Sunday, 6 November 2011


If I always wrote reviews of perfume, I would be describing this as containing top notes of Bergamont, middle notes of Iris and Tonka Beans with a base note of Vanilla. But actually this is not how I would  describe this bottle. For it is empty you see, empty but full of an echo, a memory, a mystery.

It's packaging hints at the power within, the indentation of the bottle's form in the box, complete with shadows suggest strength and immortal qualities.

I came across it quite by chance. A stroll along a seaside lane and a garage sale. I spied the purple box, opened it and found the empty perfume bottle with the brilliant blue stopper. I loved it's vintage look. It was dark and a little rainy, I couldn't read the script. The lady I purchased it from said that she was clearing the flat above the garage and that this had been her mother's. We exchange pleasantries, money and boxes.

Much later, at home before I went to bed, I examined my purchase. It's name revealed on the distressed label-Shalimar by Guerlain. I thought a beautiful object to add to my collection of perfume bottles. It was at least thirty years old.

Named after the Garden of Shalimar in Lahor, built by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. He also built the Taj Mahal, the name means Temple of Love. The bottle represents a fountain.

I gently prised the stopper out. I was blown away. It was like rubbing the lamp and a genie popping out. The fragrance was overwhelming. I couldn't have enough of it. The empty bottle was full of secrets it wanted to share or suggest.

 Why had it been kept so long? What type of woman wore this? Or what woman did one become? Was it a special gift from a husband , a lover?

How many dances had it been to? How many children had it kissed goodnight and lingered with on their cheeks whilst departing for adventures into the night?

This is not a fragrance for the day, for shopping, cooking or ladies who lunch.

This is a fragrance for love, seduction, adventure. This is extravagant , luscious, promising and alluring.

I understand now why it could not be discarded. Memories stay when the events are over. Photographs store a second in time. Fragrance is a powerful sense that can transcend time and place. You can be transported to the  past,  a distant land , to an imaginary place or event.

For the moment , the bottle that I now possess  sits with my postcard of 'The Seaside Girl', the stopper in place; for the  seaside is  where I found it.

The fragrant seductress within contained for the moment whilst I interpret her story.

 I reach for ' The Arabian Nights' to read about Shahrazad. Also I pull  Patrick Süskind 's  'Perfume:  The story of a Murderer' from the shelves.

                                        “He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.” 

Patrick Süskind

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