Perfume Review: Guerlain Djedi
Miracles do happen. One gloomy Monday you go to get your unexciting post and there is a surprise package in your mailbox. In the package is a sample of a fragrance so rare and so expensive, you thought you would never get to try it. When you crack open the vial, your hands tremble ever so slightly. You sniff reverently, gingerly…You have heard it was a “tremendous animalic vetiver” (Luca Turin), “the driest perfume of all time” (Roja Dove)… It smells dark and mysterious. Scent of something or someone eternal, complex, incomprehensible, of a twilight place beyond good and evil. Thus smelled Zarathustra.
It is not clear from the information I was able to find on the web, when exactly Djedi was created. Some sources say, in 1905, some in 1926, some in 1927. If one article is to be believed, Djedi was re-launched in 1996 to celebrate its 70th anniversary, so perhaps 1926 was indeed the year of the first release. Originally created by Jacques Guerlain, the perfume’s list of notes supposedly includes rose, vetiver, musk, oakmoss, leather, civet and patchouli. As for the name, it might have been named after a mythical Egyptian magician Djedi who could bring the dead back to life. (More information and / or corrections are very welcome.)
The first whiff of Djedi is wondrously pungent. It is green and earthy, like some magical root dug up from the jet-black soil in a sinister forest. As the scent evolves, the vetiver note remains as green and peppery as it was in the beginning, and the patchouli note grows stronger. I do not smell any rose here and practically no leather. The musk is very subdued as well, making the patchouli note almost solely responsible for the animalic quality of Djedi. The drydown is herbal and dry, although on my skin, it is not nearly as dry as Roja Dove suggests; there is a certain "natural", very subtle sweetness here, the way juice squeezed from a wild, green plant might be sweet. At this point Djedi smells bizarrely like sorrel borscht my mother tried to force me to eat when I was a child (it smelled much better than it tasted). All in all, Djedi is a rather austere, elegant, supremely blended composition that smells quite unlike any other Guerlain I have ever tried. While testing it, I kept catching myself thinking rather irrationally that it was a Lutens scent. Djedi has that Lutenesque dark strangeness about it; it sucks the wearer into its dusky enchanted world the way the most interesting Lutens scents do.
As far as I understand, when Djedi was re-released in 1996, only 1000 bottles were to be sold, each a stunning, numbered Lalique creation. Right now Djedi is sometimes auctioned on eBay; most recently a bottle was sold for over $500.00.
Many, many thanks to the wonderfully generous Judith for this incredible surprise.
*The photo of the bottle is from Pavesiocourmayeur.com. The image, Dark Forest by John Skwiot, is from Galleryplanb.com.