Vintage Shalimar is a glorious, head-turning, spellbinding masterpiece of complexity and opulence in its pure parfum form, but the other concentrations can be appealing in different ways or suit different needs. Today, in Part II, we’ll look at the vintage Shalimar Eau de Toilette, Parfum de Toilette, and Eau de Parfum from three decades — the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s — and the ways in which their scent differs in several side-by-side comparisons. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I’m going to have save the technical analysis on how to date bottles of Shalimar for a previously unplanned and additional section, Part III.
There are some fragrances so iconic, so beloved, and so immense in their impact that they require little explanation, and Shalimar may be at the very top of that list. Vintage Shalimar, however, requires a lot of explanation when it comes to choosing the right one for you, especially if you’re trying to stay within a budget.
My hope is to make some of it less confusing for you and to give you a few pointers, but I also want to pay tribute to vintage Shalimar in its pure parfum form. Almost all of us are familiar with the basic gist of Shalimar’s olfactory composition, but the parfum or extrait is exceptional, and The Marly Horse bottles in particular. The latter triggered a sort of madness and obsession in me over the last few months, and ignited a degree of passion that few fragrances — vintage or otherwise — have matched in last 20 years, not even other forms of vintage Shalimar. I’d like to take you down the rabbit-hole with me in this post and its subsequent Parts II and III.
Guerlain takes a rare foray into the oriental genre with one of its newest fragrances, Ambre Eternel. It’s an eau de parfum that was released earlier this year, joining Santal Royal as part of a new collection called Les Absolus d’Orient. Like Santal Royal (with which it shares some notes in common), Ambre Eternel is geared primarily towards the Middle Eastern market, and seems to have somewhat limited distribution. (It’s not listed on most of Guerlain’s websites except the Middle Eastern and French ones, but it is available in parts of Europe and at some high-end American department stores.)
Custom naming rights wrapped up in the patina of exclusivity. That’s one way of looking at Guerlain‘s attempt to distinguish Mon Exclusif from the flood of new releases put out each year, not only by other brands but also from the ten to twenty fragrances that it itself issues. Another way of viewing it, though, is as an asinine, childish gimmick that seeks to hide the utterly generic, insipid, and commercial nature of its scent behind the illusion of luxury and exclusivity, with the added benefit of higher prices to boot. This is a fragrance that I think is driven by cynical marketing and market trends rather than the desire to create a original, compelling creation that stands out on an olfactory basis. [Update 1/26/17 — This fragrance has been renamed as Mon Guerlain. It is the exact same formulation and scent as before. Guerlain pulled “Mon Exclusif,” renamed it, removed the option of personalized stickers discussed below, and selected Angelina Jolie as the fragrance’s celebrity face. In essence, it chose a different form of marketing than the stickers it originally had to distinguish this scent. But the perfume itself remains unchanged, so the review on the substance of the scent itself stands. Mon Guerlain will launch in February 2017. ]