The Scented Hound

Abbreviated perfume & fragrance reviews from one man's perspective


Vintage Guerlain Vol de Nuit

When we were over to a friend’s house for dinner a couple of weeks ago, the conversation turned to perfume as their neighbor was talking about how she missed the old Opium from the 1980s.  My friend had mentioned before that she loved perfume, but since developing allergies related to fragrance years ago she had to give up wearing it…along with now having to use fragrance free detergents, soaps, etc.  She walked me up to her bedroom and said that her signature perfume was Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit.  She pulled out an old bottle that was 1/2 full, a bottle that looked to be from the 1980s.  I put a little on my wrist and it was heaven.  She took a sniff and loved it as much as I did, but immediately she could feel it overtake her throat.  I was thinking how horribly sad it was that she would never again be able to enjoy this perfume she loved so much.  She saw how much I loved the perfume so she reached to the back of her dresser and pulled out a box that contained an unopened new bottle that she has been hanging on to since the 1990s and she proceeded to give it to me.  I balked at first, but then she said that she would rather the perfume go to someone who would truly love and appreciate it as much as she did.  An incredibly lovely gesture, I was humbled and still am by this generous and thoughtful gift.  I have many perfumes, and a few vintage perfumes as well…but this perfume will always occupy a special place in my heart.

WHAT I SMELL:  Vol de Nuit opens with a warm, encompassing dried galbanum and a subdued bergamot.  The perfume is light, but it has a strange depth to it as it’s slightly spicy and lightly earthy.  The perfume tingles my skin as it begins to powder and dry with a wonderful layer of oakmoss and dried flowers.  After some time, the perfume begins to lighten to reveal a soft and tender, but earthy and lightly leathered iris.  The whole composition is extremely subdued and it wears very close to the skin, but unlike the other early 20th Century nod to aviation, Caron’s En Avion that is thickened with the dirt spattered first flights, Vol de Nuit is ultimately more romantic and dreamy.  The drydown is a slow and soft ride, but it’s the wait that’s worthwhile as the perfume glides in a hazy state of pure, but restrained bliss.

The top notes are bergamot, galbanum and petit grain; the heart reveals jasmine, daffodil and spices; the base combines earthy woods, iris, vanilla, amber and woodsy notes.

Night FlightWHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  A romantic night flight above the clouds.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE VOL DE NUIT:  positive, subdued, dreamy

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT VOL DE NUIT: Bois de Jasmin, The Non-Blonde, The Black Narcissus

BOTTOM LINE:  Vol de Nuit isn’t about the grandeur of other Guerlain classics like Shalimar and Mitsouko.  Instead, it has a quiet heart that sings softly.  If the eau de toillette is this beautiful, I can only imagine what the extrait is like.  Let the hunt begin.  Thank you Paula for letting me fly above the clouds!

  • Bone Rating:  4.5 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent:  Woody
  • Nose:  Jacques Guerlain
  • Classification: Feminine, but easily worn by a man
  • Expense: Varied.  Review based on the EdT version.


Guerlain Shalimar Souffle de Parfum

Shalimar Souffle de Parfum2I love Shalimar and the intoxicating effect is has on me; it stands out in my collection as a classic and revered masterpiece.  So when I reached down in my big bag of untested samples and saw the sample of Shalimar Souffle de Parfum I immediately thought to myself that I was going to hate it.  I admit, that I was being prejudicial prior to testing this, but the words “souffle” and “Shalimar” together had me very concerned.  Shalimar is delightfully refined and adult…I am wondering if this new flanker was mean to bring the kiddies into the big time…maybe like the perfumed Joe Camel?!



WHAT I SMELL:  Tangy lemon and then a buttered orange creme that’s surprisingly rich, lush, gourmand and inviting.  I like the fact that there’s a sweetness about the opening that is rooted in the lemon, but without a high dosage of sugar.  There’s also a wonderful shimmering hue that makes the fragrance sparkle.  After around 10 minutes the jasmine takes center stage, it’s clean and fresh and topped by the citrus.  I have to say that the fragrance thus far feels like a big chemical concoction.  However, in this case, that’s not a bad thing.  After another 5 minutes, Souffle (as I’ll call it from here out) starts to grown in projection.  There’s a creaminess that comes forward combined with vanilla that makes the perfume feel like a cross between an egg custard and a Peep.  The white musk adds a dryer sheet effect to the perfume which again, I feel like the combination of the Peeps, dryer sheets, etc. should make this a wreck.  Well, it’s not.  It’s just a flanker that is targeted to a younger audience and in that case, I would say that it works.  In the end, Souffle is a lemony tart souffle that’s bright and sunny.

From Guerlain:

inspired by a fabulous Indian love story, Jacques Guerlain created the legendary Shalimar perfume in 1925. Now, Thierry Wasser has breathed new life into this legendary perfume, taking it to the heights of sensuality.  A luminous, modern creation with notes of jasmine, vanilla and white musk.

easter-basketWHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  An Easter basket.


WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT SHALIMAR SOUFFLE DE PARFUM:  Now Smell This, Colognoisseur, The Candy Perfume Boy

BOTTOM LINE:  If you remove yourself from trying to compare this to the original Shalimar you’ll find that this is a nice light treat that’s perfect for a younger audience.  And I have to say that the name fits perfectly…this is a souffle of a perfume!

  • Bone Rating: 3.5 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Oriental Floral
  • Nose:  Thierry Wasser
  • Classification: Feminine
  • Expense:  $100 for 1.7 oz. Eau de Parfum


Oh Vintage Shalimar, How I Love Thee


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.

1920's Glamour

1920’s Glamour

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.


  • Bone Rating – Vintage Shalimar Parfum Extrait – 5 bones

vintge-guerlain-shalimar-eau-de-toiletteWHAT 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.

Desert HazeWHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  desert haze


  • 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.