Positive Reviews of Shalimar by Guerlain

    Find out more about Shalimar by Guerlain in the Basenotes Fragrance Directory


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    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Genre: Oriental

    I don’t have much to add to the discussion where this classic is concerned. All I care to do is draw attention to the brilliant treatment of opopanax. Much has been said regarding the unique quality of Guerlain’s vanilla, displayed most prominently in Shalimar and Jicky, but for me the enigmatic, spicy-sweet, resinous quality of opopanax is equally responsible for Shalimar’s allure. The interplay of vanilla and opopanax established in Shalimar’s base notes still resonates in compositions as recent as Diptyque’s Eau Lente and Nicolaï’s Maharadjah, but I have yet to experience an interpretation that trumps the original’s exquisite balance. I wonder if it’s even possible to fully comprehend the oriental fragrance genre without becoming familiar with Guerlain’s enduring paragon.

    03 July, 2014

    ClaireV's avatar

    Ireland Ireland

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    Ah, the ur-Oriental. Sitting down to write a review of Shalimar kind of feels like looking up at the top of Mount Everest and wondering how the hell even to begin the ascent. It seems to cover (in one single bottle) a lot of the themes and notes people go looking for in separate perfumes - you want vanilla, it's the textbook example, you want smoke and incense, well you got that too, you want amber, it is the mother of all modern ambers, you want animalics and leather, ditto. If you also happen to be the type of person who is interested in freaky notes, like baby diaper, burning tires, tar, and slightly rancid butter, then, why yes, Shalimar also has you covered.

    It's not an easy perfume to love right off the bat. Don't get me wrong, Shalimar is easy to love, but the actual falling in love bit is not immediate. It took me ten days of wearing it before I could even tolerate it, let alone love it, but I got there and in end, it clicked for me, and that was it. Pure love. The everlasting kind. Whenever I see someone saying, oh I just don't get Shalimar, or oh Shalimar hates my skin, you know what I am thinking? You're just not trying hard enough. Put your back into it. If you can't commit a week or ten days out of your life to understanding Shalimar, then not only are you cheating yourself out of experiencing one of the best perfumes ever made, you are also missing the opportunity to "get" most orientals that came after Shalimar.

    For, once you unlock Shalimar, you start to see that Serge Lutens' Ambre Sultan is just a snapshot of a portion of Shalimar (principally the amber and herbes de provence) blown up 150% and turned sideways. Etro's Shaal Nur is an abbreviated essay on the incense and opoponax in Shalimar. Mono di Orio's excellent Vanille is a modern take on the woodsy vanilla of Shalimar. You can spot echoes of Shalimar in Chypre Palatin (vanilla and animalics), Fate Woman (bergamot and powder) and Bulgari Black (vanilla, rubber, smoke). Whether perfumers are aware of it or not, most of today's grand orientals refer at least in part back to the ur-Mother Oriental herself.

    Forgive my wittering on. For all of that, Shalimar smells absolutely wonderful, grand, lush, smoky, sexy, comforting, and warm. The opening, as I've mentioned, is jarring to the nth degree, especially if you're not used to it. I don't know whether it's the particularly stinky grade of Bergamot that Guerlain use, or the way it clashes with the vanilla, but the top notes smell curdled and rancid, like when you pour lemonade into cream. The vanilla itself smells tarry and burned, like rubber tires piled high and set on fire. Somehow, somewhere underneath all of that, there appears a slightly horrifying note of soiled diapers, or at least baby powder that has been caked into the creases of a baby's bottom. It smells sort of unclean, and is pungent enough to singe your nose hairs off.

