Updated: Jun 28, 2020
Flowers are beautiful creations of nature, they are a delight to our senses and I find myself wanting them to last for a longer time. If there was a way to capture their beauty in a bottle and admire it, a sense of permanence of sorts, I see it in the essence of beautifully created fragrances like Shalini Parfum.
A niche luxury fragrance house from New York, it has been consistently ranked as the top ten most luxurious fragrances in the world. It is exquisite, created from the purest, opulent ingredients and is referred to as ‘liquid gold.’
There is more to the composition of each fragrance. It is the memory of a thought, a place, a feeling.
Shalini takes inspiration from fond childhood memories and moments in her life. Master perfumer, Maurice Roucel is the nose behind the fragrances. The fragrances are a result of a wonderful collaboration and are made in France. Each fragrance is housed in its own unique Lalique crystal flacon, hand poured and beautifully packaged in black boxes tied up in the signature yellow ribbon. Truly delightful!
The parfum is presented in a beautiful collection of glass bottle sprays, cubique stoppers, bulb atomizers and also a gorgeous white lacquer travel spray. The bottles have a certain density, you feel like you're holding something substantial.
I have been mesmerized since the time I have experienced them, for a few years now. They are extraordinary and inspiring.
Each of them intoxicates you with a magnificent energy, a sense of beauty.
A fragrance you love touches your soul, evokes a memory that you have forgotten or creates a wonderful moment for yourself.
Shalini Parfum has helped heal people’s hearts, touched their lives and draws immense admiration.
Each fragrance is a beautiful story that unfolds from Shalini’s personal journey.
For a brand that has been continuously evolving for over 20 years, Shalini tells me what continues to inspire her to create, what led her to haute parfum from haute couture and how we need to go back to the roots of fragrance, fashion and food.
What made you want to create fragrances?
I was always fond of essential oils, my mom used to massage me with fragrant natural
oils when I was a baby. I grew up with the love for flowers and fragrances, something I learnt from my mom. Tuberose is one of my favourite flowers and is an old childhood memory; I would go out into the garden at night to smell it.
I never found a fragrance with tuberose absolut. It didn't exist. And when I told Maurice this, he said, "Then let's make one!" That's how the first fragrance, Shalini, was launched in 2004.
What led you to haute parfum from haute couture?
It is something I was interested in and I stumbled upon it. My move was definitely because I met Maurice.
With fashion I trained at Valentino and used the finest fabrics and craftsmanship and wanted to bring those elements to fragrance. In fragrance there is no size, no fit, no colour palette.
"Fragrance is like art, it has no gender."
With fashion there was a constant pressure to create, multiple shows a year and so many couture clients. It was getting repetitive with always having to do fittings, meetings and personal appearances. I enjoyed the creativity and meeting clients but there was a constant demand for creating even though I was creating classics. There seemed to be no longevity.
I was wanting to have a different journey. I was feeling removed from fashion.
With fragrance, there is a sense of longevity. Shalini, the first fragrance, was launched in 2004 and is relevant even today. It is considered a Modern Masterpiece.
I believe times like this (with everything going on in the world today - the epidemic) bring out more creators. As a creator, artist and businesswoman, what is this time teaching you?
Personally for me this time is interesting, the world is at a pause and nature is blooming. It is a chance for all of us to focus inwards and to really assess where you are and kind of come to that place of an internal process.
Healing energies of the fragrances is something I have been reluctant to talk about openly but they are relevant now, more than ever. They have healing properties because of the pure essences that we use. Paradis Provence for example, is perfectly designed for this time. It has thyme which was used by the romans for curing respiratory problems, lavender helps uplift the mood and cures depression, jasmine & neroli have antiseptic properties.
We have used essential oils for centuries now and some of this has been lost over time.
I have been using this time to go back to more research. I am researching oils that I haven't used, to expand on and this will be a stronger direction for me.
Speaking of the fragrance industry, there have been a plethora of brands and launches every season and every year. Just like in fashion. Do you foresee a shift, a change in values? What is your perspective on what’s to come hereon?
Sadly, most fragrances in the market are full of chemicals that are not good for you, and it is a billion dollar industry. There has been a conscious breakthrough in the food industry and people are conscious about what they consume and where it comes from. The beauty industry is seeing a change and the fragrance industry will undergo a shift too. People will demand a change out of higher awareness. There will be more emphasis on wellness and sustainability.
