Wow... definitely quite something to behold!
Probably one of the most sensual fragrances I have ever come across. It's almost as if every single sensual and tropical aroma was combined together in a single bottle!
This one is almost intoxicating from the start. For me, it's kind of a very grown-up mixture of rich, creamy white floral and dry, sheer-like Sandalwood, the overall result striking me as unmistakably feminine. Guerlain's perfumes are not always easy ones to like upon initial spray, you really need to give them time to fully appreciate their significance, and for me Samsara was no exception. The story goes that Jean-Paul Guerlain came up with this inspiration partly due to a woman he admired who only liked the notes of Rose, Jasmine and Sandalwood, and he decided to create a fragrance around these three very sensual notes. The result is incredible...
What I get upon initial spray is a very tropical-like, almost overripe fruit smell with a heavy dose of Ylang-Ylang which very much reminds me of banana. This is coupled with heady, indolic, almost fecal-like opulent Jasmine (one of my favourite notes in perfume), joined by a very fresh rose note, and all resting on a huge base of sheer, silky, creamy Sandalwood. This isn't a dry Sandalwood, like Tam Dao by Diptyque. This is a very creamy Sandalwood supported by the heavy white floral Jasmine and the creamy, banana-like Ylang-Ylang, giving a hint of an almost coconut-like vibe. The overall impression could also be a little soapy at immediate impression, but once you spend time with it you really get the full experience of a rich, tropical garden in bloom.
Because of the Jasmine/Ylang-Ylang combination, Samsara really gives me the impression of being almost in a tropical forest on a hot night, with the warm, heady aroma of sweet creamy coconut, green banana, Rose, and dry Sandalwood incense burning at a nearby Buddhist shrine. It really gives me one of the most exotic impressions I've ever smelt coming out of a bottle.
Speaking of the bottle, the Chinese-style red & gold finish really give it the impression of a precious urn filled with something valuable, or maybe even spiritual. It really highlights Guerlain's obsession with Asia (similar to the way the Shalimar bottle represented a clear fountain of water in the gardens of an Indian Palace), this one looks like it came out of a Buddhist Temple. I find that the bottle certainly fits the marketing really well...
I would say that this is very grown up, but not so strong or overpowering a scent, just very evocative and incredibly sensual. Wear it when you want to smell unlike anything else, just very feminine, sensual and exotic. Close your eyes and you just may find it transporting you to a faraway place, and a whole different experience. Personally I would find this incredibly sensual on a woman (as long as applied lightly as it can be strong in the opening).
A recommended must try... A special, exotic one from Guerlain.
I expected a powerhouse but Samsara really isn't one, at least the modern EDT which is the one I have.
It opens with a quite old fashioned combo of iris, and bergamot with a hint of lemon and settles quickly to a skin scent consisting of dry sandalwood, orris root and a tinge of peach.
It's certainly a serene, comfy and mature scent suitable for early fall but still too tame for my liking, simply doesn't bloom on my skin. I sprayed 6 times two hours ago and I'm left with next to nothing.
Besides, there are other sandalwood based perfumes that suit me better like Santal Blanc by Serge Lutens or Estee Lauder Sensuous, every one is completely different from each other.
I believe Samsara EDP is creamier and more floral, quite different from the EDT, so try both when you get the chance.
Guerlain Samsara launched in 1989 and was my #1 favorite around 1990 or so. I remember when I first sprayed it on to test -- then walked around the mall -- then I had to make a bee-line back to the store to buy it. I *had* to have it.
It was a soft, smooth floriental sandalwood-based scent, containing some vanilla, I think -- but it was the skin-musky drydown that made it a must-have for me. It dried down into something so musky and sensual that I couldn't tell where the perfume ended and where my natural scent began -- and I love when that happens. I bought a bottle (EDP - my bottle looks exactly like the photo above), and I never could bring myself to use it all up -- so I still have the remnants of my original early-90's bottle.
Over the weekend, I was just watching my DVD of "The Bishop's Wife" (1947 with Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young) -- one of my favorite movies, any time of year -- and Samsara came back to my mind, because of its connection to actress Loretta Young.
Loretta Young lived the last years of her 87-year life in Palm Springs, CA, and a lady reported online in 2013 that she once sat behind Loretta and smelled her wonderful perfume. She went on to say that Loretta's favorite perfume was on display in a museum in Palm Springs, along with other personal items celebrating Loretta's life (born Jan 6, 1913 - died Aug 12, 2000). The museum was celebrating Loretta's (what would have been) 100th birthday in Jan 2013.
