If I was forced to vote for the greatest perfume of all time I may well plump for Shalimar. The only problem is that I hardly ever wear it. It just seems very “evening-y” to me and that doesn’t really fit in with my less than glamorous, in-bed-by-ten lifestyle. As a consequence, the Shalimar flankers are my wearable friends. Having said that, I could understand ‘fume fans concern at the news in 2011 that Guerlain were releasing a version of Shalimar aimed at the youth market. A sort of entry level Guerlain to get you hooked on the good stuff from a young age.
Considering most perfumes aimed at teenagers are sugary confections it’s perhaps unsurprising that Parfum Initial is a gourmand rather than an oriental like its antecedent. It is much sweeter and fruitier but actually it is different enough from the original not to feel like sacrilege.
Shalimar Parfum Initial was created by Thierry Wasser and notes include bergamot, orange, jasmine, iris, rose, fruity notes, green notes, patchouli, tonka bean, vetiver, vanilla and musk.
On first spray, I very much miss the citrus-y tartness of the original, which is replaced here by caramelised fruit. A wonderfully raspy iris quickly makes its presence known and helps to take the edge off the sweetness. Once the opening fades, for the next couple of hours everything is obscured for me by an incredibly persistent white musk. It should be said that I am extremely sensitive to this type of material, whereas others may not register it at all.
After the musk subsides, a pleasant mix of red berries and sweet florals – mostly rose – comes to the fore. The best is yet to come though, in the form of a light and fluffy vanilla base with a whiff of bonfire about it. This is a nice reminder of the Shalimar I know and love. Far from being a watered down version of the original, this is pretty potent stuff and so sillage and lasting power are considerable.
Personally, I’ll stick with the sadly discontinued Shalimar Light or seek out the latest incarnation, Shalimar Ode A La Vanille Sur La Route De Madagascar, but then I’m not in Parfum Initial’s target demographic. It would be a good option for fans of post-Angel fruity gourmands or those seeking a starter Guerlain. It is definitely more than a couple of steps up from most mainstream perfumes aimed at today’s youth.
Lovers of the sexy and sophisticated original are unlikely to be satisfied by this people-pleasing upstart, but it does achieve its aim. It is a modern re-working of a classic that will appeal to a younger audience and if it introduces a whole new generation to the wonders of Guerlain, surely that can only be a good thing.
Shalimar Parfum Initial is available in 40ml, 60ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum.