Or, Try Before You Buy
Since I have been doing lately what passes for a deep-dive into the world of Guerlain people have in the comments been suggesting other of theirs to try. So off to Surrender To Chance I went, for samps of Chamade, Samsara, and L’Heure Bleue.
Chamade was created in 1969 and has notes (From Fragrantica) of
Top notes are Hiacynth, Aldehydes, Rose, Jasmine and Bergamot; middle notes are Galbanum, Rose, Lilac, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-Valley and Cloves; base notes are Tolu Balsam, Benzoin, Peru Balsam, Vetiver, Amber, Vanilla and Sandalwood.
Well you would have had me at hyacinth, which is a favorite. Add in jasmine, lilac and lily-of-the-valley and I am in white-flower heaven. But on me it just kind of.. missed. It was nice, mind you, but there was a heaviness to it that just wasn’t working for me. That earthiness gets more pronounced as it wears but there was something about it that just didn’t work on me: maybe the dissonance between the opening and the drydown was too great? If the opening is sparkly and vivid, the drydown is still flowery, but overlain with a honeyed sweetness and the famous Guerlinade base that was Just. Not. Me. Perhaps it’s you?
Samsara was done in 1989 and looking at the notes (again from Fragrantica)
Top notes are Ylang-Ylang, Peach, Bergamot, Green Notes and Lemon; middle notes are iris, Jasmine, Narcissus, Orris Root, Rose and Violet; base notes are Sandalwood, Vanilla, iris, Amber, Tonka Bean and Musk.
You would think that this one would have been door #2 to Chamade’s #1 finish, but no. Everything that seems not to work on me with Chamade comes together perfectly in Samsara: Jasmine and Sandalwood balance each other perfectly, each sanding down the other’s rough edges, and while sweet it’s not syrupy. I am kind of shocked that of the two this is the one I much prefer- looking at the notes and year it was created I would have thought the opposite.
Now to L’Heure Bleue. Oh, dear. I really wanted this to to work. I love wearing a vintage perfume like this and having someone ask me what it is, and being able to whisper “L’Heure Bleue” as if I was letting them in on the best secret ever. Fragrantica lists the notes as:
Top notes are Anise, Neroli, Coriander, Bergamot and Lemon; middle notes are Heliotrope, Carnation, Violet, Cloves, Neroli, Ylang-Ylang, Bulgarian Rose, Jasmine, Orchid and Tuberose; base notes are iris, Vanilla, Benzoin, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Musk and Vetiver.
But all I get is play-doh. I have had this happen with another scent back in the day that everyone was crazy mad about and I cannot for the life of me remember what it is or what someone said was in there that not only makes that association for me but absolutely short-circuits my olfactory system so that all I get is that. Play-doh. When it goes on, in the middle, hours into it. All I need are a bouncy house and a kids ball cage and I could be a Chucky Cheeze. Disappointment!
Now I am sure that a lot of you have had better luck with these (and I have had turnarounds with other Guerlains; it took years for Jicky to finally work on me.) Please let us know in the comments how well, or not so well, they did for you.
My samples were from Surrender to Chance. Images: Pexels, my iPhone.
Is the LHB you smelled vintage or current? I absolutely hated the vintage, it smelled like rubber gloves, but the current edp is lovely. Chamade is difficult for me due to the galbanum, I have trouble with green scents. Samsara I enjoy, not challenging, just pleasant.
I am actually not sure- it’s the EDP. Interesting if the current one is more wearable for me. Might have to investigate.
Late response to your post Tom. I love Chamade and have the beautiful upside down heart-shaped parfum flacon. To me, it’s a green-golden ode to spring flowers including the pollen. Samsara is my husband’s stepmother’s signature scent, and I’ve bought her a few vintage bottles found at antique shops over the years. She adores it. That rich sandalwood is amazing. L’Heure Bleue is one I’ve only sampled briefly. I like the scent. The notes remind me of Apres L’Ondee, which I have and really like, so I don’t feel like I need both. Thanks for your reviews!
I didn’t hate Chamade, it just wasn’t quite me. LHB was a disappointment, but I have had the paly-doh thing happen to me before. sooo… It was Luctor et Emergo that everyone was so crazy about and I got Play Doh. I don’t even know if it’s around anymore..
Oh TOM! Bummer.
My mate Scotty only smells urinal cakes from L’Heure Bleue
When I worked for Guerlain as a Xmas squirt bitch one year was the Samsara release, bought it for Mum. She LOVED it and smelled of it for a year.
