One of my favourite heady sandalwood scents is the divine Guerlain Samsara. I prefer the vintage formulations as they contain almost nuclear levels of the precious and now *restricted sandalwood and jasmine. But mostly sandalwood. I have both the eau de toilette and extrait in vintage formulation, and extrait (or parfum) wears closer to the skin and is just softer. Note to self: get more before it is all gone. I hold on to the eau de toilette, but frankly rarely wear it, as much as I adore it. I’m afraid I won’t be able to replace it when it’s gone….
This 1989 beauty was at the tail end of the mighty 80s perfumes, and Guerlain held nothing back. Legend has it that Jean-Paul Guerlain made Samsara for a woman he wanted to seduce (naturally!), and he knew she loved jasmine and sandalwood. It must have worked, because she allegedly wore it faithfully, and that people would cross the street to ask her about her perfume. I’m thinking she may have overapplied but that is just me. And who cares! This is a romantic perfume as only the house of Guerlain does. Even the text on the ad is typically romantic – “Ni tout à fait la même, ni tout à fait une autre”. It translates roughly to “Not quite the same, nor quite another”…a conundrum in a bottle, no?
That said, it is still a bit of a powerhouse, and I usually limit my wearing of Samsara extrait to the winter, when a rich cozy perfume is required. Enter Guerlain Un Air de Samsara (thank you to my dear perfume enabler, Dane xo) which is, as the name suggests, a lighter and “airier” version of the original Samsara. Loads of mint, bergamot and narcissus have been added and the scent is reminiscent of a minty herbal tea on top of the drop dead gorgeous sandalwood jasmine cocktail. The mint is so cooling, like a breath of air, and seemingly lifts the terrestrial sandalwood up and frees it. More like the scent from a sandalwood fan than from rich creamy sandalwood absolute. It wears beautifully in the heat, and one can only imagine how the gentle and sultry notes of jasmine and sandalwood seduced Jean Paul Guerlain’s lover.
Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun.
~ Kahlil Gibran
Guerlain Un Air de Samsara is a discontinued fragrance but can found online from many vendors. Get it now, while you still can.
*Due to severe over harvesting of sandalwood, the material is severely restricted.