Shalimar Parfum Initial (2011)

Shalimar Parfum Initial by Guerlain
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Shalimar Parfum Initial (Guerlain)
Shalimar Parfum Initial (Guerlain)
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8.2 / 10     524 RatingsRatingsRatings
Shalimar Parfum Initial is a popular perfume by Guerlain for women and was released in 2011. The scent is powdery-oriental. The longevity is above-average. The production was apparently discontinued.

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Thierry Wasser

Fragrance Notes

Top Notes Top NotesBergamot, Green notes, Orange
Heart Notes Heart NotesIris, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose, Vetiver
Base Notes Base NotesCaramel, Musk, Tonka bean, Vanilla



8.2 (524 Ratings)


8.3 (381 Ratings)


7.4 (354 Ratings)


9.1 (375 Ratings)
Submitted by Kankuro, last update on 12.01.2019
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Bottle 8.0/10 Sillage 8.0/10 Longevity 8.0/10 Scent 8.0/10
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Greatly helpful Review    20
surprise gift
In junk, I have my regular dealer, whom I faithfully visit every month.
We look forward to each other.

As a regular customer, I am allowed to browse through the "Kruschtelkiste", a crispy box in which opened treasures are hidden.
For a friendship price they then come into my possession.

And so Initial fell into my searching hands - still half full, says the optimist.

The lid was missing, and the tassel was tousled, but the scent receives me fully oriental and intact.
It reminds me of the classic Shalimar, but it's less sweet, but creamier with a touch of perfume oil.
This oil note reminds me of my mini bottles, which I bought in the India Shop at that time.
Patchoulie and Jasmin were my favorites.
And these notes reappear in Initial - powdered by Iris , and earthier by Vetiver.
Tonka rounds off the interesting Oriental, and vanilla and caramel appear soft but unsweet.

I am fascinated and ask for the price - but my dealer waves off.
This is a gift, he laughs, and adds mischievously, so he is when he is in love.
This dear gesture evaluates the smell for me again on !

Despite his supple fullness and extravagant statement, he still does not outstrip my Classic Shalimar.

But who knows what Initial and I will experience together?
Anyway, the beginning was promising
5 Replies
Scent 9.0/10
Helpful Review    5
Not your average candied patchouli
Once upon a time I hated this perfume. Sugary patchoulis like Shalimar Parfum Initial seemed ubiquitous; in bars, in offices, at the mall, along sidewalks—it was everywhere and I loathed it. Worse still, SPI smelled foul upon first sniff of the tester nozzles at Sephora and Ulta. As far as I was concerned SPI had absolutely no redeeming qualities. It was at Ulta that I had my first (accidental) skin contact with SPI. From that day on, I understood SPI’s appeal.

When other people wear perfumes, even perfumes we enjoy, the perfumes go through a sort of transmutation. I have a friend who wears one of my favorite perfumes. I hate smelling it on her—it becomes a musky, sweaty, burly beast of white florals and sugar and I simply want to scream. So I have to accept that perfumes change from one person to the next. That minor epiphany had not come to me yet when I was swearing off SPI. It was sugar and filthy patchouli as far as I could smell. I could not fathom how anyone would want to smell like this.

On my skin, it’s not saccharine and dirty patchouli. It is several layers of gauzy sweetness, powdery florals, and a rich patchouli that was meant to add density at the center of all the diaphanous goodness. The timeless Guerlainade is ever-present throughout, adding another beautiful layer to this scent. It’s deceptively simple until it’s fully worn. Unless you are smelling every delicate layer reveal itself—and it is a slow striptease that goes on for several hours—SPI cannot be fully appreciated.

I’m glad I came around before this gem was discontinued. And why the heck was it discontinued? I’ll never understand it. It has a cult following and the potential to become as iconic as Shalimar, Mitsouko, or L’Heure Bleue. Whatever, I have a stockpile of bottles to satisfy me for at least a few years. Maybe in that time SPI will be brought back to the masses? Just because there is an oversaturation of fruitchoulies and sugar bombs on the market doesn’t mean there isn’t room for SPI.
3 Replies
Helpful Review    7
~ Softer Shades of Shalimar ~
~ My initial impression of "Initial" is what a lovely soft velvety powdery perfume this would make for the right women! Definitely a daily Signature scent worthy Guerlain. In a sea of "fruitchouli" Chanel and Dior's this would make something a touch unique and traditional as it is reminiscent of the original Shalimar in a softer more modern way. The vanilla and caramel make this very appealing and easy on the nose the powder keeps it feminine and classic with it's notes of patchouli and iris. A modern lighter interpretation of a classic that is sophisticated, sexy and soft! As a gent and just based on a small sample and minimal wearings this leaves even me wanting more....

