Perfume Reviews

Neutral Reviews of Shalimar by Guerlain

Total Reviews: 20
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 had the chance to test Shalimar EDP (current version), Shalimar Souffle de Parfum and buy a 70s vintage version Shalimar, the first version of Ode à la Vanille, sur la Route de Madagascar and sur la Route du Mexique.

The current Shalimar EDP was a bit disappointing. A lot of bergamot with some cardamom and then a powdery rose (almost itchy). Then it settles down finally but doesn't give a good sillage. What's funny is that it smells different if you smell it one cm away from another spot.

Shalimar from the 70s is so much better. Both softer and spicier, with an amber, cashmere feel. You get the bergamot and the rose, but nothing is too strong.

Souffle de parfum shouldn't be compared. This is not Shalimar, don't expect Shalimar. There are some common notes, especially if you wear vintage Shalimar on the other wrist. But it's very good on its own! A wonderful floral with some spices and a gourmand dry-down. I'm happy I randomly got a sample of this and I hope I'll get a full bottle. Sillage could be better, though.

The original Ode à la Vanille opens in a very bitter way. It's balsamic. Then it goes towards a powdery bergamot. The acid vanilla comes later. It's a bit sweeter than the vintage Shalimar but quite similar in the dry down. It also has more fruit.

Sur la Route de Madagascar shares a lot of notes as well, but it's more floral than fruity. It's more animalistic. Dirtier in a very sexy way. It has more vanilla than the others as well.

Sur la Route du Mexique opens with more pepper. It's something between rhum and gin, with spices. It might have a more itchy, synthetic feel for me.

Note that the three bottles are exactly the same. You've got to keep the boxes to differentiate them.

The opening of all those Shalimar, except for souffle de parfum, is the biggest difference. The more they dry, the most similar they get.
29th April, 2017 (last edited: 01st August, 2017)
Beautifully put together, it opens with caramel and musk. Flowery notes come in after. This fragrance is /strong/. But it's a little bit of an acquired taste, and not for me. It's all at once too sweet for me, while also not leathery enough.
15th July, 2016
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I'm told that what I'm smelling here is a recent EdP.

Shalimar is usually instantly recognizable; a cavalcade of notes that somehow manage to synchronize perfectly. But versions of this scent tend to vary quite a bit, and in this particular one there’s a medicinal, metallic effect that cuts through the standard citrus to meet with a powdery vanilla, producing what I'd describe as redolent of effervescent candy. It reminds me a little bit of sherbet lemons—the same candied sweetness that walks a fine line between sour and sugary, only here the sour notes are rendered in a more industrial, disinfectant style.

What’s strange about this version, though, is that it doesn’t bear much of a connection to the Shalimar that I’m more familiar with—that civet-y, marzipan-style scent that’s top loaded with crisp citrus notes. This version is gaunt by comparison, and seems to veer more towards clinical sterility than confection. I don’t dislike it (I actually don’t like Shalimar very much, so this might even be a step-up for me), but I’m not entirely clear what its aiming for or how this version wandered so far away from the original fragrance.
28th December, 2014
On good days, this smells like vanilla-flavored smoke and leather. On bad days, it smells like bug spray.

That said, I'll always have a bottle with me, because there's a disturbing beauty to it, and as an oriental, it smells so completely different from any of the edible, dessert-like fragrances being classed in the same category today. (Not that I don't enjoy those.)

I can't say why but to me, Shalimar smells like it contains a tarry leather note. There's a deliberate "dirtiness" to it that makes it more raunchy than romantic, and I definitely need to be in the right mood to enjoy it.
15th November, 2012
i have the reformulated version from 2011....and must say its a big dissapointment...
but on the original parfume i can say its the best idea behind any female parfume, combination of citrusy-bergamot and vanilla-amber, incense notes....all the best i like, so feminine and powdery and so special, creme brulle :), and not so many parfumes that play with simmilar notes
thats what i want and thats what its worth having, but not when they put reformulations and think people who buy shalimar wont notice it? ...becasue if it smelled like this before i am sure it would not be such a popular scent, this 2011 version resembles too much to dior homme, its more of a hay and less of smoky creme brulle. but ok will survive it :)

EDIT:i could not survive it so i sold it and managed to buy EDT vintage, it smells like real icon now! its not so sharp, offensive, citrus layed over hay, but its cremme brulle, i finally get the vanilla!! which i could not findin new EDP, its like hearing a song from the mouth of a man and a robot, this is the difference for me between vintage and modern perfume, they want to speak the same words but cant reach my heart, amazing experience for me to see how these things do matter!! and reformulations are bad thing!
27th February, 2012 (last edited: 15th October, 2012)
First try with this, strong oriental vibe, loved the bergamot but it faded quickly. Liked the scent overall. I totally missed the iris, but my husband thought it smelled like "baby powder". Interesting spicy tone in a nice soft vanilla base.

