Popular for 90 years, Shalimar was created in 1921, and re-released in 1925, by Jacques Guerlain in a bottle designed by Raymond Guerlain and made by Cristalleries de Baccarat (bottle design # 597) and launched at the Decorative Arts Exhibition as an antidote to The Great Depression.
According to Elisabeth Barille, "while examining a sample of vanillin, Jacques Guerlain suddenly poured the entire contents into a nearby bottle of Jicky, just to see what would happen." The result: Shalimar.
Jacques Guerlain was inspired by Mumtaz Mahal, the woman for whom the Taj Mahal was built. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's love for Mumtaz Mahal, his favourite wife, was so great that he built her the Garden of Shalimar in Lahore, Pakistan (and indeed, the Taj Mahal).
In 1985, it was repackaged and presented encased in a Lucite box to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its original launch.
In 2004, Guerlain issued Shalimar Light by perfumer Mathilde Laurent. However, Shalimar Light was taken off the market and replaced by Eau de Shalimar in 2008.
Shalimar itself is currently produced in Shalimar Extract, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and Fleur de Shalimar Edition.
Guerlain also markets Shalimar Parfum Initial, which has a different formula, color and fragrance than Shalimar.
The fragrance can be described as vanilla, powdery and sweet. The fragrance contains bergamot, lemon, jasmine, rose, iris, incense, opopanax, tonka bean and vanilla. It is considered to be an Oriental perfume (see Fragrance Wheel); spicy perfumes were popular during Shalimar's conception. The top note of the fragrance is bergamot. The middle notes are iris and opopanax. The base note is vanilla.
Over the years, Shalimar has had numerous ad campaigns.
In the 1950s, the illustrations created for Shalimar and other Guerlain perfumes, for the classic French advertising posters of the era, were some of the greatest works by the major illustrators of the day, such as Lyse Darcy, Cassandre, and so on.
In Popular Culture
The Perfumes name is mentioned in the songs "Forty Shades of Green" by Johnny Cash and "Madame George" by Van Morrison and mentioned in Orange is the new black