Shalimar Perfume Initial

I may need to run for cover.

This would have been better posted as a review but Shalimar Perfume Initial has not been listed yet (or I can't find it), and I just can't hold my wheesht.

In my opinion Shalimar Perfume Initial is a very carefully thought out new interpretation of Shalimar which has been made with respect to the original Shalimar and to Guerlain generally. There I have said it.

I think that we sometimes have to remind ourselves that new interpretations of classics are not made to please perfume critics. They are made to capture new customers. The critics and purists can go smell the original or vintage versions. But if we want Guerlain and Chanel to continue to make these old dames we will have to hope that they can come up with some new kids on the block as well to swell their customer base. It has been said recently that these big houses are aware that their customer group will die of old age eventually. Less and less Guerlain counters are stocking Jicky. The reason for that is simple. Less and less people are buying it. They can order it , but that means that no one can discover it, just come across it, when browsing.

I think that we need to give these new issues a fair chance. If they are succesful and they create new interest, all the better for all of us.

Can I first say something about the bottle and the launch generally. I don't normally care a great deal about bottles but a lot of people do, and know that the whole product is important. But if I have to say something about this bottle, I will say that I think that it is stunning. There has been a lot of comment about the perfume being pink. No. Tommy Hilfiger Loud is pink. The new Shalimar is a muted salmon pink. The cap and trim are a soft dusty blue. The overall effect is lovely, classical but modern, again carfully considered I think. Eyecatching without being vulgar. Clearly respectful to the original design. The packaging and even the sample cards carry this quality through. I would hope that any younger person would be delighted to have and to handle this.

I got stuck in a long traffic jam with this fragrance on a paper spill. You know I hadn't gone out of my way to sample it. Maybe I have been influenced by the generally negative comments, or more likely by other recent new releases, (not necessarily Guerlain) which haven't exactly set the heather on fire. But I ended up with a good dose sprayed on a spill, and was I glad? This is really lovely. To a layperson (to me) mainly a Bergamot/Iris/Vanilla accord which Guerlains own blurb "ambery floral notes", doesn't do justice. It is not totally easy to start with, good for them. It is Shalimar from the outset, albeit Shalimars younger sister. It is lighter, less complex, as younger sisters should be. As it developed I was surprised and delighted to notice that perhaps twenty minutes in I was reminded of another relation, Jicky. No really. Cleaner, lighter but the DNA is there. Overall I was impressed at just how respectful this new interpretation is. No it is not the iconic standard of the original, of course it is not. But it is more sophisticated than most new releases, and in fact I wonder if it is just a bit too classical for a very young customer. A customer who has been trained towards simpler, fruitier, easier compositions. It is not completely innocent, there is a slight whiff of the risque about it. I have sent a sample to my nieces aged thirteen and fourteen and I am really interested to hear what they say. They are perhaps the customers that Guerlain would want to capture for life.

Where Shalimar Perfume Initial is perhaps dissapointing is in the drydown, and of course this will be where Guerlain devotees will feel most let down I think. To me it smells like a fairly generic fruity vanilla, not very Guerlainesque, and certainly not nearly as enjoyable as the opening or the lovely mid development.

Strangely I think that I got the best of this by smelling it for the first time on paper, and I can honestly say that it is the only time that I have actually enjoyed being stuck in traffic!!

Can I come out now?

Blog Comments


Well-known member
Feb 8, 2009
Yes, Foustie, you've got my interest too. I'll have to round up samples of Jicky, original Sharlimar and Shalimar Perfume Initial. I haven't see Shalimar Perfume Initial here yet, but maybe I just have to look harder.

And I agree completely that new fragrances and new customers enable us to keep access to the classics.


Well-known member
Sep 10, 2008
I really enjoyed this review! I agree that "ambery floral" doesn't capture it at all. Sometimes the more authentic or classic Guerlains are just too much for me. The many new gourmand Elixirs and A&Ms are often just too much of a good thing. Parfum Initial strikes just the right chord--nodding to the classics, but with a serious update.

I agree that the first stage its the best.

I get lots of iris, too.

I"m reminded of new formulation Jicky somehwere in the first 30 minutes.


Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2010
Thank You so much for your kind comments. We have obviously "read" this fragrance in the same way. I have to confess that I don't like the original Shalimar, although I do have some (not vintage), so maybe that left me more open to enjoying this one. Also I really enjoy Iris. I love the way that you describe SPI as strking the right chord - nodding to the classics but with a serious update. I think that is what I was trying to say. I think we should give Mr Wasser due respect for that!


Well-known member
May 18, 2011
Nice review Foustie. I'm also not a fan of the powderbomb Shalimar, and am a big proponent of Jicky. SI does feel like Jicky at times, which makes me surprised this juice is being marketed to younger women. It feels deep and sophisticated to my nose. I get sour cream along with the bergamot, vanilla and iris. Very curious to try the l'Eau version. This is the only "feminine" I want in my wardrobe, if that says anything.

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