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Group: Chypre Floral
I recently acquired a nice little lot of Guerlain miniatures from a collector who stopped collecting them, including some recent editions such as Shalimar Parfum Initial Eau de Parfum. The original Shalimar is one of my evening winter scents I use on special occasions and consider as a great classic. A re-interpretation scheme has been going in for a few years now in the Guerlain house with numerous spin-offs including the Parfum Initial line with now four fragrances out and I have been wanting to try out some of them.
The iconic and original fan-shaped bottle has been partially re-used. The body is taller and its wings have been clipped so to speak and its neck is now adorned with a deep blue tassel. The juice is pink instead of yellow and there's no frontal label but a simple black print as opposed to the classic Shalimar editions so the shift towards a streamlined design and a less classic approach is obvious.
Top notes: bergamot, mandarin, green notes
Parfum Initial opens up with notes of fresh, sharp and slightly bitter bergamot and orange. Early on, the greenness and bitterness translate as a distinct Pine Sol note to my nose. This emblematic aroma present in the original Shalimar is part of the exaggerated bergamot and cedarwood Guerlinade accord. The bitterness and harshness of cedarwood is fleeting though and minutes later the gentler and softer tones of the heart take over the composition.
Middle notes: rose, iris, jasmine, vetiver, patchouli
As the fragrance settles, the most dominant elements that develop are powdery iris and sweet rose that together give off a characteristic bubble gum feel. The projection is sweet and powerful and gradually fills my small office room. There's an underlying hint of the bitter and citric Pine Sol of Shalimar but instead of the leading jasmine and resins, it's the iris and rose that rule the scene in Parfum Initial.
Throughout the middle phase the rose stays very noticeable and sweet. Combined with the increasingly powdery iris and the odd whiff of the plasticky bubble gum scent an image keeps popping up in my head: that of a little girl who put on her mum's Shalimar then doused herself in some of her own bubble-gum Eau de Toilette to mask it. The plasticky smell gives the heart an unusual and quirky character without being unpleasant, actually, some white flowers are known for having this musky scent reminiscent of a doll's hair.
A few hours later as the powdery iris ebbs away, Parfum Initial develops a buttery edge similar to the one in Coco Mademoiselle as well as a hint of bitter and aromatic but clean patchouli. The sweet and powdery them is still there however the accord turns more and more musky. The musk and floral combination that's oscillating between a plasticky and caramel-y undertone lasts well into 6 - 7 hours and is also noted by others around me.
Base notes: musk, vanilla, tonka bean, caramel
The sweet, musky and caramely heart finally ends on an incredibly soft, plush bed of sweet foody vanilla laced with a cracking creme brulee edge. The mouth watering vanilla and the burnt-like, nutty finish is a lot more gourmand and edible candy or dessert-type as opposed to Shalimar where the vanilla is mixed with a lot of insense and resins. This is however Guerlain, master of vanillic orientals and the vanilla is as elegant and perfumey as it can get.
To offset the sweetness of the vanilla, the drydown retains its strange plasticky or burnt touch which probably comes from the musk after all and it now has a sort of freshly-ironed shirt feel to it. The musk largely replaces the original balmy, smoky and woody Tolu balsam, the powerful signature of the original Shalimar. Instead, the final drydown is musky and vanillic in a young-hearted fashion offset with only a pinch of burnt plastic, oh yes, that's not as exotic-sounding asTolu balsam and is obviously less sexy however they are both there to give that smoky, incense finish that lasts - although a lot less projected - well into the evening.
Conscious of the fact that the classic Shalimar will never drum up enough customers and draw the young crowds in, Parfum Initial is more an exercise in marketing than the passion to produce a great fragrance. The result is a fairly good, well-executed and dead on trend creation. Exploiting the ever so popular powdery iris - rose theme, the fragrance is like a charming, sweet, young and carefree lady whose innocent and charming manners are sure to please many. Its underlying Shalimar signature adds a touch of elegance and sophistication keeping the sweet and innocent side from becoming cheapish and generic.
The sillage and staying power are excellent and a couple of spritzes suffice for the day. More than that and the scent can become easily cloying. It's probably my age and more mature taste that I didn't really warm to Parfum Initial too much and the reason I did to some extent is the vague resemblance to the Grand Dame. I find Parfum Initial pretty and enchanting, yes, as well as somewhat immature, but that I think is deliberate. The goal was certainly to please the younger generation and spark an interest in the house's historic creations. I do not care how many flankers see the day to keep the cash flowing in and trying to please every woman and her dog. As long as Guerlain keep their hands off the original Shalimar and its formula, I'm fine.
In conclusion, Parfum Initial really is a Shalimar for beginners but it is also so far away from the original classic that it might as well be a distinct, albeit conform, fashionable, young and sweet juice saved by the touch of class and hint of maturity from the original Shalimar. Well, Shalimar remains then, indestructible.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Available from Guerlain concessions throughout department stores or online starting at £39.50 / 40ml and £49.99/ 75ml Eau de Parfum. The 40ml EDP + 75ml Shower Gel set is currently on offer costing only £24.99 at The Perfume Shop outlets
©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites
My first Shalimar / An initiation into voluptuousness, sensuality, an initiation into Shalimar / It is the moment when it all begins, like the freshness of the first time, like a captivating new emotion / A luminous interpretation with ambery floral notes / The fresh burst of bergamot gives way to a delicate floral heart: an orchestrated overdose of rose, jasmine and iris / The vanilla and Tonka bean base instantly whets addiction, like the captivating feel of cashmere on bare skin.