by the Old Bat Musette
Most hard-core perfumistas bemoan the addition of flankers, especially when it’s a flanker of a True Classic. I mean, c’mon – how on earth could you do a Mitsouko flanker? What would you call it? Mitsouko Mist? How ’bout L’Heure Aqua? Jickette? Djediddy?
….can we stop with the collective grave-spinning, there, Jacques et al – we’re just joking here…..or are we?
The House of Guerlain has been tinkering with the Shalimar ‘brand’ – again. I usually ignore these ‘variations’ but Gaia over at the Non-Blonde had a practical, laissez-faire point of view, regarding her niece, here which led me to Octavian’s elegantly enraged review here – two very interesting-but-different perspectives that piqued my curiosity. The newest, Initial, has been described as ShaLite, My First Shalimar, Shalimar for People Who Hate Shalimar, etc….
So, .finally accepting that this trend is NOT GOING TO GO AWAY I decided to investigate.
Off to Neiman-Marcus to spritz. Waaaaal….hum. Huh. Notes for Initial are citrus, green notes, bergamot, orange, rose, jasmine, vetiver, patchouli, vanilla, white musk, tonka bean. But it doesn’t smell like any combination created by the venerable House of Guerlain. Instead, it smells like a concoction created by lovesick 14-yr old, mixing a bunch of scents in a plastic milk jug in the hot sun, listening to the same Justin Bieber song for the 356th time, who lucked out because her mom had decent perfumes for her to play with. Oddly enough, that is not as scathing an indictment of Initial as you would expect. But let’s go back to the original Shalimar for a minute. Love or hate it, nothing about the original Shalimar feels synthetic. And generic is not a word ever associated with the Blue-topped Beast; if anything it sometimes feels too animalic, like an oily tiger ate an entire bushel of vanilla beans or something equally terrifying. I’m also not saying Shalimar smells natural – it has never aspired to that – but it smells like a perfume structured out of non-synthetic materials. Shalimar Initial has the barest of traces of Shalimar in its makeup and it’s got a LOT of plastic- it’s designed for people who, most likely, got pulled into the display or the child-supermodel adverts. They want to smell like their peers and Shalimar Initial will not disappoint . There is no depth to this scent, no nuance – it’s a gourmandy floriental with about as much heft as one of those paper umbrellas you get in a fruity cocktail. Very ‘youthful’, very innocuous – and for lovers of the real Shalimar, especially an Old Bat like me, a real heartbreaker. But I can totally understand how the House came to release such a thing; in my opinion, sad as it is, Shalimar’s reign is already over – it and its contemporaries L’Heure Bleue, Jicky, Mitsouko, etc already languish behind the counter in so many upscale stores, upstaged bythe newbies and flankers for the larger, incoming mass market..
Ow!! Don’t bite me! This is only my heartbroken personal opinion, based on a bazillion years as a marketer. It makes perfect marketing sense. LVMH will never let the Shalimar name die – it is worth its weight in amber, even as interest in the original dwindles with each passing generation. And I suspect they will always keep some semblance of the original around for brand cred. But with the LVMH focus seemingly on mainstream marketing rather than creation of groundbreaking fragrances, it is a pretty sure bet this is the wave of the future for the House of Guerlain. And for a lot of perfumistas it’s a cryin’ shame – but …I mean, really – can you imagine the average 22 yr old wearing the original Shalimar? Neither can I.
Have any of you sniffed this yet? I’d love to hear from Shalimar haters as well as lovers as well as those in-between. What are your thoughts about the direction Guerlain is headed? Personally, I get it. I don’t like it. But I get it.