Tan Giudicelli Annam

Every now and again it´s my sacred duty to blog on something that is almost impossible to find – a counterbalance, if you will, to what´s new at Sephora and my posts on Dior Addict. And thus I begin this story at the beginning – when, poking around on Now Smell This several months ago, I ran across Robin´s mention of Tan Giudicelli Annam.

I´d never heard of it. I´d certainly never smelled it. But given her description and the love Robin and I share for those funny, milky comfort scents, I was desperate to try it. I poked around on the internet and did some research. The package design for Annam, a shell-shaped glass bottle etched with symbols in Mandarin, was drawn from Giudicelli´s experiences and memories of his childhood in Southeast Asia. The packaging for Annam won a 2001 FiFi award for Women´s Packaging of the Year. The FiFi awards site lists notes of milk, lily, tuberose, rice, and rare woods.

I trolled eBay for awhile, but it never popped up.

Googling one day, I stumbled across what I think is a French auction site called Delcampe, and there on the site was a mini. The seller spoke little English, and I speak no French, but we worked it out, kind of. I sent her (him?) the money via Paypal, got back a receipt and a note saying it could take months (!) to get here, and shrugged – maybe it was a bad translation? After a few weeks I forgot about it.

Until a small, battered envelope in the mailbox jogged my memory. Inside was a tiny bottle in a slightly battered box. It´s funny what happens when manufacturers translate the larger bottles into miniature sizes. Some of them are charming; some are horrible. In this case, that fabulous Zen-looking thing up there becomes a little white lima bean.

But it hadn´t leaked, and that´s all that matters. I popped it open and threw some on.

It´s lovely. On me it is somewhat reminiscent of the milky-sweet incense drydown of Barbara Bui after the fading of the powdery heliotrope, crossed with 10 Corso Como, or Diptyque Tam Dao, without, of course, being exactly like any of those things. It is sweetest when I first put it on, when the florals are at their strongest (I´d guessed mimosa before I found the notes) and then the milky sweetness melts into the base of soft, velvety sandalwood, which becomes more prominent but never harsh or headache-y. There is a faint spice note like cardamom. It is a very simple smell, but slightly strange – foreign, more precisely. The lasting power is just okay. I´m going to try to layer Barbara Bui with 10 Corso Como, or Tam Dao, or KenzoAmour, or Annayake Tsukimi, and see if I get anything similar.

If I could buy Annam today at Sephora, I would (heck, I´d buy it just for that bottle), and wear it happily. As it is, I am happy to have smelled it and content to let it go once my tiny bottle runs out. Strange as it may sound, I am on some level grateful for the ones that got away. Would I really want that bell jar of Serge Lutens if I could pop over to Macy´s and buy it? I would like to tell you that such superficialities don´t matter, that for me it is solely about what´s inside the bottle. But I would be lying.

What do I want from a perfume? On my skin, on any given day, mostly I want from any given perfume is happiness, some beauty, sillage, and/or some lasting power. But what I want from Perfume the Concept is less simple. Some of the most beautiful things I have witnessed in this life are ephemeral; the sunset fades, the storm front moves on, the ice melts, the lilacs bloom, the leaves fall, my children grow. My daily application of perfume mimics that relationship. If I use up all my little tester of Annam, barring some miracle there isn’t going to be any more. I´m okay with that.

Postscript: stay tuned for Tan Giudicelli Annam, Part Deux – The Odyssey, or In Which I Seem To Find A Bottle While Searching the Internets for the Illustration for This Tear-Jerk Post…

  • liane says:

    Hello ,

    You write: I have an almost full bottle of this I would love to find a home for. If You mean a full bottle of Annam , then I could give them a home, becouse its the lovliest Parfume i ever smelll.
    I’ve there is anyone who could tell me were i can by Annam, thousand Thanks.

    LG Liane

  • Kristy Victoria says:

    I have an almost full bottle of this I would love to find a home for, I know there are people out there dying to get ahold of it, who love it dearly – but it’s just not for me. Where can I find you people?!

    • March says:

      You found us! Here we are! Over here, we’re waving at you! We smell nice too … are you a perfume nut? Or just passing through?

      • Kristy Victoria says:

        I am most definitely a perfume nut as well! How can I contact people who might be interested in this bottle?