Kind Regards, Plat ~
2 Replies
Sillage 7.5/10 Longevity 7.5/10 Scent 8.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    6
Skin coloured velvet
For a long long time I have been strolling in the woods, adoring them in the company of spices, amber, incense, benzoin, etc.

Recently I have been gifted a decant of SPI and I find myself in grave danger of becoming ladylike at last.
Soft, intoxicating, alluring and very sweet.
Not too sweet, just adorable.

Along the day it reminded me of Le Bain de Joop!... SPI is more refined of course: no cedar, no sandalwood, no aldehydes.
Matching notes are: vanille, tonka, patchouli, rose, musk, bergamot and jasmin.
Iris, caramel, vetiver, orange, and green notes round this baby up.
The drydown gives soft wafts of vanille and beautiful iris.

I love it.
Bottle 10.0/10 Sillage 7.5/10 Longevity 7.5/10 Scent 8.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    13
For reasons even unknown to myself I have always resisted to even test a flanker of my beloved Shalimar. Until I was in a perfume shop last week and I found myself standing in front of the Guerlain display with "Shalimar Parfum Initial" on prominent display, looking at the familiar shaped bottle I got overcome with a sudden curiosity to smell how badly they imitated a true classic. *Hmmm*

Looking at the above listed notes I am somewhat amazed that SI is on my skin all topsy turvy! I get very little top notes save the jasmine and the iris...on my skin its all middle and base notes. And its divine in its powdery yumminess!

At first spray a shy jasmine holding an iris that is dusting herself with a yummy vanilla note is the first whiff of yum that reaches my nose. Then musk, patchouli and a sultry tonka-bean come out to play and make it even more soft and warm. I get no citric notes and am strangely glad that its nothing like Shalimar; now I get to own two beautifully bottled beauties.

"Shalimar Initial" is a soft and very feminine scent and nothing like her intense namesake. It's a scent that is perfect for office, dates where one is *close* and cuddle time at home. It's a pretty powdery cloud that invites you to inhale and enjoy!

Silage is: a warm and beautiful aura -- Longevity is: 6+ hours (especially on clothes where it lasts and lasts). If you think Shalimar Initial is in any way similar to Shalimar, I can only conclude that you can perish any thoughts that this is a flanker...Instead, accept the notions that this is a beauty all in her own right. Who knew? *note to self...don't dismiss all flankers!*
Bottle 7.5/10 Sillage 5.0/10 Longevity 5.0/10 Scent 6.0/10
Very helpful Review    5
DHI for women?
Smells much like Dior Homme Intense. I find it unisex as well.

Great take on vanilla and iris. Smells wonderful. It just could last more.

Projection is gentle and soft - skin scent.

Updated January 2014
Sillage 7.5/10 Longevity 7.5/10 Scent 4.0/10
Very helpful Review    7
Vanilla-scented Hairspray
Post-Y2K Guerlain and I simply do not get along. Sad to say, as I was the most enthusiastic of Guerlain devotees before The Fall. We're really batting zero at this point. In the post-Guerlain Guerlain period, the Aqua Allegorias have become abstract and synthetic rather than a reflection of beauty and simplicity in nature. The polymeric INSOLENCE induced in me such revulsion that I had to swap my big bottle away because every time I removed the cap contemplating a spritz, I'd hurriedly replace it after taking a short sniff of the nozzle. Actually, come to think of it, Guerlain seems to be following the same downwardly spiraling trajectory as Ann Taylor. Under new management, these businesses are riding for now on their names, but the output bears no resemblance to the good old days.

