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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

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 The image, Dark Forest by John Skwiot, is from

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Blogger tmp00 said...

Your review reminded me of a store that used to be here in Los Angeles, Bullocks Wilshire. They had the most marvelous perfume department on the first floor which had tons of the old Patou and Guerlain fragrances (like Normandie and Ne M'Oubliez Pas) in a gorgeous art-deco building. Sadly, shortly after I moved here, it closed in the first wave of consolidations that would close every regional department store change and leave us all with Macy's and Bloomingdales. The building is now a law library. But I did manage to get there for a couple of high teas, and a couple of champagne-soaked bridal shows.

You would have adored it...

removing HTML tag that's apparently not allowed

11:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Ah! I am sure I would have loved it and it is a shame they closed it. Well, at least it's a library now, that's ok, could be worse I guess:-)
Your comment reminded me that I must get familiar with or re-visit so many Patou scents. Somehow I always overlook them.

11:21 PM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

What a beautiful review! My (less eloquent) impressions of Djedi: like V, I did find it leathery--and it did remind me of some of the classical scents, particularly Mitsouko (without, of course, the peachiness, the sweetness, and some of the complexity). As this suggests, I also found it dry, though perhaps not as astoundingly dry as RD suggests; your description, "austere," seems just perfect.
Thanks for the great review! Thanks, too, for your thanks--but I should mention that, since I only obtained a tester and not the beautiful bottle you picture here, it was not nearly as expensive as the figures you are quoting (though cheap, it wasn't:).

One more comment: I did visit the fabled Parfumerie Jacqueline when I was in SF. I don't know that I found anything fabulous--except more KJ, of course; I came away with another bottle, some Scherrer, and a couple of samples I have yet to test properly. The proprietor (contrary to some reports) was very nice, and became nicer, more voluble, and more eager to spritz me with scents as we talked. In fact, I had some difficulty getting out of there in time for a paper at my conference--he ended up telling me much of his life story:). I think one just needs to talk to him to get him to open up; and, of course, buying perfume always helps:)

8:05 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Oh .... my ..... G..... you are writing perfume porn.

It sounds spectacular. An animalic, weird, leathery Guerlain chypre with references to pungency and dirt?

I'm fanning myself.


9:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I wish I got more leather too! Judith (comment below) gets unfair. :-) Not that Djedi isn't exquisite just the way it is on my skin. The more I smell the more I like. I guess, because, as you said, it does not have that Guerlain trademark sweetness, it strikes me as un-Guerlain somehow.

10:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yeah...that's the one you hated...the #3...No, just joking, unfortunately it wasn't in your pack :-)

10:10 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Aww, the poor guy...sitting there all alone all day long, among his precious bottles...of course he wanted to talk! :-)
So what samples did you get? :-)

10:11 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Remember how I told you yesterday that it wasn't completely "me"? Well, it keeps growing on me. I will end up wanting the bottle. Heh.
I agree about the bottles. I like the bee bottles of course, but the bottles for the newer scents, all those Precious Loves and Colors of Love and what not...they are cheapened by the girly colors ...Pink Guerlain? That is just wrong :-)

10:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

*fans March*
Steady now! :-)
You might not even like it. There is lots of vetiver there and lots of patchouli...

10:17 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Re samples: Nothing spectacular--Regence Oak Moss, which I have had before, but wanted to try again, and something called Carlo Corinto (a men's fragrance) that he thought I would like. If I remember correctly, it had Patchouli in it. There were a number of Regence fragrances there; I also tried a Sandalwood of theirs, but found it too sweet. And yes, he was lonely; no one else came in while I was there:). He has a heavy French accent and can be a little difficult to understand, so perhaps he is also shy. BTW, Djedi grew on me, too; watch out!

10:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Aww, poor dear...Stories like that always make me want to cry :-)

Well, I guess I will be satlking ebay in a vain hope to find a bottle with the right price. Good luck me!

10:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you very much for the information! Curioser and curioser...So Djedi was first released to(maybe)celebrate Guerlain's 100th anniversary. And it was re-released to (maybe) celebrate its own 70th-ish anniversary. Complicated! :-)

Well, I would love to review Bouquet de Faunes...just waiting for a surprise sample to appear in the post. Yeah, right, I can dream.

10:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Trina said...

*cries, wails, rends her garments*

2:05 AM EDT  
Blogger GreatSheElephant said...

this sounds absolutely stunning. When I first read the notes list and noted that there was rose, I immediately decided that it couldn't be the dry miracle that Roja Dove had spoken of and I lost interest. Now I have a raging and extremely expensive lemming.

5:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

*cries, wails, sobs, throws temper tantrums with Trina*

10:12 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I do not get any rose in this. Of course I also don't get the leather other lucky people are smelling, so perhaps I am not to be trusted here. But I still say, if you have a chance to try it , do!

10:14 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hola tengo un envase de perfume guerlain Djedi es de cristal de Baccarat y va dentro de un estuche de cuero verde.
Si hay alguien interesado, está a la venta. Mandar su oferta al mail

12:24 PM EST  

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