Tag Archives: High Street Classics

Guerlain Samsara: I Can’t, I Simply Can’t

samsara   Everyone has one.  A fragrance that is associated so strongly with another person or time that it cannot be seen as a stand alone fragrance to be viewed objectively.  It could be the signature scent of a former colleague, or in-law, or it could be the smell of a disastrous night out or date. Whatever the reason, many perfume lovers have a smell they cannot detach from, no matter how random or illogical the association.

For me, that smell is Guerlain Samsara.  It may explain why it has taken me so long to get around to reviewing it. Years ago, I knew a couple who had appalling personal hygiene. The smell of Samsara in their flat was all pervading day and night and masked the strong, unwashed smell of hair and clothes and body so that I was never sure if the perfume was musky or if it was the unwashed clothes.  It served to put me right off, good and proper, like the opposite of Pavlov’s dogs.  I see a bottle of Guerlain Samsara and I walk away, swerving with almost comical briskness.

samsara ad1

Decades later, I steeled myself to chase away the perfumed ghosts.

It wasn’t until I spent a few days wearing it that I realised how similar Samsara is to Serge Lutens Feminité du Bois.  Feminité du Bois is woodier and has rougher edges (deliberately) but the robustness and dusty spice is similar.  Sadly, to me, Feminité du Bois smells like unwashed knickers ( which I tried to Google and wished I hadn’t), so I guess we’re back to square one on that one.   Or maybe one explains the other.

On first spray Samsara is immediately woody, green and juicy.  The sandalwood is then the strongest note, followed by the Musk, at least to my nose. There’s a touch of earthy iris and orris root, and it’s rich samsaraad2with amber, but the opening is fruity and juicy and spicy all at once.  There is a waft of definite banana like ylang in the top notes, but it skidaddles before the mood gets serious. The base note holds that unmistakable musky sandalwood that means you can spot Samsara from 20 paces, and longevity is of course, excellent, whether you like it or not.

You could wear Guerlain Samsara on a date and you (and your date) would still be enjoying olfactory reminders three days later.  The success of this is up to you.  Please wear Samsara responsibly. Whatever way I look at it though, and whichever angle I come from, it will sadly always be the smell of a girl who uses perfume instead of soap.

I’m sorry Samsara fans, it’s not you, it’s definitely me.

PS If you are a friend of mine and you are reading this, you are not the unhygienic couple.  They are long gone.

Follow

Opium For The Masses. Opium For Me

opium

When Yves Saint Laurent Opium was created, it seemed to make Orientals more mainstream and is still a byword for the genre.  Its reputation precedes it:  “Nothing heavy please, nothing like Opium or stuff like that” and sometimes I fear it has  become platitudinous i.e it is so ubiquitous people don’t even see it any more.

I have avoided reviewing it thus far as I find it hard to train myself to just test one at a time whilst walking through my local House of Fraser, but today I just tried Opium (EDT) and nothing else. (It was tempting though, I had to walk fast past all the other bottles winking at me.)

Despite it being a mild summer’s day, not too hot, not too cold, somehow Opium surprisingly, felt just right.  I say surprisingly as I would have thought that Opium was too heavy for summer, but in fact the lightness of the citruses came out like an expensive eau de cologne, with added spice and extra staying power.  I find that I’m wearing a rather thirst quenching scent today that doesn’t feel at all heavy.

Purists may have other ideas about today’s version of Opium, as it has been very much reformulated since its iconic brown packaging at its launch.  I cannot comment on the difference as I am not familiar with the original, but I trust those who tell me, the new kid ain’t the same.

Opium has all the spicy/rich ingredients thing going on, but I think the reason I found it light and pretty is because it has no gourmand stuff in it. There’s no sticky cakey vanilla or sugar or caramel:  all ingredients which are hard to escape in today’s perfume stores.   After smelling so many scents that smell like cake crumbs, Opium is a refreshing change, and yes there is vanilla in it, but its barely discernible and seems to just round off the sharp edges a bit.

