History of Shalimar Perfume
Shalimar perfume was originally created in 1921 by the perfume house of Guerlain. It was re-released for the Art Deco Exhibition in Paris in 1925.
Shalimar was named after the garden in Srinagar, built for Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Shah Jahan in honor of his wife. Before he became emperor his name was Prince Khurram. According to the legend, twenty- year-old Prince Khurram met a young girl, named Arjumand Banu at the bazaar where her family worked. Mesmerized by her beauty, after becoming emperor, he made her his wife as Mumtaz Mahal, meaning the "Jewel of the Palace". After the wedding ,the prince and Mumtaz were inseparable, in war and in peace. She had given 13 children to Shahjahan and died during the birth of their 14th child at the age of 39. Her death devastated Shah Jahan and had built Taj Mahal in memory of his wife and their undying love. Shalimar is named after ‘The Gardens of Shalimar’.It was Mumtaz’s favorite garden.
Guerlain filed a trademark for the name Shalimar on 8/24/1926, and noted that its first recorded use in commerce was 4/3/1926. The trademark was renewed in 1966 to include these Shalimar named products: perfume, cologne, toilet water, dusting powder, talcum powder, skin lotion, hair spray and bath oil. The name was again renewed in 2006 and 2009.
Michael Edwards' book Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances notes that at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925, Guerlain received an award, but it didn't attract much attention. It wasnt until later when traveling to the United States, Madame Guerlain and her husband learned that Shalimar had already been desired by the American public before they stepped off the ship into New York.
A 1931 ad reads: "And if she seeks perfume, then will she find in the enchanting, the miraculous creations of Guerlain the end of her quest. Who can forget ever the emotion of gorgeous Shalimar . . . the muted voice of velvet Shalimar!' Its fame has gone round the world.."
A 1932 ad reads: " A perfume by Guerlain is the epitome of elegance, the consummate gift among luxuries. For it is a gift which enhances the elegance of women. Shalimar is the reigning perfume of the world. Women of elegance in all the great capitals bow to its power and beauty."
Shalimar proved to be so successful that in 1927 a rival perfume company, was trying to use the name, subsequently a legal battle issued and throughout the early part of the 1930s, Shalimar's name was replaced by "No. 90", Guerlain's stock catalog number for the perfume, on bottles for export. I am unsure of exactly what company Guerlain sued. I have two ideas, it could have been Du Barry et Cie or Villon Perfumers.
Du Barry et Cie (Goldstone Laboratories, Hove), was selling line of toiletry products named Shalimar, by 1930, the line was extended to include even more products than before. I saw ads for Du Barry's Shalimar manicure products and other toiletries in 1923, before Guerlain "officially" launched Shalimar perfume and I still saw ads for Shalimar Creme by Du Barry being sold in 1972.
Villon Perfumer, also decided to cash in on the popularity and launched a cheaper perfume. Samuel A. Klein doing business as Villon Perfumer was blending small amounts of Guerlain's Shalimar with his own cheap perfume blend and rebottling them into smaller bottles. He was advertising these bottles as "Guerlain's Shalimar et Villon Blend, Rebottled by Villon, NYC, Wholly Independent of Guerlain" and "Genuine Extracts of Shalimar with Villon Blender". A legal battle ensued in 1931, suing Villon for using the trade names of Mitsouko and Shalimar. There was also uncontradicted testimony that scientific and practical tests revealws that there was a marked difference between Guerlain's Shalimar perfume and the contents of the small vials sold by Villon.
No. 90 (aka Shalimar), photo by ebay seller thomasr585.
Shalimar's Fragrance Notes
Lemon, Bergamot, Mandarin
Jasmine, May rose, Heliotrope, Opoponax, Patchouli, Iris
Orris, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Musk, Incense, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Civet, Balsam of Peru, Benzoin, Leather, Ambergris
Shalimar was one of the first scents to incorporate the synthetic vanilla compound, vanillin (Methoxy-3-Hydroxy- Benzaldehyde). Jacques Guerlain believed that the scent of vanilla was an aphrodisiac, so while examining a sample of vanillin, suddenly poured the entire contents into a nearby bottle of Jicky,," just to see what would happen." The resulting concoction was to be named Shalimar.
Perfume Shrine has noted that "Vanillin was first isolated as a relatively pure substance in 1858 by Nicolas-Theodore Gobley, by evaporating a vanilla extract to dryness and recrystallizing the resulting solids. In 1874, German scientists Ferdinand Tiemann and Wilhelm Haarmann found a way to synthesize vanillin from coniferin, a glycoside of isoeugenol found in pine bark (they went on to found a company which now belongs to Symrise and produce it industrially). In 1876, Karl Reimer synthesized vanillin from another source: guaiacol. The laboratories De Laire bought the patent for vanillin and sold the product to Guerlain for their perfumery, first used in Jicky. But, Jicky already contained vanillin along with natural vanilla extract, as well as coumarin and linalool. The secret to the medicinal, smoky yellow vanillin of Jicky, reprised in Shalimar, was the remnants of guiacol and phenols, lending an autumnal darkness to what would otherwise be a confectionary sweet cream. This is the reason that Guerlain insisted on ordering the impure grade of vanillin even when the chemical process was improved."
Famous perfumer Ernest Beaux, realized that Shalimar was a great perfume and thus complained: "When I do vanilla I get crème anglaise, when Guerlain does it he gets Shalimar!"
Jean-Paul Guerlain has said, “Vanilla is famous as an aphrodisiac and I think that this is true. My grand-father, Jacques Guerlain, taught me how to love vanilla as it adds something wonderfully erotic to a perfume. It turned Shalimar into an evening gown with an outrageously plunging neckline.”