"A lot of fragrance is marketed like you wear this fragrance you get laid. It is not necessarily how it's going to continue."
Fragrance marketing is essentially that and the names of the fragrances reflect that - very sexualised and there is nothing wrong with that. Jardin Nocturne is the most sexual fragrance out there, it is all about the sexual energy, but it is not just one thing. There is a strength to it. I wear it when I need an armour, it gives you a protective armour. Maybe it comes from the resins of old oud and wood. They carry a memory and energy that is so ancient so it carries strength and power.
Most fragrances just have the name 'oud'.
The luxury market will be the first to recover because the consumer belongs to a wealthier segment and I do think there is going to be a pent up demand.
New York is going through a hard time. How are you coping during this time and keeping yourself together? Coming out of this, what is your biggest hope?
I have been taking walks in the Japanese garden, enjoying the cherry blossoms, magnolias and camellias. We are grateful in NY that this happened in springtime so you can still have the beauty of nature. Being with the flowers has kept me grounded. I have been studying the healing properties to understand at a deeper level.
I am understanding my path and journey more and more. I have been writing too which is not something I get a chance to do often.
"I feel like I am experiencing a deep sense of purpose and I'm more aligned with it by bringing out the healing energies of fragrances."
Pure fragrance has healing properties and brings about a sense of inner beauty and calm. I have experienced this with your fragrances. Tell us more about your vision for SHALINI.
My vision is to go back to the roots of fragrance, to the healing properties. This is not something new, historically fragrance was used for prayer and meditation. Today we seem to have gotten so far away from using food and fragrance as medicine.
We use the highest quality and purest absoluts and there is a process of Maturation and Maceration which are essential for the fragrance to develop. There is the essence of time and luxury, and beauty in it.
How different was your purpose with couture?
Balenciaga is my great inspiration as a designer and a personality. His collection had purity, simplicity & luxury. To me that existed in my collection, and also a sense of architecture. The clothes always made our clients feel good. The highest quality of fabrics, lined with beautiful silks, it helped them feel better about themselves.
Fashion was different in the sense of women embracing their own beauty. They would feel embraced by the clothes, a simplicity that allowed them to shine even though I was using very expensive fabrics and complicated construction.
Feeling beautiful is important. Even women who are beautiful by all standards still want to feel beautiful.
Fragrance is very intimate, it's the closest thing you wear on your skin. Similar to fashion.
"We are talking about Fragrance wardrobes today with the Discovery Set, where you wake up in the morning and decide what mood you are in and you wear that fragrance. It's the first layer you wear."
What is the most memorable reaction or experience shared with Shalini Parfum?
A client, was at Bergdorfs and she was inundated with so many fragrances being shown to her. One of the Bergdorfs staff asked her to try Shalini and he told her that it's the most beautiful fragrance they had and that it had to be tried on the skin. So she tried it and went back to her hotel. She was two blocks away at the Baccarat Hotel.
She said the fragrance was haunting her through the evening and the night. She kept smelling it, she just had to have it. So she walked into Bergdorfs as they opened in the morning and bought every bottle of Shalini.
I met her subsequently and that's how I know the story. There are so many stories!
I have had people tell me how Amorem Rose has had them falling in love or being pursued.
I have had strangers stop me to ask what I am wearing.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Balenciaga inspired me. Flowers and nature inspire me, writings of Colette and Anais Nin, Pablo Neruda poetry, Hemingway, films - French films in particular, compositions of Satie and Chopin, the Mediterranean, where I swim and create.
"It's not just a fragrance, it's not one dimensional. You bring in the art, the writing, the visual of the bottle."
With a Masters in Math and Architecture, Shalini dived into her calling for fashion. She worked with Valentino straight after graduating from Parsons, and at several design houses before launching her haute couture womenswear label in 1997, at Barney’s.
Shalini is a passionate soul, a visionary, a creator, living in New York. She believes that the world needs more beauty and healing. Her desire is to bring this to the world through the healing energies of fragrances.
Shalini Parfum is available at Bergdorfs, Harrods - Salon de Parfum, Jovoy Paris, Jovoy Mayfair Spitzenhaus, Aedes Perfumery NY, Al Hazm Qatar, Perfume Lounge Amsterdam, Beverly Hills Perfumery California, Indigo Perfumery Ohio.
Instagram handle @shaliniparfum @shalini_parfum_middle_east
Get in touch to place an order.