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!
Hmm, how much does the parfum extrait cost?
I keep thinking as I never smelled it, that it must be even more wonderful than the current Shalimar I love.
It is not particularly cheap, but the best things never are 😉 Currently 7,5ml go for about 100 Euro.
Ines, the current formulae goes for $125 for 7.5mL USD (that’s what I paid, at any rate—goodness know there are discounters!) 🙂
Hmm, well, I guess the extrait lasts seriously long so I might invest in some. It feels like I fell down into the Shalimar hole and I just keep sinking deeper. Not that I mind.
What I still can’t believe is I didn’t like it a year ago…
It is a great ride down this particular rabbit hole though, isn´t it?
Tastes change… maybe there is hope for me and Back to Black, or maybe not 😉
What a delight to read! I’ve really been looking forward to this post, and Id have to say that I agree with your comparison notes. A note on the condition of the ‘fumes: the extrait and EDC were both new and un-opened in the box when I acquired them, and well-preserved. The EDT, however, I found at an estate sale, with just a couple mL left in it—for all I know, it was sitting in a sunny bathroom for thirty years!
Do you know, aside from a mall tester, I haven’t smelled the EDP? I need to get one of those little Jade Jagger bottles (to add to my collection) 🙂
Wow, I am so proud of my nose then, that it sniffed right! 😉
You should seriously consider the EdP, I like it a lot and the bottle is gorgeous.
Thank you again, Dee, for your generosity and friendship! ❤
No, thank you! This all began with a consolation prize, and a generous introduction to Mr. Tauer, facilitated by yourself 😉
Yeah, I was totally wowed by your nose! You put into words what I could not, and totally nailed it. Now, if I can rustle up a well-preserved vintage EDT for us…
That comment makes me happy!!! 🙂
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I am happy with the new version as well, as it preserves the character of the original. But you are right, the vintage is amazing, so rich, complex, radiant….
Sounds like you have been having a lot of fun smelling all of these beautiful samples! 😉
Yes, I loved comparing the different incarnations of one of my favorite perfumes. I wish I could do that with L’Heure Bleue too. We’ll see…
I really should get over my association game with Shalimar. Old/new/EdP/EdC…Shalimar = Something Mother Wore = Just Not Happening Because. The Principle. Darling.
I really should. At the least find the new Jade Jagger version and tell myself they are not the same, therefore, it’s OK to do.
The truth is, I love Shalimar in any incarnation. I just need to have my neuroses reprogrammed, I think! 😉
Did you ever try to wear it or does the principle kick in before?
The question is why you set yourself this limit. But I better stop before I get all shrink-y on you 😉
Great article. I’ve been very interested in the differences between the various vintages/formulations and you put them into words really well. I don’t often feel the occasion for Shalimar sadly, but will get the parfum when my EDP runs out. It’s also a relief to know I’m not missing out too much by not having the vintage. Thanks!
Thank you, Tara! I am glad I could be of help.
I am happy with the contemporary extrait too. Which is lucky, loving a vintage scent is asking for a heartbreak.
Exactly! I am so relieved that the contemporary extrait is just fine.
Wooo! I feel like I was there with you, breathing in all that luscious Shalimar!
I have the Eau de Cologne, and I am amazed by it’s power. It reminds me of the Shalimar my mother had when I was a teenager so perhaps she had the cologne as well. I was not expecting to be wowed by an Eau de Cologne, but I love it. That first spray out of the bottle is just heavenly. Ambrosial, if you will excuse my purple prose.
I understand not risking buying vintage perfume from ebay. So many things could go wrong between point A and B and one could end up dealing with a lot of anxiety. I’m not a risk-taker so no ebay deals for me. I just keep hoping that vintage perfume will fall from the sky, right into my lap 😉
I was really impressed with the Eau de Cologne too, I expected a lot less presence from it.
About that vintage perfume from the sky – I hope you catch it 😉
Shalimar is my favourite or among them now since I am discovering so many new scents. Yet Shalimar is emotionally speaking my favourite. I used Shalimar in the late 80s and the fragrance I smell now is good and different from the version I used to have. Yet I have to say that although I like it it is not quite the same. The same happens with Ode a la Vanille because although they smell so good they are not the Shalimar I had, but this is completely a personal opinion!
Sure, there is a difference. But I don´t want to set my heart on a vintage version I am unable to get. So I am glad the contemporary version is very good also, if slightly different 🙂
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