Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Safari by Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren launched Safari in 1990 and it was created by nose Dominique Ropion. It is now discontinued and this is such a shame, for it is a classically gorgeous chypre.

For those of you who are chypre-loving fragrance fiends Safari seems a must-have. Given the long list of notes for Safari, I find it to be rather dry and crisp and so easy to wear. Safari is potent, but just enough to last, never too much or overwhelming -- for me it’s the perfect balance of sillage and longevity.

Safari begins with a galbanum, green notes and a citrus blast, which soften quickly letting the floral heart present itself. None of the florals claim their identity to me – it’s mostly a lovely green floral on a bed of dry woods, musk and patchouli. The bitterness of many chypres is not present in Safari – yet it still maintains its gorgeous dry and green quality without ever seeming sweet. Safari seems utterly sophisticated in a classy and well-mannered way – Safari isn’t too showy and perfect for very nearly any occasion. There are many modern chypres which really smell like flor-ientals to me these days – Safari smells like a complex and beautifully rendered chypre, a true chypre, to me. I feel compelled to say it again, it’s such a shame Safari was discontinued.

You can still find Safari at many online discount perfume shops. If Safari is one of your favorites you might considering hoarding a few bottles in case it becomes one of those highly coveted scents going for $300-500 on ebay in the future.

Safari’s notes, from basenotes, are listed as:
Top: Galbanum, green notes, mandarin, aldehyde, hyacinth, orange daffodil, blackcurrant
Heart: Muguet, rose, narcissus, carnation, orchid, honey, jasmine
Base: Cedar, musk, vetiver, styrax, vanilla, amber, tonka bean, patchouli

...and the bottle...it's so beautiful....


Tania said...

I always liked this one, but for some reason I never owned any. Maybe because it was a friend's signature scent. (That's also why I didn't dare wear 'Lauren' for years). But if it's d/c, I guess I better get some!

Abigail said...

For me, that was Shalimar. I could never wear it because I had 2 Aunts and a college friend who wore Shalimar as their signature scents. Now when I wear Shalimar I feel as if I'm sneaking around... :-/

Brian said...

I was happy to see you review this, Abigail. I got some at Marshall's several months back and kept telling myself to post about it. Dominique Ropion seems like one of those perfumers that just moves from strength to strength. He's made so many of the fragrances you and I like and talk about. Amarige, Alien, Aimez Moi, Carnal Flower, Vetiver Extraordinaire. Personally, I also really like Jungle Elephant and Tigre, Krizia Krazy (somewhere between Anne Pliska and Obsession), Ysatis, Pure Poison, and Lancome Miracle Forever. I'm not sure how I would characterize his work. I think it's closest to Sophia Grojsman and Maurice Roucel than perhaps anyone else. All three create really lush, virtually edible fragrances and are essentially pure sensualists. Safari is such a pretty green chypre. It's interesting to compare it to Maxims de Paris, which Ropion did several years earlier. Maxims is a green chypre, like Safari, but moves into the territory of the grassiest of the category, like Givenchy III, Bandit, Y, and Scherrer. It's not as forceful as Safari, more subtle. Safari is incredibly rich and lasts for days. It smells old school classical to me, very French, impossibly chic. Funny it was marketed for Ralph Lauren, whose aesthetic is so uber-all-American. Maybe that's why it didn't last. But it seems out of step with perfumery of its period in general. All those perfumes spoke volubly but Safari has its face turned toward the past. It can be found very cheaply at Marshalls and TJ Max. Mine was 24.99 for 3.4 ounces. I believe Perfumania carries it as well, priced a little more steeply. Perfumania seems to house many old Laurens.

Dain said...

How does Safari compare to, say, Givenchy III and YSL Y? I'm thinking of springing for a bottle (you had me at "green chypre" and "Dominique Ropion"), but not sure where it stands in the spectrum.

Brian said...

Hi Dain, Abigail will have her own opinion, but to me Safari is very different from classic green chypres like Y, III, and Jean Louis Scherrer. Those three are pretty dry in comparison, though they have their dewy grace notes. Safari feels much more lush. It's definitely a loud perfume, whereas I don't think those others were. Something about them, even at high decibels, seemed to whisper. A little of Safari goes a long way. It's incredibly rich and I think some would say way too over the top. Way too over the top (Amarige, Alien, Poison, Paris, Spellbound) is a category I've never shied away from.

Abigail said...


If "green chypre" and "Ropion" had you then don't give it a second thought and simply buy Safari!

I'm not familiar with YSL Y but I have Givenchy III and love it, however, I think Safari blows it away. Givenchy III is rather understated in comparison to Safari. Others might disagree with me, but in some ways, Safari reminds me (in style not necessarily smells similar) of Chanel 31 Rue Cambon on *steroids.*

Even though Safari is potent it is still thoroughly classy and sophisticated and it is an ultimate chypre - no doubt.

If you get it - let us know what you think! :-)

Dain said...

Thank you so much, Brian and Abigail. I think I shall try it. I've been fortunate enough to try the vintage and recent formulations of Givenchy III, and found myself wishing the new one was richer, and Ropion would be just the one to make a fluorescent chypre. : D

Violaine said...

Hello Abigail & Brian,
I remember the first time i read your blog i was intrigued by the SAFARI review. I won't get started with the post-colonialist critique it must have had in those days :p
Looking around in old perfume boutiques in my hometown I found 2 bottles...and bought one today.
I'm charmed but still to much of a beginner to put words on the notes i find. The only thing I can say is thank you for your intelligent and interesting reviews.
- V

Abigail said...

Hi V,

Oh, I hope you like Safari. It's one of the best chypres ever made! And to think it was so quickly discontinued. Well, that only makes me appreciate it more... :-)