Shalimar / Guerlain

27 Sep

Four centuries ago, in India, Emperor Shah Jahan fell hopelessly in love with Princess Mumtaz Mahal. He had the enchanting Gardens of Shalimar built for her and dedicated the Taj Mahal to her as well, one of the seven new wonders of the world. This incredible tale sparked the imagination of Jacques Guerlain, who created Shalimar, the first oriental fragrance in history, in 1925.

I remember my first encounter with this legendary perfume at Barney’s. I was with my husband at the time, saw this gorgeous bottle sitting so grandly on its crystal counter top, and knew there was no turning back.

My first impression was…omg this is a huge mistake. I smelled like a vintage coat that’s been saturated over the years with cigarette smoke and old incense. Top notes of orange, leather, and tobacco were so overwhelmingly sharp that it made me want to gag.

So I went home a little bummed out, thinking that I might have missed out on such an iconic scent. However something amazing happened in the car, Shalimar transformed itself into a beautiful vanilla-incense dry-down unlike anything I have ever smelled before.

The only image that comes to mind is sparkling blue sands under a layer of night with glimmering stars and crescent moon. It’s super intense, smoldering and exotic…the vanilla mixed with a rummy leather is sooo enchanting and mysterious. I felt like an Arabic princess in her marble palace; surrounded by bouquets of  incense and iris. It was a moment that I kept coming back to months later until I finally purchased a bottle of my own.

A Love story for the ages.



Top Notes
Citruses, Mandarin Orange, Cedar, Bergamot, Lemon
Middle Notes
iris, Patchouli, Jasmine, Vetiver, Rose
Base Notes
Leather, Sandalwood, Musk, Civet, Vanilla, Incense, Tonka Bean

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