Intermission: Shanghai by Guerlain at first sniff


My father was born in Shanghai and grew up in the French Quarter during the 1920’s and 30″s, a fact that has always caused me to daydream about the city that has been referred to as the Paris of Asia – I have serious longing to visit there one day. In the meantime, Guerlain’s newly released Shanghai, part of the Les Voyages Olfactifs series, captured my imagination. Yesterday, I finally had a chance to sample it.

I was in New York for an arts conference and at the end of the day stepped into Bergdorf Goodmans, passed the sparkling jewels and luxurious leather accessories, making more or less of a bee line to the Guerlain counter. I admit that I was dazed when I saw the circular display with parfum testers of Jicky, L’Heure Bleu, Apres L’Ondee and Vol de Nuit, flanked by a Gendarme hat bottle of Mitsouko to the left and Shalimar to the right. Shanghai? What’s that? For a moment I was alarmingly disabled.

Guerlain representative, Josie, flashed a beautiful smile at my friend and I, preventing me from fainting, I suspect, and bringing me back to the purpose of my visit.

On the paper, Shanghai did not immediately wow me, but Josie obliged me with two sprays to the wrist. The top was sharper than I anticipated, but Shanghai quickly settled down to a creamy floral expression that for me, was dominated by ylang ylang, a note that I love, and perhaps jasmine. This heart lasted several hours. I experienced Shanghai’s drydown as a smooth, dry almond.

If I were to place Shanghai in my collection, say, as a neighborhood or place, (indulge me in the metaphor) Songes by Annick Goutal would be the music playing and Hypnotic Poisonwould be served for dessert. As lovely as this fragrance is, and as imaginative its concept, at first sniff, I did not adore it. Which is a relief, since I am dreaming of Cuir Beluga and Iris Ganache these days, but more importantly, saving up pennies to visit Daddy’s hometown so I can see what Shanghai City really smells like.

For excellent, poetic and informative reviews of Guerlain’s Shanghai, Annick Goutal’s Songes, and Dior’s Hypnotic Poison, please click on their names to go to the following wonderful blogs, respectively, Cafleurebon, Perfume Shrine and Katie Puckrick Smells.

Image of my grandmother, to the right, her little sister, to the left, taken not in Shanghai, but in SooChow.

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About reneetamara

Writing about death, mental illness, spirituality, art and perfume. Because beauty feeds the soul, and love is beyond what we think.

2 responses to “Intermission: Shanghai by Guerlain at first sniff”

  1. Undina says :

    I haven’t tried Shanghai yet but I do not expect to love it: I like several perfumes in that line but none of them enough to even think about buying those big expensive bottles.

    Just to make sure: you do know that Iris Ganache is discontinued, right?

    • reneetamara says :

      Ah, yes, Undina, I realize that Iris Ganache is discontinued, I know there are a few bottles around still to be had, but I think I have philosophically let go of the heat of really really wanting to own this one. I have a small decant and I am savoring and enjoying it while it lasts.

      And now I have a decant of Le Labo’s Paris exclusive, Vanille 44 which is not your typical vanilla, and gives me the experience of pencil shavings, a hint of rose (not at all listed in the notes, by the way) and a drop of not very sweet vanilla. Gauzy in feel, barely there sillage, a very comfortable subtle scent.

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