Shangri-La, the lost city hidden beyond the Himalayas, has long been the symbol of a mystical paradise and perfect world. The city lies at the heart of Lost Horizons, a famous 1933 novel by James Hilton, and has inspired everyone from President Roosevelt to Hollywood and countless explorers in Tibet. The Nazis wanted to find it, while rock stars wrote songs about it. Countless towns in China claimed to be the location for the tale, and Zhongdian in the Dali Province was recently crowned as the real thing. Now, Shangri-La has inspired a perfumer as well.
This Shangri La is an all-natural, handcrafted eau de parfum that was just released by Hiram Green Perfumes. The perfume house is based in the Netherlands, but was founded by a British gentleman, Hiram Green, who has quite a background with perfumery in general. His maiden effort, Moon Bloom, completely blew me away, and has since become one of my favorite tuberose fragrance. (Given how passionately I love the flower, and how picky I am about tuberose fragrances, that says something.) So, when I heard that Mr. Green was not only coming out with a new fragrance but turning his focus towards the chypre genre, I practically leapt out of my seat. The perfume’s note list only added to my fervour, since they include peach which is an element I love. Plus, in all honesty, the name killed me, because one of my all-time favorite Hollywood classics is Frank Capra’s Lost Horizons.
Shangri-La, the city, was all about scholarly study, finding inner peace, and exploring the beauty in life but Shangri La, the perfume, is quite a lusty affair, in my opinion. There is nothing remote or icy about this chypre, and its leathered, musky sensuality would probably have horrified the 300-year old High Lama of James Hilton’s tale. During my tests, I sometimes had visions of naked bodies, juicy peaches dripping on heated flesh as lovers cavort in oakmoss and jasmine glens, or black leather corsets in a boudoir made of smoked roses. It’s a far cry from a scholarly library in a lamasery in the snowy mountains of Tibet — and, as much as I love Lost Horizons, I think that’s a good thing.