    Here's the odd thing - after you get used to Shalimar, you start to actively crave the weird opening. When you begin to go "Mmmmmmm" rather than holding your breath, this is a sign that you've crossed the line. Welcome! It's like a Shibboleth for hard-core fans of Shalimar - we're all over here at the other side of the line, and everyone else is pressing their noses to the glass, shaking their heads and saying, "I think you have Stockholm Syndrome"

    After the "horrific" first half hour (for which you may want to refrain from sniffing your wrists if you are smelling it for the first time), it is an easy ride from there on in. Sweet, smoky vanilla poured on top of a long, golden, powdery amber, with accents of leather, smoking resins, and animalic musks. It has this neat trick of smelling comforting/familiar and yet ultra-sexual at the same time. It lasts all day and, in my humble opinion, is just fantastic in whatever concentration and vintage you wear. Yes, the vintage parfum is the deepest and smokiest, but we can't always be wearing that (for reasons of finances as well as time and place), so it's good to know that Shalimar is still recognizably the same Shalimar in the weakest EDC as it is in the parfum - thinner, yes, but still, you wouldn't mistake her for anybody else. For me, it is true love, and a top five perfume forever. It is like my second skin.

    10th June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Rich, somptuous, baroque chypre masterpiece. There's pretty everything in it, a comprehensive symphony or perfumery basics. Splendid talcum-powdered drydown, gentle as a lady asleep. Not much to chat about this!

    10/10

    04 April, 2014 (Last Edited: 26 April, 2014)

    ladreed's avatar



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    Love the history.....love Guerlain....don't love or even like Shalimar. Instead of smelling sultry and seductive, I smell like an old ashtray. The smoky notes just overwhelm on me.

    10th February, 2014

    prosperonline's avatar

    Brazil Brazil

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    As many others have already said, shalimar is a classic, perhaps the most classic of them all, and equaly a work od a genius perfumer. For me is smells more msculine than feminine, what is no surprise after Prada pour Homme Intense, Eau Sauvage Parfum, Burberry Brti for Men, Tom ford noir and many scents in the same oriental veil. Shalimar seems a blueprint for so many scents we all know and that's why I cannot perceive Shalimar as dated, old fashion and even less, praise God, old lady-grandma-ish. No need to go through the notes, it has been done very well indeed by some Basenoters. I just think everybody really keen on fragrances should try Shalimar. It is beautiful, it is an art form, it is perfection. I feel very fortunate to own an EDP bottle of this relic and yet so present, uptodate scent that is Guerlain Shalimar.

    16 January, 2014

    danieq's avatar

    United States United States

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    Shalimar is a scent I'd been avoiding. Somehow, it had 'old lady' tones in my mind. However, I've been progressing in my journey, I've discarded the idea that a scent fits with a particular age group. Yes, some scents are classic and have been worn for many years by people and so you may know an older woman whose been wearing Shalimar for 5 decades, however, that doesn't define the character of the scent.

    In the case of Shalimar, it's been around for so long because it is that good. I've been wearing the current EDT with great pleasure. It's a scent that envelopes me like a fur coat, in fact, a bit like fur that remains on the leather which has been sueded and worn soft. This scent is warm, familiar and full of smooth vanilla laden leather. I recently acquired a bottle of the vintage EdC and find that it is creamier still. It's got the typical feel of Guerlain, a powdery feel, but I don't feel like that is as strong as in some of the Guerlains, it is more creamy than powdery to my nose.

    This is a wonderful scent for most any occasion, though I suspect it will perform less well in a hot and humid climiate. It is a powerful scent to my nose, not something that the wall-flower would want and I believe a man could easily wear it as well.

    02 January, 2014

    Captain's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    It's a classic fragrance that is so complex, creamy and gorgeous, I just cannot get enough. The fly spray comments are ridiculous.

    Fresh burst of citrus at first which dries down to a powdery vanilla and sexy leather. It's to die for I think I can safely say this is my signature, I've loved it since I was very young but it hasn't always been my favourite. It's taken time to fully appreciate this scent. Once you test other fragrances, nothing beats Shalimar. If you want gourmand you have vanilla, if you love freshness you have the citrus, if you like powder there's the iris. If you want to be a bit dirty, there's the leather. It's full rounded perfection. <3

    06 December, 2013 (Last Edited: 21st May, 2014)

    tempest moon's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Typical example of a fragrance that you need to let grow on you before you can fully appreciate it! Fist time I tried this... a very strong, very dirty, almost bitter vanillic leather aroma hit me and I found it quite pungent and almost overbearing. But after a few days, and other applications... I really had to agree with everyone here in that this is quite an elegantly made, beautifully blended, sophisticated fragrance, and I can see why many call this a masterpiece. There is not much more to add to what others have said, but I would say to first time users please give it a few tries on your skin and leave it the time it needs to fully appreciate it. Trust me, if you do this you will be rewarded, but be patient and you will see why so many people call this a masterpiece.

