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 Shalimar’s in there somewhere, if you squint hard enough, but its luscious lemon has been replaced by generic “pink” notes and an overwhelming amount of patchouli.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.