Shalimar Perfume: A Hypnotic Scent


I have recently become fascinated by vintage perfumes (and some modern perfumes) and in recent weeks, I couldn’t help but order a bundle of perfume samples online. One of the perfumes I had to try was Shalimar perfume by Guerlain. After a bit of research, I found that this was a favorite of the famous actress Rita Hayworth, among other women of the past.

Guerlain, of course, has long been a French luxury brand (since 1828, in fact) that has continuously produced high-quality products. After reading a bit about this perfume, I knew I had to buy it for myself. But what exactly makes Shalimar luxury perfume so special?

What Is Shalimar Perfume?

Shalimar by Guerlain has a very interesting story that, interestingly, relates to the famous landmark the Taj Mahal. As the legend goes, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and Princess Arjumand Banu Begum fell deeply in love and eventually married. Shah Jahan gave the Princess the title “Mumtaz Mahal” which means Jewel of the Palace.

They had 13 children together but Mumtaz Mahal died during the birth of their 14th child. Shah Jahan was so distraught by her death that he constructed the Taj Mahal for her as a mausoleum. The Shalimar perfume gets its name from the Gardens of Shalimar which was the beloved garden of Mumtaz Mahal.

Shalimar perfume.
Shalimar perfume sample.

Guerlain’s founder Jacques Guerlain was touched by this story and decided to craft a perfume that would invoke the imagery and aromas of ancient India. For that reason, Shalimar is, above all, an Oriental fragrance. Guerlain first released it in 1925 and it remained popular ever since. Although it has become somewhat less popular in recent years due to the increase in the popularity of fruity perfume aromas, Shalimar still remains a luxurious classic.

But what does Guerlain Shalimar perfume smell like and how long does it last?

I go into more detail about Shalimar in this review.

What Does Shalimar Perfume Smell Like?

The top notes of this eau de parfum consist of lemon, orange, cedar, and bergamot. When spraying this perfume directly onto my skin, the citrus scents are especially noticeable. The middle notes consist of patchouli, iris, jasmine, and rose. I personally find these floral notes to be very faint, but the jasmine and rose are more noticeable than the iris and patchouli.

The base notes are very noticeable and consist of vanilla, musk, and leather. I personally find that the perfume has a very rich smoky smell that reminds me of burning frankincense and incense. This smokiness is what gives Shalimar its infamous sultry and mysterious nature.

Interestingly, the vanilla notes are not very noticeable during the first hour of wear. However, for many subsequent hours, the vanilla notes become extremely prominent. The rich sweetness of the vanilla is not cloyingly sweet like some modern perfumes and it is balanced out by the perfume’s smoky nature.

I personally find the aroma of this perfume to be delectable. However, if you prefer light, fresh, floral fragrance options, this perfume likely won’t be ideal for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy musky and rich aromas, Shalimar may be perfect.

Smoky perfume notes.

The Strength and Longevity of Shalimar

Interestingly, even though Shalimar has prominent notes, the perfume overall is not that strong. It does not emanate from the skin or fill the room. This, personally, is a bit disappointing for me since I enjoy perfumes that waft through the air. Although, it could be the case that I didn’t put enough of the perfume on at first.

Whatever the case, even though this perfume does not seem to emanate, it certainly has a long lifespan. To test this factor of the perfume, I put it on in the morning and wore it all day to see how it would hold up. I was surprised to find that the smell lasted until the end of the day, although it became milder and vanilla-forward towards the later hours.


While Guerlain Shalimar perfume might not necessarily be my number one perfume of all time, it is certainly on a list of my favorite scents. It is a smoky, vanilla fragrance with some very light powder notes and hints of amber. While it is not incredibly strong, it does last a long time and it certainly adds a certain air of mystery to the wearer.

If you’re interested in trying Shalimar perfume for yourself (or any other perfume for that matter), click here to get yourself a bottle.

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