So around that time (early 2013) I emailed that museum and asked which perfume bottle (Loretta's favorite) was on display in her centennial memorial exhibit -- and I received a very nice email back, saying that it was Guerlain Samsara (thank you for telling me!). Samsara launched in 1989, 11 years before Loretta Young's death at age 87 in the year 2000 -- so she would have been roughly 76 when it launched. It was apparently her final favorite perfume.
Others that I think are sort of in the same neighborhood as vintage Samsara are EL Tuscany Per Donna, EL Sensuous Noir, Gucci Guilty Intense, Chanel Coco Noir, Givenchy Play Intense, Armani Code -- all rather rich oriental woody perfumes with a skin-musky, sensuous quality.
I took one lippie off, because I see other reviewers are saying the current product on the market has been reformulated from the original and is not nearly as good. I have not smelled the latest version, since I still have the remains of my original early-90's bottle, which I would give 5 stars to.
Lightly spiced, smooth sandalwood, balmy florals of ylang-ylang, jasmine, and creamy hints of powdered vanilla in a lasting drydown. It is an Oriental so it feels rich, yet its manages to be fresh, smooth and clean, and quite wearable so I'd called it balanced. (Unlike say, Obsession which smacks you on the head with its bitter sandalwood and pungent spices that screams - "welcome to my seductive lair" in a 10m circumference around you.) The vintage version is rich, smooth and lasting, leaving a gentle oriental aura in the room in which its applied for days (5/5). The matching talc was divine and held its scent just as well. When I almost ran out I tried the new reformulation but I decided not to repurchase at this point as it is thinner and less interesting, making me drift onto other things for my money (3/3).
This review is regarding the reformulated EDT. Sadly, it really isn't as good as it was. The old formulation used to linger on my skin and clothes for a long, long time. I remember it going on for days LOL. The reformulated one (which is much cheaper) lasts fleetingly on both my skin and clothes. I'm usually quite open minded about reformulations but this one was definitely a disappointment for me and I wish I didn't spend the $$ on it.
I'm big and bold; I have sillage and staying power that won't quit. I am a true classic. While shalimar remains my favorite scent of all time, I bought this on a whim from nordie's blind. I luurveee it. Something about smells a little dirty to me in a sexy way. Other faves are Angel, the new Petite Robe Noir. You'd probably not like this if you don't want a big showy fragrance. I think all the fragrances I like actually are great winter and fall scents. Still looking for a summertime oriental. Any suggestions?
This is a huge, unapologetic fragrance. Even in EdT form it is enormous. Samsara is an over the top combination of jasmine and sandalwood. Previously, in the 90's it contained a lot of Mysore sandalwood along with powerful synthetic sandalwoods like Polysantal. The effect was tremendous: waves of rich, narcotic jasmine over a booming base of sandalwood. Now that Mysore sandalwood is no longer available, the balance of the fragrance is lost. The jasmine is as decadent as ever but the sandalwood is screechy and thin, a changeling of synthetics and Australian sandalwood. Mismatched as it is, Samsara is still compelling. I hold out hope that somehow Guerlain will be able to work around the lack of Mysore sandalwood and restore Samsara to its former glory. For now tho, I stick to vintage. Evaluating the current formulation, I would give it 3 lipsticks. Vintage of course gets 5!
EdT: It opens with a heady jasmine, almost too much to the nose, but wait! It slowly gets softer, the vanilla steps in. If you love woody fragrances this is for you. Personally I love it. The drydown is pure aromatherapy, honestly. If you are into very floral fragrances or aquatics you may not find this very pleasing. Someone compared it to Sensuous by Estée Lauder but I can´t find any similarities at all. It is unique. Very well done and a classic.
This started off with a very nice (if potent) vanilla-jasmine-tuberose with a hint of spice, but I don't care for the drydown. The vanilla become too sugary and thick and slightly chemical without a lift from the florals or spices. I would believe that it smells good on other people, though.
I love orientals and warm fragrances but this, while it is a nice fragrance, is rather dull. It lacks any kind wow factor. It is one of the "legendary" fragrances but I couldn't smell what was so amazing about it. I probably wouldn't mind picking up again in a few years time for a change of pace but I won't be adding it to my collection.