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.
WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: desert haze
THREE ADJECTIVES THAT DESCRIBE SHALIMAR EAU DE TOILETTE: soft, subtle, mysterious
- Bone Rating – Vintage Shalimar Eau de Toilette – 4 bones
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT VINTAGE SHALIMAR: Yesterday’s Perfume, Perfume Shine, Muse in Wooden Shoes
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.
September 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm
I can see Shalimar working on you. I’m rather surprised it took you that long to discover it. Better late than never. I want another version of it. I only have vintage EDC. I’m waiting for Sniffa to buy more perfume but I doubt Shalimar will be what I get there. Perhaps I’ll ask for it for Christmas. That would be easy enough for the hubband to find and it seems like such a traditional perfume gift doesn’t it?
September 22, 2014 at 9:07 pm
My dear Poodle – I always seem to behind the 8 ball when it comes to the classics. I guess as long as I discovered it finally is all that matters. In fact I’m wearing it tonight 🙂 As for Sniffa…I would tend to look for the new myself, but I have to say that my last year’s purchase of Undergreen Gold went to the hub as I think it’s was too snap of a purchase. I need to try the new Shalimar…maybe Guerlain will give us a Sniffa discount???!!! 🙂 But as a Christmas gift… I say it’s perfect!
September 23, 2014 at 5:24 am
One thing is for certain if I buy something I’m sniffing for the first time that day then I’m buying it early in the day while my sniffer is still working right.
September 23, 2014 at 10:24 pm
Oh darn, I will miss you again at Sniffa this fall, poodle 😦 I’ll just live vicariously through you…make sure Daisy behaves.
September 24, 2014 at 5:30 am
You expect me to make sure Daisy behaves? You’ve got to be kidding. 😉
Noooo! Why aren’t you going? That’s a downer. I may try to sneak back in November for a day trip when Portia is in town. Depends on a lot of planets lining up just right but I’m crossing my fingers.
September 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm
Portia is coming to NYC? How fun. You must meet, I guarantee that you’ll have a blast!
September 23, 2014 at 3:10 am
Shalimar still doesn’t work for me but if I ever come across a vintage extrait bottle for not too much money I’ll buy it – just for the bottle.
Enjoy your purchases!
September 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm
Thank you my dear 🙂
September 23, 2014 at 3:50 am
Ha, ha, ha! I can relate so very easily with what you wrote.
I still remember smelling Shalimar early in my perfumista days and thinking, OMG what is all the fuss about?!
Now, I cannot live without it. It’s one of my all time favorites. 🙂
September 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm
It’s funny how are noses change over time. I can’t imagine that I’l ever tire of this one however.
September 23, 2014 at 10:22 pm
Wow, 5 Bones! You are hooked! And the EDT got 4 stars…quite good then, too! I have vintage Shalimar somewhere and need to haul it out to try.
September 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm
Hajusuuri… I just love it when I find a new treasure that I can give 5 bones too. This meets the mark on all counts. Now I just have to give the current formula a try to see if it lives up to the vintage.
September 25, 2014 at 8:21 am
Five bones from me too! I recently received this in a swap, and it knocked my socks off – especially as I had poo-pooed Shalimar in the past (no pun intended). The day I tried it, I think I told someone it had leapt to the top spot, knocking Plus Que Jamais off its podium. Must wear it again and check how much I still love it. A lot, I imagine!
September 25, 2014 at 8:22 am
PS The vintage extrait, I mean.
September 25, 2014 at 8:51 pm
I think there is maybe something on our nature that a perfume is bigger than life and that many like it that we might think it can’t be all that good. I’m sure there’s many perfumes out there that I just haven’t given an old school try with and that I really need to. However, I recently did that with Poison and that still left me cold though!
September 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm
Took me a long time to fall in love, too. However, I now own lots of vintage Shalimar in various formations, including the extract. I find it hard to believe that there was a time when I really disliked. Actually, more like despised it.
September 25, 2014 at 8:51 pm
My dear…how are tastes evolve and change. Maybe I need to give Mitsouko another try!?