Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New face for Shalimar by Guerlain

One of my loyal and discerning readers, AlbertCan, informed me a few days ago that according to Forbes, Natalia Vodianova had signed with Guerlain (among others) to front products in their advertising campaigns. The news he scooped (and allowed me to elaborate on, bless his generous heart) are that she is to front their iconic oriental, Shalimar.
Perfume Shrine couldn't leave this without some comment, naturally.

Natalia is gorgeous, of course. And her rags-to-riches fairy tale life story makes for interesting reading, peppered with the touches of iconography that fans want their eponymous role-models to assimilate (charity participation, loving family of her own etc). Hailing from the historical Novgorod, a seat of medieval princes (later, under Soviet rule, named Gorgy in honour of the writer Maxim Gorky), she is now a princess herself, married to a Viscount no less. The Cinderella touch...
She even has something nice to say about all the photographers who shot her:
"Paolo Roversi is really Italian and makes you feel so beautiful. Mario Testino has that incredible talent of making not only you but everyone around you feel very special. Steven Meisel is so organized and focused, and he always thinks about you as a person and makes sure you're comfortable. Patrick Demarchelier is like a big teddy bear, and a really nice person. And Bruce Weber is like Father Christmas--he never forgets about you. He's very generous."

Where I am getting at?

Natalia's current image of super-polite ice-princess with a deer-in-the-headlights look somehow doesn't suit the idea of Shalimar as the uber-seductive, cunninigly selectioned potion in the galaxy of orientals; nor the brunette type of orientalised romantic ideal that Guerlain has been cultivating for years through the associations of the name with the Indian Gardens on which a great love story flowered. After Shalom Harlow and Fernanda Tavares, Natalia seems too blonde and too innocent(?) for this kind of job.
Additionally, there is also the issue of always choosing the whitest Caucasian women for big advertising campaigns of European houses, when it would be nice for a change if we saw a gorgeous black model or a Latina -I am not counting Tavares because she's not- for one of those brands (like Eva Mendes for Calvin Klein's latest Secret Obsession) or a genuine oriental type (remember Jasmin Ghauri?): if not for Shalimar, then for what? I am asking you!

On the other hand, some of the photos that Steven Meisel shot of Natalia for Vogue are definitely the stuff of oneiric gazing that doesn't involve labrador puppies and a house with a white fence in the suburbs... Nor does this one from French Vogue 2005. Same goes still for this photo-shoot for W magazine in 2006. Coincidentally, Paolo Roversi who is responsible for some of her most haunting portraits, has just shot the new print campaign for Shalimar.

Possibly, therefore, there are as many facets and as many pools of dangerous waters to a person as she is willing to plunge herself into!
I am thus eagerly looking forward to see how this advertising campaign for Shalimar featuring Natalia Vodianova will go. We will return with commentary soon!

EDITED TO ADD on 4th September:
An anonymous reader has been very kind in getting us a glimpse of the new campaign, so here it is:

Next we will be focusing on detail on the moves of the Guerlain brand, with an article that might instigate discussion.
And inspired by the new blood in the Shalimar project, we will be reviewing both the original and the flankers of this industrious and profitable for Guerlain monument of perfumery next week. Stay tuned!

Pic of Natalia Vodianova from Vogue. Pics of Shalimar ads (with Shalom Harlow and Fernanda Tavares) courtesy of parfumsdepub.


  1. Anonymous15:18

    Thanks for the report! (See, I knew you could do a report like no other.)

    I too was surprised by the appointment...although I'm sure Natalia would manage it well (as usual). She is one of those rare models who morph with the campaigns so we'll see. (I think Madame Figaro released the photos a few days ago but I was on holiday. I'll sure someone will scan it.)

  2. Anonymous16:04

    Another quick note...I typed my blog entry so fast (still trying to get back to the swing of things) that I probably should've metnioned that I got my news from the correction on my blog so I hope it's okay in the end.

  3. Alright, I'm just not seeing it, mainly because Natalia for me has been a model I have never quite got. Her face is so child-like that I have a hard time seeing it going with Shalimar, which may be one of the most womanly scents out there.

