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Shalimar, created by perfumer Jacques Guerlain — probably Guerlain's greatest perfumer — was introduced in 1925. The Shalimar bottle is probably one of the most recognizable perfume bottles of all time, with the possible exception of Chanel's No. 5 bottle (which was actually used for a number of different fragrances). Like the bottle, Shalimar is considered by many as the greatest, most aesthetically pleasing perfumes ever made. (Calkin & Jellinek) Like so many of the Guerlain creations, Shalimar stands out for its high quality. When compared to so many fragrances on the market today, Shalimar continues to rise above the crowd when the fragrances are tested side by side. In fact, it makes about eighty percent of the fragrances on the market today look trivial.

Perfumer Ernest Beaux, when praised for his best known creation, Chanel's No. 5, turned the conversation to honor Jacque Guerlain. Beaux is reported to say, in effect, "When I use vanilla, I make crème brùlée; when Jacque Guerlain uses vanilla, he makes Shalimar."

Calkin & Jellinek refer to the structure of Shalimar as rooted in the 19th century. While vanillin (for many years a Guerlain favorite) and coumarin were used as synthetics, Shalimar also features the use of expressed and distilled essential oils — the 19th century stock in trade.

Shalimar is, what we call today, an "oriental" fragrance, spicy and mysterious, and this fits perfectly with it's oriental name: Shalimar.

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  • Maria, 03/18/2022. Shalimar es el perfume que usaba Frida Kahlo:
    Su botella está entre los objetos personales que usaba la artista, y puede verse en su casa museo.
    Esta curiosidad me ha llevado a leer su artículo, y al saber que lleva notas de vainilla (me encanta los perfumes empolvados, orientales) voy a intentar comprarlo. Muchas gracias por su artículo.

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  • -, 01/10/2007.
    The story is told (via Octavian's blog) that (according to Luca Turin) Guy Robert (it is said) was told by Henri Almeras -- creator of a number of perfumes for Paul Poiret's Parfums de Rosine, that "Shalimar" was a close replication of a Parfums de Rosine fragrance created by Almeras.

    Thinking about it, "Shalimar" was created for it's oriental feeling -- and Poiret excelled with his oriental look in fashion. Perhaps both perfumers were simply pursuing the same theme and, through coincidence, ended up at the same point.
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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.