Monday

Shalimar: Not (just) your mother's perfume


YouTube scent expert Katie Puckrik calls Shalimar by Guerlain "the original bad girl perfume" and cites its reputation as the fragrance of 1920s flappers. My friend Kristina wrinkled her nose at the mention of the perfume and said she could never wear it, because it's what her mother wore. I asked my mom, and she has also worn the classic. When I first sniffed it at a Dillard's while perfume shopping with my friend Carlos, I handed him the bottle and he deadpanned, "It smells like doughnuts."

Well, if Shalimar is just a doughnut, order me a baker's dozen, baby.

Most people who smell it on me do notice the vanilla sweetness first. There's more to it than that (much more — the scent includes, among other notes, tonka bean, leather, opoponax, patchouli, vetiver, iris, lemon and bergamot), and a true expert would be better to talk to about the nitty gritty. So I'll describe Shalimar a different way.

Shalimar is what Catwoman would spritz on between her cleavage to go on a date with Batman. It's the haziness in your brain when you're in an incense-filled room watching a bellydancer's slow movements and you've been sipping amaretto or something just as sweet. It's a woman in a white sundress. It's a poem that makes you cry, hot cinnamon rolls out of the oven, the lingering warmth of a last look you wish would last longer.

Shalimar just smells cozy, sweet, sexy and sophisticated to me. Super-feminine, with none of the saccharine. Classy, but not old ladyish. It's a bad-girl scent with a heart of gold.

I sampled the eau de parfum one day and the eau de toilette the next. The eau de parfum smelled delicious, but gave me a headache. I was too conscious of it — it was just too much. The eau de toilette hit the spot. To me, it smells exactly the same as the eau de parfum but more gentle. I think it would really go with the wearer and the wearer's mood.

As I type this, I'm wearing Givenchy Dahlia Noir Eau de Toilette. You all know I adore that perfume. But forcing myself to take a break from Shalimar hurts my spirit a little bit! Where's the sweet, heavy warmth? I think I need a day or two between Shalimar and another fragrance to be able to enjoy not-Shalimar scents now. That's how in love with it I am.

I've also compared this to Flowerbomb, another oriental, gourmand perfume, and I immediately noticed the Shalimar heritage in Flowerbomb. But Flowerbomb wishes it could be Shalimar — it's squeaky patent pleather to Shalimar's vintage leather.


I obviously enjoy the gourmand perfumes, so I'm eager to sample Thierry Mugler's Angel (which sounds delightfully eccentric) and Lolita Lempicka. Today I went to the library and picked up Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, an encyclopedic snarkfest reviewing almost every perfume you can think of. I'm loving it!

What do you think of gourmand fragrances? Would you ever try Shalimar?

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