French perfume, with the sweet notes balanced over the ‘dirty’ animalic notes. In the case of Shalimar, it’s Vanilla over Civet.
I own Shalimar in three concentrations: EdC, EdP, and Parfum/Extrait. I also own two flankers as of now which are the Soufflé and Parfum Initial, which will both get their own reviews at some point.
I prefer the edc concentration in general, as Shalimar can overtake and dominate easily. I live in a warm climate with very short, light winters, so I reserve the parfum for the colder season, and the EdC for the hottest months when I need my Shalimar fix. Parfum during the summer could easily choke a room lol. Which is why I do not wear this perfume to work lol. It can easily be offensive since it is such a powerhouse of a perfume. But if you do, I suggest a light hand when applying. Plus, I think it’s very sexy and seductive so, for me, this is something I wear evenings out on the weekend or at home when I want to enjoy it just for myself.
Shalimar isn’t a youthful girly perfume. Actually, I can’t really see anyone under 30 wearing it. It’s too sexy and but not in a Victorias Secret kind of way. More like a ‘Mata Hari’s bottomless dance of seduction’ kind of way. It’s very mature. It’s also very unisex and smells great on men too. Regardless of who puts this on or how old they may be, one thing is for certain: this perfume requires confidence to wear.
The top starts out very citrusy, bergamot and lemon, but quickly settles into the sweet spiced vanilla it’s famous for, with a hint of rose, iris, and patchouli peeking out, and it’s a sillage beast. The dry down base, which will cost you several hours of wait time to get to, is very gentle, cozy, powdery, soft leather, incense, and vanilla. Devine! I can smell it on my scarf for days after spraying so the longetivity is excellent, maybe even more than you bargain for.
I have come to adore Shalimar. Although I don’t wear it very often, I get cravings to wear it and must have it.
I think out of my entire wardrobe, this perfume is one of the most dear to my heart and most treasured. The fact that it was created by a true artist with a vision and inspiration, without restrictions, without market approval panels, or LVMH bottom lines.
I love the gorgeous bottle inspired by the palm trees and water fountains of the Shalimar gardens. I love the fairytale story, the history, the artistry, and the heart that went into this masterpiece. This perfume has a story of its own and mystery. I feel grateful that it’s not locked away somewhere in a vault, inaccessible, in a perfume museum in France like many other very old historical perfumes, that were discontinued ages ago.
To me, Shalimar is so much more than just a bottle of liquid. It’s a piece of history, a work of art, a fragrant glimpse into a different era, and I feel very lucky that I have the ability to own and experience it for myself.
Season: Any season is a good season for Shalimar (mind your concentrations) but some folks seem to think it performs best Winter/Fall 😉
Top notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin Orange, Cedar, Citruses
Heart notes: Iris, Patchouli, Vetiver, Jasmin, Rose
Base notes: Leather, Vanilla, Incense, Civet, Sandlewood, Opoponax, Tonka, Musk