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Shalimar perfume was created in 1925 by the perfume house of Guerlain, it is classified as a refined oriental fragrance. Shalimar is the flagship perfume of Guerlain. The design of the bottle was designed by Raymond Guerlain and Baccarat and remains the most successful of all the Guerlain perfumes.
It was named after the garden in Srinagar, built for Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Shah Jahan in honor of his wife. Shalimar means 'Temple of Love' in Sanskrit.
A 1926 newspaper advertisement reads "From Guerlain a breath of the desert captured in the fragrance of Shalimar. The mystery and magic of perfume as portrayed by the exotic East is captured in a subtle fragrance of romantically called Shalimar. Created by Guerlain most famous of perfumers. It comes in a graceful molded bottle containing 2 1/2 oz. $22."
Shalimar proved to be so successful that in the 1960s, a rival company decided to cash in on the popularity and launched a perfume of the same name, a legal battle ensued, forcing Guerlain to temporarily replace the perfume's name with its stock number "No.90" on bottles that were exported, mainly to the United Kingdom. These bottles are very rare to find and are highly collectible.
Shalimar was one of the first scents to incorporate the synthetic vanilla compound, vanillin. I read somewhere that Shalimar was created from mixing Jicky and vanillin. The scent of Shalimar is deep and velvety black with the scent of lemon hinted medicinal vanilla.
Night-blooming flowers, vanilla and musks blend exquisitely in this heady, romantic and sensual scent to create instant and lasting intrigue.
Personally I find that vintage Shalimar perfumes smell the best, as their perfume oils were more concentrated and didn't have the chemical smell that today's versions have. The vintage perfumes have a delightful musky and well rounded accord that are not comparable in the Shalimar of today.
If you wish to obtain the earlier versions, I suggest the Shalimar of the 1920s up until the 1950s. 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. Compare the pictures below to see difference in color:
Shalimar was presented in several different flacons over the years, all bottles will have a gilded label. The oldest design is it's original one from 1925, the urn shaped flacon by Baccarat, this design was also copied and used for Shalimar by the glass houses of Cristal Romesnil and Pochet et du Courval.
Look on the base of your bottle for acid stamps for Baccarat or Cristal Romesnil, these markings add value to your bottle. The mark for Pochet et du Courval is an entwined HP molded into the base of the bottle. The bottle is made up of clear crystal with a fluted base, and a blue glass stopper with Guerlain in gold.
A very rare example will have the stopper in just plain clear crystal and gold lettering. This vintage bottle would have came housed in a lilac flocked hinged box, simulating velvet. The bottle will lay down perfectly in a specifically cut out portion of the box.
A very rare presentation, called the Presentation Avion (airplane transportation presentation), used this style of box and was offered on the Air France Paris-New York flights, starting in 1960. The box was slightly different in the fact that instead of laying down inside the box, the bottle would stand up snugly inside a small plinth, in which the box lid would slip over making a cover. The stopper was not inside the bottle itself but was inside a tiny cardboard box which was included in the presentation box.
The perfume was sealed with a cork covered in a thin plastic seal. These bottles were made by both Baccarat & Pochet et du Courval, look for their logos on the base, an entwined HP or the Baccarat symbol.
In the late 1920s and into the 1930s, Shalimar could be found in a oval shaped bottle with a satin glass stopper. The label was located towards the base of the bottle. This bottle was used for other scents such as Apres L'Ondee, Liu and Jicky.
For a short time in the 1940s, Shalimar was launched in Guerlain's original squatty rectangular bottle with the mushroom stopper, called the quadrilobe, manufactured by Baccarat. The bottle came housed in a green box with Art Nouveau like gilded designs of stylized lotus flowers. This bottle was originally used for Jicky during the 1890s and into the first part of the 1900s.
During 1940-1945, because of wartime restrictions, Shalimar was presented in its usual urn shaped bottle packaged in a simple blue and white boxes called presentations de guerre, marked "Conditionnement provisoire du manque d'ecrin-la qualite et la quantite du parfum sont rigoureusement identiques a celles de notre presentation normale."
In 1955-1960, Shalimar was again presented in a different bottle. This time it was a frosted and clear crystal curvilinear shape with a molded rosebud stopper. The bottle was designed and produced by Baccarat, and also manufactured by Pochet et du Courval, so check the base for the acid stamp or logos. This bottle was also used for the perfume Ode, Vol de Nuit & Mitsouko.
A simple bottle from the mid 1950s is a ribbed elongated perfume bottle, called the parapluie or "umbrella" was made by Pochet et du Courval and made its debut in 1952.
It had either a goldtone cap covering the spray nozzle or a gilded screwcap. Some bottles came in a leather pouch. It was also presented in the purple flocked box and continued to be sold into the 1970s, and maybe into the 1980s.
Starting in 1936, Shalimar came in a round, disk shaped eau de cologne bottle with a cone shaped stopper. Sometimes the stopper is gilded.The bottle was first made by Pochet et du Courval. The bottle came in several different sizes and was also used for other scents such as Chamade, Vol de Nuit, Chant D'Aromes, L'Heure Bleu, and Mitsouko, many of these date to the late 1960s. The bottle came with a black and white box.
A rare 1950 Christmas holiday presentation for Shalimar consists of the disk shaped bottle and a small, square red cotton ladies scarf printed with an image of this Shalimar flacon. They were housed in a rectangular, white cardboard case, with white satin interior.
The 60s also saw a different type of bottle for Shalimar eau de toilette, this was a cylindrical metal bottle which housed a 3fl oz glass spray vial which could be replaced with a new refill when finished. The metal bottle was enameled with blue and white Oriental designs. This copyrighted design was launched in 1968. A taller, skinnier bottle was also used and had a goldtone cap over the spray nozzle, this bottle was packaged in the same black and white boxes as the disk bottles.
In the 1970s, the disk bottles were still being sold and Shalimar was still being sold in those tall, skinny bottles and were being packaged in both the familiar navy blue or gold boxes you see today.
In the 1980s, gold purse sprays were available for all scents and the original Shalimar bottle got a modern makeover and now came with a plastic cap and spray nozzle. The original bottle continued to be made, but for the Parfum only.
In 1982, a limited edition goldtone cylindrical bottle was offered with a glass spray bottle, which could be replaced with a new refill when finished. These gold bottles hosted all Guerlain eau de toilette fragrances at one point between 1981 and 1989.
As the millenium approached, Guerlain wanted a fresh, modern look for some of its bottles, and introduced the Habit de Fete limited edition bottles. These bottles are an updated version of it's classic refillable styles, but come in three different sizes.
The bottles are a thick goldtone studded with silvery dots. Refills for these bottles can be found at the Guerlain counters or purchased online.
Throughout it's life, Shalimar continued to be sold in it's original crystal bottle with the blue glass stopper. These bottles almost always held the parfum. Baccarat would produce limited edition presentations of this bottle throughout the years.
You can still purchase parfum in it's crystal bottle starting at $300 for one ounce at Neiman Marcus. A Baccarat flacon holding one ounce of parfum retails for $700-$1500 on various websites, but you can find it at bargain prices on ebay!