Habits die hard, and despite my vow not to make any more blind buys of Guerlain without first testing the composition--or reformulation--in question, I have toyed with the idea of picking up a bottle of SHALIMAR PARFUM INITIAL in recent times. It's been quite a while since I bought anything from Guerlain, so occasionally those memories fade a bit, and I start to forget about the series of post-Y2K debacles and begin yearning nostalgically for the classics again. When I see ever-plummeting prices on these Guerlain perfumes at the discounters, I need to stop myself, since I already made THAT mistake once: I picked up a big bottle of Aqua Allegoria CHERRY BLOSSOM which I'm never going to wear. It cost about $30. I was also quite disappointed by my purchase of COLOGNE IMPERIALE (clearly reformulated...), which I see can now be had for a mere $36 (I paid about $60). Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

So I stopped myself from adding a bottle of this perfume to my shopping cart recently and instead opted to request a sample at Sephora as I was in the neighborhood anyway. What I found initially was that SHALIMAR INITIAL did not smell too much like SHALIMAR, which seemed interesting in and of itself. Why make it a flanker, if it's an entirely new perfume? Well, for the the same reason that a perfume put out by the house formerly known as Guerlain today, under the helm of LVMH and no longer a family jewel, will garner tons of supporters simply because it is "Guerlain" or has "Shalimar" in its name.

Alas, I was right not to buy a bottle of SHALIMAR PARFUM INITIAL. It smells to me rather like vanilla-scented hairspray. There is something harsh and forbidding, the dreaded short-circuited appliance aura, in this composition--every bit as unpleasant as INSOLENCE's plastic--which makes this creation an uncomfortable wear for me. Perfume should feel and smell good, and neither of those criteria are satisfied in my case by SHALIMAR PARFUM INITIAL. As far as the composition is concerned, there is a bit of an overlap with Lolita Lempicka, but it's as though the synthetic part has been amped up and the sweetness cut with nothing added in to compensate for the latter loss or to mask the former excess.

It's time for me to face the fact: I am no a fan of Thierry Wasser.
1 Replies
Sillage 7.5/10 Longevity 7.5/10 Scent 8.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    10
Youthful spin on Shalimar
Shalimar is a fragrance I admire for being a classic and love for all its vanillary and lemony goodness, however I could never find a way to make Shalimar work on my skin. I always ended up smelling like an opened bottle of calamine lotion.

Shalimar Parfum Initial has managed to cut back on all that lemon and powder, leaving a sweeter, softer vanilla with sticky caramel and green accords. It makes less of a statement when wearing it, and I can see a plethora of youngsters falling in love with this reincarnation of Shalimar, in the 21st century.

Personally I prefer Shalimar Parfum Initial because it works better with my skin chemistry. Yet I can see why some devoted Shalimar fans would be outraged by a weaker version, devoid of lemon, incense and powder.

The scent is a little fresher, so I feel obliged to encourage those to wear it during Spring, or even Summer, when it's not too scorching hot outside. Shalimar Parfum Initial is universally pleasing. I get some interesting sexual vibes from this fragrance when I wear it. The men around me seem to adore it, which is a good sign. I expect this flanker to sell extremely well this year, and I'm hoping this will not be a short-lived special edition.

The iris note really shines in this version of Shalimar, alongside the polite and dusty vanilla, green bergamot, gooey caramel and earthy vetiver and patchouli. Thierry Wasser has done an excellent job. I compare his work to Jacques Polge's Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere, where both have managed to modernise classic fragrances in a way that appeals to the younger crowd, such as myself.

