I have no idea how it happened, but somehow in the past I dismissed Guerlain’s Shalimar. Maybe because I smelled it on a blotter and it just didn’t do anything for me, or maybe it’s because I smelled it at the same time I had just taken a whiff of Mitsouko (too medicinal for my tastes), but for some reason no love was registered on my part. So a few weeks back I was in a small antique store in Fredericksburg, Virginia and lo and behold they had a selection of perfumes, mostly minis and mostly made up of Liz Taylor White Diamonds and the like. But there in the case were 2 bottles of unopened vintage Shalimar Eau de Toilettes in the gold box (just as in the pic below). They were marked at $12.00 a piece with a 20% discount (the original CVS sticker on the box stated $35.00… I hadn’t realized they even sold Guerlain at CVS!). At that price what did I have to lose. So I purchased one of the bottles and as soon as we got in the car I opened the box, sprayed liberally (and practically choked my husband out of the car) and that’s when it happened; magic. Shalimar cast her spell over me and I haven’t looked back since. So spurred by this magic spell I had to go even further. A few days later I got on eBay to find myself a bottle of parfum extrait and once again….though completely different from the EdT, Shalimar Parfum Extrait cast her spell. Love is such a beautiful thing.
WHAT I SMELL – Parfum Extrait: The perfume opens with a big and bright citrus and bergamot. The citrus is directly from the peel, big, bold and full. There’s nothing sharp, but the opening is bright, uplifting and dynamic. The infused florals are slightly heady and beautifully warm. It’s big and full and proper, but slightly naughty. It’s like the most luxurious silken pillow that you’ve ever rested your head on. After around 45 minutes an incense in combination with the bite of the civet make their way in. What was bright and bursting with energy now turns more vampish…constrained vampishness, but you know it’s there. As it continues to develop there’s a darkened sensuality that pulses from the heart of the perfume, the incense is so subdued and there’s a hint of leather that smells like a well oiled and rubbed baseball mitt. It’s stays in this phase for some time until hours later when the fragrance begins to dry and it becomes a warm vanilla dream. Oh Shalimar, you’re glamorous, earthy, rounded and just plain gorgeous!
Top notes: bergamot, lemon, mandarin, rosewood
Heart notes: rose, jasmine, orris, vetiver, patchouli
Basenotes: opoponax, vanilla, civet, Peru balsam, benzoin, coumarin (tonka bean), leather
WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: 1920’s glamour. Created in 1925 by Jacques Guerlain, the fragrance perfectly fits the era, the glamour and the intersection of the Victorian moral scrossing with the newly modern and daring women of the day.
THREE ADJECTIVES THAT DESCRIBE SHALIMAR PARFUM EXTRAIT: knowing, vibrant, seductive
- Bone Rating – Vintage Shalimar Parfum Extrait – 5 bones
WHAT I SMELL – Eau de Toilette: Shalimar EdT opens with a cool citrus that quickly becomes spicy and slightly peppery. From the way the perfume smells I expect it to be heavy, but it’s not as it’s much more radiant and ethereal. The citrus carries on nicely without any bite and the floral tinged amber is embedded with an incense that is as light as can be. It really is bewitching. The fragrance maintains this light and airy incense, but after around the 45 minute mark in comes a light and sweetened creaminess (but yet is still rather dry…its almost a contradiction) that’s like a kitten’s purr. It stays in this creamy dream for a good long time. Finally, after hours, in the end you’re left with a dried light vanilla that’s soft, pretty with just a hint of mystery.
THREE ADJECTIVES THAT DESCRIBE SHALIMAR EAU DE TOILETTE: soft, subtle, mysterious
- Bone Rating – Vintage Shalimar Eau de Toilette – 4 bones
BOTTOM LINE: Of the two versions, the parfum extrait is my favorite, it’s just so lush and seductive. The EdT is perfect for wearing everyday, in fact, my bottle after a few weeks is already 1/4 drained. I guess the lesson here is never to poo-poo a perfume just because it didn’t do anything for you on a blotter. There is obviously a reason that Shalimar has lasted for so many years…it’s because it’s incredible and somehow I feel it was created just for me.