    21st November, 2013

    reinhard5490's avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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    Superb

    to be honest, I buy Shalimar only for the gorgeous bottle at first. I dont sniff it, just get this pretty flacon. how bad Guerlain could be?

    real badass. the opening is not my favourite part (at fact, the least. its rather offensive), but the rest, especially the dry down is something to die for. the vanilla and incense is really prominent (but the seller said, "its woody spicy". never trust a seller women. especially when they already tried to sell a BOSS Bottled) usually I detest vetiver, but on this one its controlled beautifully, ended with strong Vanilla that just perfect. it have strong projection and stays for really long time. the bad side is, like most Guerlain is on the banal opening. if you survived the first minutes, a very beautiful scent awaits you

    Pros: projection, longevity
    Cons: opening"

    20th October, 2013

    's avatar



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    It really has grown on me

    the other sitting in a meting I was distracted by a whiff of the most delicious perfume, I surreptitiously sniffed the people within distance and none of them had warm woody tones with a hint of spice. As my head dropped to my chest to retrieve my pad I realized to my surprise that it was me. I would never have guessed applying Shalimar in the morning inhaling the burst of powdery vanilla and rather sweet fruit that what would remain through the day would be be a lovely spicy base with a hint of rose. I love the combination of sandalwood patchouli and jasmine and rose, though some notes are fainter than others. I wear it because of what it becomes and for how long it lasts, if I could change it I would add more strong green patchouli and maybe a hint more of rose.

    Pros: it gets better as the day wears on
    Cons: first whiff is deadly sweet"

    14 October, 2013

    ScentFan's avatar

    United States United States

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    Great in bottle, less so on skin

    My bottle of vintage Shalimar arrived today and when I removed the stopper, an absolutely heavenly and complex aroma of florals and woods and citrus filled my nose. Yet when I put it on, I smelled ... well, like an old lady. Just because I AM one doesn't mean I have to smell like it! I'll try it again, but so far I'm not sure I'll be wearing this grande dame, happy though I am to own her.

    Pros: Luxurious
    Cons: A familiar scent to many"

    04 October, 2013

    's avatar



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    Shalimar eau de parfum reformulation

    After finding out that my idol Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite wore Guerlain's Shalimar I immediatly bought a bottle I was just 14 back then in 1993.

    it was a gorgeous warm powdery kind of a heavy perfume I loved the vanilla and the exotique feel of it,

    it became my signature perfume for quite some time.

    Now 20 years later I bought a bottle of eau de parfum and i still like it but i do smell that it is not what it used to be

    I've been reading up on some reviews here on Basenotes and at Bois de jasmin's blog finding out it was reformulated i still like it but thers something missing.

    the reformulation seems to be milder and doesnt stay with me aslong as the 1990's Shalimar I once knew did.

    I love Guerlain for its history and perfume know how and tradition its my favorite house but i feel robbed.

    It is still gorgeous and really really beautifull but this is not the old Shalimar I knew

    20th July, 2013

    reventonrage's avatar



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    Pour Homme

    Shalimar is a perfume associated mostly with women from an older generation, so as a young man, 20 years of age, I perhaps can offer a more unique perspective of one of the jewels of the House of Guerlain.

