A perfume Story: Review of Shalimar by Guerlain © 2016 Frankie Chocolate
(For La Bomba & Emilio )
The other day the sweetheart of Indianapolis Bomb Bradshaw whom I call Mable came up to me and gave me the sweetest little peck on the cheek (Mmwhhaaa) and said honey poo—she calls me that all the time. Sugar dumpling she says to me I’m having a few of the girls over on Friday night and the toilet bowl in the power room is just sooo nasty I think I might faint if I had to look at it again. Do ya’ll think there is any way in your busy busy schedule of folding your sox drawer, surfing the internet and those long, long, afternoon naps that you might eek out a little of your precious time and see if y’all could freshen it up just a teensy bit? I’d be forever grateful she said in her Mason-Dixon drawl. Upon my cheek and trailing after my sweet potato was the faintest scent of Shalimar.
I dove head first into that bowl and scrubbed like there was no tomorrow. Like it was the end of the world. Like I was serious and meant business.
It took six strong men, dynamite and a crane but that bowl was so clean NASA called me. They want use it as a radio telescope to send messages to deep space. Call the Pope. We need a canonization over here quick!
We’re all gifted in different ways and I like to kid myself I’m a gifted writer though lately I’m not kidding anyone else. Unlike you I’m also a little vain—but only a little. Last year I was renewing my driving license that I first got when I was twenty-three. The lady asked me had anything changed and was the information all correct.
Let’s see. Two arms? Check. Two legs? Check. Three eyes—Ha. Almost had you. Two eyes. Check. Yep. Looks like I’m all here.
Yes ma’am. Everything is correct.
I think maybe when she stepped out of the shower and onto the scale this morning she got the blues. Maybe the scale groaned out, “one at a time please,” because she gave me the fish eye and said, “You are NOT one hundred and forty pounds.
I looked right back at her with the stink eye and told her through bared teeth, “ YOU MAY NOT CHANGE THAT WEIGHT!” She sees the fire and quietly says, “Ok, a hundred and thirty pound it is.” I just lost ten pounds so it’s gonna be a good day. I’m fluffy on the outside but slim on the inside. I think it’s gonna work out. Last year I got an offer to be in the new Star Wars movie. They wanted a body double for Jabba the Hutt so I got that going for me. Now back to my giftedness.
I’m gifted as a cleaner. Michelangelo could sculpt, Adele can sing and I’m a gifted cleaner. Of course it’s not the gift I personally would have chosen. Wiz at banking, wunderkind of finance, born into money with a naturally philanthropic heart, dashingly good looks like my friend Emelio at the bank. He’s twenty-four and is so absolutely flat out tall and good looking I absolutely refuse to let my wife see him. If she saw him she would no doubt vault the counter and smooch the daylights out of him all the while yelling, “I could have had him instead of you? You’re hideous” but this might just be my imagination—maybe. It could go either way but there is a reason why we call her Bomb. Every time I see Emelio I can’t help but break out in ear-to-ear smile. He’s just beyond belief. I should tell him what I used to tell my lovely daughter August when she was a little girl. Just like your daughter she was very pretty and I didn’t want her to grow up vain so I taught her a little saying to help her be humble. “Augie God gave you your looks and he can take them away.” We’d practice it from time to time so one night I asked her to repeat what we’d learned. She was maybe three at the time and she cautiously, slowly said, “God gave me my looks and then he took them away.”
So yeah, any one of those gifts woulda been fine with me but God made
me a cleaner. I can clean up the entire house with as much effort as you
use to open the front door. Oh one more thing about Bomb. It’s not gold
watches or nice cars or perfume she loves though I buy her those things.
It’s acts of service that opens the door to her heart.
Even a perfume as lovely as Shalimar with it’s creamy opening of luscious bergamot, deeply calming heart notes of rose and jasmine or the luscious combination of vanilla, opoponax and tonka bean richly unfolding like an heirloom rose in a fresh spring morning. A combination so rich it calls to mind the superabundant heady intoxication of Amouge Gold for women, which is another lovely story for another time.
So I’m a cleaner and clean I must. I scrub the house from top to bottom and Bomb has her party and all is well. While the babes are upstairs slamming crab cakes and quaffing bubbly I’m down in the cellar swamping rats and ordering her another a bottle of Shalimar from my favorite vendor. The end. 10/10
Sharp bergamot and powder on the opening, a little soapy. Rose and jasmine full in your face, drying beautifully through amber and creamy sandalwood. Tonka, opopanax and leather underneath.