The sillage is moderate and the longevity is fantastic. It maintains the 'bad-girl' image that Shalimar was renowned for in the 20's, and for that alone I'm impressed. Shalimar Parfum Initial is worth experiencing in my opinion. I'm glad I took the leap of faith.
Scent 8.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    12
nouvellement sophistiquée
For the longest time I've dismissed Guerlain in general as not being my 'cup of tea', as it were. Humble pie chews and swallows with great difficulty :) ... I have to say that after watching a youtube review on Guerlain frags (by the fabulous flyhilaire) my interest was piqued and I went off to educate and edify my nose a while ago.
Parfum Initial, it must be said starts life a little bit of a mishmash ... it rushes out of the bottle, hits the skin and lays dormant for a good three minutes of aldehyde hell. I found this immediate effect to be a little foetid, which surprised me as I generally like a blast of good aldehydes!
The day is saved by the arrival of the most beautiful, silvery Iris ... bouyantly introducing the Vanilla, which starts off as a soft whisper and slowly crescendos to a muted roar! The florals and Patchouli here are a shadowy compliment, with the Tonka and Caramel warming up the dry down in a very edible way. This gorgeous fragrance breaks another of my taboos ... namely that I just don't do flankers :). Needless to say ... I'm hooked!!
The only thing that stopped me from an immediate purchase was that the store didn't have any 100mls in stock. Definitely full bottle worthy for me ... sooner rather than later!
Furthermore, I have made it a mission to delve deeply into the perfumed world of Guerlain :).
Helpful Review    6
Well considered flanker (yes! it's possible!)
I think Guerlain is getting smarter about its ‘younger’ entries into what is essentially a house composed of classics. I’m not saying that the young Insolence buyer will necessarily move onto L’Heuere Bleue in later years, but there is a conceptual continuity between the two fragrances. With both Insolence and Shalimar Parfum Initial, Guerlain is giving those new to the house a primer on the catalogue of over a century of classics. I even appreciate My Insolence (apparently critically panned) as a step in this direction. (Now, Guerlain, please rethink the need for the Aqua Allegorias.)

I think Shalimar Parfum Initial ties to the classics in a tidy fashion. It seems less a flanker than a contemporary reinterpretation not of Shalimar specifically, but of the principals of classic Guerlain perfumery. It is a first step for those new to Guerlain toward Guerlain’s long-standing classics, whether Shalimar, Aprée L’ondée or Mitsouko, or even Habit Rouge or Vetiver for that matter. A flanker (eg. Shalimar eau Legère, Shalimar Light, Shalimar Ode a Vanille…) must hold closely to the form or intent of its eponymous original. Parfum Initial is a guide, a first step in the direction of the Guerlain sensibility.

Initial definitely has a different vanilla than would appeal to the nose acclimated by exposure the gourmands of the past 15 years. It’s also more floral than Shalimar. So, it’s sweeter both literally and figuratively. But it still has a growly start and a complexity noticeable at all points, albeit less so during a fairly expectable musky-woody drydown. The basenotes are where Initial veers away most from Shalimar’s still-rumbling, smoky shadow of a drydown. Initial’s basenotes are a sweet, musky woody affair of less interest than the top and heart. It doesn’t simply peter out accidentally or through cheapness of formula, though. I find it true to its concept and intent, and a woody, merely pleasant drydown is where the cohort Guerlain is aiming to court is comfortable.

Chant d’Aromes was a blatant attempt to inculcate a younger, perhaps not so bourgoise client to the Guerlain world. Initial might be able to follow that example. Initial is sold in Sephora. It’s sold in mall department stores. I just saw it in Bloomingdales sitting between Shalimar (similar bottle) and Insolence (similar pink color.) Smart if you ask me.

Also, I didn’t mention this earlier, but I like Shalimar Parfum Initial. I don’t love it, but I think it’s a very smart move to support the continuation of the Guerlain classics in perpetuity that we tend to rave about. I’d be happy to see it succeed, just as I have Insolence and even the maligned My Insolence.

I just read Octavian Coifan’s review of Initial at 1000 fragrances, and we disagree entirely on both the fragrance and Guerlain’s strategy of creating it. Please read his review. (I’ve been reading him lately and learning a lot.) He has a wonderfully precise and yet far-reaching perspective.
Bottle 10.0/10 Sillage 7.5/10 Longevity 7.5/10 Scent 9.0/10
Helpful Review    5
This is good!
Original Shalimar never worked on my skin. It was Johnson's baby powder throughout the fragrance. Initial is a whole different story. This is how I wished that the original would smell. The scent is incredibly rich. You feel how the fragrance develops gradually, each separate note. In particular the iris is so wonderful. Patchouli and caramel work very well together. It is an exciting fragrance, very special. Goes directly to my wantlist. Wonderful!


Jazzy76 10 months ago
Soft and powdery, apparently innocent, but very feminin , I loved this scent at first spray but I never owned..And now it's discontinued :(+2
Bottle 10.0
Sillage 7.0
Longevity 6.0
Scent 7.5

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