    Let's quickly look at the key notes found in Shalimar:

    Top: Mandarin orange, Cedar, Bergamot, Lemon

    Heart: Iris, Patchouli, Jasmine, Vetiver, Rose

    Base: Leather (?), Sandalwood, Opoponax, Musk, Civet or Civetone (?), Vanilla, Tonka bean

    First off, you might be sick of hearing this, but, like all Guerlain perfumes, Shalimar is a deeply personal thing. This is because Shalimar is definitely not your typical woody/oriental perfume. A quick glance at the notes makes this more obvious. Cedar, typically a heart or base note, is used as a top note, and this gives a distinctive woodiness right off the bat. Vetiver and patchouli, which are now typically used as base notes. These help to cut the citrusy scents of the top notes and brings a bit of balance and, more importantly, complexity into the perfume. In the base notes, civet or civetone (the synthetic alternative to the natural ingredient, now banned for ethical reasons) brings a strong animalistic scent to the perfume.

    Next, my initial introduction to Shalimar was when my grandmother used it. To me, it was the epitome of sensuality and luxury. It has amazing projection and longevity, and merely a few drops of the perfume would last the rest of the day.

    Finally, I am using Shalimar because it works well on me. For reasons unknown to me, when Shalimar touches my skin, the top notes go off quite quickly, only lingering as time passes. In contrast, the musky and powdery base notes project very well, with the dominate notes being vanilla and tonka bean. This leaves a powdery and, almost, creme brulee-ish scent on me.

    Pros: Excellent projection and longevity, legendary scents, top grade ingredients
    Cons: Varies greatly with personal tastes and body chemistries"

    19 July, 2013

    the reaper's avatar

    Venezuela Venezuela

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    Great, but the Eau de Parfum

    This review is about the Eau de Parfum. I never did enjoy the Eau de Toilette since I always perceived it as repulsive and dificult to tolerate but one day I saw the Eau de Parfum in my usual fragance store. I tried and liked it inmediately. It's creamy, spicy and has that something that turn it very sensual. I liked it so much that I bought it for myself (I'm a man). In this versión you can really see the similarity with Habit Rouge. Definetely thumbs up.

    Pros: Projection and longevity as they should be
    Cons: hard to find

    22 June, 2013

    bedahplastik's avatar

    Indonesia Indonesia

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    A warm temple of mysterious love in a bottle...

    As a perfume hobbyist, some iconic scents of ladies department also come into my collection. And as expected, Shalimar ranked as top priority on my purchase list.

    So, as I recalled the first time I sprayed Shalimar, my immediate reaction was: wow, it's indeed warm and sensual. The aroma was so complex so should you want to give a try--you should try this one with caution.

    Yes, not every chick can wear this, even for some first-timers this would definitely too much too handle. A possible headache or confusion (due to trying to identify the notes LOL) may result.

    The longevity is truly outstanding, tested on my wrist and it lasted 8 hours and more. After a warm spicy mixture of scents decorated the earlier stage, a slight jasmine followed shortly but not too powerful. As it dried down vanilla note appeared and lasted, clear and sweet.

    Mysterious, as I remembered this one. Just like its name, Shalimar best translated as a warm temple of mysterious love. So, undisputedly this one suitable and enjoyable only for a more mature women not for teens.

    Even though I still have no idea if my wife (Estee Lauder Pleasures Exotic, Kenzo Flower, Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil) or my mom (YSL Rive Gauche for women, Thierry Mugler Angel) would love to wear this or not. My overall scoring was 8/10.

    Pros: Warm & heartfelted scent, great longevity
    Cons: Complex aroma on immediate spray not suitable for younger users, standard bottle & packaging

    28 May, 2013

    cristina7's avatar



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    Love this perfume

    Shalimar is my go to perfume for every occasion. It's classic.

    16 May, 2013

    peachply's avatar



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    Try with caution: not everyone can wear this, on some it will make me feel queezy and give me an instant headache!

    I just bought a bottle of the cologne being a bit shy to try a stronger concentration and I am absolutely loving this! The lasting power of the cologne is truly impressive it wears on way beyond what I imagined, a good 8 hours. In the dry down I love the burnt creamy vanilla that appears, smells like heaven. Love this but may not wear to work! Sexy, vampy and mysterious is the name of the game here not cookie cutter scent of the week.

