Sadly, I don’t get on with Shalimar. I apologise to its fans. It’s not you, it’s me. On my skin it turns to Castrol GTX Engine oil. It’s not good. However, despite the fact it doesn’t suit me, I do like the “rasp” and the “roughness” of it. Shalimar Parfum Initial was created in 2011 by Thierry Wasser who has a prolific Guerlain portfolio, including the previously reviewed La Petite Robe Noir EDT and EDP. Amusingly, the picture of him on Fragrantica (left) has him wreathed in cigarette smoke.
I was not expecting to like Shalimar Parfum Initial but the Sales Assistant at my local (small) Guerlain counter had laid out a whole load of free samples on the counter and then walked away. Old IScent brushed past with capacious handbag. I only took one. OK. Two. All right then, I swiped four of them. It’s love, I tell you.
Shalimar Parfum Initial is unusual in that it is both powdery and green at the same time. Before it has dried on my arm, it smells like a brand new ream of paper, but that impression dies away as it dries. First impressions once it’s dried is of a Bergamot and Musk merger taking place, the combination of which really seems to work. Bergamot is one of my favourite notes so I was all nostrils a-quiver. However, this is no summer lightweight. Against the background of the refreshing but muffled Bergamot, there are delicious hearty Patchouli notes, with raspy Vetiver and pretty Jasmine and Rose. The Rose is particularly dominant.
There is reportedly a caramel base in the note, but thankfully I cannot detect it. I get disappointed when a scent I am enjoying goes all sweet shop on me, but that doesn’t happen here. Shalimar Parfum Initial is different to other scents coming out today. Its ingredients ensure that this is no “also-ran” in the raft of new launches. It is wonderfully Woody, softened by Musk, but it’s those Green notes that are a real knockout. As it’s Autumn, I am appreciative of the dry, grassy Vetiver which often disagrees with me, but is perfect here. It’s hard to give it a label. If I had to I would call it a floral Oriental. But you could also call it a gutsy Green with a prickly Patchouli base. On the Guerlain website it is described as “A radiant amber floral signature”. Whatever you call it, do try it if you get the chance. This is a modern Guerlain worthy of the name.