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Friday, January 09, 2009

In Which I Finally "Get" Shalimar

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. When you feel you have suffered enough, give up. Believe that some things are just not meant to be. If you are a rational individual that is, you will believe in quitting for good. If you are anything like me, you will be tempted to give whatever it is One Last Chance. Absolutely The Very Last One. And if it doesn't work again, this time you will really give up. But at least you will know you Tried.

And if such preface sounds too dramatic to you, for a perfume review, let me tell you that Shalimar has always smelled quite horrific on me. Not to be juvenile whilst engaging in such a serious activity as writing about fragrance, but it smelled of paint thinner on me...on a good day. And yes, I tried every possible concentration of every possible vintage. So one day I gave up and told myself, Never Again. Shalimar and I were not compatible and that was that. This Christmas (que It's a Wonderful Life theme), having been possessed by the Spirit of One Last Chance, I tried it again. One Last Time. And - you guessed it- it WORKED on me. I got all the trademark Guerlain wonderulness people have been praising for eighty-some year. The husky sweetness, the creamy smokiness. The brightness of citrus ever so slowly, ever so sensually enveloped by the powdery darkness of opoponax. The smoldering, honeyed abyss of vanillic drydown, in which you can't help but long to drown.

I am not going to actually review Shalimar. Is there anyone out there who has not smelled it? If you love it already, you know what it is like better than I do. And if you don't...try, try, try again.

Shalimar is available everywhere Guerlain is sold. I tried the not particularly vintage EDP and a recent Parfum and loved both.

Image source, The Fashion Spot.

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43 Comments:

OpenID fountaingirl said...

YAYYYY!! So glad for you!

I had this same thing with Mitsouko, it took a fair number of tries for us to click.

11:40 PM EST  
Blogger Scott said...

Oh thank God I am not the only perfume lover who has had a hard time appreciating Shalimar! It's like finding out you haven't been invited to the party. And yes, I had given up. Being a man, it has been like trying a appreciate a fine piece if art (I probably wouldn't wear it)and just not GETTING it. When I spray it on me for a test run all I get is burning rubber and sinus clearing vanilla. But you have inspired me to keep trying...

12:38 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

You know I have done this too, but with Jicky. I so want to be the person who wafts this fantastic scent, and when asked what it is, arches a knowing eyebrow imparts the name.. "jzheekeee"

Of course the vengeful fates, thinking "what an a$$hat", make if smell like Brut on me..

12:43 AM EST  
Anonymous zazie33 said...

I fear I am still among the bunch of those incapable of appreciating shalimar (I don't say loving!). And one bad thing happened: after several (shalimar and other guerlains) tests I fear I don't like Jicky, my HG, that much anymore. The drydown now reminds me too much of Shalimar.
..Runs away crying!...
Really, every tiny vanilla molecule in the Guerlains seems there to annoy me. And I'm not sure I really want to tame my nose ;)!
But I'm glad for you and envy your pleasure of rediscovering a classic!

4:12 AM EST  
Anonymous Mimi said...

This is so funny, as I've just had a similar revelation myself!

I tried Shalimar in extrait, as I have shuddered my way through EdP and EdT in the past and found them redolent of vomit and urinal cakes.

I kept wondering what all the fuss was about. Now I think I'm beginning to 'get' it too..

5:42 AM EST  
Blogger Karin said...

Oh! This is interesting! I've always loathed Shalimar, but haven't tried it in YEARS. Now that my nose is a bit more advanced and appreciative of the strange, I will have to try it again. Advice: which concentration? Thanks for the post, Marina.

7:16 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Fountaingirl,
Well, Mitsouko is still a challenge for me :-)

7:27 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Scott,
It's exactly like finding out you haven't been invited to the party! You are so right. One part where they still really don't want to see me is POTL.

7:29 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
I want to be that person too! :-)

7:30 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Zazie,
I am sorry about Jicky. You never know, the love might come back.

7:31 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Mimi,
That's it, that's how it smelled on me too :-) I am glad we both had a breakthrough with Shalimar

7:32 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Karin,
Do try and report how it goes :-) To be on the safe side, try parfum, maybe.

7:33 AM EST  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

I'm nodding and chuckling at the same time...

Nodding, because I have a similar relationship with Mitsouko--I should say, I think it is similar; it and I have not yet fully evolved.

Chuckling, because the commenter's description of "nasty Shalimar" (before the revelation) reminds me of something I have often wondered...yeah, I'm developing an appreciation...but am I wafting what I appreciate, or are people smelling what I smelled in Stage One? ;)

10:37 AM EST  
Blogger Beth Gehring said...

I adore it and funny thing is this is the next review I'm sending you:) I am glad that you finally see the light:)))))))))))))))))

10:44 AM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

" Blinded by the light..."LOL.

I've just recently been suffering from Shalimaritis-
Wearing it to death.
Need it, want it.

Always loved it- but it isn't for everyone.
Nothing is...

I'm thrilled for you, though.
I love being linked- via scent- to other people I cherish.
I'm a sentimental fool.

10:50 AM EST  
OpenID divalano said...

Shalimar does not love me, I've tried, I've tried again & am not brave enough to give it another go. However, just because you've inspired me I shall go inside & dab Mitsouko once more & give her another shot at wowing me ;)

11:09 AM EST  
Blogger cynthia3403 said...

