Shalimar Parfum Initial

Imagine what would happen if the lovely Dita von Teese went onto one of those awful makeover shows. After a few snide remarks about how “old-fashioned” she looks, they would no doubt replace her red lipstick and retro-fabulous wardrobe with low-rise jeans, halter tops, and goopy pink lipgloss. The end result might well still be attractive, but Dita would have lost the glamour that made her so special in the first place. I’m sure y’all can see where I’m going with this.

Shalimar Parfum Initial represents a similar transformation. Shalimar’s in there somewhere, if you squint hard enough, but its luscious lemon has been replaced by generic “pink” notes and an overwhelming amount of patchouli. I was honestly repulsed the first time that I smelled Parfum Initial. I still do not find it particularly pleasant, even compared to its pink patchouli peers. Parfum Initial is far from an improvement on Shalimar, and is honestly unworthy of Guerlain.

In the BBC’s perfume documentary, perfumer Thierry Wasser states that he is working on a “pink Shalimar”, but does not have a formula for it yet. This, in my opinion, is Parfum Initial’s downfall. Wasser was clearly crafting a perfume around an image, rather than an image around the perfume. Some of Wasser’s other contributions to Guerlain’s distinguished range include the Narciso Rodriguez rip-off Idylle and the dreadful Iris Ganache. I find myself feeling a bit concerned for Guerlain.

11 thoughts on “Shalimar Parfum Initial

  1. I remember reading once that Dita tried using a stylist. The woman took a look at Dita’s vintage shoes & commented how cute they’d be with a pair of jeans … Dita had to let her go.

    This perfume sounds like a disaster. I prefer my vintage Shalimar in its Baccarat bottle. Guerlain is really a bit of a travesty now.

    1. Disaster is accurate. You hold on tight to that vintage bottle. I hope to God that they don’t try to phase Shalimar out soon like they’re doing to Miss Dior (have you heard about that? The former Miss Dior Cherie is now “Miss Dior”. Like they had anything in common???)

      1. Are they really doing that? Makes me wish I had bought a bottle of Miss Dior when I was in St Thomas last week. I was sniffing it — I have samples but never bought a FB — and almost made the purchase but didn’t for whatever reason. This is so absurd. Perfume is being destroyed because they want to market everything to the ‘younger’ & ‘fresher’ crowd. Sorry, but teenagers can’t afford these perfumes, so why market them to teens? I have some fun frivolous fragrances, but I also want my sophisticated classics.

      2. EXACTLY. Makes no goddamn sense. How can they be so unaware of who their customers are??? And I highly doubt that your average teenager is going to go for a Guerlain over Pink Sugar anyway, even if it is in a pink bottle. Plus, since they’ve made this smell so generic, there would be no reason to spend the extra dollars on a Guerlain, since there are so many cheaper perfumes that smell just like it!

      3. First I read that Miss Dior Cherie will become Miss Dior and Miss Dior will be called Miss Dior Original. But now I do not see Miss Dior on the website anymore. I’m very upset. Now I have to find a bottle and buy. Why?! Why do they do that??!
        Can’t say anything good or bad about PI: not being a Guerlain fan, this one I could wear but I do not want to.

  2. Oh no! I can’t believe that you hate this! I haven’t sniffed it yet, but I’ve been feeling optimistic; my motto is (like quite a few other people’s) “I haven’t met a Shalimar I didn’t like.”

    Well, my little tester should be here in a week or so—I guess I should just prepare for doom and gloom, and be pleasantly surprised, rather than the other way around! 😦

    1. Oh noooo! I really hope that your optimism is rewarded, Dee. The Non-Blonde has a more positive review if you’d like to get your hopes back up!

      1. … and my decant arrived today (thanks to Carrie Meredith!), and I am completely happy with it! I love my perfectly preserved vintage parfum, my EDC, my current parfum, my Ode a la Vanille version, and even this, My First Shalimar (what, no sparkles??).

        I am a Shalimar ho, through and through, not even the pink can stop me.

  3. I’m not a huuuuuge Shalimar fan, though I admire it (esp in vtg parfum de toilette) and I truly love Shalimar Light. Everyone who has reviewed PI mentions the patchouli, which is pretty much a dealbreaker for me.

    You’re absolutely right – how in the world does Guerlain think it’s going to appeal to teenagers with this stuff? The ones who will like it won’t be able to afford it. Are they going for the wallets of grandparents who wear Habit Rouge and L’heure Bleue, and who have granddaughters with Sweet Sixteen parties coming up?

    1. It seems to be the non-Shalimar lovers, mostly (with the apparent exception of Dee) who are taking to this one. But yes, the patchouli is very evident. I’m not sure if it would be worse or better without it.

      I suspect that the “grandparents who wear old-school Guerlains and want their granddaughters to carry on the legacy” strategy will work better in France than in the U.S. All the grandmas I know wear Chanels or Estee Lauders.

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