I love them all. Vintage to new and even the much maligned screechy mini bee Samsara works for me.
Well I figure that I have quite enough pricey likes. I can use a few pricey misses..
I adore LBH and I loved her flanker of L’heure de Nuit. Pity L’heure de Nuit was discontinued. Chamade has some kind of oiliness to it that makes me not wear it too often. Samsara is a no go for me. Love Shalimar and Mitsouko too.
I love a lot of them- Shalimar and Mitsouko among them. I just wish LBH worked. Oh well, I’ll keep trying.
People’s different experiences are so interesting! Sorry about LHB, glad you didn’t blind-buy a bottle! Samsara always grated on me a little … I have a vintage Chamade that is absolutely lovely. Mitsy remains the queen, obviously.
Yeah, Mitsy is all that. Others are too, including the guy ones.
I adore Nahema and Shalimar is in my top ten but I haven’t found another Guerlain that likes me, including these three. I’ve accepted that Guerlainade just isn’t for me.
It’s funny- I’ve read “experts” who insist that skin chemistry is a myth. Yeah, right.
I am with you, Tom, on none of those working on me. Chamade in particular was a hot mess. I really wanted to love L’Heure Bleue but indeed play dough. The one I really wish worked on me is Vol de Nuit but no go on that. Thankfully, Shalimar and Mitsouko work, along with some of the Aqua Allegorias.
Vol de Nuit is a keeper. I have a bottle I bought when I was flush. Will have to do another Guerlain post some time soon!
Samsara is my favourite out of these 3. I do wear the other 2.
Samsara was certainly my fave. Not sure I need a full bottle tho..
Charade is like two completely different scents. That hyacinth/narcissus opening – spring, pretty, damp & very girly. Then whomp, tonka custard. There is no bridge & it’s so dissonant.
Turin said he didn’t connect the smell of the top notes from the Guerlain shop with the wafts from passing wearers when Chamade was released.
It took years for me to appreciate Samsara. I hated the advert of a kept woman abandoning the fur & the car but not the perfume. Samsara’s release as an 80s honker was so behind the curve & a bit unnecessary when Shalimar was the world leader of the genre. Now I have my original bottle of EdT which I rarely wear but can now appreciate for what it brought to the party when it was almost over.
L’Heure Bleue is an intellectual love but not something I reached for when I owned her. Too shapeless, too ghostly, too amorphous & bleued round the edges. I found her flabby & as I’m flabby enough I like my fragrance to have enough structure & backbone for us both.
I’m enjoying your deep dive keep up the great work!
So true about the Chamade, I remember that LT quote … it’s like 2 completely different fragrances.
Well if LT says so then I really feel validated! 🙂
That’s putting it very well on Chamade- like two different scents. As far as the ads for Samsara I honestly don’t remember them. But then I don’t remember the scent itself. I guess I just wasn’t paying any attention to that sort of thing at that time. I was probably more focused on what I was going to wear out to the clubs that night.
I love the old/vintage House of Guerlain. I had the same experience as you with Chamade. Samsara was just ok. I don’t remember now what vintage L’Heure Bleue smelled like, but I know it wasn’t for me. There are those that I love, but only the vintage versions. Mitsouko and Vol de Nuit are great loves and Apres L’Ondee is pure magic for me. It is ethereal with an air of beautiful melancholy.
Apres L’Ondee is one I still need to try. L’Huere Bleue is so sad- I’ll keep trying though..
For me, Chamade is a toughie – I very nearly RILLLLY love it – but … something doesn’t quite work.
L’HB works very well for me – in edt. In the extrait it’s heavy lifting, indeed.
Samsara … I haz no recollection.
Now I want to go to Chuck E. Cheese with you!
I have never been to a chucks cheese. Not even sure where one is. But anyplace with pizza is okay with me..
Oh, Tom, I love Guerlain. And L’Heure Bleue is my Holy Grail Perfume. So I don’t often wear it because it is so special. Chamade is another I adore, but wear more frequently. More often in cool/cold weather. It doesn’t work as well in the heat of summer. But Samsara. Well. I fell in love with it right after it was released. Years later I finally got a bottle. And it had CHANGED! I swear it was the sandalwood.
Not surprised it changed- I’m sure that the sandalwood they could use in 1989 is now considered up there with nuclear waste or Ebola as far as toxicity. Or they just found a cheaper one..