Shalimar all over.

I'm a firm believer in the notion that beginner perfumistas ought to at least glance at the classics, even if they don't make a habit of wearing them. (They may leave that to me, if they wish.) Back in 2012, Angela of NowSmellThis posted a road map entitled 26 Vintage Fragrances Every Perfumista Should Try. She prefaced the list by stating that she deliberately chose groundbreaking fragrances that have either been altered beyond recognition or discontinued altogether-- and then she hits us with the truth: Shalimar does not make the cut. "(It) is all right in its current incarnation," she explained, "so I don't mention it."

She was perfectly right to refrain. Whatever version of Shalimar you're wearing, all of its incarnations display a familial resemblance so striking as to render them both remarkable and redundant. Which is not to say you should ignore them. No, they ought to be worn, singly or simultaneously. Old and new blend together on the wrist with astounding native ease.

I own small amounts of Shalimar in a variety of concentrations and vintages -- extrait from both the 1950s "fan" flacon and the 1960s parapluie, 1980s parfum de toilette, and an eau de toilette from 2008. (I also have a goodly amount of what I believe to be WWII-era eau de parfum sealed forever in a broken-stoppered bottle from which only Armageddon can extract it.) The most recent addition to my Shalimar wardrobe is the parfum de toilette, a full mini-bottle of which my pal Mary gifted me after scoring it at a local thrift shop. (Merci beaucoup, ma sœur!) It's got pretty much everything that the extrait does, if not nearly as much of that animalic trifecta of civet, ambergris, and castoreum that makes my toes curl. (They still do-- perhaps not so tight, but enough to satisfy.)

Whether I layer PdT over EdT (or vice versa) and top it off with the extrait or wear all three at once willy-nilly, one thing I know. There's never any mistaking that creamy lemon-herb-tonka accord or the foundation which Ulrik Thomsen (AKA Monsieur Guerlain) calls "a pitchy, leathery mixture, zaftig, powdered, and musky beyond civility." In short, the collective Tribe of Shalimar possesses a certain something which no reformulation has yet extinguished.

Long may it waft.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, lemon, rose de Mai, iris, jasmine, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, opoponax, tonka bean, balsam Peru, benzoin, vanillin, civet, ambergris, castoreum