Friday, December 3, 2010

Shalimar Guerlain. No perfume review

Disturbing things about Shalimar:
  • I shall start with: there was already so much said about Shalimar that is little left. I won't. Because it was not said so much about Shalimar. Google it and you will see. Of course, many comments on, (where you find over 340 reviews and it is given 3.8 points. Vera Wang Princess has also 3.8 points but over 530 reviews). What you find is thousands of referrals like 'it reminds me of Shalimar'. It is not so much we know about Shalimar: the story of Garden of Shalimar (Temple of Love) in Lahore. The story of Vanillin that Jacques Guerlain dropped in Jicky. Most interesting the fact that it was launched at the Decorative Arts Exhibition as an antidote against The Great Depression. Here we could start a talk about the history and what Shalimar meant in its times and how it continued. But you don't find anything about it.
  • I learnt little about how people received Shalimar, what was the impact on the moment and in the following years. Shalimar is a shock now. There must have been an outrage then. Or not? Roja Dove says something about not lady like Shalimar. But as much as I know about ladies at those times there were many who wanted exactly to break with the limits.
  • It was always a little bell in my head saying 'You don't review Shalimar, darling'. As you don't give your phone number to the charming guy after the first meeting. You just don't, it's not chic and not proper. So almost nobody does it. Even Luca Turin does it in so general terms that you won't get any picture from it.
  • I keep thinking for long that I should wear some fantastic new scent, some sophisticated intriguing one, that my children will say one day that their mother was wearing that x perfume that almost nobody did at that time because was so daring. I want so much to find that perfume. How will it sound my kids say their mother wore Shalimar? That is what the grandmother and the grand-grandmother used. Of course, it's ok to admire Shalimar but wear it. Luca Turin says should be worn between comas and with humour. Lost are days when Shalimar was for femme fatale. Hey, may be 20 years ago. Today, Shalimar is such a weirdo, much weird then all experimental niche perfumes. It smells so out of place, smells like nothings else. You go and try it. Try first some of new perfumes and then go to Shalimar. What the hell is that? comments: (1 point)
´It smells ridiculous, old, obnoxious, offensive, foul... 
(4 points go to Jessica Simpson Fancy)
'for the first couple hours I smelt like I had rubbed petrol on myself. Its a pungent smelling scent, like men's cologne but even worse, like leather and petrol mixed. '
(5 points go to Hugo Boss Baldesarini Ambre)
'I too have tried to like it but it really is unsophisticated and cigar like. I was stupid to give into the sexy commercials and hype. Oh well you'd think I'd have learned by now. There's so many other scents to try that are new and beautiful.'
(5 points for both Curious and Midnight Fantasies of Britney Spears)
' the most OVERPOWERING, ATROCIOUS, and OBNOXIOUS scent that you can ever imagine.'
(5 points go to J.Lo. Miami Glow)
  • Shalimar = Vanilla (they say Jacques Guerlain thought vanilla is a powerful aphrodisiac) What vanilla? I don't know any vanilla like that. And because it's vanilla that means sweet. May be their vanilla, the vanilla that you find in thousands perfumes, that juicy syrupy stuff. (actually somebody on a forum asks: where is vanilla?) Vanilla in Shalimar is not sweet, it's dark and smoky. They say Jacques Guerlain used an impure vanillin. In the end, very late you have some powdery feeling, but it is not necessary the vanilla, may be some musk and some tonka with vanilla. I don't buy the story with vanilla and sweet. You go and smell it.
  • Nobody smells Shalimar anymore. Nobody smells it for the first time and wonder what it is about. Like nobody really watches Eiffel Tower. You look at Eiffel Tower and you see the image that you saw in so many pictures and there is no chance you really see it. You smell Shalimar and you smell the info in your head, vanilla, oriental, brunettes etc. And taking that, did they really hope that Natalia Vodianova face will appeal to young people and they will start buying it instead of last Paris Hilton? What is the relationship between her face and Shalimar?
  • Everybody talks rather about Shalimar Light\Eau de Shalimar. Officialy it is called a modernized and weaker version of Shalimar. Shalimar Light should be called Shalimar Heavy. Lovely, great, but it is full of all prejudices of contemporary about Shalimar, lots of juicy lemon, lots of sweet vanilla. Put them side by side, Shalimar will be salty and heavy compared to Shalimar Light (let's say for now Eau de Shalimar is undecided but still something else). They are just different stories. Shalimar is not heavy, never was, it is dark and thick but odd enough has astringent sides which keep the darkness fresh.
  • Who buys Shalimar? It is a big seller, for sure. I can see men going to buy them for their wives or secret lovers (yes, for some reasons most of the men love it), young men buying it for their big love because their mother smelled like that, old ladies buying their 50th bottle of Shalimar (though daily they secretly use Angel), or young strange girls (who wear also Bvlgary Black) and go back to the library. Who else?
There is mountain of snow outside and it's very very cold. Not a drop left of Shalimar (I keep my vintages for trying sake). Busy days, fighting with slow traffic, advent days, and all I can take as a perfume is Shalimar. Panic, I need Shalimar. In the shop the cute girl tries to get me in everything else, including Idylle, she loves it. She wants to spritz my wrist, I step back in the last second. Buy Shalimar. She offers me some samples, I want Bas de Soie, she moves her nose with disgust. Pour Shalimar over my wrists and scarf. Outside big Christmas Fair. At –10 Celsius degree Shalimar smells of smoky leather. I know Shalimar in and out but still strikes me as the strangest perfume ever. And I know it, nobody smells like me.


  1. Were those stars given to perfumes you listed from the same people who said bad things about Shalimar? Just goes to prove how much they know about perfume. :) I'm becoming a perfume snob.
    It took me a long time to finally get (as in understand and love) Shalimar and now I bemoan the fact that it's been reformulated. I wish I knew what it smelled like originally. Or 20 years ago.

  2. Ines,
    So happy to learn about a Shalimar lover. There are many who admire it, few to wear it. I find irresitible in very cold weather.
    It was fascinating to see the bad reviews of Shalimar, it's like some people can't find enough bad words to express how much they dislike Shalimar. To me that says a lot about how special it is. Nothing wrong with being a perfume snob, we have our nose.
    I would die to know how original Shalimar smelled like. They say it was reformulated few times. So difficult to find out which vintage is closer to original. Elena at says that parfum de toilette version is the closer to original. I love it, too, but I can't use too much since I have little.
    Thank you for stopping by.

  3. People who talk badly about Shalimar and other classic perfumes usually want to smell like a fruit fart or cotton candy. I don't want to smell like a woman who hasn't grown up.