Reviews of Samsara Eau de Parfum 
Guerlain (1989)

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Samsara Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

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Reviews of Samsara Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

There are 106 reviews of Samsara Eau de Parfum by Guerlain.

As a non-dogmatic Buddhist, I feel it important to touch upon their concept of samsara: the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. In a way, it is opposite to that of nirvana, which is the condition of being free from suffering and the cycle of rebirth. What a curious choice of name, and a suggestion that Samsara is of all that is earthly, which in a way, makes perfect sense. It opens like a vernal fanfare, with the fecundity of the earth bearing forth all forms of life from dormancy. The flowers unfurl and release their seductive fragrances: the narcissus, golden and profound, which I detect not long after I first spray Samsara. It is really a panoply of florals: a spring bouquet that over time, as ylang ylang and jasmine advances, becomes more supple, intoxicating.

They seem to over-ripen as we reach the summer heart, and it is here that sandalwood, starting off as distant murmurs, really begins to present itself as the crux, as fruits and flowers continue to ripen and a harvest is around the bend. Warm whispers become a chant as warmth and light counter cool orris root chills with a blanket of vanillic amber. The winter leaves us with dormancy once more and the cycle begins again come spring.

It is the sandalwood here, however, the one constant in this cycle, somewhat buttery, slightly sharp, a calm sentinel and guide, with its elegant repose throughout the composition, that is really what has made Samsara a hallmark and speaks to the heart of the matter. The heart of samsara.

Well isn't this just a gorgeous perfume? Jean-Paul Guerlain seems to have co-opted the multitude of notes and massive blending of his predecessor Jacques Guerlain and created a lush, creamy, sandalwood-based oriental seemingly an ode to both his Grandfather's work and the Middle East, which itself inspired many of Jacques' creations. "Samsara" is sanskrit for the circle of birth and rebirth, signifying the eventual path to Nirvana, and there is little else heavenly as this fragrance. Early formulations of Samsara (1989) are also noted for their heavy use of Mysore sandalwood in the composition, and although no blended Western perfume is really a good reference for the now over-harvested and scarce prized sandalwood variety, Samsara in its original configuration was among some of the richest displays of the note in the base of a Western perfume, making vintage bottles particularly prized by sandalwood fans. Modern Samsara does what it can to achieve the same accord admirably, and is recognizable as the same perfume, but extremely divisive opinions leading to combativeness can happen when discussing Samsara among enthusiasts.

My review sample hails from an opaque red plastic 3.4oz/100ml eau de parfum example of undetermined age used as a tester for those looking to compare observations. The opening of Samara has a fantastically sharp chypre plume of bergamot, peach, lemon, and galbanum, like a thicker, greener, drier Mitsouko (1919), bridging the fresher aspects of that style with the woody creamy base which follows. Jasmine and rose do their fleshy indolic dance atop orris butter and clean ylang-ylang, with narcissus and violet leading up the chorus and disappearing into the harmony. The sandalwood has already made its presence known even by the heart, but its dryness is passed with coumarin, amber, vanilla, musk, and a touch of animalic benzoin to build up a buttery finish which is the coveted finale of the perfume. The florals are definitely more stern than in Shalimar (1924) and the finish less vanillic, powdery, or like the foundation makeup that often bore a proxy of Guerlinade, but that core house note is still there. I find Samsara perfectly suitable for a dandy but less flamboyant guys won't want to go near this stuff, as its tune is dead center unisex at best but will most likely read feminine to the average nose.

Various concentrations and reformulations to account for price points and the dwindling (then depleted) amounts of Mysore make Samsara impossible to rank on performance, but my EdP example in the red plastic bottle was strong at first, then soft but ever-present for hours and hours afterwards, which is not entirely different from the grandiose wake of fragrance Shalimar leaves, just scaled back further to more-contemporary tolerances. Samsara along with Héritage (1992) would be among the last of the classically-styled Guerlain perfumes made by a member of the Guerlain family given widespread release, and signified the end of an era for the prestigious house that would enter into more trend-focused compositions to keep the boat afloat after the house was sold by the family to LVMH. Samsara is just plain gorgeous for many more reasons than I can fit into a review, but if lovely green citrus and rounded florals over creamy sandalwood and vanilla don't at least sound a little appealing to you, I'm not entirely sure you're in the right place. Samsara is best in median temperatures but really is neutral enough to be worn any time, although its character absolutely leans romantic to my nose. Very much worth a sniff in any form, but obviously vintage preferred. Thumbs up!

