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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Perfume Review: Shalini

Shalini was created for the designer Shalini Kumar by Maurice Roucel, the perfumer who brought us such scents as Musc Ravageur, Iris Silver Mist, 24 Faubourg and Tocade. Shalini Kumar wanted the perfume to evoke her childhood memories of tuberose and butterflies in her garden. The limited edition Lalique crystal bottle of Shalini is meant to represent a butterfly wing. Such 2.2oz bottle costs $900.00, thus making Shalini one of the most expensive scents on the market.

I must admit that I was prepared to dislike Shalini, despite the fact that it was created by Maurice Roucel, one of my favorite perfumers. I am not a big fan of tuberose and I find the price of the scent quite irritating. I still maintain that Shalini is not worth that kind of price tag, that no perfume is worth that kind of price tag, but…but the fragile, airy exquisiteness of this fragrance came as a shock to me. Shalini to me is the most beautiful tuberose or even the most beautiful floral scent in general to be released in the last couple of years, perhaps one of the loveliest florals ever. If there wasn’t already a scent with that name, this perfume should have been called La Chasse Aux Papillons. Shalini manages to evoke the image of carefree life spent chasing butterflies much more successfully than L’Artisan’s creation.

The start of Shalini is bright-yellow, sunny and radiant. Tuberose is paired with orange blossom and, even though there is no mention of it in the list of the notes, I smell a hint of indolic jasmine. As the fragrance develops, it acquires the most enjoyable gently-hesperidic accord, the scent not so much of lemons as of lemon blossoms. It is a mouthwateringly fresh accord, which gets sweeter as the orange blossom becomes more prominent. Tuberose note is present at all times, but it is unusually light here. Nothing carnal in this particular tuberose; in Shalini, it is innocent and ethereal. From the bright yet translucent top notes, to the wonderful gossamer-like quality of the middle notes, to the gentle, angelic drydown of flowers, subtle musk and even subtler sandalwood, Shalini is a study in transparency and lightness. This scent is a gauzy fabric fluttering in a summer wind, delicate, light, diaphanous… It is a scent of endless, languid summer, of the world where the sun is forever shining and the sky is perpetually blue…“…At the top of the hands the dazzlement of butterflies, the upflight of butterflies whose light has no end.” (Pablo Neruda)

The gentle beauty of Shalini breaks my heart. Finally I fell in love with a tuberose scent, only to realize that I can never own it. $900.00 or even $400.00 is quite a lot more than I am prepared to pay.

Shalini is available at Bergdorf Goodman and Aedes, $900.00 for 2.2 oz, in a Lalique bottle pictured above. Aedes also carries it in a less fancy, but still very attractive bottle, $400.00 for 1oz.

*The painting is Shade by Jennifer Markes, from

Tomorrow- Musc Ravageur by Maurice Roucel (Editions de Parfums).


Blogger Marina said...

I also wish they could find a way to lower the cost. For all I care, it could come in a plainest of bottles. I am surprised too that I liked it, but it turned out to be the kind of floral that I love- gentle, subtle. Lovely.

9:26 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Can't afford it, not even going to try it. I already have those darn JARs to lust after, LOL!

10:15 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You are very wise. Just stay away, in case you fall in love with it too. I am all heartbroken :-)

10:36 AM EST  
Blogger Victoria said...

Wow. I would love to smell a tuberose that I loved and the way you describe this one, this would be the one.

So speaking of the pain bottle, the cost is due to only the parfum concentration being available? Maybe they will make an EDP? Or would that not live up to the beauty of this one?

Wow that price. Wow.

1:07 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I know that parfum is the way the perfumer intended the scent to be and the purest form, etc., but if a scent is good, it is good in all its forms. :-) So I would be SO glad if they released an EDP or an EDT or both. Even if it's slightly worse than parfum, I'd still gladly settle for that. :-)
I think the cost is also due to the limited edition Lalique bottle (only 900 bottles made).