  4. Anonymous17:19

    i love her as a model, probably because she looks like a kitty cat - feline - in her best shots. she's very slightly cross-eyed, too. i've seen her look extremely sultry in some photos - that childlike quality fades away quite a bit, but not completely, which is interesting. she's one of my favorites by far. something about her keeps her from being just one of the (eastern-european) girls who are so popular in modeling these days. maybe there's a sense of humor peeking out, i don' know.

    anyway, i like her, and believe she'll be great for shalimar. the last shalimar campaign i can even remember breaking through the clutter featured patti hansen and filles, so it's not as if we're stepping down here. i like patti and filles, btw. at least their threesome broke through. the filles are not among my favorite models, however - they do the bored, pouty thing a bit too often for my taste.

    actually, i always thought they missed the boat by not having keith (richards) do ads for habit rouge. that would've been worth seeing.

    - cheers, minette

  5. Dear Albert,

    thank you for your compliment (aren't you sweet!) and for your divulging the news to me.
    I think she's a good professional, so she will do what it takes.
    I'm sure if you linked your source and I am linking you, it's quite all right credit-wise.

  6. Jen,

    that was exactly my qualm: too child-like, too "innocent".
    There are those women who have a childish look even as adults and those children who have an adult look early on (see Catherine McCormick, Eizabeth Taylor etc.)
    We'll see, I guess.

  7. Hi Minette :-))

    thanks for commenting in such detail and bringing such interesting examples too!
    Natalia is certainly a cut above the other Eastern Europeans in that she has an impressive portfolio of chameleon work: maybe that could be handy in the case of Shalimar ~it needs an injection of je ne sais quoi, something beyond the contrived and the "pretty" (it's not a "pretty" scent after all).

    I liked that ad with the Hansen clan too: it was for Shalimar Light and it fit perfectly with the whole concept of that fragrance. I will devote space and commentary to it shortly ;-)

    Yeah, wouldn't Habit Rouge be just great with Richard fronting it, especially since he loves it!
    But Louis Vuitton (another LVMH brand) grabbed him for their ads. Wonder how.

  8. Has anyone noticed how much information these perfume houses release when it comes to marketing advertising campaign such s the model, even the photographer (like who cares? because let me tell you something, I couldn 't care less!) but absolutely nothing, not a single word on their reformulations.

  9. Emanuella,

    I couldn't agree with you more on your last point! (apart from caring a bit about the photographer, I do have some favourites)
    I bet you will have a lot to say on my upcoming article on Guerlain's moves.

  10. Oh, yay!...Guerlain...

    (Happily waiting for posts.)

  11. Anonymous11:43

    Oh my... I would have expected more of a sexy roaring panther-woman than bambi-purring-kitten... for my Shalimar (which i prefer in pure perfume, it's of a mythological quality, a goddess and not ablonde one)...
    But.. we'll see. In the end she is not responsible but the PR people of Guerlain. And i wonder if they want us o perceive the juice other than sexy. Sorry guys, but this will never be a ice-queen scent, and that's a good thing!

  12. I agree that it somehow seems a jarring choice (too kittenish), but they have gone so far with their sexy-roaring-panthers for their newest masculine and trio of feminines (see today's article!) that I don't know what to expect really.
    Will withold judgment until I see pics.

  13. Anonymous13:21

    Here are the ad (from

  14. Anonymous13:24

    Previous post doesn't work, maybe this will be better

  15. Thanks Albert, I just added it and credited you :-)

  16. Anonymous17:39

    Dear Helg,

    As much as I love getting credit for things...the person (bless thee) wasn't me!

    You probably know if I make a post onto your blog I would always sign in with my user's I can't take credit for the work...


  17. Oh, sorry about the mix-up!

    Anon, thank you whoever you are

  18. Though I am a fan of Supernova, I think she and Guerlain could have done better than "naked pretty girl", it's Shalimar, for chrissakes!

  19. Dain honey, I have to agree: pretty, but not very imaginative. The old one with her "haunted eyes" by Roversi would have been so much better for this.

  20. This is so not working for me, she is just too child-like looking for Shalimar. This is very blah. I will simply go back to Shalom Harlow.

  21. Jen,

    I have to say I am a little underwhelmed myself. Blah is a good term ;-)

  22. Anonymous12:35

    Hi everybody.
    The Shalimar print as is really nice…
    But the film is amazing.
    Have a look at :


  23. I've imagined Shalimar the ultimate
    fragrance for the dark or at least
    deep beauty, over 25 years old.

    Which is why the fragrance so attracts me. I certainly don't care
    for the women appearing nude.
    Shalimar is all about layers and

  24. Anon,

    thanks so much!! I devoted a post to it :-)

  25. Cynthia,

    how perfectly put!! Indeed Shalimar is all about mystery, not nudity. The intigue in what lies hidden. Although I am not turned off by nudity, it's a little too easy for a sexy concept, isn't it?


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