    27 March, 2013

    MapOfTheWoods's avatar

    United States United States

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    Hmmm... Shalimar. Ladies smell so nice when they wear it. This is a scent that can bring about many memories. I can recall being a young teenager and being completely intoxicated by a friend's mom's perfume. This stuff MADE her a "hot mom". I remember the bottle...

    I bought some for my girlfriend. She's in the roller derby, and I was looking for something that would go well with her sport. We've gone through many sweet, fruity, herbal, and sporty scents... tried a few Etat Libre d'Orange, and a couple of samples of various Tom Ford. I settled on trying out the Shalimar because of its longevity (not while wearing... I mean in the sense that it's been around since the 20s), its attractiveness, and the way it can match up with a sport like roller derby: It's dark, dangerous, sexy, and packs a punch, but can keep its wits about about it in social situations.

    Shalimar comes in with the lemony top note, but does not last long. This dries down into something smoky and subtle, seductive. To me, it gets my mind racing on things like sex, making out, etc. The woman who wears this should wear in confidence that your man will notice.

    I don't know what the formula was like in the 20s, but I would love to find out. Buy yourself an extrait or at least the EDP. Any other "strength" and you'll not get the full idea of what this scent is supposed to be.
    I would even wear this myself if I paired it up with something Versace Baby Blue Jeans or put the smack down on it with Amouage Ciel Man.
    This one's a sultry winner, ladies.

    (update) I have been wearing this myself lately. I am really enjoying it. The extrait is the way to go...
    Guys, this smells good and I would recommend trying it. I know it's for ladies, but this can and WILL be quite masculine when worn by a guy... period. It smells nice, and you will get compliments... it seems that this is more unisex than anything else....

    17 March, 2013 (Last Edited: 07 April, 2013)

    BTQ's avatar

    Germany Germany

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    First try of Shalimar...

    ...there it sat on my skin. The flagship of Guerlain. The first spritz is very lemony of course, but you also get a sniff of cedar which reminds a bit of church pews and old fur coats. I knew at the first whisp this was a great Old World Perfume. A legend. History.
    The hesperidics are quite elusive and the scent changes remarkably into smoky vanilla. I don't get that much flowers. The smokiness makes me think of a Walpurgis Night bonfire. Shalimar has an aura of wisdom, of a significant other. It's one of the few perfumes that really make my mind wander. True dramatic beauty.
    Who knows what the vintage version was like, but even the reformulation is aweinspiring. Luca Turin said, Shalimar makes 80% of todays fragrances appear trivial.
    Of course I now own a bottle. And what a timeless beauty that bottle is, don't you think? When did blue and yellow ever look that good together?

    I'd dare say: Greatest perfume of all times! Too special for me to wear it every day, but good to know I have it!

    10th February, 2013

    naqshbandi's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Just opened my bottle of Shalimar Pure Parfum and applied a few dabs...omg it is so sensual and beautiful and warm; heady and intoxicating---so luxurious. Wow!

    Love it!

    19 January, 2013

    tinkerbell's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    This was my second ever "grown up" perfume that my boyfriend bought for me
    in 1973 and nearly 40years down the line I think I have grown into it.
    I felt very sophisticated wearing it in my 20's but felt it was maybe too old for me
    because of it's heaviness. However I have always loved the sensual smell and always will, so do the men around me...as I have had many compliments on my
    perfume whilst wearing this,mainly from the older man !!

    23 December, 2012

    PeteH's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    What can one say about Shalimar that hasn't been said one million times?

    Go buy yourself a bottle of the extrait.

    Apply to your wrist.

    Sit back, inhale deeply, and be transported to another universe.

    And for the record, the extrait formulation is eminently suitable for use as a masculine - there is nothing even remotely girly about the dark-colored juice in the gorgeous crystal bottle, gentlemen.

    03 November, 2012

    Cyn's avatar

    United States United States

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    I recently purchased two vintage bottles of this and listed one on Etsy. Today, I opened the second bottle and OH MY GOSH! It is so very beautiful. I quickly decided that could never be without this beautiful scent and took down the Etsy listing. Who knows if I shall ever find the vintage EDT again? I am totally in love.