1:17 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear N,
I have no idea who Shalini is. I googled and googled, and all I could find is some perfume news site that described her- very vaguely- as a "designer". Shalini Kumar. It does sound Indian, doesn't it? Maybe an Indian designer? She has got to be someone of prominence to be able to afford Roucel, Lalique and such wonderful scent, right? :-)

1:20 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I will be rationing my sample too. There is simply no way I could justify this kind of purchase. This, I can't afford. My other favorite tuberose, Mea Culpa is discontinued...Oh woe's me! :-(

2:30 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

I am really enjoying your explorations in this more citrus-y direction. Of course you know which citrus one I am going to get! :P This one sounds so beautiful, I want to ask you: do you feel there's some sort of price/ingredietn relationship? PS What is the perfect lemon frag anyway?

3:50 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am not sure...maybe these are super-rare 2005 harvest of tuberose in some exotic location, all-natural, etc., ingredients. But still...

Perfect lemon scent to me is Eau d'Hadrien. There is nothing like it. It is clear, refreshing, and yet not too insubstantial. Perfection.

Good luck with You Know Which Citrus :-)

4:05 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

They do seem to be pretty proud of this, so I wouldn't hold my breath for C-Mart thing. :-)
I have a feeling you will love this. That is why I would urge you not to sample it. :-)

4:18 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...


6:56 PM EST  
Blogger marlen said...

Darn you for making it sound so beautiful! Here's to signing a petition to make it affordable!

10:48 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Darn my beloved Roucel for making it so beautiful! :-)

We want cheap Shalini! People want cheap Shalini!

10:56 PM EST  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

Utterly gorgeous, the way you describe it. I want. The translucence as well as the notes make me want it. I can't even pay this much for a pockabook, much less fume. Oy, vey is meir.

2:50 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Many a brand has promised a transparent, airy, dewy tuberose. The one that immediately comes to mind is Diptyque with their Do Son. Heh, transparent indeed. It was heady and dare I say- cloying.
But this one really is airy and all those lovely things. I don't know how Roucel did it, but well done to him!

3:13 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking for this scent for over 35 years! Expensive? Yes. Worth it? DOUBLE YES! I use it sparingly and I will get more out of it than the uber fancy dress I passed up beacuse of it. I carry no guilt... and smell lovely at the same time! Thank for the beautiful review. You have written what I have yet been able to describe...

9:52 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you very much for your kind words!
Tuberose-wise, this is the scent I have been looking for as well. It is such a beautiful scent, an what's very important to me , because I am not usually comfortable with white florals, is that this is so easy to wear.

10:05 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I adore this scent. Thank you very much for the the site!!

6:08 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jessica. You are the voice of reason.

And, for the record, "The Essence of Luxury", aka Shalini Parfum, won't ever be ON SALE or FOR SALE on or at CMart (what that is...)

Sorry for being so bitchy, but it upsets that these girls don't understand the value of fine quality. You get what you pay for and in this case you are paying for the finest essential oils, not some cheap J.Lo concoction.

Best, Ano

11:31 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please create a link to so we can see the fashion too....

Thank you

11:25 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here you go!

1:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am concerned because, despite very liberal application of the perfume, this beautiful scent does not seem to last on me and apparently cannot be smelled by others unless they put their noses right near my skin. I love the delicacy of the scent but are these difficulties the necessary consequence? No one has mentioned these problems and I wonder if other users have had a similar experience.

1:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It is not the most long-lasting of scents on me, but it does last and I can smell it. I am sorry you are having problems with it. There are a couple of perfumes that I simply cannot smell at all, one of them Kenzo Flower. When I am saying I can't smell it, I really mean it, it has no smell. I am sorry, I don't have an explanation of why that happens.

8:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so i bought this perfume after actually meeting Shalini herself ... incredible perfume incredible woman.

1:06 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Of course she is Indian! Her name is as Indian as curry.

11:11 PM EST  
Anonymous most interesting facts said...

How people can afford to buy that perfumes?

9:40 AM EST  

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