Samsara Parfum (Vintage) by Jean Paul Guerlain 1989

Hey you Stink Monkeys!

Back in the early 1990’s I bought my Mum a small Guerlain Samsara EdT or EdP for a birthday and it was her fragrance of choice for a while, finished and then was not bought again. Recently I found a 2ml Vintage Samsara Parfum on eBay for a great price, in its box and I snapped it up immediately. I’m amazed how scent can take me back? It was such a particular time in my life, just starting my professional performing career, leaving behind fashion, winning awards, getting amazing gigs and falling truly, madly, deeply in love with completely the wrong guy and then trying to make it work for a few years before running away to the UK to regroup. So you can imagine how many varied memories this scent, worn so particularly for a snapshot of time when everything was so amazing, would bring back. Tonight I decided that taking the lid off and sniffing the contents was not going to be enough, it is skin time.

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, lemon, ylang-ylang, peach and green notes
Heart: Jasmine, iris, narcissus, violet, rose
Base: Sandalwood, vanilla, Tonka bean, amber, musk

Samsara means “Wheel Of Life” in Sanskrit according to Jean-Paul Guerlain the perfumes main creator. I love how in the opening I get the peachy sweetness but not much green and the Ylang keeps the citrus under control warming its effervescent sparkle, the initial burst is slightly different than I remember and that could be the way the extrait performs or ages. Maybe ten minutes in and already the flowers are crowding the opening notes, slinkily wafting out and around to flow over the top of the initial accords pushing them into a support role as they fade slowly.


Photo Stolen FernandoLetaJunior

If you are expecting a HUGE perfume then you will be sadly disappointed: Samsara will waft fragrantly behind you but unless you go crazy with it you will walk ahead of your fragrance. The non indolic jasmine and creamy sandalwood create a gorgeously intense structure that all else hangs off and play a fill out role until over an an hour into the life of the fragrance when that lovely intoxicating Guerlainade comes bubbling through and makes the whole fragrance sweeter and warmer, and you realise it’s been there all along, there but unnoticed because of the pyrotechnics being offered elsewhere. Vintage Samsara Parfum’s life on my scent hungry skin is less than desirable turning skin scent in under 3 hours but staying around in that softest of states for another hour or so. The modern EdP is much longer lasting on me but doesn’t tell such an interesting tale.

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

NowSmellThis reviews with the love story and history behind Samsara and BoisDeJasmin compares vintage and modern Samsara.
FragranceShop has Samsara EdT 100ml/$60 & EdP 100ml/$71 and also stocks Un Air Samsara 50ml/$28

Have you tried Samsara? What strength was it? Do you have a SAmsara story to share with us? We love to read from you in the comments below. Please join the discussion.
I hope you enjoyed wandering among my fragrant thoughts. Below is an original Samsarta ad, hopefully see you tomorrow,
Portia xx

14 comments on “Samsara Parfum (Vintage) by Jean Paul Guerlain 1989

  1. sinnerman01 says:

    Good evening ! I do remember that pretty ad that’s for sure . I’m going to sniff this at first chance as I have not had the pleasure . I’m sure your mother would have worn this beautifully ,
    Tim x

    • Hey Tim,
      I got your stuff! Haven’t smelt it. The city Department Stores have modern versions that are good too, just a little different because the skank has to be added in different ways now.
      Yes Mum rocked it,
      Portia xx

  2. Ann-Sofie says:

    I have Samsara EDP, current version. Love it much. The sandalwood is obviously not as it used to be before mysore sandal tree became endangered. However, it is still a true beauty, and I don’t mind (actually I applaude) reformulations as long as this step contributes to preserving nature. Anyhow, it is still a supreme feminine perfume with an alluring depth. I think it was Robin (or Angela?) on “Now smell this next” who stated that Samsara as true. Yes! After 30 minutes on my skin Samsara transforms into an almost hypnotic mesmerizing scent that seems to glow from under my skin. Really, I speak the truth. Ah!

    PS I am a total sucker when it comes to some of the 80ies Biggies ( even if they are kind of outdated, they are interesting)- what about Rive gauche (uhm, year of 79, but could technically count as one of the great 80ies)? Would love (!!!) a Portia-video with fluttering eyelashes, glitzy jewels and an adorable man sniffing your Rive Gauche drenched wrist. Please?

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hey Ann-Sofie,
      As we were growing up a particular girlfriend of ours wore Rive Gauche from about 12 till 18. I can think of nothing and no one else when I smell it. Great fragrance but it was always a little subtle for me. I may need to revisit it. Thanks.
      Modern Samsara is good. I have a very recent one too, they have used excellent synthetics and it is beautiful. I’m all for synthetics too, expecially when saving endangered stuff.
      Portia xx

  3. poodle says:

    I loved Samsara and now I’m wondering why I never owned a bottle of it… It seems to get forgotten and lost in the crowd of all it’s Guerlain siblings. I’m going to have to revisit this one on my next trip to the mall.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hiya Poodle,
      The current formulation is really yummy. Slightly different to what you’ll remember but lavish on its own merits. Go spritz.
      Portia xx

  4. Natalie says:

    Great review! Those sound like some wonderful but very emotionally charged years. I’m glad you’ve now fallen in love with the right guy, right? 🙂

    I have tried only the modern (edp, I think) Samsara, and I liked it more than I expected to, but it made me want to try the vintage version. There was something sort of cloying about the sandalwood that felt artificial to me (and not in a good way – because sometimes I like artificial!). I have smelled it on other people and found it more like what I imagined, though, so it is most likely my skin that produces the artificial effect.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Thanks Natalie.
      Maybe the right guy? Only early years yet, they do surprising things after a while. He ticks most of the boxes though so I’m chuffed.
      Gosh! I wonder if you smelled the previous incarnation from the current? It was definitely not as good as this one. Try again at another store and see.
      BTW The vintage Extrait is CHEAP on eBay.
      Portia xx

  5. Lemon says:

    I’ve only tried Samsara in the parfum form. I love it in cool weather, though sometimes it seems a lttle dated to me at the same time. What is Un Air like?

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hiya Lemon,
      I don’t know what Un Air is like. Should I go find out? Is it still available?
      Portia x

  6. Undina says:

    Portia, I have a Samsara story for you! Please read. I wrote it before you started reading my blog so I just have to share it with you.

    I like current Samsara in parfum concentration and own a bottle of EdT, I think, which is still nice. Of course, now I feel like hunting a vintage Samsara.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      I remember this post Undina. I was reading but not commenting.
      Thanks for reminding me. I need to go refresh my memory of Tuscany per Donna and try Iris Poudre.
      Currently i am wearing T42 sent by you.
      Have a great day,
      Portia xx

  7. […] Samsara Parfum (Vintage) by Jean Paul Guerlain 1989 … Hey you Stink Monkeys! Back in the early 1990′s I bought my Mum a small Guerlain Samsara EdT or EdP for a birthday and it was her fragrance of choice for a while, finished and then was not bought again. Recently I found . […]

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