Tag Archives: Sandalwood

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.


Diptyque Tam Dao  


I had the privilege of trying my first ever Diptyque scent today.  This is what happens when you meet up with Lisa Wordbird in a well known coffee house (that smelled like a boudoir by the time we’d finished our coffee).

My very first impression of Tam Dao was “Fig”, but there is no Fig.  I must be trigger happy now that I can (allegedly) identify Fig as I smell it in everything.  In any case, Tam Dao is actually mainly Sandalwood, but thanks to its figgy note, it’s a grown up, sexy, powdery, aromatic incense-like Sandalwood.

It last and lasts and is still going strong four hours later, not even just close to skin- just giving little wafts every time I move.

The notes according to our trusty friends at Fragrantica are :

Top notes: Rose, Myrtle and Cypress.

Middle notes: Sandalwood and Cedar

Base notes:  Musk, Amber, Spice and Rosewood.

It smells very Seventies to me, which is no bad thing.  People wore neat patchouli oil, cheap and cheerful chypres and a lot of musk and sandalwood back then. No bad thing at all.  Tam Dao is a melange of all of these things and its dusty Musky Sandalwood tones are keeping me welcome company today. You haven’t heard the last of me, Diptyque.


LUSH Gorilla Perfumes: Icon: L’Eau Des Hippies


Once upon a time student parties contained a now archaic feature: Indoor Ashtrays. It seems almost incredible that so many people smoked inside their own houses when it’s such a rare thing these days. Students actually smoked indoors in their own digs and a party wasn’t a party if the room wasn’t filled with cigarettes and joss sticks. Even non smokers left parties smelling of Patchouli incense sticks and a hint of Marlboro Reds. We’re not even talking decades ago. As late as the Nineties I remember non smokers keeping ashtrays in their houses in cases smokers visited. Unthinkable today.

 LUSH Icon brought such vivid memories rushing back. Icon smells like the oily residue left on an unwashed denim jacket by dried up Patchouli oil gone stale after a helluva weekend. It made me think of purple velvet, kaftans and flared trousers. It smells like student parties in the 70s: Rich with Sandalwood and Myrrh and a sort of artful staleness, Icon has a Bohemian glamour. When I smelled this, I immediately imagined Led Zeppelin in the background (the music, not Robert Plant and his chums).

 Maybe it was the Orange top notes that blend with loud Myrrh and rich 70s style Sandalwood. The Myrrh adds a resinous smoke, perhaps where I got the cigarette imagery from, and the Sandalwood reminds me of the perfume oils so popular in the 70s and 80s, especially from market stalls that sold swishy skirts, silver bangles and joss sticks. I was amazed to find no Patchouli in Icon, since it is so reminiscent of those oily ungents in tiny bottles that you could buy for less than a pound back in the day.

 Icon would smell equally good on a man or a woman and makes me want to take up smoking again, play some Led Zep and zone out with a few glasses of cheap red wine. 

 Join me. You’ve got like a beautiful aura, man.