Post by Anne-Marie
I missed Safari when it first came out and one way or another, I only discovered it about 25 years later. Well, better late than after discontinuation! So this is a review of a new friend, not an old buddy.
Safari Woman by Ralph Lauren 1990
Safari Woman by Dominique Ropion
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: orange black currant, tagetes, mandarin orange, narcissus, galbanum, hyacinth, cassis
Heart: rosemary, orange blossom, orris root, jasmine, rose
Base: sandalwood, amber, patchouli, vetiver, cedar
Barbara Herman in her book Scents and Subversion adds honey as a middle note, and I agree. For me, honey is a key characteristic in Safari. Yes, the green bitter notes – galbanum and hyacinth especially – are very prominent. Much as I like green florals and chypres, sometimes they are too bitter for me and in Safari, this is held in check by a sweetness that feels like honey. Not saccharine, but rich, smooth and dark. This may be what gives Safari the warm languor which is referenced in the ads (about which more in a moment). There’s fruit in there but the overall effect is dry rather than juicy.
Safari has a reputation for strength and tenacity, a scent in high 1980s style. My bottle was bought in 2016 and while the texture of the fragrance is dense, I would not have said it matches those big ol’ 80s monsters. Perhaps reformulation has toned it down. After a strongish start, I find that Safari settles to a hum quickly. The fragrance lasts all days with just moderate sillage. By the end, I do get a little tired of Safari. The tussle between crisp greenery and smooth sweetness plays out on my skin all day. Nothing wins, and I’m glad when they finally blend and fade.
From bottle to packaging to marketing, the art direction for Safari is beautiful, as you’d expect from Ralph Lauren. The video ad takes us to Africa, of course. Mr Safari bashes on a typewriter (channelling Ernest Hemingway), while Ms Safari shoots the wildlife (with a camera). A bit of lazy canoodling goes on. No doubt there will be drinks on the veranda at sunset, served by native servants. Sorry, I’m not interested in all this colonialist shtick.
Safari for women is almost impossible to find in retail shops in my part of the world, and occasionally some reviewers have wondered if it is discontinued. It’s easy to find online though. The men’s version, a fougère released in 1992, is everywhere. I have not smelled it. Do comment if you know it.
What about you? Was Safari part of your perfumed past? Is this what you would wear out there on the savannah, cuddling a baby lion?
Until next time, keep spritzing everyone!