  • Eileen says:

    What a cool bottle! Heck, who cares what the scent is like when it comes in such a nice package. To me it looks almost worth hunting down to put that silly thing on my dresser.. (And that’s a dangerous thought to have! 😮 )

    You’re quite brave to hunt these things down and negotiate in a foreign language. I have enough trouble with English that I’d hate to see what I ended up with trying out my French. It would be way worse than postcards or empty bottles, I’m sure. 8-|

    • March says:

      I always wonder for a split second what’s going to be in a package. I mean, what if they got them mixed up? Which they do sometimes. I’ve contacted a (sheepish) seller more than once regarding a mixup.

  • carmencanada says:

    I’m not saying anything… yet.;))

  • Robin says:

    What a great read, M. It is funny how much I miss Annam, which I’ll agree is a “simple smell”, since I know I can’t have any. But given how rarely I actually “wear” instead of “test” perfume, a little lima bean would last me the rest of my life, assuming I didn’t lose it first, LOL…

    • March says:

      I’m afraid my little girl is going to run off with my little lima bean and turn it into a barbie accessory in the bathtub, and that will be that.

  • Shelley says:

    Hey, that’s like an Olive Oyl to the short solid cube with flower on top that is Mariella Burani. (I don’t dare try a link…I didn’t even use “squat” as an adjective for the bottle, for fear I’d be blocked…)

    • Shelley says:

      (oh, it didn’t block me…just bumped me from being a reply to Debbie’s message with a link to a Fleurage bottle…or perhaps I AM a sofistikated blog poster…)

  • violetnoir says:

    Dang, March, what beautiful analogies.

    At the end of the day, I just want to smell really, really good.

    That’s all.


  • Dusan says:

    Lima bean, hearing aid, Japanese breast implant – this is why I love this place! 🙂 Don’t care about the bottle myself but mention milky, rice and comforting and I’m sold. Which reminds me: has anyone here tried Kenzo Vintage? That one fits neatly in your Perfume the Concept category, March. I couldn’t get it to stay on my skin for more than a measly hour, but boy what an hour it was! Annick Menardo seems to have picked the best parts of Black (smoky woods), Jaipur PH (heliotrope/almond) and Amour (rice), but she clearly forgot to lump in some killer musk to seal the longevity 🙁 TBH though, Vintage held up quite well on my gf’s skin. Wah!

    • March says:

      You are killing me, I can’t find Kenzo Vintage anywhere! I have looked all over. I keep looking for reports from the field, sounds like one I need to get ahold of, your description makes my mouth water. Heliotrope can go either way on me — lovely almond or too much powder. I will definitely keep an eye out, thanks for the report! :)>-

  • Billy D says:

    I know what you mean about the SL Bell Jars: I have often thought that if they were readily available, I wouldn’t want one as badly, but I still lament their relative unattainability.

    Can’t wait for Part two!

    • March says:

      I want one of the dragon-painted ones (Sarrasins?)

      The first time I saw a bell jar I was stunned by how small they are!

  • Elle says:

    OMG! That bottle!! I am not a perfume bottle sl*t – except that I infinitely prefer to buy bottles because I can’t deal w/ the time it takes me to find decants when I’m looking for a scent to wear – but I absolutely live for beautiful, simple organic forms and that bottle just slays me it’s so perfect. It may truly be the most perfect perfume bottle I’ve ever seen. I haven’t wanted many new perfumes recently, but I love being on the hunt for something and I am now happily on a quest for that bottle. Oh, and the scent of Annam? I sampled it several years ago since it was raved about on MUA, but I remember feeling it was nice, but not stunning. *Huge* mistake on my part to not have checked on what the bottle looked like before it disappeared from online sites.

    • Debbie says:

      Hey! Take a look at this one! We’d be able to find this one quickly in our collections.


      • March says:

        Aw, I love that! I love stuff like that. It would look nice next to Betsey Johnson … what do you suppose “captive musk” smells like? /:)

        And PS: you just added a link in here, and didn’t get booted into the spam filter. Wonder how that thing works…

      • Elle says:

        Oh, cool! Thanks for that link. 🙂 It’s blessedly unpricey, but I’m wondering if I’ll like the scent. Definitely am going to sample!

    • March says:

      Robin said it was available and cheap from CBB (the French site) before it disappeared. AT that point of course I wasn’t even into perfume. And I hear you on the bottle. Doesn’t it look lovely? I bet it feels nice in the hand. I like the Black Cashmere bottle a lot too, I keep it next to a stone that looks like it.

      • Elle says:

        *Adore* the BC bottle! I collect river rocks – well, stones of all types – and that bottle is just deeply satisfying to my stone loving soul. In another life I’m absolutely sure I was a dry stack wall builder. In our last house I actually built several smallish walls inside the house – drove poor DH crazy and he finally put a stop to it, saying he was concerned the floor would cave in (was a very old house). Hmph!

