Shalimar, the world’s first oriental perfume: GUERLAIN: Video Story

Hey There People of the Posse! Tom is dealing with some personal stuff so I’m filling in today, fingers crossed he’ll be back next week. Shalimar is my favourite scent of all time. I found this marvellous film online and wanted to share it with you. Yes it’s shameless propaganda. Yes, there are some things that seem like glaring fallacies. There is also another yes, here is a really lovely piece of theatre about something I adore . So I choose to let myself get swept away on it’s magic carpet ride. Hopefully you enjoy it too.

Still haven’t tried Shalimar? or any of its flankers?
Surrender To Chance has a fabulous array of samples from $3/ml.

Which is your favourite Shalimar?

Portia xx

Shalimar by Jacques Guerlain for Guerlain 1925

Shalimar Guerlain Ad FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Citruses, mandarin orange, cedar, lemon, bergamot
Heart: Iris, rose, vetiver, jasmine, patchouli
Base: Civet, musk, tonka bean, opoponax, leather, incense, vanilla, sandalwood

Here is the spiel attached to the video:

Paris, 1925. The International Exhibition of Decorative Arts ushered in the new aesthetics it would give its name to: Art Deco. This is where Guerlain launched Shalimar, a quintessence of the West’s Oriental dream that took perfume back to its earliest origins.
But the scent had already been conceived by Jacques Guerlain since 1921. He is said to have gotten the idea when the chemist Justin Du Pont offered him a new vanilla note. To test it, Jacques Guerlain poured it into a bottle of Jicky, sketching out the first major fragrance of the oriental family.

If Shalimar is oriental, it is because its suave gourmand notes recall the sweet balsams of the lands of the One Thousand and One Nights. Its joyful burst of citrus, laced with an overdose of bergamot, adds sparkle to its sensuous, unforgettable base. Its exquisite and paradoxical balance between freshness and sensuality, the garden and the boudoir is sealed by the mythical Guerlinade, an accord of bergamot, iris, rose, jasmine, tonka bean, resins and above all, the vanilla note that forms the luscious heart of Shalimar…

The scent is also oriental through its inspiration. It was a maharajah visiting Paris who told Jacques and Raymond Guerlain the story of the gardens of Shalimar, which sheltered the loves of the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his beloved wife, the Persian Mumtaz Mahal, in the 17th century. A love so absolute that, when his spouse passed away, the emperor erected a white marble mausoleum for her in Agra. It would go on to the Taj Mahal, which the poet Rabindranath Tagore called a solitary tear hanging on the cheek of time…

Shalimar, the world’s first oriental perfume: GUERLAIN

  • Jen says:

    Hmmm Shalimar. I used to love it and now it feels like it is suffocating me.

  • tandaina says:

    I, sadly, cannot wear Shalimar. On others she is seductive and exotic. On me she’s straight up stale powder that’s been sitting on your granny’s dressing table in what used to be a pretty silver box with a big fancy poof but is now a tarnished mess and a crusty flattened poof. Terribly disappointing.

    I finally discovered a flanker that I *can* wear and promptly bought a full bottle. Shalimar Souffle De Parfum smells lovely on me. Just shy of gourmand it’s fresh lemons, some exotic spices, and vanilla. There’s a hint below it all of what Shalimar should smell like but none of the horrible stale powder. It’s delightful, warm, enfolding. For those whose skin ruins the original, try Souffle!

    • Portia says:

      Hi there Tanzania,
      What a wonderful story, I love that you’ve finally found a Shalimar that suits.
      I think you are not alone in the attack of Shalimar. It is a pretty intense ride.
      Portia xx

  • filomena813 says:

    Portia, I really enjoyed the video. Shalimar was among the first perfumes I ever had before I became a serious perfumista. However, I recently purchased another bottle of is and was surprised that it smells very similar to my remberance of it many moons ago. The major difference was that its lasting power was a lot longer years ago..

    • Portia says:

      Hi filomena813,
      Interesting. What concentration were you spritzing and when was it? The old ones definitely did hang around longer, even the EdC that’s still available on discount sites seems to be an older formula, in the gold boxes and the deco bottle.
      TBH I have only smelled the very newest EdP when the bottle changed recently. It has the animal growl that I love so much and lasted quite well.
      Portia xx

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    Thanks for posting the film clip of the lovely Shalimar. I am wearing Shalimar Parfum Initial L’Eau today and find it quite appropriate to wear to work–on a Friday, anyway 😉

    • Portia says:

      Heya Queen Cupcake,
      Shalimar Parfum Initial L’Eau is so pretty, I bet the office smells better than ever with you swanning around in it.
      Portia xx

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I love Shalimar and have a boat load of it. I will admit that the only Shalimar flanker that I have tried and own is the Ode a la Vanille version. I haven’t tried any of the other flankers because I always worry about how badly is this classic butchered. No 19 Poudre is one of those flankers that I am not pleased with.

    • Portia says:

      Hi Eldarwen22,
      Great to see you and truth be told I have a bit of a Shalimar boatload here too.
      Some of the flankers are really excellent, some are merely money grabs and a couple, though not awful, could have been better related to the greatest one. Don’t be afeared, a spritz in a mall won’t kill you. Especially if you spray your SO or kiddies or friends, He he he.
      Portia xxx

  • HeidiC says:

    That video is too fun! Thanks for sharing. I keep trying to like Shalimar, but something about it doesn’t work on me. And I LOVE Guerlain perfumes — vintage Mitsouko is my favorite, and I also often wear Vol de Nuit and Apres L’Ondee. Every time I see a bottle of Shalimar, I try it out again, but still, nothing. Maybe it’s the vanilla? It’s not a note I usually wear.

    • Portia says:

      Hiya HeidiC,
      Wow! You are a Guerlain baby! Me too.
      Shalimar isn’t for everyone sadly. You have the rest of the cream of the crop though.
      Do you try the flankers? They might help to get you across the line?
      Portia xx

  • jackie b says:

    Such a beautiful video. I think I have just chosen my bedtime scent. I recently bought Shalimar Initial which I will probably wear in summer, it is more citrus. But no, the original is the best!

    • Portia says:

      Hey JackieB,
      So glad you enjoyed it.
      I bet you’ll fall asleep and dream of being an Indian princess.
      Shalimar Initial is lovely, a sparkling and fluffy version of the original. MMMMM
      They’re all good.
      Portia xxx

  • bevfred says:

    Shalmar was one of my first perfume loves. I became a perfume fiend at a young age and wore it at my wedding. I’ve enjoyed some of the flankers too, particularly Shalimar Light if I remember correctly. I still wear it on occasion but my tastes have changed somewhat.

  • Barbara j says:

    Oh my, Portia – what a treat to watch that beautiful and relive my Shalimar memories! My first bottle, given to me when I was 30 by a serious boyfriend. My love of the perfume outlasted my love for him and despite forays to other scents in my perfume collection I invariably come back to it through the years. In the years I was single I never failed to get the man I was interested in when I wore it!

    • Portia says:

      Hey Barbara J,
      So glad you enjoyed it. Me too.
      Shalimar is definitely a sirens song, good on you for using it to your advantage.
      Portia xx