Only 2 words to describe this one: Timeless fragrance. It never gets old. It's classic and elegant yet modern. sweet, floral, warm and rich, without being overpowering. One of Guerlain's best. Makes you feel like a million dollars.
Samsara by Guerlain, 1989
oh Samsara...I was at an outdoor cafe in Bordeaux, France when a woman walked by leaving a trail of the most beautiful smell. I was in heaven. A few weeks later I visited a Parfumerie when une vendeuse let me try on the newest guerlain. I recognized it instantly from the cafe. I was but a poor college student but I had to have it. It was 250 francs. (about 50 dollars) That was nearly 20 years ago. I did not have money for food except bread for about 3-4 days and had to cut back with other things. But I was in love and it was so worth it. What a memory. Unfor. as I got older and had my children, my chemistry changed. It stinks on me now. I love it on others. I hope one day to be able to wear this "first love" again. I still have never had a fragrance "coup de foudre" like that and probably never will again. Just like first love.
Perfumery lore has it that Samsara contained 30% sandalwood oil when launched. Its also part of perfumerys body of common knowledge that Samsaras sandalwood is long gone. Apparently early iterations of Samsara used this botanical sandalwood as well as botanical jasmine and had a wonderful vanilla note. There was certainly more to the composition than that, but these 3 elements defined Samsaras shape. Sandalwood has effectively been removed from the perfumers palette, and in Samsaras case, its been replaced by polysantol (more from perfumery lore), a powerful synthetic. Perhaps a lush, botanically derived jasmine might have been overmatched by the polysantol, but it appears that a jasmine-analogue of equal volume and shrillness to the synthetic sandalwood is employed as well. I imagine the vanilla in the early Samsara versions would have complemented the creamy tartness of true sandalwood. In the current Samsara the shriek of the polysantol combined with the vanilla gives us a new, sick-making gourmand note: butterscotch vomit. Samsara is for me what Secretions Magnifiques is to its detractors. When powerful aromachemicals are used in largely synthetic perfumes, imbalanced accords and compositions carry greater risks. For better or for worse, when aromachemicals are particularly strong, their effects are a leveraged increase in punch, sillage, durability. If the accords made with theses strong chemicals are imbalanced (read: unappealing) the negatives will be leveraged as well. Whereas a haphazard mix of botanicals will likely read as muddy, Samsaras polysantol-based composition is both horrifying in its gear-grinding volume and nauseating. Samsara creates a perfume sub-genre: the rancid gourmand.
this is pure femininity how i view it, this review is for vintage version, beautiful creamy yellow yilang yilang with ever feminine jasmine opens in full intensity then settles down on sandalwood that is the central stage for this play, creamy milky, sweetish heaven, you want to stop the moment, how beautiful it gets...the most beauty comes in the 3rd hour....everything is done with beautiful gentle overlays, the music plays from crescendo to piano....its noticable even 7 hours later, just getting more and more quiet...not thin, just the way i imagine real mysore sandalwood would play itself out, 3 thumbs up :) the modern version on the other hand, has 100% synthetic sandalwood, it screams and yells at you, and last for days on the clothes...2nd day it gets interesting , but the metalic note in there never leaves it....very different character , this perfume was never ment to shout nor be trashy....
I love Guerlain because of the richness of their fragrances. For some they are just "too much" or too heavy, but for others who takes the time to listen to the story they tell, they become a personality.... Samsara isn't one of the more heavier frags Guerlain offers, it is delicate and more subtle, yet noticeable and rich. For me Samsara is a hidden mistress or a secret lover, beautiful and confident, revealing themselves only to the ones who seek them. If the Ylang Ylang is the fire, then the Jasmine is the fuel that keeps it burning. Even when the Ylang Ylang fades out, the first impression of it keeps it present. The Sandalwood at the heart and the Vanilla and the Tonka at the base helps balancing the other"flowery" notes and makes it suitable also for men who knows how to wear a more gentle fragrance. I've gotten and still get a lot of compliments from both men and women, and being a guy with a masculine character, no one suspects this being a "womens perfume". One of my top favorites!
Even though this fragrance isnt for me personally, I think it is one of the finest examples of the art of perfumery I have ever encountered. It is beautifully crafted, and even though I dont like it, I know it is good. It is just too oriental for me, and even though I like the notes Vanilla and Sandalwood, the jasmine overwhelms this at the start. The longevity is fantastic, and I love the warm rounded sent that is left after a few hours, but I cant get past the opening to get to that point. Sadly not for me, but an absolute classic.
To me, this is a cold weather fragrance, very complex, and you can get in trouble if you use a heavy hand with this. However, every time I wore it, some man would ask me (in a positive way) what I had on and would move closer. A fragrance that does that has to be a winner, right?
This is one of the most amazing scents ever. I bought it on description only after receiving some good advice from members here (thank you all) :) It was a bit of a gamble to buy anosmic - and when it arrived at my office I could not tear through the wrapping fast enough... I find it exquisite and now it is my special occasion fav (even over Chanel No-5), sometimes I just remove the top and smell it, always a pleasure :) It's a keeper for sure !!
I walked into a dusty old perfume store a few months back and spotted a vintage bottle of Samsara. My first thought: "well HELLO there!" This is now in the top 3 fragrances that I own, and I am never disappointed!To be quite frank, I only appreciate the standard Guerlains more as time goes by; the more I learn about the art of perfumery, the more beautiful they become. Here's looking at you Shalimar!
I love orientals and Samsara is no exception. It is fast becoming my favorite for Winter and Fall. I have the 1989 formulation which I am just now getting around to wearing so I get the real sandalwood and vanilla. I think bebang romanticizes this scent perfectly. I also share Lady Dragon Fly's comments about its connection to Shalimar. I adore vintage Shalimar. I have no idea what the reformulation smells like. jtd may very well be correct about the new formulation. I will have to go to my local department store and give the new one a try. For the moment, Samsara is my go to fragrance.
Samsara by Guerlain, 1989
|Top Notes||Jasmine, Ylang Ylang|
|Middle Notes||Jasmine, Sandalwood, Narcissus|
|Base Notes||Tonka, Iris, Vanilla|
|Perfumer||Jean Paul Guerlain|
|Bottle Designer||Robert Granai|
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