Shalimar Parfum Initial Review


Ah, Shalimar. The sole mention of the name is so evoking! You can't touch it. It's one of those fragrances that makes the wearer inherently cool in front of perfumistas.

Shalimar is one of my mom's signature scents, she guards it zealously. I imagine we all have women in our family who wear it. It is the "First Oriental", and one of the most famous scents in the world. I love it, in theory. But the few times I've tested it, it didn't go how I imagined. I feel like I spray it on but I can't reach it. Shalimar, in my head, is gorgeous and has no boundaries. On my skin however, it's an old bar of soap. I get whiffs of something I like and that is strangely addictive- that bar of soap is scented with something that I like, but I can't get to it.

Is it the powder, is it the bergamont, is it that essences smelled different 200 years ago? I don't know. Whatever it is, it's frustrating.

Fast-forward to Shalimar Initial, which is a loud blast of that scent that I couldn't get to, right from the beginning. With a little dirty thrown in there.  I don't want to say that it compares to Agent Provocateur or Vivienne Westwood Bodoir, but it has that spirit, that is a little sweaty and wouldn't be quite right on a bright Summer morning.

Fortunately, it is nothing like I thought it would be, given the premise of a "Shalimar for a 17 year old". It's not that I think that a teenager's selection should be limited to "fresh" and "fruity floral"- I myself was more interested in Philosykos when I first started smelling things- and it's not that I doubt the good taste of the younger generations, but this doesn't strike me as a particularly "young" fragrance. It's pretty powerful, has a lot of character, it's not approachable or easy to wear (not significantly so), and I don't think it is standard enough that everyone will like it. Which is a good thing.

So what does it smell like? If you're familiar with Shalimar, take away the soapy edge and the powder, intensify the sweetness of the citrus, vanilla and the tonka, and add a dirty stocking. Parfum Initial starts with a certain effervescence. Sweet citrus, lemony. Flowers come in...sandalwood, patchouli. Very charming. Sophisticated, but Shalimar is still more elegant, opens more sinuously. Parfum Initial I would say, is a modern interpretation, but not a dumb one. I love Parfum Initial, although a part of me wishes this was a little bit more like Shalimar.

If you have no idea what Shalimar is, try it, if only because it's a big part of history.

I agree with others that this is less fine, less detailed, and more to the point. Warmer, fleshier. If Shalimar is a tall tower carved in ivory, in your oriental estate in India, this is the girl sitting inside it.