Meaning 'Temple of Love' in Sanskrit, Shalimar is an oriental fragrance with notes of bergamot and vanilla. Jacques Guerlain was inspired to create Shalimar by the story of Indian Emperor, Shah Jahan, who created a beautiful garden (called Shalimar) to please his queen.
Shalimar Eau de Parfum fragrance notes
- bergamot, lemon, mandarin, rosemary
- iris, jasmine, rose, patchouli, vetiver
- vanilla, opoponax, tonka bean, frankincense, sandalwood, musk, civet, ambergris, leather, coumarin, peru balsam
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Latest Reviews of Shalimar Eau de Parfum
While unisex, the fragrance leans slightly feminine. It has good performance and lasts a long time on clothing, but be careful as it may stain white clothing. If you're looking for a contemporary vanilla fragrance, Diptyque's Eau Duelle or Guerlain's SDV may be better options, but this fragrance is suitable for those who are 30+.
If you enjoy the smell of Nag Champa, you will likely appreciate this fragrance. It may take some time to appreciate, but there's a reason why it has been around for a long time. Although the reviewer doesn't wear it often, they still enjoy the richness of the musky vanilla and its interplay with the citrus notes.
I have a current formulation and it blows away just about any other newer oriental release. It has stood the test of time and remains intact, near immaculate. I thank seasoned Guerlainophiles for encouraging me to go with a new bottle so that I can experience the freshest top notes, the bergamot and citrus sparkle. Also, the civet note in this is incredibly real-smelling, having worked with civet in dilution and knowing its presence and energy. The opoponax, vanilla, and incense is olfactory paradise.
In 2020, it is unisex, it is very now just as it was in 1925.. It is the legendary Shalamar EDP.
The love affair soon established, I now own a bottle of vintage (1960's) perfume and a vintage edc and know that I will always have them in my collection. IMO it's very well worthwhile hunting (and paying extra) for the vintage versions.
Tired of sampling (and scrubbing off) the vicious new reproductions of classic perfumes (bearing little or no resemblance to the original versions), I felt a nostalgia for those I remembered as a child, such as Joy de Patou, Hermès Calèche, Arpège, Givenchy III.
Shalimar has always been marketed as a women's perfume and as such I was not at all comfortable about trying it, but that reluctance soon vanished. I would agree with those who say that Shalimar is an acquired taste, but don't give up, it's really worth persevering with. I find that it's entirely wearable for a man (particularly in the evening). The compliments I receive from both men and women confirm that. Tiny drops suffice. For me, it's not an everyday perfume by any means but worn as an occasional evening treat, it's hard to beat. My advice is to let it settle for a while before going out. In a word, it's heavenly.
10/10 in all respects.
I'm glad i only got a 30 ml decant.
The only thing i remotely like about it which kinda gives it the benefit of the doubt on my skin is the opoponax note which summoned a little hope during the very "dated" development on my Generation X's skin.
Incense barely peeking in the drydown, just barely and i mean barely.
I was going to give it to my mom but then i reconsidered since this would also smell too dated on her.
"Some things are better left in time....and in time is where they belong"
What makes Shalimar stand out from all it's siblings is its plushness, its fullness, the radiance of its notes, which can be a bit much to take for some people. The scent opens with lavender, bergamot, and mandarin, but switches out Jicky's rosewood for aldehydes and herbal rosemary, which makes for the resplendence of Shalimar's opening. This change doesn't make as much difference to the overall character of the perfume as the addition of an actual heart structure to Shalimar, which Jicky sorely lacked. That scent moves from its barbershop opening into a hellish moat of animalic and heady base notes, with only a floral heart inferred by the flip-flop transition between top to bottom. Jacques Guerlain likely wasn't happy with the "presto-chango" suddenness of uncle Aimé's composition, because instead, we go down to the base notes in stages with Shalimar, more like a traditional perfume. Jasmine, rose, patchouli, and vetiver stand vividly in the heart of Shalimar more than they did in the trap door dry down of Jicky, and are joined by a poofy iris note which also replaces the orris of Jicky and helps Shalimar feel a bit more feminine, which was the aim anyway. The tell-tale vanilla note anchoring the accidental discovery that is this perfume's primary accord shows up halfway, bringing in the rest of the Jicky base with new additions of opoponax and peru basalm. Shalimar tries to be a little more polite with its use of animalics, taking musk in place of styrax, and toning down the civet and ambergris just a touch so the other heart notes of tonka, leather, sandalwood, and oakmoss can be felt. I don't get the cinnamon spice or incense notes of Jicky in Shalimar either, and the blending is much smoother, making any note separation a real reach (translation, lots of sniffing to find), which is another master stroke of Jacques himself. Taken on its own merit without comparing it to compositions with which it shares most of its notes, Shalimar is an unusual vanillic oriental fougère-like fragrance that sat right with women in the early 20th century, particularly flappers that liked it's dynamism made possible by rich semi-indolic underpinnings, lady-like aldehydic florals, and oriental smoothness. Wear time varies greatly on concentration, as Shalimar was made in many forms, but a median figure across all iterations is a solid 8 hours of moderate sillage. Something this illustrious isn't a casual wear, regardless of context, so make sure you don't glow like a diesel hot plug by your choice of Shalimar on a casual game night.