The scent of Shalimar is deep and velvety black with the scent of lemons hinted with medicinal vanilla. Night-blooming flowers, vanilla and musks blend exquisitely in this heady, romantic and sensual scent to create instant and lasting intrigue. Shalimar is one of the best selling perfumes ever and its magic is undeniable. In 2001, it was slightly tweaked to appeal to a wider audience.
If you wish to obtain the earlier versions, I suggest the Shalimar of the 1920s up until the 1960s. They have aged beautifully, like a fine wine. Ebay always has some really good examples, and they are usually at bargain prices.
I suggest getting the perfumes that look dark, syrupy and thick. I find that these last a very long time when applied to the skin and the vanilla warms up nicely. Please remember that the older Shalimar is, the darker it will be in the bottle. If it is light colored, it is newer.
If you can find it, a vintage bottle of Scherk's Intermezzo perfume smells similar to Shalimar, but it is weaker and lighter in character.
Shalimar was so popular that Guerlain came out with ancillary products that showcased its unique scent. The first of these was the Shalimar face Powder.
A 1931 ad reads: " So why do you not hasten to try Guerlain's new achievement, Shalimar Powder? It is scented with the famous Shalimar. ... Guerlain meant this Shalimar Powder to give the skin an effect of surreal loveliness. And his patrons say that it does." In 1930, Shalimar face powder was then packed in a sealed container which had a “window” of transparent tissue, so that the purchaser could see the actual color.
Then came the Shalimar scented Lotion Vegetale, meant to perfume the hair before or after shampooing, combed through the hair to make it soft and smooth, although men also used it as an aftershave lotion too. The 8 oz capsule bottles were sold from 1953 til 1971, earlier bottles were tall and rectangular with a glass ball stopper..
Shalimar Eau de Cologne, released in 1936, in USA in 1937, it came in four sizes initially. “Toilet water in an oval bottle with atomizer top is new, $5.” ( 1939) “Guerlain now has a $5 size of toilet water in all the popular fragrances such as Shalimar, L’heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit, Coque D’Or, Liu, Mitsouko, Sous Le vent and Jicky.” (1940, Drug and Cosmetic Industry, Volume 46) Later the Cologne Spray was launched. A 1950 article reads "Guerlain recommends spraying a room with their famous Shalimar eau de cologne. This is a lighter form of their famous Shalimar. Because it is lighter, it is less expensive and can be used more lavishly."
Shalimar Talcum powder in the frosted bottle was introduced in 1950, it was being put up in a white plastic canister in the late 1960s, then it was sold in a turquoise canister in the 1980s.
Shalimar Dusting Powder was introduced around 1955 housed in a faux tortoiseshell plastic powder box, then inside of a white plastic powder box in the 1960s and 1970s, then in a turquoise plastic powder box in the 1983, then a navy blue and white plastic powder box starting in the late 1990s, and is still being sold today.
Guerlain's Creme Hydratante introduced in 1959, a lanolin based moisturizer, lightly scented and meant to be lavished all over the body, particularly on arms and legs. Still sold around 1967.
Shalimar Toilet Water debuted in 1925 in a splash bottle, succeeded by the Toilet Water Spray (Eau de Toilette around 1959) .
Shalimar Film Spray Body Lotion was a scented, pink, light moisturizing body lotion in spray form created in 1966 and sold until 1975.
Shalimar Capillaque hair spray, Capillaque was the name of scented hair sprays/brilliantine sprays . A trademark was filed in 1961 for the hair spray and the trademark expired in 1988, but I am pretty sure this was discontinued by around 1971.
Shalimar Body Shampoo was released in 1976.
Guerlain released Shalimar's ancillary products in this turquoise packaging starting in 1983, this line was known as Les Voluptes du Bain de Guerlain and sold til 1999, when the products were given a makeover with a shape hearkening back to the original Shalimar flacon. Three new products were offered, Perfumed Bath Salts, Sensual Milky Veil,
These Shalimar products can be found in the online or at fine department stores or on ebay/etsy:
- Eau de Cologne 2.5fl oz
- Eau de Toilette Spray 2.5 fl oz
- Eau de Toilette Spray 1.7fl oz
- Eau de Toilette Gold Bee Bottle 16.9fl oz
- Eau de Toilette Gold Bee Bottle 33.8fl oz
- Eau de Toilette White Bee Bottle 16.9fl oz
- Habit De Fete Eau de Parfum Spray Refill 1.69fl oz
- Habit De Fete Eau de Toilette Spray Refill 3.1fl oz
- Habit De Fete Perfume Spray Refill 0.27fl oz
- Eau de Parfum Spray 2.5fl oz Eau de Parfum Spray 1.7fl oz
- Eau de Parfum Spray 1fl oz
- Eau de Parfum mini Parfum/Extrait 0.25fl oz
- Parfum/Extrait 0.50fl oz
- Parfum/Extrait 1 fl oz
- Sensual Milky Veil (Body Lotion) 6.8fl oz
- Moisturising Body Lotion Bottle 6.8fl oz
- Silky Moisturising Body Mist Spray 3.4fl oz
- Body Cream 7fl oz
- Sensual Body Oil 3.3fl oz
- Perfumed Dusting Powder 4.4oz
- Bath Salts 17.6oz
- Ritual Bath Gel 6.8fl oz
- Shower Gel Bottle 6.8fl oz
- Voluptuous Foaming Bath Bottle 6.8fl oz
- Deodorant Spray 3.4fl oz
- Hair Gel 0.25fl oz
- Shalimar Light Eau de Toilette Spray 2.5fl oz
- Shalimar Beautifying Hair Gel
- Soothing Bath Oil Beads
- Bath Essence
- Body Shampoo