Shalimar. What fragrance could be more legendary?
A fragrance that has inspired countless other fragrances and more recently Guerlain’s own variations, Shalimar is a scent I’ve known well since childhood. Always remaining strictly my mother’s fragrance no matter how many times I’ve tried it, I’ve long pined for a Shalimar for men – I’d be curious to see what a company who offered scents like Heritage and Habit Rouge could do to their peerless oriental classics. Could you imagine? Jicky pour Homme? Samsara pour Homme? Vol de Nuit pour Homme? Luckily, I got a Chamade for men back in the 90′s, but only as a limited edition tease. Nee, the most we gents got was L’Instant pour Homme…another “it’s ok” fragrance for my taste, although the Extreme version offers a bit more punch.
I jumped at the Shalimar Legere and Eau flankers in recent years, ultimately not won over by either takes (neither was Mom), and so it was with a great amount of enthusiasm and a slightly skeptical credit card swipe that I purchased Guerlain’s Shalimar Initial last week. Partly for Mom, partly out of my own curiosity. Was this something I could wear? I had sniffed a tester strip in the store, and liked it enough to make the purchase, but I wondered if this might be a new love affair for me.
I suppose I should be honest at this point and admit that I had the saleswoman wrap my purchase, fully intending to give it as a gift. But oh no, I AM an aromaholic, Afterall – I ended up bringing the Nordstrom’s bag into Mom’s house and then leaving with it again, 3 hrs later. Hey, she had already received bottles of Moschino Glamour, Moschino (original), CK Obsession, Shalimar Parfum and Burberry Brit Parfum. It’s not as if I hold out on any of my friends or family.
After carefully removing the gift wrap (buries head in right hand in shame), I quickly evaluated Initial:
Beautiful bottle? Gaan.
Echoes of original Shalimar? Gaan.
Beautiful, dreamy van-oriental? Gaan.
Vir my? Hmmmm.
Here are the notes: “A luminous interpretation with ambery floral notes. The fresh burst of bergamot gives way to a delicate floral heart: an orchestrated overdose of rose, jasmine and iris. The vanilla and Tonka bean base instantly whets addiction, like the captivating feel of cashmere on bare skin” Guerlain.com. Many reviewers have also noted the green accord added to the composition but not listed by Guerlain.
Voor-: Easy…and a bit more relevant to current trends than the original. Most similar to the original in the luxurious drydown.
Nadele: Every time I’ve tried it I end up asking myself, “Where did it go?” Is it me or could both longevity and sillage be just a bit bolder?
Herinner my aan: Shalimar. Others have compared Shalimar Initial to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, but I don’t really get it.
Die Bottom Line: I’ve worn the fragrance 3 times now and still am unsure what to make of it. After reading a slew of reviews I think I can safely conclude that I am not alone…and boy are some of those negative reviews, goed, negative. Where’s the love?
Shalimar Initial opens with citrus and iris and then imemdiately reveals a somewhat animalic, ambery base. The other florals are quite tame compared to the iris, and the tonka provides a welcome richness. This version isn’t incredibly complex and on my skin seems to go straight to the drydown stage and linger there quietly. I’m instantly reminded of the original Shalimar body products, namely the soap and cream that Mom used to use. I definitely like this better than the lemon souffle Eau de Shalimar which I remember thinking was the sort-of lovechild between Shalimar and Habit Rouge.
Could it be that the original Shalimar is so legendary that any attempt at an ostensibly more youthful update will be met with derision? Na alles, Initial isn’t a bad scent by any means. Will it give the brand a boost in the way that Parisienne or Belle d’Opium did for YSL? That remains to be seen. And most importantly, is this version of Shalimar unique and un-fussy enough to be worn by an adventurous guy? I think it might be…as I don’t think I’m ready to turn over my bottle just yet! I’ll come back and report again should I make a decision either way!
Have you tried Shalimar Parfum Initial?