Is this just me? Look at your picture, then the girl in the ad. You could be sisters!

11:57 AM EST  
Blogger violetnoir said...

Oh my gosh, Marina, that's exactly what happened to me!

I tested Shalimar about four times before I finally "got" it (at least in the parfum concentration...All the other forms of Shalimar smell like lemon baby wipes on me, lol!).

And, it's magnificent, isn't it?
Simply magnificent!

Hugs!

12:08 PM EST  
Blogger saralevy said...

I always loathed Shalimar until I tried it in its extrait version. Now it is one of my favorites. I think with many Guerlains, trying the full-throttle version is an entirely different experience.

1:35 PM EST  
Blogger Alyssa said...

Marina--it does not suprise me that The Countess finally came around for you. I sniffed a vintage version of the extrait recently and thought -- "Leather!" I mean, I understood it was the vanilla, but that birch tar bit leapt to the fore, as did the smoke, and suddenly I was far, far, far, away from citrus and cookies...

And we all know about you and your leathers...

Divalano--for Mitsouko, give in to what everyone else says and try a bit of the parfum! I *hated* it in EDT, sort of got it in EDP and then put in the extrait (vintage, but God only knows what era) and thought, "Well, my god, I could wear this every day for the rest of my life." Not in a bowled over kind of way, just in thorough enjoyment.

1:45 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

ScentScelf,
I think a perfume connoisseur needs to have a certain degree of not caring about what others smell on them :-)

7:43 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Beth,
I am looking forward to it!

7:43 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ida,
me too, I like when I like scents that people I like like :-)

7:44 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

M,
I was as sure as you are now that it is not going to work ever ever. And look at me now :-)

7:44 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

cynthia,
That is a huge compliment, thank you, Natalya Vodyanova is gorgeous and we are nothing alike really, sadly :-)

7:45 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

R
It is magnificent! And more so because I went through so much trying to like it :-)

7:46 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Sara,
Full throttle :-) Yep, that's the way to go.

7:46 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Alyssa,
So Shalimar is The Countess? :-) I know what you mean by the leather feel, I get it too and, of course, love it :-)

7:47 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Oy - now I feel like the last human left in the movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" - I have tried, I really have , but I just can't like it, and I am not all that thrilled with Jicky either. I have come to appreciate a number of Guerlains, in great part because of Ina sharing some samples of lesser-known ones with me, but that old duchess Shalimar still reminds me of an overstuffed matron, the pushy kind who is always matchmaking for her wallflower daughter. Will I ever understand it? I don't know, but I guess I may as well keep trying!

2:15 AM EST  
Anonymous Mimi said...

Flora, that is such a witty description!

Don't give up hope! I think the trick is ignoring the first ten minutes. Lol.

7:31 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Donna,
LOL. Such a funny comment. Keep trying though :-) It will work.

7:34 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Mimi
Exactly :-)

7:34 AM EST  
Anonymous JAntoinette said...

Like Mimi I get urinal cakes too, but with L'heure Bleue! My fiance is french, so I had to explain what a urinal cake is in the middle of the boutique! I am just starting to really appreciate Shalimar, I am in love with Mitsouko, but I just don't get L'heure Bleue.

7:42 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

JAntoinette
It is the other way round for me: I just don't get Mitsouko

8:39 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so glad you get Shalimar now! It is so divine, especially 12 hours later when the smokey vanilla is going full tilt. Sigh.
For me, it was L'Heure Bleue that I didn't get - until I tried it in hot and humid weather and the anise just bloomed on my skin. Now it is one of my favourites. Double Sigh!! :)

2:03 PM EST  
Blogger DarlingLuna said...

Shalimar has never done too well on me either, but your post has inspired me to give it another shot. I want to love it so badly, but I've just never been able to.

8:18 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Anonymous,
You know, anise is one part of L'Heure that I am not too crazy about :-)

8:32 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

DarlingLuna
Well, let's hope one day you and Shalimar will click

8:32 PM EST  
Blogger Madelyn said...

Hi Marina, I was initially attracted to Shalimar in elementary school - I found a edt in a friend's room. however,
i still do not get it ... It is too sweet for me -
I do like the extrait - from time to time I give it another try - but no go-

12:43 AM EST  
Blogger Eleven European Mystics said...

'honeyed abyss'...it is your writing, again, that makes me rethink my olfactory biography. Just wonderful.

3:06 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review! I attempted to fall in love with Shalimar over the weekend, after having read so many poetic reviews about the scent but alas! I smelled Band-Aids, powder and vanilla with a touch of spice. I left the test strip in my car and the next day it smelled fabulous but for quite a while after spraying at first...what can I say? Maybe I'm not ready, yet. I just can't get past that Band-Aids note, though I suppose I'd be head over heels in love if it hadn't interfered.

Has anyone else experienced this? Is that note there in the EDP or parfum concentrations (I tested only the EDT)??

♥ April B.

1:19 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. I also tested Mitsouko in the EDT form (this was what was available to sample at Neiman's) and I got a waxy lipstick note in that one! I should be receiving a decant of L'heure Bleue today and I'm hoping that it will be "My Guerlain." My fingers are crossed in hopes that the carnation note will take my breath away. I so wanted to love them all!

April B.

1:26 PM EST  
Blogger Eleven European Mystics said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:26 PM EST  

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