Saturday, May 22, 2010

shalimar sacrilege


All you Shalimar purists out there may want to avoid this post. I mean it, step away NOW! I am doing something to one of the first and best orientals that you may find unconscionable, so if the idea of tampering with the magnificence that is Shalimar makes you break out in hives, stop now before it’s too late. You see, (and this is embarrassing for me to admit this) I have been layering Shalimar with…well, let me start over at the beginning.

You know how I like to buy fragrances whIMG_4874ile I’m on a trip, so  I can associate the memories of the trip with a fragrance and then use it to recall the memories in greater detail? Well, when I went to the medieval conference in Kalamazoo, I took a little day trip to Ulta to search for a nice oriental to wear to the big dance on Saturday night. Nothing really struck me after a long sniff session, so I bought some banana boat sunscreen and headed back in my car to campus. But I was hungry, and saw a Walgreens, and pulled in, intending to pick up some almonds or something to stave off the pangs. Of course, I had to pop by the fragrance section just to see…. And there was Shalimar, in cologne form, for 35 dollars, dear readers. Of course I bought her. And wore her to the dance.

That’s not the story,  of course.

I noticed that when I put on the banana boat sunscreen with the shalimar, something very interesting happened. The smoky vanilla and spices of Shalimar

C (15)

lent a deep complexity to the tropicalia (i get coconut, banana, pineapple, and flowers) of Banana Boat. I was intrigued, so of course, I had to take it a few steps further. I layered the Body Shop’s Coconut body butter on the parts of my body untouched by the sun’s rays, and their shimmering coconut lotion over the top of the banana boat, finishing with a few spritzes of Shalimar. I can almost hear you all groaning, saying, “Why the hell would she want to do that to Shalimar?!?) I don’t know. I was compelled.


The truth is, I really like what this combo of products does to me in conjunction. It is summer, damn it, or almost, and I want to smell a little tropical, is that so wrong? I know a lot of perfumistas dislike coconut, but i have no problem with it, actually enjoy it.  But I don’t want to smell like straight pina colada. the shalimar makes me feel darker, more complex than a strait cocktail of tropical smells would, and the shimmer of the lotion mIMG_3407akes me feel all glowy. I found some images of me at what I believe to be my glowiest, as an illustration of how the combo makes me feel. I feel smoky, seductive, and not a little exotic. The vanilla and coconut combine to make a creamy, milky smell that is neither, and the smokiness comes out somehow, as if my skin is sending off waves of heat. I love it, dear readers, and nothing you can say will make me feel bad about it. Ok, maybe I feel guilty already, since I have spent so much time on this post defending my experiment. Ah well, know thyself, right?

But the experiment served its primary purpose. From now on, whenever I put on Shalimar and coconut, I will think of my lovely post-conference visit with my brother and sister-in-law in Detroit—all the good conversation, laughter, and food, going to the zoo, shopping, chatting. These will forever be recalled to me like old friends. All I need to do is slide into some lotion and spray on a bit of Guerlain. 

Anyway, I’d love to hear your reactions to my sacrilegious tampering with the somewhat opposed ideas of the tropics a la Brazilian beach and the Indian memorial garden Orientalist fantasy that is Shalimar. Am I so wrong?

 IMG_4879This has nothing to do with the post, but clearly my cat Oliver wanted to be photographed  and blogged when I was taking my pics of the shalimar combo—he’s so obviously posing for the camera, right near the products.

all pics mine today.


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  1. cute kitty! I love Shalimar - the first real perfume that I remember from my grandmother - but I can handle your layering!

  2. Glad to hear it. I was a bit nervous about posting this. thanks for the reassurance. I'm sure Oliver is pleased at the compliment--he is lookign at me a little less imperiously right now.

  3. Hey, there is no layering of Shalimar.

    Honestly, Shalimar is OhSoVanilla on me, so why the heck not tropicalize it up? And, given that you were on a medieval junket, why not create the illuminated "S" that represents the mash-up you just did? (Which I intended to be tropical flowers and fruit entwining themselves about the florid letter, but then as I wrote "mash-up," I thought of bananas [Banana Boat], and the whole thing took another turn...). But I digress. ;)

    I'm actually kind of curious to try this. Heck, my cred as a perfume purist is shaky anyway. It's not vintage Shalimar I'd be using, edc from a manufacturer's sample, I'm comfy going for it.

    Say, you do know this means *you* were/are the gal in Kalamazoo, right? ("I've got a gal in Ka ka ka Kalamazoo...") Oddly, but for one or three twists of fate, I might have been there, too. Once upon a time, I thought medievalist was the life for me. I need to poke around your blog here and see if I can find out what your focus is.

    (Obviously, it's NOT keeping the Shalimar pure... ;) )

  4. Hilarious! I will try to illuminate a letter! I accept your challenge. Give me a few days,though....

    I love it that you thought of being a medievalist! I have admired your blog a lot, and knew we had something in common. I'll save you the trouble and tell you my research fields are Old Norse, Old English, and Middle English, although I totally enjoy going further afield in different languages when I can.

    one of the reasons I chose medieval studies is because it is not too constraining--1000 years of lit gives me a LOT of wiggle room.

    I love it that you might try my concoction. Let me know what you think! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. Oh, do whatever you want to Shalimar... she's no shy flower, you can't damage her. I actually find it rather difficult to wear (that TarNilla just takes over on me), and I'm intrigued by the idea of making it a bit friendlier. Coconut is nothing if not friendly, right?

  6. Oh, and meant to say Oliver is very handsome (and knows it, obviously). My own dear Silvia is a standard gray-stripe tabby with white markings, very fluffy, and was once quite the belle. She's very thin these days, and I don't know how long she'll be with us. She's 17.

  7. (deep sigh of relief) I am very happy all you perfumistas seem to have no problem with my messing with the Shalimar! I guess she's a little "been there, done that" for everybody, so mixing things up a bit won't hurt her.

    Mals86, say hi to Silvia for my. I just lost my dear Silky a few years ago (she was 20!) and though I was sad to see her go, I think her arthritis made her hurt too much to make life enjoyable. Enjoy Silvia and give her lots of love. My two cats now are quite young (Oliver is 3 and Little is 6) so we have to put up with each other for a long time yet, God willing!

  8. Old Norse?!
    I'm just messing with some 14th century documents from Sweden, I know that it's a bit later than actual Old Norse, but I don't understand a few terms. Would you possibly mind being helpful?

    Also, mixing of stuff... I do it all the time. Just now I have two conoctions made of Mahora and something to make Mahora wearable.

  9. Sure, I can try to help! Email me your question--my other email is

    I can't guarantee anything though! What are you working on?

  10. I'm writing my doctoral thesis on St. Birgitta of Sweden and I'm going through the testaments of King Magnus. My Medieval Swedish is somewhat dubious and although I can get the point, I need a few clarifications. Well, I don't absolutely need them as such but I would like to know.
    I'll mail you when I'm done with shopping. The body refuses to live on food for thought only.


what thinkest thou?


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