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Ralph Lauren's Safari is my mother's favourite perfume, so writing a review of it after smelling it for all these years is a little strange - still, Dooyoo does like reviews to be of products you've lived with for a while, so I suppose I very much tick that box at least! Safari was launched in 1990 and is now, sadly, discontinued, although I've seen it online in a few places if you're desperate. It's difficult to classify in terms of a particular olfactory group (some say green floral, some say woody chypre) but I would say it's primarily a green, aldehydic floral with some woodiness underneath.
I just love the over-the-top packaging of this scent - Ralph Lauren really went to town on the 'old-school glamour' feel of the whole thing. The box (I keep my bottle in the box at all times, as too much exposure to light can spoil perfumes) is square and patterned with what looks like brown snakeskin and silver highlighting around the sides and on the Ralph Lauren label - sounds horrible, is actually quite attractive in a lush, overly indulgent sort of way. Pretty much what you'd expect from Ralph Lauren, then! The bottle itself is cut glass, circular with a flat base and completely clear to display the vivid deep orangey-coloured perfume inside; the top is metal and similarly patterned.
THE PERFUME ITSELF
Safari is strange and really quite complicated, and I always find it hard to pin down what's going on at first. Once the initial alcohol blast calms down, the top notes I get are definitely cool aldehydes with crisp, green grassy scents tempering the sweetness of rich orange and honeyish notes. Its sharpness and greenness reminds me a little of Chanel No 19, but Safari is much, much softer - No 19 is strident and aggressively green and woody, whereas Safari's greeness isn't combined with woodiness (at first) and is instead muted a little by the background fruity notes.
The strong and really quite dominant top notes last for about 20 minutes on me, before fading into the middle notes which are more rounded: I detect definite woodiness which, after about 10 minutes or so, turns into a much softer rose-based floral scent with some hints of jasmine. If you hate orientals, don't worry - the jasmine isn't strong or heavy; it's just a hint underneath the rose which gives it an edge and lifts it above being too simple. The aldehydes hang around, too, making the change into florals crisp and sharp rather than muggy (at this stage), and although the orange notes seem to disappear for me, I get a definite hint of honey which sweetens the overall accord.
Safari is quite long-lasting, so it's not until about 3 or 4 hours later that the base notes start to come out. This is where I think the perfume really shows its woodiness and heaviness - on me at least, there's a strong smell of cedar with vanilla-ish notes as well as something that smells a little like musk. It's not an animalistic perfume by any means - it's too ladylike and reserved for that - but it certainly has that heaviness which musk gives, especially when combined with the patchouli. I find this stage a little muggy, actually; I can't detect any trace of the aldehydes or even the orange so there's nothing particularly fresh about it, despite its green and crisp beginning.
Safari isn't a perfume for the faint-hearted or for anyone wanting a girly, delicate scent. It's very feminine in a femme-fatale kind of way: it's got balls and once sprayed on, is incredibly dominant, so be wary of applying too much! In some ways it's understandable why it's been discontinued, as it is complex, hard to understand and really quite 'old-school', a world away from the sweet and aquatic perfumes which seem to be so popular nowadays. I'm a fan of traditional, complex perfumes (to give you an idea, my favourite scent is Caron's Tabac Blond) but I'm never sure if I actually like this perfume when I spray it on myself. I'm definitely in awe of it, I can certainly respect it, but there's something about its headiness and mugginess in the later stages that I find disconcerting. I do keep coming back to it, however - and they do say that a perfume should be challenging, so perhaps there's something in that.
It's not easy to wear, and I'd say it's best suited for evening rather than daytime use, but if you feel up to it, and its worn with the right attitude, this scent is an absolute classic that deserves to be tried at least once. I'm giving it five stars because its composition is one of the most intriguing and disconcerting I've ever smelt, and because it rightly has a place in perfume history. It's also not a 'safe' perfume or a bland choice, which always gets points in my book.
Lastly - why is it called 'Safari'? I've always wondered that. I suspect it's probably because of its glamorous, heady heaviness - we're not talking a package tour in Kenya here, Safari is probably meant to represent the (mythical) age of glamorous exploration in Africa, a picture-perfect time when women took on the Kalahari dressed in perfectly ironed linen!
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
As I've said, Safari is now sadly discontinued, but you can still find bottles here and there on the internet - put it into Google and see what comes up. The prices I've seen in a few places have all been around the £48 mark for 100ml of EDP.
Now this perfume has been around for a long time! My mum has this perfume and she still has the same bottle that she had at least 10 years ago! So one good thing about it, is that it lasts a long time and doesn't go off!
It's a good job it lasts a long time really, as its not the sort of perfume that you would wear very often. My mum only wears this perfume on special occasions, i.e. at night, which is what it is suited for.
The smell of the perfume is what I would call a relatively old fashined smell, its not very modern (but it has been around for a while). I wouldn't describe it as floral, however it is quite refreshing. This is an eau de parfum which is stronger than eau de toilette. If you applied a lot of this perfume the smell would be quite overpowering, so you only need a little!
I would recommend this perfume for the older generation, not for young women!
It's not the kind of perfume that everyone would like, so make sure you test it before you buy!
Overall, a relatively pleasant perfume, though will not be to everyone's taste.