All told, Shalimar is still mostly retained by women as the matriarch of grand perfumes, with only the aforementioned Chanel No. 5 to really contest this claim, but guys can totally wear Shalimar too, as the primary accord is rather unisex, but with a slightly heavier dose of "Guerlinade" than usual pushing the smell to be uncomfortably makeup-like if you're a jock type. Still, dandies in France famously have worn Shalimar for years, and if Jicky didn't scare you, I doubt this will either. The reason for the stigma against men wearing Shalimar, like most things in the fragrance world, comes down to marketing. Guerlain had mostly given up on pitching Jicky to women even after making Mouchoir de Monsieur as a manlier substitute, but they stuck to their guns with Shalimar, keeping it in the company of Mitsouko and L'Heure Bleu as sort of the "big 3" feminines from the house, creating something of a marketing barrier. Then Jean-Paul Guerlain went off and made the chypre Habit Rouge (1965) with grandfather Jacques' "Guerlinade" in the mix, perhaps moving male interest further away from Shalimar in the process, but that hasn't stopped perfume hobbyists or open-minded guys with a bit of gender fluidity from enjoying it. Bottom line here is if you like old floral barbershop smells, vanillic orientals, and anything with a clean, plush, soapy smell up top, but a substantially musky animalic backbone, you'd enjoy Shalimar regardless of what is between your legs. Since this perfume has inspired so many others high and low, you've likely already bought something descended from it anyway and didn't know. Parfum extrait and eau de parfum are going to be the heaviest take with the most complex dry downs. More vanilla, oakmoss, sandalwood, and musk is present to my nose in the extrait, and the top fades fastest. I find folks enjoying the animalic qualities of Shalimar best suited to the eau de toilette, which seems to let the floral heart and civet in the base breath more freely, at the cost of some development. The folks who want the fougère elements to ring truest are better off with the eau de cologne, since it showcases the lavender and bergamot strongest, then crisply segues through the floral heart and lays upon a drier version of the base that sees the vanilla, civet, and leather turned down in favor of the tonka, oakmoss, and ambergris. Regardless of which version you get, they're all thumbs up from me. Shalimar is a pièce de résistance solidifying Guerlain as one of the greatest perfume houses of all time, and you know I rarely speak in such lofty terms.
This smells gorgeous on the dry down, but the couple of hours to get there? A heavy traffic journey in an overheated car with a fractious under- 4 screaming "are we there yet?" Way too intense.
I have to be really careful not to apply more than 2 sprays, or I get burning eyes, instant head ache and can barely breathe. Aldehydes? But my skin always absorbs fragrance very fast, so I have to apply at least 4 sprays to get it to last over two hours. Ok; so a smart exit from the bathroom away from the fog of choking scent, and the first strikingly good and weird stuff starts happening within 10 minutes. A huge burst of cut lemons right next to a smoking wood fire, without any blending of the two. They are absolutely distinct in a way I've not experienced in any other scent. So good, yet so scary. This perfume is taking no prisoners. Something dirty-sexy bleeds through about half an hour later, it's very animalic at this point, bordering on the unpleasant, and I hate it. This feels far too strong to be on me at all, and definitely not out in public, but by then, I'm leaving the house, so too late to back out.
However,....I can't stop sniffing my arms. After an hour the lemons and smoke and dirt have come together to make a truce, and an uneasy peace is agreed. Some days the ceasefire holds and I love wearing this,it's earthy, smoked-lemony and gorgeous. Some days though there are nasty skirmishes and the smell remains over-strong, unblended, raw and industrial.
Some fragrances can only be worn when I am in the right mood for them,(such as Cliquat de Lancome or Ivoire de Balmain), and that always works. The problem I have with Shalimar, is that I can't guess whether its going to be a day of war or peace- the scent reaction to my skin seems to be completely out of my control. Mood doesn't affect her. Overall a bit of a loose cannon. When she was good, she was very, very good; and when she was bad, she was horrid.