I'm wearing a 1980s vintage parfum (extrait) and it's quite mellow with sweet, top notes that are floral and herbal. Very beautiful.

I am sniffing some 1980's-vintage SAMSARA EDT on my hand now. After not having experienced it for years. I had remembered I once liked it, but now might have to re-evaluate.

I know it had been initially released during the rise of the New Age/Yoga movement, intended to be a relaxing and meditative and "spiritual" fragrance.

Yet that's not how I'm reading it now. I am very surprised to see just how powerful the aldehyde topnotes are... the "cosmetic" components of the scent, which make it seem very "perfume-y" indeed, and not as "mellow" and woody as I thought I'd remembered it...

The scent on my hand here is very tart floral and brilliantly aldehydic, with the aldehydic topnotes not evanescing quickly at all... They last for a long time, with an almost "coriander"-like sharpness... plenty of iris, and hints of something anisic, in keeping with the "Guerlinade" that haunts things like L'HEURE BLEUE (which used to be much more licorice-y than it is today).

And of course, I'm getting the pronounced heliotrope with its hint of vanilla.

Oddly the sandalwood here seems very restrained... not especially "mystical" or "Indian" or "meditative". It has no chance to get milky/spicy/warm, what with the intense, sharp green-floral-aldehydes here.

I'm pretty sure I detect ambergris, with its curious quality like a woman's lips, breath and skin. SAMSARA is much more "femme" than I had remembered it.

Guerlain always does a good job... even their lesser-scents have an undeniable quality and integrity. And this is indeed a fine, quality perfume. Quite pleasant, but not really my thing...

Lorette with Turban Yellow Jacket By Henri Matisse

I've got a Parfum miniature from the 90's of this very potent potion. There's nothing I dislike about it. The bitter opening is great, the fruity-floral dry down is gorgeous, and the powdery base beautiful.

I have a weird thing with sandalwood fragrances: when I spray them on a card, I smell no sandalwood at all. This is the reason it took me over a year to try Samsara, because on the tester strip it smelled very unappealing.

However, trying it on skin is a completely different story! It's a gorgeous, creamy, sweet sandalwood; unapologetic, sexy, and bordering on garish, for a Guerlain.

The current EdT gives me the most pencil-shaving-sandalwood, which I love, but the base is too vanillic and plastic-ey. The current day EdP is massive in projection and sillage, almost too much for me. The vintage EdP is the baby bear of Samsaras for me; rounder and slightly more chic, and the sandalwood in this reminds me a bit of Bois des Iles.

The only thing that's missing is the lovely pencil-shaving note from the EdT, so I'm going to experiment with layering this with Diptique's Tam Dao, which has that in spades.

It's the loudest, least subtle fragrance I own, but I absolutely love it.

Samsara is a perfume but also a turning point for French house Guerlain that marked a quiet but fateful transition from lonely perfume making in a private perfumist lab to unison cooperation with marketing and global markets experts in 1989. It all started in the 1980s when oriental perfumes dominated the market. Those were the times when perfume wasn't just a means of seduction but also a way to intoxicate senses with Opium, Poison and Obsession leading the way. This trio fantastico dominated the world market, North America especially and Guerlain's efforts, despite genius creations like Nahema perfume, to conquer world market were in vain. Something had to be done.

Jean Paul Guerlain, the last pater familias of the Guerlain family said in one interview that he found the inspiration for Samsara perfume in a beloved English girl. He wanted to give her the perfume that would be hers only, that will embody her inner world and unique sensuality. Her favorite scent notes were jasmine and sandalwood and those notes are in the heart of Samsara. Each Guerlain's perfume is a love poem to a woman and for the Lady of Samsara, Jean Paul Guerlain went all the way to India to find the best sandalwood and jasmine that was used exclusively in religious ceremonies. When he returned to Paris, he spent two years working intensively on a formula before Samsara saw the light of day.

Originally named Delicia, Samsara got its name in collaboration with Guerlain marketing team that wanted to give a perfume equivalent to the new spirituality and Orient fascinations of Parisians of those times. The name that marks the constant circle of life and death and the bottle of Chinese red decorated around the edges like a Khmer dancer were the ideal basis for a perfume based on the harmony of milky, creamy woody sandalwood and opulent jasmine, so characteristic of the mystical world of Asia.

