“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 ¹
Thierry Wasser, in-house perfumer at Guerlain, recently likened the penchant brands have for creating numerous flankers to a “sickness” and when looking at the numerous incarnatons of the house’s flagship fragrance, Shalimar, it’s easy to see why. In the last five years we’ve seen seven, that’s right, seven new Shalimar flankers ranging from the sublime Parfum Initial and Ode à la Vanille to the less interesting Parfum Initial L’Eau, and on occasions the brand has stretched the Shalimar association pretty thin.
With their latest flanker, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, the link has become so emaciated it may have finally snapped. Sniffing the flanker, it’s pretty difficult to pick out exactly how the two fragrances are alike. Shalimar is a grand dame of the oriental world, showcasing bubbling bergamot, smoky-sweet vanilla powder and tons of heavy resins. Souffle de Parfum on the other hand is, well, the complete opposite of that. It may not be worthy of the Shalimar name, but does that mean that it’s a bad fragrance?
Guerlain describe Souffle de Parfum as a “gently perfumed caress” ² and a “breath of extreme sensuality” ², with the ‘Souffle’ here referring to the French word for breath, as opposed to anything culinary-related. It has been designed to celebrate the lighter facets of Shalimar, specifically focus on the shining citrus that famously graces the Oriental Queen’s top notes, and the plush vanilla that sits at her core. In that respect, Souffle de Parfum succeeds, merging these two themes together to create something that may, or may not be Shalimar, depending on how one looks at it.
Top: Bergamot, Lemon and Mandarin
Heart: Jasmine Sambac and Orange Blossom Water Absolute
Base: Vanilla from Tahiti & India and White Musk
How Does it Smell?
Shalimar Souffle de Parfum is essentially about three things; citrus, white flowers and vanilla. As far as fragrances go, it’s pretty linear, so all cards are laid out on the table right from the outset. Citrus is of course, the first thing one notices. Here, the bergamot and lemon are dealt with in a subtle manner, crackling softly in dewy sharp tones whilst melting seamlessly into a bed of vanilla. The vanilla itself is the plush kind that feels almost chewy in texture. In terms of its odour profile, the vanilla is sweet, but not in a cake-y way. It comes across as transparent and almost aqueous rather than thick and fluffy.
Linking the sharpness of the citrus with the soft and almost tropical quality of the vanilla is jasmine. The white flower appears here in strands of waxy and rubbery warmth that tie everything together. Jasmine in full bloom is hot, citrus-like and dewy, with vanilla facets, so it’s understandable that it is used as the glue at the heart to cement everything together. It also adds a subtle peppery undertone that accentuates the soft glowing spices that are muted within the vanilla.
Reading back on my earlier paragraphs, I feel as if I’ve been a tad harsh on Souffle de Parfum. I stand by the fact that I don’t feel the Shalimar link is clear enough, or necessary for that matter, but taking it in isolation without the weight and the history of the Shalimar name hanging over its head, I actually enjoy it, not enough to spring for a bottle, mind you. In summation, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum is a fragrance that I would call ‘comfortable’, and the simplicity of its floral-citrus-vanilla signature is perky and likeable, just not overwhelmingly so.
Shalimar Souffle de Parfum is available in 30ml, 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum.
Thanks to Tara for the sample. Image 1 via Fragrantica. Image 2 via olfactory.blogspot.com. ¹ via Persolaise. ² and notes via Guerlain.