I will try this one again, but kind of disappointed so far.

***Update 10/15/11***
Maybe my first trial was a stale sample, this time is much nicer! Now I pick up the iris notes as well, that's part of the powder I think. Husband likes it better this time, too.

***Update 09/25/16***
Not in love. At all. The first hour or two is interesting, then it dissolves into sugary-powder. It seriously smells like candy on my skin. Lasts all day, too. I think I'll be swapping this one...
26th August, 2011 (last edited: 26th September, 2016)
JDBIII Show all reviews
United States
Shalimar has always confused me. Two women I knew in the 1970's wore it, and it smelled quite different on each, so I never could find it's identity. Last year i purchased a brand new bottle and sprayed it on. The top notes were lovely, but the drydown was pure coumarin or some coumarin substitute. Sadly, coumarin becomes quite bitter and uncomfortable on my skin but lasts forever. I tried it a few more times with the same results. Shalimar was moved to the back of the cabinet.
Two months ago I found a mystery bottle of Guerlain for sale. It had no label but was the familiar round bottle with the crystal stopper and was quite affordable. I snatched it up and dabbed it on. The top notes had gone off but what followed was heavenly. I guessed that it might have been Shalimar, but with no label it was merely guessing. Whatever it was, it was so different from the current Shalimar.
Today I received another bottle (round bottle w/ crystal stopper) off the internet, this one with a label. Definitely Shalimar. I dabbed both bottles on my wrists, and they are identical and wonderful. Full, rich and delicious. Totally Guerlain.
So. How do I rate this perfume that smells so amazing in it's vintage incarnation and so painful in it's current state? I'm afraid it will have to be neutral for now.
16th May, 2011
This has the most beautiful dry-down of any floral oriental I've tested recently. Although chocolate isn't listed in the notes, I got a white chocolate mixed in with the vanilla and musk. It was heavenly.

But...I hated the first half an hour. I almost had to scrub. I've never liked lemony scents, and I can only rarely tolerate citrus scents in general. The opening notes of this perfume were not only very, very lemony...they were very, very strong! I applied a small amount from a vial, came downstairs, and within ten seconds (still being about ten feet away), my husband said, "Are you testing ANOTHER perfume?" He didn't want to get anywhere close to my arm to test it. I told him to be patient and give it awhile to settle! :)

So...I'm still trying to decide if I should buy it. I feel that it requires a spot, but I just don't know how often I'll wear it. I need to think about this one.


*Addendum: ended up purchasing a small bottle and only wore it 3 or 4 times, so I swapped it. Guess it didn't have a place here after all!
27th March, 2011
Not anything I could wear, but I give it a whirl to understand it and appreciate a true classic.
This is a rich, vanilla-bomb oriental. Quite languid, lovely and gracious.
Very sweet. Plummy deep bergamot notes open. Spicy oponax gives depth. Vanilla certainly is present. Eventually it comes to dominate. The dry-down is very sweet, powdery, with a touch of leather.
12th December, 2010
It took me awhile, but now that I have developed my taste for Tonka, I think I understand Shalimar. Tonka/Anise-like opening with green floral, and drying down to very warm vanilla. I liken the opening to Jicky. But Jicky lacks the spicy warmth. Where I think Shalimar would be awesome is to wear at retro themed/period piece events.

