Samsara EdP by Jean-Paul Guerlain for Guerlain 1990


Post by Val the Cookie Queen


Hello lovely-dovely sweetly-scented Perfumistas,

That was then: This is now
Life before and after the basenotes…….
Val CQ

I was gifted with a bottle of vintage (if you can use that word for a relatively young perfume) Samsara EdP last week. I haven´t worn it since the early nineties, nor retried it during my perfumista journey

Samsara EdP

I bought a bottle of the Samsara EdP in 1990. Lovely. Nice bottle. I carried on with my life.


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


Samsara EdP by Guerlain 1990

Samsara EdP by Jean-Paul Guerlain

“Oh my gosh! This is fabulous. It´s kind of lemony and leathery and is that jasmine, and wait, I think I read once there´s some sort of licorice note in it. Is there, can I smell it, concentrate hard, it must be there. I got it! Yeah, licorice. I found it. And yang-ylang and jasmine, I can’t believe I never knew. It´s so oriental, spicy, and SANDALWOOD? The Guerlain vanilla, tonka, orris, but WAIT I have never smelled sandalwood like this. Really? All this incredible sandalwood, which after Googling I found out was enhanced by John-Paul Guerlain whisking in a dash of polysantol, giving it a massive lift so it wouldn´t sit flat on the skin? Whoa (Thanks Monsieur G)”
I then pass out on the floor into an exhausted sandalwood oblivion.

Val CQ Samsara 2016Photo Donated Val CQ

Samsara EdP Conclusions

The question is which incarnation of me enjoyed it more? I have been pondering this question for the last week. My good grief, I can most certainly say I had NO idea when I wore it in the early 90s and I went through at least three bottles of it, that there were top, heart and basenotes. I just enjoyed the whole experience without having to think myself insane. But once you walk through that field of poppies and end up in Oz there is no going back. (And then you do think yourself insane!) Hard to fathom that I never clocked the sandalwood in it, and this IS a sandalwood bomb if ever there was one. Creamy and divine. I have come to the conclusion that
the younger me delighted in Samsara while the perfumista me delights in, savours, relishes, revels in, and most of all appreciates Samsara for the magnificent oriental Guerlain masterpiece that it is.

Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Black Narcissus
Any Guerlain counter or store will have Samsara
Surrender To Chance is selling out their Samsara EdT at $15/5ml

Any of you APJ readers had a similar experience? Do tell. 🙂

Batshit Crazy Perfumista Bussis

23 thoughts on “Samsara EdP by Jean-Paul Guerlain for Guerlain 1990

  1. Wow, only 1990? It feels like Samsara has been around for much longer.
    I do sometimes wonder if over-thinking fragrance takes all the joy out of it but overall I agree that we savour and appreciate it more.
    Great fun post, as always.


    • It really does huh? I guess for as long as we have been on our obsessive perfume journey it has been around. Hum, probably not. Overthinking prevents major mistakes! Ahahahahaha. 🙂 xxxxx


  2. Hey Val,
    I bought this for my Mum with one of my first Squirt Bitch pays in Xmas 90 or 91. She smelled great in it. I bet you do too.
    Portia xx


  3. I have a huge bottle of the parfum extrait which I just don’t wear all that often because I forget about it. When I do wear it I always wonder why I don’t put it on more often. It’s a glorious perfume that lasts forever.


    • I think I may have had a bottle of the Extrait right at the beginning of the Samsara Years, but I can´t remember. Of course I was living in Amsterdam in this years which makes remembering even more challenging. 😉 If you wore it more would it still be glorious?
      Nice to see you Herr Hund. Hugs. xxxxx


  4. I have a more modern EDT that to me is weird at first like a Shalimar but as dries down gets spicy, a woody, floral, citrus floriental; dries down a little fruity. I also have a vintage that I have not sampled yet. I love Guerlain, but Shalimar and Samsara are just okay to my nose. There are some I don’t like, such as Mahora, Nahema, Champs Elysees, Terracotta. I think I prefer Caron to Guerlain but I do love them both.


    • I have not tried a single solitary Samsara since the ones I first wore. And actually I don´t plan too, especially now that I have a stunning bottle of the old stuff. Yeah, I don´t love all Guerlains either but those that are good are perfect.


  5. Hey Val, great post – had me giggling all the way through. I enjoy sandalwood, and should probably give this a retry. thanks for the encouragement!

    Tina G xx


    • Hey Tina! I think you have to more than enjoy sandalwood to love Samsara! But yeah, do try it, I know of no other perfume with such a heavy sandalwood base. Not to say there are none, but I am not familiar with any. Hugs to you. xxxxx


    • Hi Moira! It does kind of have an “of the era” vibe, but it is magnificent and I emplaning on wearing it a lot this winter. A complete joy. xxxxxx


  6. I get your point Val. I sometimes wish it could be simpler nowadays like it used to be: not be bothered with permanent new releases, wear whatever smelled good to me regardless of the perfume house or creator, have only 2-3 bottles at home and proudly wear it until the next better perfume showes up.
    Today I’m constantly restless trying to find something better, bigger, more complex, individual, blahblahblah…and most of the time I long for my 80-ies darlings which are long gone or transformed into something worse. Btw, I’ve never tried Samsara in the new formulation. I haven’t smelled it since back then and I don’t want to spoil the nice memories.


    • Hi Neva, As I said above, me neither. If I hadn´t of received the bottle a a gift I never would have given it a thought. Perfume was much easier before we were sucked into the strange hole that is Perfumista. But here we are now ……. and it´s great huh? Love. xxxxx


  7. Hi Val. Great piece. I like to know what I know now about perfume as before I really had absolutely no idea and I didn’t even love the perfume I was wearing. It wore it as a finishing touch to getting ready and while I liked the perfumes I wore there was no passion. Serge Lutens got me into the whole shebang and I think it’s great to know more about everything we use in our lives but sometimes yes I definitely over think it. But most days I just reach for something that I love and enjoy it, while now knowing a bit about the company, the perfumer, the notes, the classification ….. but try not to think about that too much. Ahhhhh …..


  8. I chuckled at ‘exhausted sandalwood oblivion’. What a lovely state to be in. I see similarities between Roja Dove Danger and Samsara, though keep forgetting to try it when I am in Boots to see if I am right. What a gorgeous bottle too!

    (PS I can’t get enough pictures of your chest of drawers, hehe.)


  9. Haha, samsara has Sandalwood! if I knew that, just thought it was nice perfume.
    This is the exact bottle from the 1990’s that Johnny actually went to a department store and actually bought something decent…three remarkable actions…and I have a little left in the bottle.


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