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We all have our classics that are nothing like we remember from back in the day. ('I used to wear [insert classic] until they RUINED it!) I tend to get more wistful than angry over this (Odalisque.) But just as I've sat to write about Shalimar I've found another reaction, which is to notice and then not particularly to care. I'm on a plane right now and passing through duty-free earlier spotted Chanel Antaeus, my first fragrance, my only signature fragrance, the one I wore exclusively in my junior and senior years of high school (81-82) and then intermittently for years. My first thought on sniffing it was 'this is quite literally nothing like what I used to wear.' My next thought was, 'Oh, look! They've got No 19 EDP!' and I went and spritzed.
The upside of digital perfume communities is the sharing of experiences. I have learned so much reading Basenotes reviews and threads---had more laughs, more ah ha! moments than I can count. The downside, though, is that a perfume hobby seems to engender a nostalgia/anger about how things used to be. There's that sense that contemporary perfumery has taken something intrinsic away from us. Our response is often a fetish for distinction and provenance, and of course the ensuing butt-sniffing and pack hierarchy. You know: 'I'm sure you THINK you love your current Mitsouko EDT, but you'll never truly know her until you've smelled my 1967 extrait.' I'm as guilty as the next person.
But Shalimar unexpectedly elicits in me an attitude I've tried to foster. Things do change. But I just love perfume and find immense joy in it. Call me common, call me simple, but I currently wear the most recent Shalimar EDT and love it. It just makes me tail-waggingly happy to smell it. Citrus, growl, smoke, scratchy amber & vanilla, opopanax, a sly incense. I'm sure it's not the parfum from 1925, but then again I'm not a 20s flapper. How wonderful that that era had its Shalimar. But they didn't have our Bois de Violette, my Insense, my Secretions Magnifiques. This is no pollyanna desperate optimism, no deflection of resentment. We live in a spectacular era of perfume.
My 2010 Shalimar tells me to screw the iconography and embrace the perfume. It also makes me imagine the fun of watching the apoplexy of the current generation of young perfumistas going as shrill as we have over the resctrictions on our beloved oakmoss. Imagine the heel-clacking and outrage among the Angel set when ethylmaltol, identified as the causative agent in the future medical diagnosis of Acquired Intolerance Syndrome, is outlawed.
27 July, 2011 (Last Edited: 05 April, 2012)