Shalimar by Guerlain: Back To My Favourite


Post by Portia


Hiya Frag Fiends,

Shalimar has been my enduring fragrant love. Since it was the fragrance of my Mum for years and some of her friends continued to wear it right through our childhood. Then working a couple of summers at the fragrance counter in a suburban mall, Carlingford Grace Bros. and getting to know a slew of fragrances it still held sway as the most beautiful of them all. Even now after being down the fragrant worm hole for years I still come back to Shalimar regularly and every time I do I quietly ask myself why I ever needed to stray from its billowing extravagance.

Shalimar by Guerlain 1925: Back To My Favourite

Shalimar by Jacques Guerlain

Shalimar Guerlain Ad FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

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

All I knew of Shalimar through my childhood was that it smelled incredible: its sweet, lemon ice-creamy vanilla over a hefty dollop of animal warmth, woodsy incense and plush leathers was so alluring and engulfing.

Named for the Shalimar gardens of Lahore (and Kapurthala’s homage) but the back story is of the love of Shah Jahan for a princess from the Persian nobility who he fell in love with, married and made her his favourite queen, after she died giving birth to their 14th child he nearly bankrupted his kingdom building the Taj Mahal as her crypt. The second time I was at the Taj Mahal the whole experience was so overwhelming that I needed to sit on the steps leading into the park and have a little moment. Yes, I was wearing Shalimar.

Shalimar Guerlain Collectionj 2015

Above is a picture of my Shalimar collection. Only the bottles of open boxes are shown, quite a few remain unopened because they are doubles, I have decants or they are discontinued and having/holding/looking at them is as good as smelling them. One of my parfums is not parfum at all (maybe EdC?) and another smells like it has been stretched with perfumers alcohol. The rosebud bottle is still sealed as are the 16oz watchface bottle and the little parfum on the navy box. The batwing bottle that is 1/3 full is my 4th bottle of EdT over the years, I really want to buy one of the newest but feel naughty as I have 2 backups bought at extremely reasonable prices when buying this one. What is interesting is that though the Shalimars are all different, they are so similar that if you’re wearing them for pleasure rather than parsing and blogging they are all pretty much one. No matter what era though the lemon ice-creamy fizz with the vanilla and an animal growl fits me like a glove. My number one.

Further reading: Erica Golding at APJ and Portia on EdC at APJ
FragranceNet has EdT $49/90ml before Coupon
Surrender To Chance has EdP samples from $3/ml

What is your number one?
Portia xx

33 comments on “Shalimar by Guerlain: Back To My Favourite

  1. Jackie b says:

    Years ago I had a sample of Shalimar, I think it had gone off and smelled sweaty. So I thought it was not for me. Then I got a handful of samples with a recent purchase and enjoyed them in quick succession. I reckon a FB would suffer the same fate!
    I believe there are also bath products…
    PS your collection is stunning!

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hey JackieB,
      Yes, it’s amazing how quickly the bottles empty themselves, but smelling of Shalimar is its own reward. Yes, I also have the Shower Gel that I use as Bubble Bath. I forgot to put that bottle in the picture, oops!
      So glad you like the collection, it’s the first time I’ve set them all up like that and enjoyed the array.
      Portia xx

  2. Bernadette Winfield-Gray says:

    Scent wise I am such a flighty piece; I do love Shalimar, but does she really, truly love me back? For a scent to which I keep returning, it would have to be the mighty, haughty Caleche. The first true love that got away would have been Guerlain’s Parure. BTW I loved your speaking of ‘taking a moment’ at the Taj Mahal. So tender!

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      AHHHH Caleche Bernadette Winfield-Gray! Are you in Sydney? I have some old Caleche that you should smell, words cannot express…..
      That Taj Mahal is beyond my ability to comprehend. All done for love. My first visit was with someone who I thought was the love of my life, and in some ways has been, so to return with my BFF there was a lot of emotional baggage that needed releasing. The greatest monument to love built by mankind, it’s really special.
      Sorry, I think I just completely overshared. It all came back in a rush.
      Portia x

      • Bernadette Winfield-Gray says:

        You are such a generous soul Portia that I feel sure that in this forum oversharing is fine. I live Down South in Melbourne so that vintage Caleche sniff may have to wait awhile. Now that I think of it Caleche has a golden aura suited to Sydney sunshine. I would not dream of wearing her in the depths of a Melbourne winter, a time when Shalimar or Vol de Nuit get an outing.

        • australianperfumejunkies says:

          MMMMM, You mention 3 of my favourites in a paragraph.
          One day you’ll be in Sydney, it’s only a couple of hours away.
          Portia xx

  3. Anna maria says:

    Impressive collection of Shalimar Portia!

