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terça-feira, 16 de fevereiro de 2016

Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe: Guerlain Samsara

by: Bella Van der Weerd

This is the second article in the new series on Fragrantica, Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe, in which our writers will explore fragrances they've owned for some time but seldom wear. Will an old favorite be "rediscovered" and fallen in love with all over again? Will the writers find their preferences have changed with time and experience? Join us for the journey and share your experiences of revisiting old favorites.
When I told people that after 11 years in the same house we were going to move, they warned me invariably: “You’ll be amazed at the amount of stuff that will come out of your small apartment!” I knew they were right, because on top of living with a family of four, two of which kids that went from diaper years to adolescence here, I am one of those who have a hard time getting rid of things. Not just valuable things, or items with an emotional attachment, no, all things. A piece of wrapping paper that could still be used for a tea light holder? Keep it! Drawing number 32 of my oldest when she was 6 and in her flower drawing stage? How could I not keep it? Books that I loved, even though I never reread anything? Can’t say good bye. Cookie tins. Jam jars. Magazines. Fridge magnets. Clipped recipes. Disney DVD’s. Place mats we never use. Souvenirs people brought us from their travels (that’s you, little sheep on the shelf from Ireland…!). I can go on and on. And it all had to come out!

Now, here's the part where I think all perfume lovers can relate: at some point in the packing process, I got to my perfume drawers full of fragrances: regular bottles, mini flacons, sample vials, everything I acquired over the years. Not just the past 11 years; some of my treasures go back to my high school and college years and even though my preferences have changed a lot compared to the eighties and nineties, I still wouldn’t think of parting with them. And that's where she entered my life again.…my still half full flacon of Guerlain’s Samsara Eau the Toilette. Bought in the city of Groningen, the Netherlands, where I went to college, it must have been around 1990.
She was all the way in the back of the drawer, but while other bottles looked a bit disheveled, with some dust and stickiness here and there, Lady Samsara just looked somewhat indignant, as if to say: “It really took you this long?” It wasn’t that she looked brand new; her cap especially had suffered and may have been manufactured in a time when Guerlain tried to economize on their packaging; it had gone from shiny gold to dull, with tiny green oxidation specks all over. But just like at the moment I bought her, there was still something chic about her that made her look so confident in her greatness, so attractive, so promising. It brought me back to the time I took the plunge and bought her. I’m not even sure what it was that drove me to her, and taking into account the fact that half of the juice is now still in the flacon, she hasn’t really grown too much on me over the last 25 years either. But I do remember I had to have her, and I think it was because she was so exotic to me.
Imagine the country I grew up in, the Netherlands, and especially its climate. Like Great Britain, we know long, dark and wet winters, often times preceded by a very similar fall and even spring time doesn’t always bring its first sunshine and unfolding colors until all the way into April! For a large part of the year, the prevailing color and mood is grey. That was what made me fall for Samsara.

Samsara is a legendary perfume for many reasons. Its creator Jean-Paul Guerlainnoted in an interview with Elle Magazine that he created Samsara with a muse in mind. “I met a woman named Décia de Pauw, a wonderful horsewoman. I fell instantly in love. I had one desire: to offer this woman a perfume that would reveal her own intimacy, her unique sensuality. She liked sandalwood and jasmine, so I made her a perfume named Samsara, which is Sanskrit for ‘wheel of life.” In my eyes, the combination of the beautifully created marketing messages and this jasmine and sandalwood themed perfume were the ultimate idea of sultriness, languorousness, opulence and red hued warmth.
She smells slightly sweet, bittersweet. She is woody, warm and floral. She is smooth, but the iris adds a powdery texture. There is noticeable musk, it might even be a white musk, like powder. It has that “tickles-my-throat” effect when inhaled deeply. In the top, the slightest sprinkling of citrus and peach can be found. Soon the unique duo of sandalwood and jasmine unfolds and envelops the wearer into a most comforting, reassuring cloud of a fragrance, smelling deep, natural and alluring. It's a very grown-up mixture of rich, creamy white floral and dry, sheer-like sandalwood. The dry down, on my skin, brings leather to mind, the kind that always brings me back to my grandmother’s handbags, from which she would take a roll of peppermint and offer me one with a loving smile. One inhale of Samsara will prove that this is anything but a wallflower; it is for those who like statement making perfumes and who love opulent oriental blends, albeit in this case without any of the commonly found spices. Sillage and longevity are amazing: one spray of my Eau de Toilette (!) will last all day, into the night and all the way through the next morning. One spray on a cotton pad will fill a whole room easily!

Then why is my bottle of Samsara still half full? Why did it get pushed back in my drawer, making room in the front for perfumes with sometimes not even half the impact, quality, beauty and depth? Maybe the answer is partly in the image put forward by Guerlain in their ad campaign for Samsara. The woman featuring the ad is beautiful, elegant, alluring, the colors are warm, exotic, sensual. I wanted to be like her, smell like her, seduce like her, but in the end, pedaling on my bike to class and later to work, through wind and rain, hair wet, feet cold, face red… just wasn’t me. How peculiar and unexpected that now, decades later, in a completely different stage of life, she has captured me again. And today, while taking a break from writing and walking the dog, someone I met on the side walk told me: "mmmmmmm, you smell heavenly!" I think I am going to give Samsara a second chance.
Of course, dear readers, we'd love to hear your side of the story. Do you have any special memories connected to Samsara? Do you have a similar situation with a fragrance that you recently rediscovered? Or do you find you really never go back once you walked away? We'd love to hear from you in the Comments!

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