But in "modern times," ultimately I prefer Iris Taizo, Givenchy Ange ou Demon, and Opium Extrait.
05th March, 2010 (last edited: 23rd March, 2010)
The current eau de toilette opens a bit fuel-like, a bit bitter and dry, progresses to wood and then ends up smelling vintage face powder. I don't hate it but I didn't experience rapturous visions of exotic princesses or anything.
25th August, 2009
I was disappointed by Shalimar, especially as so many others praised it so highly. Maybe the formula has changed over the years?
To me this is a fairly simple perfume, slightly sweet; I detected vanilla and lanolin with maybe some orange. Something slightly off? Lanolin isn't a smell I like, and Shalimar makes me think of freshly baked vanilla cupcake aromas wafting through a barnyard.
I think most Guerlains have a hint of stinky animals woven into the formula somewhere, but usually the droppings, fur mud and straw scents, rather than territorial and reproductive smelly bits which I think make a perfume more provocative. Eeeeek!
I woludn't buy or wear Shalimar, but I will try it again if I see it elsewhere, maybe some vintage stuff is still out there somewhere and I will see why so many like it so much.
17th August, 2009
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Shalimar is too much for me, a too dense and aggressive oriental with a very strong vanilla note. Real vanilla bean, granted, not some sweet and insipid fake vanilla, but still too much of it for my taste. It's the kind of scent that could easily give me a headache and make me feel as though I'm suffocating, despite smelling "good". There's something else beside the vanilla - perhaps a sandalwood note? - that I also perceive as too dry and harsh and aggressive. I can definitely see why this is worn by a lot of men - actually it reminds me quite a lot of M7. It gets a neutral thumb because I can appreciate it in theory, though I don't feel comfortable wearing it and probably wouldn't want to sit next to someone wearing it either. Though to just quickly catch a whiff of someone wearing it might be intriguing and alluring...
24th March, 2009
Jen81 Show all reviews
United States
This is my second time trying Shalimar.

The more I try it the more I appreciate it, but there are still some elements of the perfume that still make me wrinkle my nose a little bit.

This particular fragrance has a tendency to come on very strong when first sprayed, and it's full of heady greens. The vanilla slowly makes an appearance, but it starts to get a little powdery while retaining the bite without being overly cloying like most vanillas tend to do.

I'd have to say that I start liking it the best when it finally hits the base, and there's a nice stately mix of vanilla and powder. The green is still there, but this time it's not shouting to be noticed like it does at the opening.

In conclusion, I'd say that I like this perfume but I'm not in love with it like others are. I think it might take a couple more tries for me to truly appreciate it, but I think I might come around. Quite frankly, I think I might like it a bit more if there was a bit more of vanilla at the opening instead of intense greens.
07th April, 2008
A lovely oriental that is just a touch too soft on my skin. Although I have this in my fragrance wardrobe it is only because a friend keeps giving it to me and I don't have the heart to tell him that it isn't really a favourite.

Whilst on other people this is incredibly sexy, I just wear it to bed alone. The combination of vanilla and bergamot makes it a very soothing fragrance for anyone having difficulty getting to sleep.
06th December, 2006
Shalimar has always been my best friends only scent and so I have tried over and over to like it. It smells wonderful on her, but there is some note in it that smells too heavy or smoky on me. Then Shalimar Light came out and solved that problem. So I can respect the talent that went into creating this perfume, but will stick with the Shalimar Light.
03rd October, 2006
Aiona Show all reviews
United States
My dad hates perfumes. Everytime my mom would come home from the mall, smelling of the latest scent, he would gripe about how she stank! Well, my mother was shocked when she came home smelling of Shalimar, and my dad asked her what she was wearing. He actually liked a perfume for once! My mom was amazed, and she bought some Shalimar. When they went to visit my dad's mother, my mom gave her a bottle of Shalimar, and she loved it too.

I have a feeling that the sandalwood triggers some kind of scent-memory in my dad and his mother. It might have something to do with the fact that they are from Thailand, and they burn a lot of sandalwood incense there. For me, Shalimar is just another perfume.

The opening notes smell like Vitalis to me. (Does anyone even know what Vitalis is anymore?) Vitalis is the hair grease my dad used to use. Sharp and green-smelling.

After that it smells like public bathroom freshener. Then maybe an hour later, it smells like a powdery chypre -- like baby powder. That's what it smells like on my skin, anyway.

11th September, 2006
I believe that somehow the whole perfume movement has evolved since the time where this perfume was considered groundbreaking, its seems very primitive, nothing special at all. I only tried the EDT but it left me very unimpressed (especially due to all the love it gets). kinda makes me scared to try the rest of the line for fear of similar disappointments!
25th April, 2006
I appreciate this fragrance. I realize it's the quintessential Oriental, the grandparent of all Orientals, and I understand that many people really like it, and with good reason. I can't stand it, though. I don't know what part of it I don't like, but I find it instantly repellant. Perhaps it's that it smells "old" to me (my grandmother wore it, as did my mother and probably several aunties and teachers), but I like many older perfumes so I don't think that's entirely the issue. I love the bottle, I love the whole idea of this perfume, I love the classic quality of this, but... I don't like the perfume (and yes, I've tried). I wish I could love it, but I just can't tolerate it.
23rd February, 2006