I recently received samples of various vintage concentrations of one of my favorite perfumes – Shalimar. Danielle took pity on me, to stop my lamenting that I would never, ever get my hands on vintage Shalimar, which practically rendered my life meaningless.
So now, here I sit, grinning like the cat that got the cream, surrounded by five different variants of Shalimar. Now you wish the internet was scratch and sniff, huh?
I endeavor to shortly describe my impressions for every rendition of Shalimar sitting before me, as well as try to compare them. I hope to come to a definite conclusion, chiefly to satisfy my own mind, that longs for clarity on this matter.
The Extrait de Parfum, 1967: Upon dabbing a drop of this I am already swooning, it is full bodied, round, the vanilla base is right there from the start singing in perfect harmony with perfectly preserved bergamot topnotes. Aaaahh, this smells perfect, well balanced, that is how Shalimar should smell. It stays on my skin what feels like forever, this one tiny drop enveloping me in an embrace like only Shalimar can.
The Eau de Toilette, 1967: Whew, what a difference! This smells incredibly thin, not just a bit skanky, the top notes are almost gone, I get practically no citrus. Only a hefty dose of civet, then some vanilla. It seems flat and two-dimensional. All in all it seems like a stick figure to the Extrait´s full figured woman.
The Eau de Cologne, 1967: Wow, this has very good sillage for a cologne concentration! It is very diffusive, screams SHALIMAR at you, before losing steam rather quickly. It is not really lasting long, although it stays with me way longer as expected and it is only in direct comparison to the Extrait, that it loses a lot of its charm. It impresses me because I did not think of an Eau de Cologne in these terms, but it was a different time then. 😉
The Eau de Parfum, 2010: This is the latest version of the Eau de Parfum in the new Jade Jagger bottle. This is Shalimar as I know and love it. It is familiar of course, and I clearly prefer it over the EdT and EdC. In direct comparison with the vintage Extrait, though, it must step down. It cannot hold its own against that much perfection. It is not as smooth, not quite as full and deep and dignified and naughty and sweet and…you get my drift. Still a very good contender!
The Extrait de Parfum, ca. 2010: I am not sure about the exact year of production it is no older than two years though. The contemporary Extrait is doing a great job. Initially there is not so much difference, but in the later stages of development there is a difference in depth and “naughtiness” that is clearly placing those two in their chronological context. But still… I am surprised at how much I like the current version. I am massively relieved, because the vintage one is not so much better than the current one as to totally rule it out.
The vintage Extrait de Parfum wins all out, of course it does and I love it and cherish the sample I have.
The contemporary version is not bad at all though, I can happily live with it. And I will too.
If I had the money and the guarantee, that I could get a life time supply of the vintage Extrait, of course I would prefer it. But as it is, the difficulties obtaining this gem are not worth the risks.
I would rather have a fresh bottle of perfume, than a vintage one that is hard to find, super expensive to boot and poses a financial risk to buy over eBay or some such source. Where I never know whether I will be able to get it again, or whether it contains what it says it does, or whether I have to treat it like a raw egg.
On my wishlist remains only a flacon of contemporary Extrait.
Not the old Queen, but her slightly different, but worthy successor.
I can rest now.
My review of the contemporary Eau de Parfum can be found here.
Picture Source: 1950ies Guerlain ad via Vintage Ad Browser, all rights reserved, thank you!