Shalimar by Guerlain 1925


Post by Erica Golding


Hello! My name is Erica, and I’ve enjoyed a lifetime obsession with scent. In all my journeys, I never gave Shalimar a chance on my skin. Shalimar, the bottle waiting patiently at practically every perfume counter, mysterious yet familiar. Recently, I was inundated with a torrent of love for this perfume by fans of all ages, all over the world. In the face of such genuine devotion, who was I to resist? I headed straight to a perfume counter, and my first impressions of modern-day Shalimar EdP are as follows:

Shalimar by Jacques Guerlain for Guerlain 1925

Shalimar Guerlain 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

This scent opens with a citronella-like, sharp, insect-repellant bergamot. I just really don’t like the beginning. Much brighter on the card than on my skin. The aroma becomes a little more interesting after settling. Nicely spicy, but with some undertone that comes across as almost rubbery. I’m still not into it, but I admit that I am starting to be hypnotized by the unique, complex puzzle of it all. I keep sniffing, curiously. Later, the fragrance begins to warm into something more harmonious with my aesthetic. I am starting to sense precious woods, amber, and sandalwood, maybe a waft of vanilla as well.

Later still, even more attractive, almost like vanilla pipe tobacco.

And then….


Now I understand. It takes about 30 minutes to get there for me, but – wow. Gorgeous and singularly exceptional, yet hauntingly familiar. Woods and amber with a hint of vanilla, but so much more that defies my recognition. Indescribable. A sensual poem.

Shalimar Blue Water Ad Guerlain FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Next, I sought out vintage bottles. My first scores were EdC in the “watch” bottle and Parfum in the “rosebud” bottle. I decided to review them side by side:

Shalimar EdC:

A quieter, softer opening. Morphs into soft vanilla incense tobacco magic within a few minutes. Fades fast on my skin, a quiet haze that hugs my body closely and shares its presence only with those I allow in that space.

Shalimar Parfum:

A sharp, bold opening. Spicy, and the citronella note is not as bright as with modern EDP but surprisingly still pronounced. Throw is fairly intense, yet somehow focused for me – not a diffusive cloud of fragrance, but a moonbeam piercing the humid summer night’s sky. The aroma drifts into a powdery stage before reaching the equilibrium of the true intent of Shalimar: a warm, almost indescribable perfume that slows my breathing and makes me feel powerfully magnetic. Sultry, mysterious, dark, thickly sensual.

Shalimar Guerlain Shalimar_gardens WikiCommonsPhoto Stolen WikiCommons

Shalimar lasts anywhere from 5-8 hours on my skin. It is definitely an evening, date-night fragrance by tradition ~ and I am a very non-traditional person, so I wear it whenever and wherever the hell I please! That being said, I often crave it at night and wear it as my midnight aromatherapy.

Further reading: Australian Perfume Junkies EdC and Australian Perfume Junkies Parfum
FragranceNet has $48/74ml EdC and other selections
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $3/ml

Shalimar Collection Erica GoldingErica’s Shalimar Collection Photo Donated Erica Golding

I hope you have enjoyed my account of how I lost my Shalimar virginity; and I hope that I’ve either conjured precious scent memories of your own, or piqued your interest in sampling this beauty for your own first time.

With warmly fragrant hugs,
Erica Golding

24 thoughts on “Shalimar by Guerlain 1925

  1. Erica!! So glad to see you here! Looking at the photo of your collection, and I think you went from Zero to a Thousand pretty quickly. I did the same with another perfume. I like the way you don’t mince words when you are not pleased. And your joy when the fragrance becomes beautiful for you is palpable. I am so freakin glad you are doing reviews!!!!!!