I'm not sure Samsara is the right name for this perfume. I would suggest Salome. Biblical Salome, the girl of deadly beauty and diabolical sensuality over whom John the Baptist lost his head. Like Salome, the beauty of Samsara is cruel and uncompromised. Or so it seems at the beginning. The opening is sharp like the sword and citrusy, but one can feel the complex composition behind it. It resembles Opium by Yves Saint Laurent. Uncaged beauty. At times spicy, then fresh, then powdery floral, then soapy and woody. The only constant is this perfume is fun and unmatchable intrigue for the sense of smell. My nose can detect a certain chanelesque quality like Egoiste, Egoiste Platinum and Antheus because with these perfumes, more than any others, you can notice the unipolarity of a good taste that is not determined by sex, race or culture. Samsara smells good for anyone and dare I say on anyone. Just when you think this perfume gave all it could, there is a surprising transformaton into the choir of cherry, vanilla and woody notes that anticipates La Petit Robe Noire collections and fills you up with sinful self-indulgence. Who could judge egoism and self-love when they smell this good?

In time, Samsara was reformulated, just like any other perfume and was probably affected the most by the lack of sandalwood because almost 30 percent of the perfume is made out of this precious and sadly devastated material. Although, that shouldn't worry us because Guerlain always took care of the nature and the quality of the materials it put in their perfumes, so the heir of Jean Paul Guerlain, the phenomenal Thierry Wasser planted a sandalwood plantation in Shri Lanka making sure that one of Guerlain's trademarks, the creamy sandalwood still runs in the bloodstream of all Guerlain classics.

I'm totally gutted that I just don't 'get' this fragrance at all.

I loved Shalimar from first try. Orientals are my favourite group and Guerlain is my favourite house. But I just don't understand the appeal of Samsara.

Everyone smells things differently, and I'm almost positive it's just me. So I'll not give it a 'Neutral' rating.

I'll keep wearing it and trying it until I either get it, run out or both.

Try before you buy.

My mother always had a bottle of this. Now I know why. It is spectacular! This one slipped by my radar. I probably plucked this from mom's dresser, trying it on, but never really noticed its charm. More than likely I was already wearing some other fragrance so that this, was co-mingling with my scent.

Samsara to me, is an oriental with something else veiled within its notes. I get a waft of a creamy-wood vibe, whenever I move. Perhaps it is the blend of Tonka, orris, and musk...

I believe I must always have this perfume in my collection. If for no other reason, to honor my dearly departed mother.

A powerhouse of a classic perfume from Guerlain!

Samsara EdT is a shimmering jasmine experience from start to end (and this scent lasts a long time!). Sandalwood blends seamlessly with the rich floral of the ylang ylang. Over time, the base comes subtly into play, adding wisps of sweetness that doesn't invade the overall experience.

I've purchased a few bottle for my beloved mother over the decades, and she has always worn it with delight, receiving compliments. Samsara is a legendary perfume that I will never tire of smelling as a man. ;^>

The Vintage Parfum:
The ylang-ylang hit me from the start, but soon the jasmine clamours for my attention, and it is this jasmine that comes to the fore. It forms the core note for most of the duration of this development.

The drydown adds a lovely sandalwood, which blends in very smoothly with the jasmine. A white floral undertone adds discrete sweetness, which later is affirmed by the addition of iris and whiffs of violet.

The base is a bit sweeter still, owing to a very soft tonka being added in, but the whole is never thick or cloying in my skin.

I get moderate sillage, very good projection and nine hours of longevity, but for the last four hours it is very close to my skin.

A gorgeous spring scent of sublime beauty, exuding elegance and refinement, but a touch too linear at times. It is crafted of natural ingredients of the highest quality. 3.75/5.

Stardate 20161102:

Sandalwood, Ylang and Jasmine.
All versions are good. Older is better as it has real Mysore but new one will do too.
Everyone should have this.

Forget the fragrance wheel. This is the real oriental.

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 vintage 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.

Edited to add: Minis (2ml) of 1990s extrait are readily available online, as of this writing. The extrait is marvelous, and the minis are great if you want to experience the original fragrance without breaking the bank.

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.

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 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

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 synthetic sandal and Mysore. At first the impression is there's too much sandal, the synthetic note dominates the more natural smelling ingredients 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 lighter notes, and it 4) cries out - 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 supports the excellent bergamot found in the head, and brings in dark spicy opoponax. The aim of the heart 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 as this vanillic variation of the oriental is based on a large dose of it, the superstructure must be powerful enough to overcome this 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 and 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, and not least the olfactory challenge of trying to wear this - at times - difficult perfume. And finally, the complex in-house challenge posed by Jean-Paul Guerlain's 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, trying to create a New Oriental.


