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Samsara was created in 1989 by Jean-Paul Guerlain as an homage to the woman in his life, supposedly inspired by her love of two perfume notes, and is viewed as a modern classic in the Guerlain pantheon. It is a woody-floral Oriental fragrance, an ode to the exquisite union of sandalwood and jasmine. The name Samsara signifies "eternal rebirth" in Sanskrit and is part of the "wheel of life", a religious reference of Tibetan Buddhism. It evokes the perpetual voyage from one existence to the next, an invitation to serenity and harmony.

Samsara….the name is exotic and mystical, it rolls off the tongue, evocative, mesmerizing… Samsara, Samsara, Samsara….

Three years ago I wrote about Samsara, the Eau de Parfum version, which has taken its place as a member of the Guerlain Royal Family alongside Shalimar, Jicky, Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, L’Heure Bleue , etc. Tart fruit, rich florals, the classic Guerlinade accord of vanilla, tonka and amber, the dry elegance of aromatic woods, Samsara is a dramatic mix of refined elegance and clear radiant warmth. Read about it here.

Samsara, the Parfum Extrait version, is the same beautiful fragrance with the same beautiful notes but presents itself quite differently. From the first moments on my skin, Samsara Parfum is smoother, richer, creamier, with the vanilla sandalwood accord dominant, accented with whiffs of dried peaches, while the sharper more medicinal green leaves, ylang and citrus opening of the EdP is much more subdued.

The heart is sweet soft jasmine, mixed with rose and lots of violet so that it feels powdery and slightly balsamic, with the odd note of dried tea. The dry-down into the base builds on the vanilla sandalwood from the opening, made warm, musky, smoky, by an infusion of more sandalwood, vanillic tonka bean, amber, and musk, and reveals new facets such as licorice and pepper.

Samsara EdP has dramatic power in its opening, but in its heart is a soft scent with a lush beauty. Samsara Parfum Extrait is softer and more radiant from start to finish, making it more personal and much more intimate, a scent that warms the skin for hours with an elegant sillage.

Samsara Parfum Extrait feels more lush and fully formed, more dimensional, deeper, creamier, than the Samsara EdP. I have the feeling this is the version Jean-Paul Guerlain gave to the woman in his life.

Try a sample of each and see if you agree.

Samsara Parfum Extrait is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $20.00 for 1 ml.

Samsara EdP is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Image - Guerlain Samsara Parfum Extrait, pinterest.uk.

 

 

 

I’m at the dentist, waiting for my appointment with the hygienist.

Ping! A text. Oh good, a distraction from thinking about the pending torture. It’s from my daughter.

“I’m in Jovoy in Paris right now – I can’t believe this store! I want to buy you a gift. Which perfume do you want?”

At that moment the hygienist appears, summoning me with a glint in her eye. “Ready? Follow me!”

No time to think, I text back, “Surprise me!”

A week later, I’m definitely surprised. Guided by François Hénin, the charming owner of Jovoy, my  daughter chose Korrigan, by Lubin. Based in Paris, the House of Lubin was established in 1798 and is therefore one of the France's oldest luxury brands. Bought in 2004 by Gilles Thevanin who learned the perfume business at Guerlain and Rochas, the old company has been revived and reinvented for the 21 century. Gilles Thevanin works with a talented pool of perfumers to whom he gives free rein to create, noses such as Olivia Giacobetti, composer of Idole, Delphine Thierry, and Thomas Fontaine, who created Korrigan.

Along with Giacobetti’s Idole de Lubin, a divinely luscious Oriental with notes of rum, spices, woods, leather, Korrigan is part of the Talismania Collection from Lubin. Considered avant-garde when it launched in 2012, it’s since become a minor cult classic because it is so uniquely original and perfectly formulated, with its otherworldly interplay of two accords: creamy boozy woody caramel and bitter-green tarry smoky leather. Whether you get to fully experience both of these accords depends on your personal chemistry – turns out that skin is one of the key ingredients in Korrigan, which adds to its cult appeal.

From the Lubin website:

A Korrigan is a small mythical creature that haunts the moors of Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.In the Armorican countryside frolic the Korrigans at night. They come to harvest juniper berries and wild beechnuts. Then, in dark caves, they distil barley into spellbinding spirits, spicing them with saffron, musking them with ambrette, scenting them with lavender. During the solstice festivals, they all drink their elixirs out of leather pouches, causing bodies and souls to capsize."

Perfumer Thomas Fontaine created Korrigan by imagining a tree with sweet but tangy sap, which he called  “Caramel Wood.” From the top, Korrigan smells milky and steamy, but immediately becomes buttery and sweet as the caramel note develops. Before the burnt-sugar caramel becomes cloying, cognac and juniper berry mix with the top notes to create a deliciously gourmand booziness. Into the heart, saffron and lavender and ambrette transform Korrigan into a sensuous cloud, pushing the gourmand sweetness in the background, pulling more boozy and herbaceous warmth into the heart.  With the addition of the base notes, cedar, leather, oudh, vetiver, and warm musks, the magic of Korrigan truly happens. 

What began as a seemingly simple sweet fragrance, is now a full-blown skin scent, a scent of whispers and caresses. Hints of resinous cedar, wafts of rich saffron, the tarry smokiness of oudh and leather, the sweet alcoholic glow of golden liqueurs, all speak of shared pleasures far beyond a Caramel Wood. A scent to be shared by lovers, by women and men.

I’ve craved a bottle of Korrigan since I first sniffed it five years ago, and now the tall sleek cream-colour Art-Deco bottle with the tortoise-shell cap sits on my perfume shelf. I’ve worn it a lot since my daughter gave it to me, in warm weather and cool weather, and it always smells wonderful, with a soft sillage that lasts for hours.

I have to share it though, because my daughter loves Korrigan, too. She should have bought two bottles.

Korrigan is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Image - Korrigan EdP - lubin.eu

 

 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.

WHAT WE DO

We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
 
We hope you enjoy perfumeniche.com, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.