    • Tora thank you for your kind words! Yes I stomped on the gas and lady luck was by my side, you would not believe how little I paid for this collection. I practically emptied out my Karma account gathering such lucky finds! Love you T 🙂


  2. Erica – Welcome to the Monkey House as Kurt Vonnegut might say. 🙂

    I have no affection for Shalimar at all. On saying that you have given me kick to have a go again. I am being dragged (unwillingly of course!) around London next week by a couple of professional perfumistas and I will go to Guerlain and have another go. I can´t promise more than that!! Bussi. Val x


    • Hi Val! I’m so flattered that my impressions were enough to convince you to at least give Shalimar one more chance. It took a little time to grow on me, and honestly the biggest hurdle was the citronella bergamot opening. However, that sharp top note calms quickly on the skin, and once it settles into the background, it is actually a critical component of the skin-warmed scent.
      Love what you love, pass by that which isn’t your style, and don’t apologize for having a genuine opinion! Thanks for keeping an open mind. (Skin test it please, even if it’s just a drop on your pinky finger 😉


  3. Hey there Erica,
    Great work. Lovely piece that had me with you the whole way, fingers crossed that you came out loving my favourite fragrance. It was touch and go for a while there.
    One of my dreams, as yet unrealised, is to go to the Shalamar Gardens in Lahore that this majestic piece of heaven is named for. One day….
    Portia xx


    • Thank you so very much for this opportunity, Portia! I had so much fun trying my best to tranlsate my sensory perceptions and emotional reactions into a formalized review.
      If you want to travel there, you will make it happen, I know you will!
      Lots of Love! ~E


  4. Praise be!

    She who was lost at last is found.

    Your beautiful words reporting your journey toward loving this beauty are such treasures. Your explorations of concentrations and vintages will continue to reward you.

    Welcome to the fragrant fold.
    Blessings xOx


    • 🙂 Thank you Sister for your welcome and encouragement! I am just learning about vintage perfume royalty, and I have recently also fallen for vintage Chamade, Mitsouko, Jardins de Bagatelle, Chanel no. 22, Aromatics Elixir, and Opium.
      Thank you for your kind compliments! xxoo


  5. Another one bitten by the Shalimar bug. It is a beauty if it works on your skin. I’ve always liked it because a dear aunt wore it so when I wear it it makes me smile. I love how you jumped right in and tried the different concentrations of it. It’s like having a Shalimar for every occasion. Great review.


    • Hi Poodle! Yes, bitten and poisoned, and the only antidote is more Shalimar! Your aunt wore a treasure, I’m touched to have reminded you of her. I had lots of expert advice on what to seek out and what to expect, I never would have gotten past the top notes on my own. People are awesome 🙂 Thank you for sharing your Shalimar smiles!


  6. Thank you Erica, your experience of Shalimar was almost exactly the same as mine! I too was initially dubious of the citronella opening, but it quickly turned to love once I gave it a chance, I also gained a collection of different formulas very quickly and love them all. To relax I love to spray a few squirts into the bath, feels so decadent!


    • Hi there Ruth! Oh yes fragrance is such an exciting art form to discuss and evaluate. Opinions are not solely based on style, trends, or education ~ scent is a raw, vivid, personalized experience that you experience through your senses, exuding through your entire mind and body. Connecting with another person while sharing facets of a scent experience is a precious geekdom!
      I love that you also have a Shalimar shrine, haha 🙂 Shalimar bath products need to be resurrected!


      • Erica, I use Shalimar Body Wash as a bubble bath. Just a small amount and you are awash with bubbles. It feels divinely decadent. It’s not cheap but lasts for ages.
        Portia xx


  7. Thanks for a great review. I didn’t have a good first impression at first sniff, but I will have to give it another chance based on your review!


    • Hi Sandy! I’m so excited that you are inspired to give Shalimar another shot! Based on my first time, I’d advise a skin test so that you can fully understand what the scent is meant to develop into. I had started having the “aha” moment after about the first 30-60 minutes had passed. Have fun sampling!


  8. Hi Erica

    Great review and welcome! I have tried Shalimar a few times and love it but haven’t yet bought a bottle so thanks for this little push! I love the photo of your collection!

    Katrina xx


    • Hi Katrina! Thank you for your welcome and your kindness 🙂 I hope you score a bottle soon and that it’s enchanting! xo


  9. Hello Erica,
    I loved your review and your beautiful photo too (what an amazing collection of Shalimar).
    I have a couple of vintage perfumes and a newer version as well but find I rarely wear them. I really don’t know why I don’t. You have inspired me to pull them out of storage! Perhaps Shalimar will be my midnight aromatherapy too! Thank you.
    Azar xx


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