The first 20 minutes are gorgeous - I have my nose to my wrist every 60 seconds so as to not miss a turn in the development.
Although the opopanax powder is quite heady at first - I found it be an acquired taste, actually - it is soon balanced by the incense spice. Later, it settles down into that lovely soft, warm vanilla and tonka base, kept from becoming too sweet by a little leather to dry it.
Definitely a grown-up fragrance with the option of sharing - would love to smell it on a musky male, interesting with a touch deep in a beard, I think.
One of my top 5 favourite feminine fragrances and the first I ever bought blind...
What can I say about Shalimar? I think it is a milestone of perfumery. A classic. I am a Guerlain addict and I love the big 3 (L'Heure Bleue, Mitsouko and Shalimar). I always have an EDP working of those three. I love Shalimar but was first not going to wear it because I associated it with both my mother and sister who wore it. I thought it would be too much for me but it is wonderful. This dark, sweet and smoky scent is wonderful on me and can definitely be worn by a man. 3 sprays will do it; one on the chest and one in each crook of the elbow is enough. Best to apply about an hour before leaving the house as the opening is quite strong and can be alarming with the high dose of bergamot.
The beauty of Shalimar for me is the development of all the notes that come together in the final drydown.
I think that the citrus blast of bergamot with a bit of cedar in the opening leads beautifully into the heart of jasmine, iris and a deep rose scent that is unbelievably rich. The creme brulee vanilla drydown is stunningly displayed on skin for the remainder of the day and I love it at the end of the day when I take my T shirt off and can still smell the Guerlinade and perhaps a bit of civet to make it interesting and personal.
The use of oppoponax and tonka bean are pure genius and make the base absolutely unforgettable.
Everyone must try this just to sample a bit of the brilliance of Guerlain.
This seems like a refined sweeter version of the civet heavy Jicky which is my number one favorite scent of all time.
Good God, what have they done to this once beautiful perfume? This concoction is an abomination of its former self. I had an older bottle for years that I would always return to, received a new one for a present that is so different it is nearly unrecognisable. The cloyingly sickly sweet smell of vanilla off the new formulation is downright offensive, I actually had to wash it off and I have never had to do that before with perfume. What was once one of my favourite scents is now dead and buried. Don't bother buying this, just get a couple of vanilla pods and rub them around your neck, job done.
A lemony, powder-sugared confection. That is how the gourmand quality hits me. Like those little lemon cookies at Easter time covered in powdered sugar. So yeah, this is very powdery. My mom always wore the very powdery Chantilly and this is also very powdery in a similar way. If you associate powdery perfumes with mothers and grandmas, then this will be one of those.
The dry down is where Shalimar really wins me over. It settles into a warmer, more vanilla scent (yet still powdery). I can't get enough of it then. At this point, it doesn't project as much, making it more of a personal indulgence of nostalgia. Not one you're going to wear out to blast the party and club scene with.
My family is mostly show people and jazz musicians, and when I was little there were often colorful characters hanging around, HOW colorful I didn't find out until later.
One of them was an older English lady named Mae, who had a white poodle. Apparently she was the madam in a high-end brothel. Sometimes we'd go to Mae's apartment, which had the most extraordinary smell of years and years of Shalimar permeating every surface + unwashed dog. That was my first Guerlain experience. (The second was a Pekingese that smelled of Mitsouko. True - not trying to be funny.)
So it took a very long time before I could really consider Shalimar on its own merits, and even then, its skanky facet was off-putting to me, because I kept smelling unwashed dog! In retrospect, Mae's poodle may not have been that dirty, and it might have just been her vintage Shalimar. I really never thought I'd become a Shalimar person, even though I have lots of history with the other vintage Guerlain greats.
The Ode a la Vanille (Mexique) ended up being my gateway drug, because the vanilla in that version is so smoky and dense and wonderful that I could stick with it, and now I've learned to love even the skank of Shalimar proper.
I do continue to prefer that limited edition, yet I've come to own and love the EDC, as well, because that version also features a very smoky vanilla, and ends up wearing as mostly that. Plus it's often available inexpensively in the drugstore! Coming around to Shalimar has actually had a fantastic effect on my perfume spending habits, for while I still find new things that I like, when I ask myself, "but would you be likely to NOT wear Shalimar to wear this instead?" it's just a no.