    28 October, 2012

    Francolino's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    goes down heavy but results irritating to my neck skin, great scent anyway!

    23 October, 2012

    Manteuse's avatar

    United States United States

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    Chanel No. 5 ?

    Fugedaboutit. That powdery senior scent is as out of place these days as Guerlains Vetiver.

    This is what I imagined a timeless classic would smell like. Dark, vanilla, hints of oriental and side of civet for some carnal verve. Drydown is a creamy vanilla.

    19 October, 2012 (Last Edited: 09 November, 2012)

    n3tcat's avatar

    Brazil Brazil

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    I absolutely love it. It's the classic par excellence, way better than Chanel 5, a must have for anyone who loves perfumes.

    And yet -- and this is a big YET -- it changes dramatically from bottle to skin. This can be for better or worse. On my mother and on some of my friends it smells great, and becomes the perfect fragrance for an elegant night out; on my skin, unfortunately, it gets flat, old, tired.

    I am more sorry about this than I can say.

    Still, every now and then, I spray it on my pillows and go to sleep thinking about some wonderful place in a faraway land.

    14 October, 2012

    rttoronto's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    Can't really say much that hasn't already been said. It's gorgeous and very unisex. I place only Chanel No. 5 as better than Shalimar.

    02 August, 2012

    SusieSusie's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    The most perfect fume! I wore nothing else in my twenties before I was really able to understand, then I discarded it totally in favour of citrus scents in my early thirties, only to come back to it now, to rediscover it perfectly and completely. So much so that I now have edt (for bedtime), edp and vintage edp and parfum concentrations, im a Shalimar maniac! It's hypnotising and all encompassing - I have a lot of perfumes, and yet now I've rediscovered SHalimar I'm having a hard time wearing anything else. It feels like I'm cheating! I love Shalimar and I can believe I neglected her for so long. It's an incredible fragrance, from the Bergamot sharp opening to the nest like Opoponax tonka vanilla drydown. Genius.xxx

    08 June, 2012

    teerose's avatar

    Indonesia Indonesia

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    There's nothing special when I tried Shalimar for the first time. It was the new version (EDP) that I tried at the local shop. From all the praise that I read here... I only got a burst of citrus note and sweet vanilla. A big disappointment for me...


    I'm still curious for this "historical" SHALIMAR, so I tried to find the vintage one to erase my curiosity forever. I bought 1 bottle of Shalimar (PDT/75ml) at the flea market. I tried it at home, 2 sprays on my left arm and miracle happens...


    I cannot explain the excitement I feel when I smell this beauty. It's like you've just drink a 100 years old wine when previously you only drink a grape juice.

    31st May, 2012

    Oviatt's avatar

    United States United States

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    If you looked in a dictionary under P for perfume there should be a big picture of Shalimar. While some would argue that Chanel No 5 deserves that spot, to me Shalimar IS perfume, the highest expression of the perfumer's art.

    Some people think of this as an "old lady scent" but don't forget, those old ladies were young once and it smelled as good on them then as it does now. It works on a grandmother and on a nubile young 18 year old and at every age in between. The story, the legacy, the packaging and advertising are all magnificent (that bottle! The original is perfect) but what about the scent? Well, it is gourmand without being too foodie, seductive yet still ladylike, rich and oriental but fresh at the same time. I LOVE smelling this on a woman! The bergamot is perfectly done and paves the way for the iris and opoponax which is supported by the most beautiful vanilla ever--as only Guerlain can do. This defines the Guerlainade note for me. There is a smoky animalic note in there but it never forgets its manners, even if pushes the limits a bit.

    Please, women of the world, wear this more often! In extrait if possible but all delivery systems for Shalimar are great--cologne, E de T, lotion, powder, etc.

    I can well see why Guerlain paid homage to this when they gave us Habit Rouge and thank goodness they did, but for me, Shalimar is the mothership and a great perfume whose light I hope never fades.

    03 May, 2012

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