It goes without saying that this 2014 release from Guerlain, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum is not going to knock your socks off in the same way Shalimar is prone to do. Shalimar is the Queen Bee of oriental perfumes and even though it was created nearly 100 years ago it still holds its own. Thierry Wasser, head perfumer at Guerlain intimated that there is a drive for flankers now that the company is owned by LVMH that he finds distasteful, yet at the same time they need to make money and he’d be without a job if he didn’t acquiesce to their desires.
“There is only one Shalimar. But frankly, I work for a company and we’re not philanthropists, we have to make some money. The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don’t want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it.”, Thierry Wasser
The trick to enjoying this perfume is to put all my feelings for Shalimar aside and consider the target market Guerlain was trying to capture with Shalimar Souffle de Parfum. Souffle translates to breath in French. In this respect, perhaps Guerlain has done well to create something that smells pretty for a youthful clientele, and could serve as an introduction to the house for young women. If you’ve seen the superb BBC documentary ‘Perfume’, you will know that Guerlain is fairly interested in capturing young blood with the hope of converting them to a customer for life. Such a difficult ask in this day and age. However if some emotional link is added in there, that young girls remember, such as a beautiful experience at the flagship Champs Elysses store, then this might work. The young women may incorporate Guerlain into their makeup repertoire and use the lipsticks, foundations, nail polishes etc and in time will hopefully upgrade to the more exclusive perfumes.
Here is Part 1 : Something Old, Something New. Part 2 : Bottling The Memory and Part 3 : The Smell Of The Future can also be found on Youtube.
Nose : Thierry Wasser : Year : 2014 : Notes : Top : Bergamot, lemon, mandarin orange : Middle : Jasmine sambac, orange blossom : Base : White musk, vanilla
Shalimar Souffle de Parfum is a sweet little concoction but doesn’t approach the gourmand levels of La Petite Robe Noir (LPRN). There’s a lemon twist at the beginning, with a sharp bergamot that quickly morphs into a light, wispy floral haze. There’s orange blossom and some jasmine, but the florals are wrapped in a breathy mirage of musks and vanilla. These are not photo realistic flowers. It’s a light and fluffy meringue on clouds of lemon and vanilla, with just enough sweet orange blossom to make it a little different.
So yes there are ties to Shalimar with the lemon and vanilla but the link is tenuous at best. Shalimar Parfum Initial (2011) resembled Shalimar more strongly with its potent orientalism.
Time will tell if Shalimar Souffle de Parfum sells by the truck load for Guerlain but it doesn’t have as much presence or va va voom as LPRN so I’m not sure if it’s going to dethrone that perfume in sales figures anytime soon. LPRN was number three on the best selling feminine perfume sales chart in France for 2014.
My main gripe isn’t really with the perfume per se, it’s the lazy marketing that brands fall into when they have a super star perfume on their roster. Yes perfume lovers know that Shalimar is one of the best perfumes ever created but the decision to keep riding on this perfume’s coat tails without having the chutzpah to launch a new perfume brand is short-sighted. Guerlain has done it with LPRN, why can’t they launch another great feminine perfume?
Surely part of the problem with Shalimar Parfum Initial (a prior flanker, sadly now discontinued but still available for purchase) was the link to Shalimar, which if you’re trying to attract a young audience may not be the best way to go about it. The younger generation (and even people of my own) associate Shalimar with older women / grandmothers. I’m sure that this perfume would have worked better if it was launched as a new brand, and didn’t try and hitch a ride on the coat tails of Shalimar. I think Shalimar Parfum Initial is a better perfume than Shalimar Souffle de Parfum. It’s more complex and leaves an indelible mark. Shalimar Souffle de Parfum is a pretty breath of scent but lacks a twist that I look for in my perfumes.
However as I say if you’re starting out on a perfume journey and you’re young this could be a great entry point. I also get the feeling that this is one of those scents that could actually smell great on a lot of people. Give it a whirl and put the annoying marketing aspects to the side (if you can!) If you’re new to perfume, as the target market undoubtedly will be, you will not have any of these concerns and most people (i.e. not total perfume freaks) will probably never let flanker fatigue bother them.
Overall, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum is a rather innocuous but hazily pretty perfume. There’s nothing complex going on here, it’s not taking you on a magical journey anywhere but perhaps that’s a strength too. This perfume can be worn for any occasion apart from a big night out. It’s a tad inspid for that. But I’ve worn it three times now and it’s growing on me and I wouldn’t be averse to a 30ml bottle falling into my hand. I haven’t yet mentioned the blue bottle – it’s gorgeous!
The Lowdown : A light, breath of lemon, musks and vanilla with a floral haziness that would make an every day, starter perfume that would work best for a younger woman.
Other reviews : The Scented Hound
Notes : Images : Main Picture : Mine : Shalimar Souffle de Parfum Advertisement : Fragrantica : Shalimar Parfum Initial Advertisement : sweetparfum.canalblog.com
Interesting reading even for a novis.
I wonder if your daughter might like this one?
I don’t fault Guerlain for this creation whatsoever. If it wasn’t for some of these mass productions, then some of the classics would not longer be in production. Besides, on it’s own, I rather liked it even it wasn’t for my tastes! And thanks for the link love 🙂
No problemo (for the link). I don’t begrudge Guerlain doing the mass production thing either, just wish they’d call it something non Shalimar related!
I loved that you included the BBC documentary. It’s a great window into the intrigues and politics of the industry.
That Shalimar is still feted speaks to the brilliance of its creator.
Souffle is clearly not a Shalimar, yet I find it pleasing in it’s own right. It really great in the heat of summer when you don’t feel like stifling all those around you! If only they had marketed it as an Aqua Allegoria it wouldn’t be as divisive as it is.
Hi Robert – I’m looking forward to giving it a try in summer (hurry up and arrive)! It is definitely more tasteful than La Vie Est Belle that you can smell everywhere in France!
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