'Shiloh': A Baby and a Perfume

Perfume creator Symine Salimpour, above,  says she developed the fragrance she named
Perfume creator Symine Salimpour, above, says she developed the fragrance she named "Shiloh" a couple of years before Angelina Jolie, below, who named her daughter Shiloh, sued her to block its trademark. (By Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)
By Joe Bargmann
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

NEW YORK -- Symine Salimpour is in a stinky yellow cab racing to JFK. Raven-haired, fair-skinned and pencil-thin, she has ditched her all-black outfit (leather pants, tank top, pointy boots), the one she favors when she's in New York. Now she's wearing blue jeans, a gauzy white tank top and flip-flops, the uniform of a chic international fashionista on the go.

It is hot and sunny, the windows of the cab are open, and Salimpour can smell the baking asphalt, the exhaust fumes, the fermenting garbage.

"It smells gritty," she says -- which, in her heavy French accent, becomes "Eet smells gree-tee."

But more than that, Salimpour exclaims, after some contemplation, "It smells like . . . like . . . freedom!"

Salimpour, 31, has a keen nose -- designing fragrances is part of what she does as the proprietor of a budding fashion company -- and the freedom she smells these days is honeysuckle sweet.

After a five-month legal battle with perhaps the most famous mother and child on the planet, Angelina Jolie and Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, Salimpour won the legal right to call her new perfume Shiloh. She got the green light on June 15, when Jolie, 32, and Shiloh, 13 months, dropped their legal challenge to Salimpour's application to trademark the name.

Now Salimpour is arranging for the first shipment of Shiloh to the United States. She says she began development of the fragrance two years ago, long before Shiloh was born on May 27, 2006. But the designer's application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office did not occur until June 19 that year.

Jolie smelled a rat, and instructed her intellectual property lawyer to bring down the hammer on Salimpour.

"I was so scared," says Salimpour, who learned of the legal challenge, filed Jan. 31, in a phone call from a friend. "I mean, c'mon, who wouldn't be?" But Salimpour, who is Jewish and a citizen of both France and Israel, gamely played David to Jolie's Goliath, maintaining that the naming was strictly a coincidence.

"In Hebrew, Shiloh means 'his gift,' " Salimpour says. "And I will use the perfume to give something back to the children of Israel and the Middle East." She means this literally. After Shiloh hits the market later this year, she says, 5 percent of the profits will go to the Israeli-based nonprofit organization Beit Issie Shapiro, which provides medical and educational services to disabled children.

Repeated e-mail and telephone messages seeking comment from Jolie or her lawyer for this article were unreturned.

The daughter of an Iranian-born psychiatrist and an Egyptian-born artist who met and were married in France, Salimpour is a graduate of the Sorbonne, and in 2003 received a law degree from Paris's famed EFB, the Ecole de Formation Professionnelle des Barreaux.

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