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Bombay Duck London

Eau de Shalimar

Applying Shalimar to your pulse-points is something of a rite of passage.  Do it when you’re too young, and it’s the equivalent of trying on your mother’s too-big shoes, or smooshing her red lipstick inexpertly around your pout.  The original, legendary Shalimar fragrance is a by-word for sensuality:  created in 1925 by Jacques Guerlain, it is overwhelmingly sexy, powdery, a bit like a blowsy Vaudeville star who invites you to air-kiss her backstage, whereupon you find yourself clasped to her generous embonpoint.  (I admit it:  I love, love, love it, although to many people – a trifle tragically, if you ask me – Shalimar is still considered an ‘old lady’ fragrance.)  But occasionally – as here, with Eau de Shalimar Edition Charms – Guerlain have a little play with Shalimar, to make it more wearable by a younger generation.

(And possibly more ‘everyday’ for Shalimar-lovers who, for the most part, save it for after-dark, when they’re swathed in silk, satin, velvet.  Or for when they’re naked.)  So, previously, Guerlain brought us Shalimar Eau Légere (translates as ‘Shalimar-lite’), with a surprising burst of citrus notes that all but punched you in the nose upon spritzing.  This incarnation is altogether softer from the get-go:  any traces of lemon sorbet, orange and bergamot dissolve in a flash (despite some descriptions which bizarrely classify it as a ‘Citrus’ perfume).

With iris at its heart, Eau de Shalimar is seriously powdery.  The vanilla’s less in-your-face than the original Shalimar, while delivering much of its custardy comfort.  After a couple of hours on my skin, delicious whispers of incense and ambergris emerge, so it becomes subtly reminiscent of the amber-y signature scent you encounter were you to you step inside Reminscence (the glitzy French costume jewellery boutique that’s a legacy from St-Tropez circa 1970: all broderie Anglaise, bleached denim and hair to match).  Eau de Shalimar – here, in a bottle with a charm around its neck (hence the name) – is certainly very, very pretty.  And very, very wearable:  a sunny, upbeat fragrance.

Will the Eau de Shalimar wearer ultimately ‘graduate’ to Shalimar…?  That’s obviously what Guerlain are hoping.  But a diploma from the University of Life – not to mention love – will still be required before most young women will feel that they can carry off that most daring and OTT of perfumes.  Unlike its fragrant ancestor, Eau de Shalimar isn’t at all decadent.  An anxious mother certainly needn’t fear for her underage daughter’s virtue if she stepped out on a date wearing Eau de Shalimar:  it’s as sweet as a cupcake – and about as dangerous, frankly.

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2 comments to Eau de Shalimar

  • Elizabeth

    What a helpful article!
    I recently ordered Eau De Shalimar online blindly, and after making my purchase, I had second thoughts. It had such a mixture of reviews; the “old lady” smell from some comments really put me off.
    But thanks for this! I hope it blends well with my skin, though!

  • Diana

    How on earth can a fragrance be considered “Old Lady” when Shalimar and other time honored clasic perfumes were first created they were worn by young Women as well as older Women….Do you think that young women have changed over the years…a lady is still a lady and she still knows what smells good on her despite the decade…..I know of no perfume that is created just for “Old Ladies”! They are all created for Ladies of any age. I know many older ladies who are classy, fashionable and wear a perfume that smells fabulous on them….even if it was created decades ago or it was created last week….a good smelling perfume will stand the test of time…

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