Samsara by Jean-Paul Guerlain for Guerlain 1989




Hello lovelies,

Samsara has great memories for me of my Mum. I bought her some one year and she wore it often. It’s weird but I rarely hear people speak of this particular Guerlain, it’s still in department stores so must be a good seller for them. Every now & then I get mine out to reminisce. Then I wonder why I don’t wear it more.

Samsara by Guerlain 1989

Samsara by Jean-Paul Guerlain


Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, lemon, ylang-ylang, peach, 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.

Creamy tropical flowers and fruit, a little sharp in the open. Samsara doesn’t take long to settle on my skin and become a slightly banana-isa yellow floral with BWF aspirations. Mildly flower feral, it wears in parfum close and seductive. When I add the EdT it becomes a larger, more exhibitionist fragrance, a glamorous silk brocade of a scent.

Once the initial extravaganza calms I’m left with a nebulous bouquet backed by a sweet, dry-ish vanilla and creamy resinous sandalwood till fade. Recently I read that even back in 1989 Samsara was mainly faux sandalwood, doesn’t matter to me. Lastly I smell sandalwood and musks, I think the musk might be the real deal but TBH I’ll probably never know

Some people talk about how outrageous and overbearing Samsara is. That’s definitely not how I experience it. Maybe because of my Mum reference Samsara is a warm, elegant, pre-oud oriental that is both exotic and incredibly comforting. Back in the 1980s Samsara was armchair travel to faraway places, a hint of the multifarious peoples of Asia and the Middle East. Even then I knew world travel was what I wanted to do as a life hobby.

Further reading: Now Smell This and Muse In Wooden Shoes
Most Guerlain counters have Samsara
Surrender To Chance has vintage parfum samples from $20/0.25ml

Have you tried Samsara?
I hope you enjoyed wandering among my fragrant thoughts. Below is an original Samsarta ad, hopefully see you tomorrow,
Portia xx

10 thoughts on “Samsara by Jean-Paul Guerlain for Guerlain 1989

  1. Yes I love Samsara and wear the current vintage EdP, but I haven’t worn it in a while, so you’ve inspired me to wear it this weekend. I keep eyeing off the parfum mini’s that surface from time to time on ebay because I’m sure the parfum version would be rich and gorgeous to wear.

    Lil Xx


    • Hey Lillibet,
      Yeah the parfum adds an extra depth to the EdT or EdP.
      Happy wearing this weekend.
      Portia xx


  2. Samsara is a definite like for me but not a wow/love like some other Guerlains. On my skin and to my nose, it smells weird at first like a Shalimar but as it dries down it gets spicy, a woody, floral, citrus floriental; dries down a little fruity, too, which is what I don’t like.


    • Interesting Gina,
      I love hoe everyone has different experiences with fragrances and how one can smell totally opposite on some. Thank goodness, it would be boring if we are all the same.
      Portia xx


  3. Having almost run out of things to collect I diffedently bought a Parfum on eBay. I already had a big 100 ml of vintage edt and was in like not love. Well, the Parfum changed that! It’s just beautiful and I would agree that I do not see it as an eighties powerhouse. I’ve taken to applying these sandalwood centric fragrances over a tiny smear of either Australian sandal or the only genuine Mysore,that I can find, the Aus grown album. Just divine.


    • Hey Marion,
      What a stellar idea.
      I need to buy some more of the Australian sandalwoods. they are SO good.
      Portia xx


  4. So lovely to have that scent memory of of your mum.
    For me Samsara EDT is jasmine and creamy sandalwood and that is just fine with me. Uplifting and relaxing at the same time. Sometimes just a sniff from the bottle is enough if I’m in a no-perfume area.
    I have heard that besides the native sandalwood, Mysore sandalwood is being grown in Australia. Probably won’t be exactly the same due to “terroir” but it is good to hear that perfumers will have both kinds to use. And I agree that the dose of faux sandalwood along with the real is just fine. Indeed it gives Samsara its not overbearing boldness.


    • Hey Vindaloo,
      Yes, Mysore sandalwood is being grown here. The start is a little sharper, a bit minty, but the heart and base are thick, luscious and creamy. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Western Australia is where the plantations are, one day I want to go see them.
      Portia x


  5. Hi Portia! I had a bottle of the EDP in the mid-2000s and found it sharp, brash, loud, synthetic, basically unwearable. I sold it at a garage sale for about $10, glad to get it out of the house. A few months ago I found a bottle of vintage EDT for $5 at a vintage clothing market. I love it. It feels lighter and more airy, and has nothing like the offensive sillage I recall from my EDP. It veils beautifully, so that rather than smelling like ‘perfume’, it seems to just change the shape of the air around me to smell nice. A go-to winter scent, especially for work.

    Oddly enough when tried the current EDP from a tester and it seems nothing like as strong as I remember. I really wonder if Guerlain turned the volume down on it, to conform to contemporary tastes.

    Samsara must sell well; I see the EDT in discount chemists for great prices.


    • Hey there AnneMarieC,
      Interesting, maybe that’s true. It could easily have been lightened up, and I wonder how much of what was in Samsara was IFRA-ed out.
      The older EdT is really goods too.
      Portia xx


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