Oh Shalimar, where do I even begin? 🙂 It’s taken me almost 2 years of wear to get acquainted with and comfortable enough, to even dare spout an opinion about this icon of a fragrance.
First off, I LOVE the story of Shalimar. It really IS an epic fairytale and love story. If you are not familar with the story, (have you been living under a rock? ;-p lol) Google the history and story behind the Taj Mahal.
Shalimar, a vintage classic still in production, was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1925 as a tribute to the love between the Queen of India, Empress Mumtaz Mahal and Emperor Shah Jahan. The quintessential Flapper’s signature fragrance back in its heyday, it is a thick, leathery, vanilla syrup of an Oriental fragrance and one not for the timid or faint of heart.
I admit, like many of the old Guerlain classics, I got off to a rough start with Shalimar. As mentioned in my other vintage classics reviews, I got my start with perfumes in the 90’s, with 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 in good time.
I prefer the EdP 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.
I do not wear this perfume in professional settings either. 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 at all. Actually, I can’t really see anyone under 30 wearing it. It’s too sexy and lustful but not in a Victorias Secret kind of way. More like a ‘Mata Hari’s bottomless dance of seduction’ kind of way. 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 perfumes are, 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, even honored, 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