Perfume Directory

Samsara (1989)
by Guerlain

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Samsara information

Year of Launch1989
GenderFeminine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 576 votes)

People and companies

HouseGuerlain
PerfumerJean Paul Guerlain
PackagingRobert Granai
Parent CompanyLVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
Parent Company at launchGuerlain

About Samsara

Samsara is a Sanskrit word signifying "the cycle of birth and rebirth", and is the path to nirvana. The scent is a woody-floral oriental.

Samsara fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Samsara

This is a review of the current EDP, which I quite like. I am nearing the bottom of my 1991 EDT bottle (so sad!), and decided to order a new version for comparison purposes - today's EDP is very reasonably priced, so it wasn't a huge risk. And it was a good decision, because it's lovely.

It isn't fair to essay a direct comparison between vintge EDT and current EDP (not exactly apples and oranges, maybe Winesap vs. Red Delicious?), but I can at least report that Samsara's DNA is intact. The EDP is still sandalwood and spice, sensuous and enveloping. Longevity is a few hours less than the vintage EDT, but still respectable - and the drydown is lovely.
20th August, 2016 (last edited: 21st August, 2016)
Heresy, I know, but the current offering is very, very nice. I think I prefer it. My last bottle of Samsara was purchased about twenty years ago and when I finished it I said I wouldn't buy another (too much Sandalwood, too cloying)
Now there's a re-think, Samsara goes on the wish list.
At a time when my beloved Chanels are attenuated and largely ornamental the House of Guerlain is looking good.
18th July, 2016
I have a ridiculously large perfume collection and this is definitely my most favourite one! Applied properly, it is lovely but would be overpowering if too much was sprayed on.

It had to have been launched earlier in Europe because I purchased my first bottle when we were on vacation in Bermuda, the fall of 1988. We were shopping in Hamilton and the unique bottle caught my eye. After trying some on, I was hooked. Every so often I find a perfume I like so much, that I find it to be delicious. Samsara is like the yummiest dessert one could ever find. It is sensual, seductive and very sexy.

I've only ever been able to find the EDT in department stores, so the next time I need more, I'll be purchasing my next bottle on line so I can get the EDP. I can say that the EDT lasts quite a bit longer than my other EDT fragrances but I love this one so much, that I want it to last as long as possible.

I highly recommend this perfume but you must try it first to be sure it's right for you. Put some on to the inside of your wrist and wait at least 20 minutes to see how it works on you. Everyone has their own unique body chemistry and what smells fantastic on me, may not be the same for someone else!

Samsara is 2 thumbs way, way, WAY up 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

12th May, 2016
This review is for the EDP formulation. As one would expect, Samsara is very sandalwoody, lightly sweet, lightly floral, and a bit powdery. It is so soft, so feminine...I really cannot think of words sufficient to describe how sexy is this parfum. I cannot imagine men wearing this because it is so very feminine, although I am sure some probably do.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Samsara is that there is no Mysore sandalwood oil in it at all, but the synthetics used completely fool one's sense of smell. JP Guerlain created Samsara in the late 1980s, post the collapse of Mysore sandalwood after the tree had become very seriously endangered. I read that it took JP Guelain five LONG years to perfect this parfum and that his reason for creating it was to seduce a certain English woman he knew. Well, all I can say is that she must have been seduced as intended! My goodness this smells heavenly....

Honestly, this smells so heavenly, so uber feminine that you just have to try it for yourself. I apply it liberally. The projection is not huge in my opinion as it wears somewhat close to one's skin, but the projection it does have says "come hither, my love...." :) Sillage is nice, and longevity is moderate+. If I apply it at night before going to bed, I can still smell it on myself in the morning six or so hours later, albeit faintly. It lingers on my clothes and on my desk top and smells divine.

It is no secret that Guerlain is my favourite house. I love Samsara and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who is interested in sandalwood as a dominant note. If you want to seduce a man, I think Samsara would do the trick. So soft, so indescribably feminine...try it!

