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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial - Perfume Review

By Marina

So, the regular Shalimar must have been judged too difficult to wear and understand for a younger crowd, and Guerlain had to come up with a flanker more suited for the tastes of Generation Z or whatever letter we are on now. At least that is what one gleans from the legend: Thierry Wasser was asked by his 17-year-old niece to make her own Shalimar...Aww.

Thing is Parfum Initial smells no more approachable, easy-to-wear or dare I use the word, younger than the original. It simply smells less interesting. Not just the "intimidating" leather note (source) is gone, but also the luminous citrus top, which is what makes the real Shalimar shimmer like a precious multi-facted jewel that it is. And that is peculiar, because citruses are one of the most popular, non-threatening and "young" notes in perfume.

What there is in abundance is orris, with a good old dollop of vanilla and tonka. I suppose Shalimar might be considered "heavy", but to me Parfum Intial, without the lift of the citrus, without the intrigue and intricasies of a complex development, is heavier still. It is blunt, it is a one-accord, if not a one-note composition. That one accord (of aforementioned orris-vanilla-tonka) makes the composition sort of recognizable as a Guerlain, but not all that recognizable specifically as related to Shalimar. I suppose Parfum Initial could be its niece, but she won't be 17 and she certainly won't be a beauty like Vodianova who fronts the campaign.

The flanker lacks finess and detail, and it were these qualities which made Shalimar a masterpiece. To continue the analogy with a jewel, Shalimar is a big and baroque Koh-i-noor type of thing, for sure, but it is carved inticately, carefully, with the finest of instruments, as fitting for such a precious stone. Parfum Intial is the replica (a swear word for LVMH) hammered out of thick glass. Same applies to the bottle.

Guerlain boutique at Bergdorf Goodman told me that Shalimar Parfum Initial will be available in the States no earlier than in fall. I am not motivated enough to investigate further and confirm if that is so and why such delay. The fragrance is available at right now, 47,00€-92,10€.

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Blogger Carrie Meredith said...

I am not really a fan of Shalimar, and I have to admit that I'm interested in sampling Parfum Initial (orris, tonka and vanilla may not be very original, but I adore those notes). I also love the bottle.

12:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Katie Puckrik said...

(sighs exasperatedly at the idea of 17-year-old pretend perfumers tinkering with masterworks) Maybe Mick Jagger should have his teenage son "fix" "Let It Bleed" so that it's a little more kiddy-friendly, too.

Although the niece story may well be a fiction to used to flog watered-down Shalimar to the kids.

2:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That makes me really sad. How utterly devoid of dignity that Guerlain panders itself to the teeny market, thereby diluting not only Shalimar but their own image into something undesirable for their core audience. That is certainly the wrong way. Let us pray that LVMH never gets their greedy hands on Hermès.

3:27 AM EDT  
Blogger tarleisio said...

Now I think I know where that expression comes from that says...

Don't mess with a classic!

Too bad Guerlain felt they had to. It makes me feel sad.

7:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Carrie Meredith
I'd love to read you review of it!

8:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Right? Every (17 y o) body is a critic...sigh.
Love the analogy with Jagger :))

8:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I so want to see something new and interesting from Guerlain asap. Actually, Jasminora is nice.

8:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It could have been worse. It's not that bad...It's wearable...

8:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Vanessa said...

My favourite Shalimar is one of the light Eaux-type ones (don't ask me which), as I am lairy of the civet in the original. But nor am I drawn to this pink concoction. There seems to be way too much pandering to the young these days, also in terms of perfume. In the good old days we'd be happy with a jigsaw, a satsuma and a squirt of Mother's Tweed (or whatever).

8:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Too bad they had to mess with Shalimar in this manner, it's so distinctive and does not need to be tinkered with. I guess LVMH is ramping up its efforts once again to make Guerlain "relevant" for younger customers. but I wish they would bet smart and keep their mitts off it.

11:43 PM EDT  
Blogger Undina said...

I keep telling myself that Shalimar that leaves me cold completely is the victim of multiple reformulations and probably in its better years it was a gorgeous fragrance... So after reading your review, Marina, I'm even less anxious (if it's even possible) to try a new flanker. Thank you.

12:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous AbSturd said...

How incredibly depressing. Why didn't they just give it a whole new name?

11:17 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

a jigsaw LOL!!!

6:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

But what's funny is that this is not "young", at all.

6:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Perhaps it is. In that case, don't try vintage parfum! :)

6:06 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...


6:06 PM EDT  

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