You can definitely notice the heavyweight Christmassy duo of Frankincense and Myrrh with their rich, deep resonance,  and the patchouli packs a punch, but somehow, this wasn’t a “woah there!” fragrance.  It felt just right for a sunny day with breezy spells.

Opium has managed to hang on to it’s green, spicy, citrus roots and was a breath of fresh air today: something I never thought I’d say about Opium in August. It’s gone onto the Wish List and I’m only amazed it took me so long to get there.  Oh and did I mention longevity? around fourteen hours for two squirts.  Amazing stuff.

 

Estee Lauder White Linen: A High Street Classic

 nd.542

It’s taken me a while to get round to Estee Lauder White Linen. The reason why is that I have, in the past, found it a bit too metallic and silvery, akin to getting foil in your back teeth *shudder*.  Unfortunately Chanel No 22 had the same effect on me (and many perfumistas would  beg to differ on that beauty).

However, with perfume my motto is never say never ( except with Theirry Mugler Womanity, which is a permanent estrangement) and thus I have been trying White Linen for a couple of days now. White Linen opens with  a fog bomb of aldehydes, which normally I like, but still this is somehow too metallic for me, like chrome or rusty silver. After an hour, things look up and the flowers all seem to turn from bud to bloom, and many of my favourites too.: Hyacinth, Lilac, Lily of the Valley and Violets.

In a garden , these would be like paradise for me and in a perfume the effect is similar.  The aldehydes lose their metallic edge but still give these flower buds a punchy frame for their blooms.

The base note is very long lasting and equally as delicious as the middle phase. There’s Amber, Benzoin,  Vetiver and Oakmoss.  However, this isn’t quite as pungent and spicy as you might imagine. The flowers never went away you see, so all these wondrously strong base notes are made feminine, whilst still retaining a  warm zing of heat.

The base note lasts around thirteen hours, making this fabulous value at around 40GBP.  I have often smlled this on older ladies, but rather than label it old lady, as many have, I credit the more experienced perfume user with excellent taste. Despite White Linen being American, I have always thought there is something quintessentially English and proper about White Linen.  I’ll bet you a tenner Camilla has a bottle. And I bet Charles doesn’t mind. He loves flowers too.

Estee Lauder Knowing: A Glorious Chypre Hiding on the High Street

 Image

Many moons ago, when I was at university, a fellow student wore Estee Lauder Knowing.  She was also eighteen like me, and I felt it was wayyy too old for her. My Mum also wore it at the time and she was ancient- forty years old! (Three years younger than I am now).  I remember thinking it was OK for Mum to wear as she was “old” but not for my eighteen year old friend to wear it.

Fast forward 25 years and I am wearing Knowing today.  It’s a whole different story. I have a bit of a thing for greeny  retro chypres and Knowing doesn’t disappoint.  It opens with a full on blast of aldehydes that I initially thought nobody should be subjected to before cocktail hour.  However, after an hour, this becomes a wearable daytime chypre and it’s still there ten hours later.

Knowing makes its presence felt immediately: there is bergamot, aldehydes and green notes in the opening.  However thankfully, I could find none of the melon described (phew!).  It’s the base notes that are a real treat: patchouli, oakmoss and vetiver. In fact, all my favourites are in today, “Hello at the back!”

It’s almost as if Knowing was made with me in mind.  Not only greeny aldehydes, but then oakmoss and  a musty,  woody finish.  I adore it and despite its wide availability, it knocks hundreds of other High Street scents into a cocked hat.

Image

As for my fellow student back in 1988 (the year of its launch), she was way ahead of her time and really Imageonto something, whilst little old me was still wafting round in either LouLou or  Body Shop White Musk (which I still do sometimes, just for old times sake).

Stockists

Estee Lauder Knowing is widely available on the High Street and online.  Try  allbeauty.com for the best price ( at time of posting).

Follow