Fragrance: 10/10

Projection: 7/10

Sillage: 7/10

Longevity: 8.5/10
18th April, 2016
Where it was Moguls and Harems that inspired the Oriental prototypes of Les Parfums de Rosine, Samsara is a neo-orientalist work that bears parallels to the phenomenon of Indian Haute Couture which emerged in the 1980s.

The style, based on a hybrid of Indian and Western forms and known as Bollywood Ballgown, was a lavishly embroidered Saree style evening dress, created in India using the latest European fashion training and technology. Guerlain, in partnership with outside perfumer Gérard Anthony created their own version of a western - oriental hybrid in 1989. They did this by applying their skills and technological expertise to traditional Indian materials and tastes - emphasising the sweet over the more stereotypical spicy notes.

Samsara uses a range of flavours found in Indian sweet shops: honey, castor sugar and Demerara, vanilla, spice, starch and milk. These sweet notes form the olfactory ground of the construction, which is offset by a synthetic sandalwood and Mysore oil blend. At first the impression is that there's too much sandal, the obviously synthetic note dominates the other more natural smelling materials; but it plays a crucial role in defining the character of the perfume, which it does in several ways. The Polysantol :

1) boosts the Mysore by giving power and edge to the accord, 2) blocks the gourmand tendency of the sweet notes, 3) bouys up a rather flabby oriental profile by linking with other lighter notes, and it 4) announces that this is not just Shalimar in a Saree.

A stable perfume structure often requires three chords working together like the base of a triangle. In Samsara, along with the sweets and the sandal, the third corner is staked out by a mild rose - jasmin floralesque. This tackles the jagged peak of sandalwood that rises from the pale sugary plain by deploying a large dose of peach C14. It also sustains the excellent bergamot found in the head, and introduces dark spicy tones of opoponax. The aim of the heart accord is to modify the extremes of synthetic sandalwood and the surdose of sweets to bring them into harmony. Not an easy task. Samsara is nothing if not typical of its time, with an eighties loudness and intensity that verges on the brash or even, at times vulgar.

Benjoin has an odour suppressing quality, and when a formula such as this vanillic variation of the oriental is based on a large dose of it, the superstructure must be powerful enough to overcome this technical problem. Consequently the initial stages of Samsara's development are a struggle between vibrant high yield accords and the introverted Benjoin. This conflict is, I believe, the reason for the at times strident character of the juice.

A lot of settling is required for this three chord stand off to find its stasis and it takes a couple of hours for the profile to reach maturity; but when it does, it becomes a pale, well constructed peachy, sweet milky, bitter rose, sandalwood spicy oriental, all resting on a powdery vanillic base of Benjoin and labdanum.

Samsara is a perfume of challenges; the challenge of how to re-present a new Oriental relating to what was happening in the fashion world of Bombay. The challenge of using a vanillic base for an oriental with the associated technical problems of Benjoin. Not least the olfactory challenge of trying to wear this at times difficult perfume. And finally, the complex in-house challenges posed by this princess pretender to Shalimar's crown.

The 1995 vintage juice under review here draws on the traditional Indian forms of sweet making, sandalwood and Attar of rose, to which it adds Western synthetics, French savoir faire and a touch of Guerlainade to create a renewed Oriental.

***
31st March, 2016
I have a European-release 1988 bottle of Samsara extrait. I purchased it because I remember liking Samsara many years ago when I smelled it in a department store and because I love sandalwood and wanted a heavy dose. However, granted this bottle of perfume may have changed a little with time, I don't detect a large dose of sandalwood here. That is to say that there is definitely a good dose here, but it is not highlighted or nearly as powerful as the floral notes. The notes that stand out are, first and foremost, jasmine, followed by ylang ylang and a peach. I'll admit I was a little miffed by the lack of sandalwood presence, but I've fallen in love with the florals, especially the jasmine, though the ylang gives it a nice creamy backing. I can see some similarity to Mitsouko with the way the peach is done.

The extrait has excellent staying power, at over nine hours on my skin. Projection is not very strong but is consistent and about arms-length. Overall, this scent is very floral and a bit serious and sensual. It may be too feminine for some men's taste, but it's very well-done and worth a try if you like the notes listed.
02nd February, 2016 (last edited: 19th July, 2016)

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