This perfume is wonderfully composed but ultimately disappointing; on the one hand I love that Samsara smells exactly like the inside of those Buddhist temples—or “wats”–in Thailand, yet I find the powdery notes to be extremely heady and cloying over time. I don’t quite dislike this scent, but I don’t love it either.
Samsara has a beautiful opening; it’s a serenade of sandalwood and ylang-ylang with soft phases of vanilla, tonka bean, and jasmine to underline this pretty little symphony. I fell in love with how exotic and intoxicating those first few seconds were, unfortunately the experience was short-lived. That charming scent immediately transitions into a powdery peachy cloud of iris, musk, and a dusty rose that became extremely tedious over time. There is just too much sandalwood without something—like incense—to balance it out; the main floral is ylang-ylang and it feels too chalky, too dry, and too linear.
The only positive that kept Samsara from becoming overly repetitive was the slight presence of rose that peeks out from underneath the many layers of heavy powder. How I wish Samsara had a tiny bit of sweetness that isn’t an elderly rose! Perhaps I am just not a fan of that dreary ylang-ylang flower; I feel its presence is too oppressive and domineering like a heavy musty blanket.
Regardless of its shortcomings this is still a very nice fragrance; Samsara is distinctly Guerlain and I enjoy all their creations. However, despite all the glowing reviews this experience just doesn’t feel memorable to me.