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.

I had the vintage EDT and adored it. Sold it to purchase the vintage EDP, and find it another level of heaven.

Samsara is the wonderful exploration of an old attic, with relics of long-ago past times, alluding to a glamour of everyday sophistication. It is the weaving in and out of the piles of interesting items, finding new things to observe and immerse oneself in, while also being aware of the current time.

It is said that this scent contains one of the highest concentrations of Mysore sandalwood in any commercial perfume. If the EDT is the attic itself, the EDP is the very unique and exciting closet found within a closet that holds the secret of the creamiest sandalwood to be found this side of the 1990's.

Siddhartha and Odysseus...

My heart lies now like tattered sails in windmills lorn.
Sky, vent your sighs and when the pulse departs the vein,
it will be you for whom I'll live dead and reborn.
Vapour and rain, river and sea...vapour again...

And I'll worship you every night. And I'll kiss your violet lips every morning. And I'll be a pilgrim in your body's temple. And I'll trace the contours of your amber skin with my fingertips. And I'll wash your face with my tears. And I'll treasure every moment of your sandalwood breath. And I'll cherish your image wearing nothing but a golden cincture and a golden anadem to give substance to your diaphanous form.

For you are my golden shackles.
For you are the blood of my dreams.
Can you see me Nausicaa?
Can you feel me Calypso?
Can you touch me Penelope?
Can you smell me Circe?
Can you hear me Cassandra?
I always believed in you...

This is what Shambhala must smell like (provided there is a Guerlain boutique on the premises). This is one of the great classics of the House of Guerlain, as important as Shalimar, Mitsouko, et al. Perhaps the last truly great perfume to come from that house and was at once completely new and original yet classically Guerlain at the same time. Being a Guerlain, of course there is vanilla, benzoin, tonka bean and orris, with an amazing jasmine note dead in the center of things. However, it is the heady overdose of Mysore sandalwood that makes this the beauty that it is. I first bought it for my wife, then fiancee, from a duty free shop when it first came out and I have been keeping her in it ever since. Some call this an overblown powerhouse scent typical of the late 80s, but this is strong, not just because it can be (Poison, I am looking at you) but because the very heavens themselves cannot contain all of the wonderful notes that make up Samsara. The marketing and everything about the creative concept is perfectly in sync with the scent itself, aligned with its parent, the greatest French perfume house of all time, and the era in which it was born.

However words are unable for SAMSARA magneficence but I would say It is a veneration to romantic love!one of my all favorite time for a high class my opinion It is the uniqueness that makes it unforgettable.classic,rich, mysterious,masterpiece,dreamy, spicy, luxurious,alluring and ultra feminine.

This GUERLAIN wonder is a oriental fragrance with precious woods undertones that give it an air of sharp passion.a heart of jasmine and rose is complemented by fresh green notes of bergamot,lemon and peach as with this unique blend surely you get plenty compliments when you wear it.

This real fragrance reminder my is best reserved for special evenings and cold weather.definitely it is not for a young girl I would recommend this perfume only to a classy&rich lady who wants radiate at special occasions and capture the attention any gentleman.

Samsara is a mystery, a seductive erotic, people will react... You have to know how too wear, and it is greedy it needs to be the dignitary scent, can't mix&much with any other items. If it is your second skin, like mine, you are lucky and your love will be long and sensual.
Yes, the most beautiful fragrance I know..

A combination of sandalwood and jasmine and one of the last "notable" Guerlain, the first to be "marketed" to an ever increasing competitive sales audience.

Guerlain used an overdose of sandalwood, thirty per cent, according to Roja Dove. Turin calls is "sandalwood jasmine" and gives it four stars, despite his admitting it was "so bad" when it premiered, "sweet, complicated and loud" in its attempt to win a niche in the successful oriental market of Opium and Cinnabar. Turin notes the "praline and coconut" effect.

Top notes: Peach, Lemon, Bergamot, Tarragon
Heart notes: Jasmine, Orris, Ylang, Rose, Narcissus, Violet, Carnation
Base notes: Amber, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Coumarin, Musk, Benzoin

My reaction: Harsh floral mothballs, ugly a sin. A true horror. It may have come a century after Guerlain's world-shattering Jicky, but it smells truly awful to my nose.

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