Perfume Directory

Shalimar Eau de Parfum (1925)
by Guerlain

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Shalimar Eau de Parfum information

Year of Launch1925
GenderFeminine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 1314 votes)

People and companies

HouseGuerlain
PerfumerJacques Guerlain
PackagingRaymond Guerlain
Parent CompanyLVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
Parent Company at launchGuerlain

About Shalimar Eau de Parfum

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

Reviews of Shalimar Eau de Parfum

Until today I have never owned Shalimar, the pillar perfume. I've tried it, hundreds of times, always the EDP and decided it wasn't for me. I own Parfum Initial, L'Eau, Eau de Shalimar, Batwing Shalimar Cologne and the 2015 version Cologne. My favourite is Cologne 2015 and I ordered what I thought might be a replacement bottle that was headed EDT/Cologne. Yes, I thought, that's it, Shalimar Cologne 2015 at EDT strength. It was the EDT that arrived. I had factored that in as an eventuality and I sprayed it on, layered with a bit of the Batwing bottle Eau de Cologne (made for the U.S. market in the U.S.A) and it's very nice, I will use it, but I love the Cologne 2015 as it is closest to Shalimar Eau Legere (DISC) Are we all sufficiently confused now? I haven't even mentioned the Madagascar or the Mexique. There is no escape from Shalimar.
28th November, 2018
Shalimar is the crown jewel in the Guerlain catalog, the scent that came to define the house and it's use of the "Guerlinade" compound note which found its way into almost all of perfumer Jacques Guerlain's compositions, plus a great many of Jean-Paul Guerlain's as well. Shalimar was named after a garden in Lahore made for Mumtaz Mahal, the same woman for whom the Taj Mahal was also built. The creation of Shalimar was near-accidental too, as perfumer Jacques Guerlain discovered its primary accord by pouring a bottle of ethylvanillin into a bottle of Jicky (1889), the seminal fougère that was originally composed by his uncle Aimé Guerlain, building a fragrance upon another fragrance as Jacques Guerlain was known to do. Therefore like Jicky, Shalimar is technically a fougère as well, since it is built up from that fragrance's structure, but it contains a great many more oriental elements to it, and is thus often associated with the oriental category. If Jicky was the unintentional gender bender progenitor that was loved by a great many men alongside women, and Mouchoir de Monsieur (1904) the masculine-targeted shade thereof, then Shalimar is the rounder and more-luxurious advancement of that primary accord pitched to women during the roaring 20's. The scent was originally released in 1921 alongside Chanel No. 5 (1921), and proved to be the strongest competition that iconic perfume had, but went under a numerical designation just as the Chanel did until 1925, because the name "Shalimar" was being contested by another perfumer who claimed to have already used it. When known as "No. 90", the perfume made waves, but it wasn't until it's widespread 1925 release as Shalimar that the legend was born. The overall smell of Shalimar isn't much removed from Jicky, and indeed many of the great oriental and fougère-like compositions made under the hands of Jacques Guerlain share similar traits, not only because of his "fragrance upon another fragrance" crafting or the "Guerlinade" house accord he perfected, but also because it's the style he seemingly preferred. L'Heure Blue (1912), Mitsouko (1919), and Shalimar all have multiple levels of this intertextuality with each other and previous Guerlain efforts from which Jacques drew his inspiration; that was just part of of his unique creative process.

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.
19th November, 2018
I am really in two or even multiple minds on this one. Had a test spray on a strip last summer, liked it enough to spray some on me. Lovely, and not like anything else in my wardrobe. I read all the blurb, info and reviews, and added it to my birthday wish list. Hmm. Be careful what you wish for. Like a summer romance that fades once back in the real world, I wonder if I'd mixed up the scents I tried that August afternoon in Brighton. Or maybe the air is different in the South West.
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.
09th April, 2018
I think of Shalimar as the more elegant and refined version of Jicky.

It is a signature worthy fragrance that can easily be worn by men. Get it while it’s still readily available.

Only caveat, it takes time to understand and appreciate Shalimar, vintage Shalimar makes this process easier.
26th March, 2018
Shalimar is one of the most famous perfumes of French house Guerlain and one of my all time favorites. If you want to be clinical about it, the perfume was created in 1925 by Jacques Guerlain, in time when the “scent of Orient” began spreading through Western Europe. It touched everything, from fashion, art, music…to perfumes. Jacques Guerlain was experimenting with a brand new substance, synthetic vanilla (etylvanilin) and mixed it with different perfume basis. He was happy with the results but when he mixed vanilla and Jicky…magic happened. The spirit of Shalimar was freed from the bottle.

Perfume and its name haven’t stopped intriguing our senses and imagination; its effect breaks social taboos. Respectable ladies of the time shouldn’t consummate cigarettes, dance tango… and wear Shalimar. They of course did all that in secrecy. There isn’t a force strong enough to stop the passion and erotic yearning for life embodied in Shalimar, whose name in Sanskrit means “temple of love.” Legendary garden where Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal celebrated their love. After Mumtaz’s death, inconsolable emperor built Taj Mahal in honor of his favorite wife. Like Taj Mahal, Shalimar is a monument and part of perfume history. It is the first oriental perfume history knows. But that is not the most important thing…because the story of Shalimar has no beginning or end. It is a story of the essence of human desire, the sweet moments of bliss unknown to history but older than time.

It could have been created in ancient Egypt where its lush, intoxicating nature would spark forbidden love between Cleopatra and Marc Antony. Homeland of Shalimar could have been mysterious and magical Arabia because it told more than 1001 tales. I can easily imagine Madame Pompadour wearing it and knocking the entire Louis XV’s court of their feet with her beauty, charm and seductive silage. I can even see, with my inner vision, a beautiful creature inhabiting Earth thousands of years from now, smelling like Shalimar and through synthetic explosion in its highly developed brain soaking freely all the beauty of being on this planet and tasting its sensual fruits skillfully captured in a small bottle of perfume. As poet John Keats said: “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever, Its loveliness increases, it will never pass into nothingness.” If that is the case, isn’t it beautiful?
15th October, 2017 (last edited: 16th October, 2017)
Think Mae West and Sophia Loren and Rita Hayworth all rolled into one. Pure and utterly rich plushness and rounded, generous bosoms and a warm, talcum-ed girdle. The grande dame of all perfume-land and one of the few scents that I love, but cannot wear. She is truly beautiful and utterly seductive...so much so that I feel as if I am wearing a satin negligee and pink feather boa whenever I put her on. She is more of a woman than I ever could be and almost too hot to handle, so I smell her from a distance and enjoy her all the more that way.

The scent for which the term va-va-voom was invented.
01st October, 2017

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