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Thanks Anna-Maria, you should come over, have one of Jin’s Apple Pies and smell some Shalimar
      Portia xx

  4. Azar says:

    Oh Lord, Portia!
    What an enormous and photogenic stash. Now I don’t feel quite so bad about all of my Fidji (still the favorite) and my tendency to buy back ups of anything I like even a just little bit.
    Azar xx

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hey there azar,
      You would be outraged if you knew how many fragrances I’ve collected stashes of. Please come to Australia and be outraged to my face.
      Smelled vintage Fidji parfum recently. Good eye rolling in back of head experience and moans. What a fragrance.
      Portia xx

  5. Fifi says:

    Wearing Shalimar at the Taj Mahal? That is too, too perfect. I keep telling you, you’re an icon in the making. I’ve always loved Shalimar too, although it is not the thing that smells the very best on me. I’ve still got a small sample for those times when only Shalimar will do. Remember the movie, ‘The Four Seasons’ with Alan Alda? The young girlfriend’s swain gives her a gift while they are all sailing around some island or other. “Oh my Gad, SHAAALIMAR?” she squeals with delight. That actually put me off Shalimar for a year or two, ha ha.
    Aloha from

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hey Fifi!
      That was one of our families favourite movies. Every year when it came on TV we would all watch it. It was held up as a lesson movie on so many levels.
      The fruit photographing ex wife, the loud mouth wife, fat husband, sinking Mercedes. We all loved it so much, didn’t it have Carol Burnette as Alda’s wife?
      Even the divorce was a lesson. Don’t let your friends go, no matter how uncomfortable.
      Portia xx

      • Fifi says:

        Yes, it was Carol Burnett as his wife, and Sandy Dennis as the fruit wife, and I think Rita Moreno played the loud-mouth wife (“Danny, I’m It-A-lian!”) I did like that movie, it’s pretty cool your family watched it every year. But I couldn’t think of Shalimar for a long time, without Oh-my-Gad-SHAAALIMAR? echoing in my head.

  6. annemariec says:

    Have you tried the new Cologne, Portia? Is it different from the Eau de Cologne of the old days? How do they compare to the EDT? I’m curious to hear from a Shalimar lover!

    I have never managed to love Shalimar because the vanilla and ice cream effect feels dense and heavy on my skin, makes me feel shut in. I did like the opening of the new Cologne – tried it last week – because it’s nice and gauzy, but after that, the usual Shalimar effect came in. 🙁

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hey AnnemarieC,
      Sorry, haven’t yet made it to the Guerlain Counter to try it. I was there last week too and completely forgot. Soon.
      Portia xx

  7. Robert H. says:

    What a wonderful article, Portia. Shalimar was a tough love for me until one day I just “got” it. Now I cannot imagine NOT having it in my collection! I just can’t seem to stop buying it, or it’s flankers. Oh…..and backups. So far I love every version! And the new cologne is really terrific, light and breezy yet still unmistakably Shalimar.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Aha! Robert, if you love the new cologne then I will hurry to the mall to try it. HA! Me too on the incessant purchasing…
      Portia xx

  8. cookie queen says:

    You have an OCD.
    I only decided I like Shalimar this year. The current extrait. I would like to try some vintage stuff one day, nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more. Bussi.

  9. Tim says:

    Hello gorgeous.
    I know you did tell me of your Shalimar collection when we met last but WOW!!!!
    I so wanted to love Shalimar but I don’t think she likes me or maybe I just haven’t found the right one.
    Love your personal stories at the Taj Mahal.
    XXX… T

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hey Tim,
      Great to see you. One day you’ll come over and try ALL THE SHALIMARS!
      Portia xx

    • cookie queen says:

      Hey Tina! I never liked Shalimar on me. However this summer I sprayed the extrait (current version) and went and bought it the following week. So there you go. Hugs. xxxx

    • cookie queen says:

      I meant Tim, not Tina. Duh.

  10. Fazal says:

    I am from Lahore which is home to the Gardens of Shalimar, which is the inspiration behind the perfume Shalimar, which is the inspiration behind this article 🙂

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      One day we’ll meet in Lahore and go to the gardens. That would be incredible.
      Portia xx

  11. poodle says:

    I have one of those giant watch face bottles of EDC. Vintage. It was my godmother’s. It’s lovely stuff. I’m in awe of your collection. I’d love to have a collection like that of Angel. They’ve had some fabulous bottles. I’m not sure if I have a perfume love like you do for Shalimar. Most that were “my” scent got ruined by bad memory associations so while I may still wear them I don’t collect them.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      How freaking annoying Poodle,
      Maybe do something totally new, fun and unexpected in the bad memory association ones and see if the memory is erased by joy?
      Portia xx

  12. OMG you’re obsessed! Awesome collection. I’m very pleased to see it’s Shalimar though. Definitely one of my all time favourites and in fact I may just go and spray it right now. x x x

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hey meganinsaintemaxime,
      Yes, obsessed is a pretty good word for how I love my Shalimar. There are much worse things to be obsessed about, and I only use play money to buy it.
      So far, so good.
      You smell fabulous.
      Portia xx

  13. […] a few wears, the sensual woody oriental has me reaching for my Shalimar to compare. Yes. There is something fizzy, smouldery and voluptuously vanilla about this unlikely […]

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