Sunday, 3 October 2010

Review: Shalimar - Ode De La Vanille & Idylle eau de toilette by Guerlain (2010)

You can't say that Guerlain aren't keeping Thierry Wasser busy. This year saw the release of the third version of Homme, a new Aqua Allegoria and an exclusive, limited edition entitled Abeille De Guerlain. Now two more creations arrive bearing his signature: an eau de toilette of his own Idylle, as well as a reinterpretation of one of the undisputed classics of all time, Shalimar.

The former is sold as a softer, "more feminine" version of the eau de parfum, and in a sense, this isn't far from the truth. The floral bouquet and the citrus undertone are, indeed, granted greater prominence, but they're my least favourite aspects of the edp anyway. I prefer the ambery-mossy conclusion, which is distinctly suppressed here in the edt, creating an effect that I find 'girly' rather than feminine.

Thankfully, the Shalimar is a more praiseworthy effort. Its initial burst of bergamot, civet and vanilla-infused amber pays respectful homage to the original, but then proceedings veer off in a slightly different direction. The tangy, fruity top notes are sweeter and more pronounced. The vanillic base is gentler. And the oriental notes are kept to a minimum. The result is pleasant, transparent and not particularly long-lasting, as though Lahore's famous gardens have decided to lighten up for just a few hours and spare foreign tourists the full onslaught of heady Asian exoticism. Having said that, the inspiration for this new juice seems to have come from a place much closer to home, because with its brighter, wispier and arguably more modern tone, it instantly calls to mind another fairly recent release from one of Guerlain's main competitors. Which one do I mean? Well, let's just say that Ode De La Vanille is something of a misnomer; a more accurate name would've been Shalimar Eau Premiere.

[Shalimar - Ode De La Vanille review based on a sample of eau de parfum; Idylle review based on a sample of eau de toilette; both samples obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]



  1. Can't wait to try the new Shalimar...

  2. Vintage Lady, I don't know where you live, but if you're UK-based, you'll have to go all the way to Harrods for a sniff. I'm not sure if Guerlain plan to make this a 'mainstream' release.

  3. I am based in Spain, I have checked their website here and nothing is said about it. But it could be in the center of town, sometimes it happens. Although I haven't received any newsletter.
    By the way, your blog is all a reference on the internet. Your articles are great.

  4. Now I really do want to smell the new Shalimar flanker! I loved Shalimar Eau Legere, even the second version, and the original is still just a touch too much asphalt for me. Unfortunately, I'm in the US, so I'll have to wait.

    I did think Eau Premiere was a well-done, respectful modern version of La Grande Dame.

    Have recently begun reading your blog and enjoy it very much.

  5. Vintage Lady, hi again. I'm afraid I don't have any info on the Spanish release date, but perhaps it might be worth emailing Guerlain to find out.

    I confess I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "all a reference on the internet", but thanks very much for your kind words about my writing.

  6. Museinwoodenshoes, thanks very much for the compliment.

    I really like No. 5 Eau Premiere too; I think it's sufficiently distinct to stand on its own two feet. But no matter how pleasant Ode De La Vanille may be, I'm afraid I don't think it comes near the greatness of the original Shalimar, which is one of my all-time favourites.

  7. I agree on the greatness of Shalimar.

    However, I don't really... you know... like it. It wears me, even in vintage formulations: that tar! I much, MUCH prefer vintage Emeraude (a smooth, gorgeous, civetty thing) or the aforementioned Eau Legere. I can appreciate Shalimar as great art without wanting to wear it.

  8. I just read the reply from Guerlain, Shalimar Ode a la Vanille won't be sold in Spain. This is quite sad news...
    But thank you for advising me to write them directly.

  9. Museinwoodenshoes, that's fair enough. I know lots of people who absolutely can't stand it.

  10. Vintage Lady, that's a real shame. But you never know, they might change their mind if it sells well in Paris and London.

  11. I've been trying to find a bottle of Ode a la Vanille that didn't cost an arm and a leg! I love Shalimar in all its guises.

    1. Elle, I guess it will be quite expensive now. Keep hunting :-)


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