Shalimar: Ode a la Vanille Sur la Route du Mexique by Thierry Wasser for Guerlain 2013


My mate Chairman Meow not long ago told me about this fragrance being sold for a song at FragranceNet. I was interested but at the time I’d just returned from Europe and was already thinking about our next adventure in Korea. There has been plenty of chatter about the differences in the Ode a la Vanille range with Madagascar (known as ShaLemur by the perfumistas) coming out as the clear winner from the group. Today’s offering has been called too close to the original, uninspired and lackluster. Well, I think that depends on what you are after and your expectations….

Shalimar: Ode a la Vanille Sur la Route du Mexique by Guerlain 2013

By Thierry Wasser

Shalimar Vanille Mexique Guerlain FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Caramel, chocolate, incense, iris, opoponax, vanilla, tonka bean

Here’s the deal for me. I love Shalimar. They all sing to me on some level. Shalimar: Ode a la Vanille Sur la Route du Mexique (hereafter known as Mexique) is pretty, furry, sweet and glamorous. Close to Shalimar original? Yes, they could be sisters, where the others are probably cousins. How I think though is that Shalimar original has changed over the years too, the Shalimar we bought in 1930, 1970, 2011 and now in 2014 are all different. Sometimes the differences have been subtle and at other times the fragrance bears a more distant relationship. Though I have no knowledge of how Thierry Wasser works, or any of his reasonings, my mind has made some completely unsubstantiated jumps to conclusions. Please read the following paragraph as a story, not as truth:

I think Thierry Wasser has been playing around with Shalimar to try and get it back to what is more like the original intent of Guerlain. Over the years the tweaks and turns, the different perfumers, the availability of ingredients and now regulations had changed what we bought as Shalimar in 2011 to something still lovely in and of itself but at a far remove from the sensual, dusty, creamy, furry, animal, confection that it was. Having smelled his recreation of the original Shalimar at the Osmotheque in February I wonder if he was inspired by being able to make his houses mainstay fragrance as close as he could to the original formula. So did he, Mr Wasser, then decide to see if he could reinvent the masterpiece? Are we now getting the batches that were made as test runs? Could these be the lead up to what I think is one of the loveliest Shalimars in my coillection, 2013/4, where the growl is back, the lovely and brilliant opening already infused with a tiger that stalks the fragrance till the very last gasp in dry down? Are these the beauties that were lovely but not Shalimar enough?

Shalimar Vanille Mexique Guerlain Mexico Rod Waddington FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

So here I am with a 5ml atomiser of Mexique from My Perfume Samples. I have worn it a coup0le of times and the first hour and a half is mesmerisingly beautiful. I spritz before work and find myself transported to another world, this is like Shalimar: Taste of Fragrance. What was already an ice cream laden gourmand has become a modern chewy choc-caramel lolly, similar but dry and  lacking the HUGE zing of citrus that is so Shalimar, Also missing from Shalimar and found in the Mexique is a furry, mannish, animal purr: a darkness. I get a quirky amberish, macaroon type sweetness that is both crispy and gooey simultaneously, like big coffee sugar pieces that you crunch in your mouth with the dregs of your coffee. It also seems slightly weightless, as if it’s missing some of the important base notes and its lifespan is also considerably shorter at under 4 hours fragrant on my skin, leaving a trail of sweet nothings for a little while longer.

FragranceNet has $46/50ml
My Perfume Samples starts at $3/ml to $9/5ml

Do I love Mexique? Is it different or special enough to FB? To be honest, I have just ordered one.
Portia xx

14 thoughts on “Shalimar: Ode a la Vanille Sur la Route du Mexique by Thierry Wasser for Guerlain 2013

  1. Having only smelled regular Shalimar about two years ago, I was never in love with it. The pink hued Shalimar Initial did not impress me. But now you’re telling me there is a Shalimar out there with some growl to it? This I need to check out! Always on the hunt for a creamy, furry animalic scent. Thnx for the heads up.


    • Hey there Tatiana,
      I think you may like Mexique. I think some of the resins combine to give me a growl, but maybe there is some unnamed synthetic animal too.
      Portia xx


  2. I bought my bottle of fragrance off the web at a great price and I really do like it. It’s actually a little intense for summer, so I’m saving it for the fall.


    • Right Katherine,
      I could well believe that. Here it is the crisp chill of winter, but still around 15-20C during the day. Very nice weather for Mexique.
      Portia xx


  3. Hi Portia! Love the Shalimar Vanille flankers. Must try the Mexique soon. You make it sound divine. Greetings from the mountains. Xo


    • Hello lovely Sandra,
      How is the family holiday going up there? I bet you’re having a blast. What frags did you take?
      Portia xx


  4. I love reading your ‘story’ Portia. How lucky you are to have scented Thierry Wassers recreation of Shalimar. When I scented Shalemur it was the Ode closest to the vintage edc I own and love. The Mexique was not much to my liking the first time I scented it as I missed the lemon merengue but I will try it again.


    • Yes, if you were expecting the openiong in it to read like Shalimar you would have been very let down Esperanza, I totally get that. The body is quite similar though, more than the others in my very limited knowledge of them.
      That EdC is so good. If I have a day to myself for reading I love to spritz the EdC and enjoy its long and beautiful story, I get up to 8 hours out of it with a couple of extra spritzes.
      Portia xx


  5. I’m not sure I need another variant of Shalimar but those 46$ seem so inviting… 🙂
    And Shalimar being one of my all time favorite perfumes…


    • Yep, that’s EXACTLY how I feel Ines. I wore it again today. The secret is getting it on your clothes. My t-shirt still smells amazing hours and hours later.
      Portia xx


    • YAY! I have some Guerlain from Galleries Lafayette too. Shopping under the big glass dome makes everything seem a little more precious to me too Hajusuuri.
      Lovely to read from you, I hope you’re well.
      Portia xx


  6. Portia I just have to say “Wow!” This is the Shalimar that I have always wanted. I have tried most the the Shalimar offerings with the exception of this & the Madagascar. I finished reading your article & proceeded to blind buy Mexique and i have absolutely no regrets. Yum this version rocks on my skin& lasts for 8-10 hrs. I love it from start to finish. I’ve only had my bottle for 2 weeks and I think I’ll have to order another at the rate I’m going. I don’t get the macaroon but I do get a dark, deep vanilla w/an underlying incense. I now wish i could smell the Madagascar version.


    • YAY Lej,
      I hope Lej is short for LEGEND!
      I am glad you love the Mexique. I do too.
      Waft on my dear…
      Portia x


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