        • March says:

          That is so cool!!! You built little walls in your house?!?! I love stuff like that. There’s an artist, I forgot his name, who imported some professional stack-stone guys from the UK to build these large round domes at the National Gallery of Art East Wing. Part of the art was watching them work, mostly in silence. I did this big eyeroll. You know what? It was fascinating. People stood there for their entire lunch hour, watching them stack stones. It’s very meditative.

        • Shelley says:

          Ha! I was thinking the bottle shape was reminiscent of a worry stone…

  • Divalano says:

    Coincidently I recently got a mysterious extra vial in a swap with a little blue label reading “Annam” on it. I googled & came up with Tan Giudicelli, read the notes, sniffed … & yes, I think that’s what I have. It’s quite nice, I’m pleased to have it to smell & forever quash that unrelenting wondering & longing for the impossibly discontinued & rare flavor. For me it’s not so much wanting to own everything as wanting to “taste” them all. I am at a phase right now where once I’ve tasted & worn a sample for a while, unless it makes me moan or sigh, I’m happy to move on. I’ve finally gotten it through my head that there are SO MANY!!! And it’s ok not to have bottles or decants of ALL of them. Just um, lots. But not all 😉

    • March says:

      I am totally with you here — remember my perfume vagabond post? We all have different goals and desires … it is clear to me that I want to taste as many things as I can. I am less interested in owning bottles of them, or even revisiting a lot of them (although I’ve gotten very organized in filing my samples so I can find them again.) Other people, it’s all about the bottle.

      • Divalano says:

        Let’s don’t bring up my obsessive sample organizing behavior, shall we? Let’s just say it’s a good thing I live alone. No, I don’t really care about the bottle, I can’t keep them on display for fear of light & such so why bother. It’s all about the juice for me. I hoard my little hyper-organized sample stash, dipping into each one until I upgrade to a decant or split, or swap it (or give it) away.

        • March says:

          Thanks, you make me look so unobsessive! Me and my stackable boxes and drawers and unfiled samples and vials on top of the counter next to the toaster… 8-|

  • Debbie says:

    I admire your courage in buying from a site when you don’t know that site’s language. Very good.

    I don’t know. I think the hunt to experience different fragrances is fantastic and part of the joy, but honestly, if they were *all* at a great perfume boutique here in town, I would probably die of joy and buy even more things rather than be disappointed at the loss of the hunt. Maybe I’m too new to it all still.

    • March says:

      When everything *was* new to me it was like that — I’d go into some new arena (like Bergdorf) and sniff until I gave myself a migraine. But there are more times when it is simply pleasant for me to take it a little slower.

      I have made my share of mistakes buying in a foreign language — postcards instead of fragrances themselves, empty bottles… :”>

      • Debbie says:

        Yikes. Getting a postcard or empty bottle would not be a good way to find out you missed a word or two in the description/title. All the more admiration then for continuing to try (and succeeding).

        I wonder what the writing on the bottle says.


        • March says:

          Eventually I learned the word for “empty.” Then they tricked me by using a different word for empty. /:) The postcard photo of the fragrance was my favorite though. Got a heckuva deal!

  • Marina says:

    I want the same things from a perfume 🙂

  • Erin T says:

    Hey, I found a mini, too – I totally lemmed this based on Robin’s review about two years ago or so, when I stilled believed you could find a HG. I won an auction for it on the ‘Bay, paying way too much and the little lima bean/hearing aid arrived and it was kind of like “Well, very nice!” but it didn’t blow my head off. Very Asian-inspired, for sure, and creamy, but almost too floral for me initially. There’s so much more perfume out there, my heart doesn’t hurt over this one. In fact, I gave some away as a sample – not to you, obviously, I guess, so it must be to Angie? Love the full-sized bottle, though in the picture it looks kind of like a Japanese breast implant.

    • March says:

      Hearing aid! That’s a good alternate description. I opened the box and thought, well … that’s … weird. /:)

      Annam wasn’t what I was expecting (particularly the sweet opening) but I love the drydown. It lurks around me in a way I appreciate, and I don’t have to go through the Play-Doh part of Barbara Bui that I’m not wild about.

  • rosarita says:

    I enjoy your writing so much, M. Love your ephemeral enjoyments! Perfume the Concept is a strange one; I think I agree most w/Matt S. – I want to be the woman who always smells good. And I remain fascinated by the way perfume and music work. Either one, and especially both together, can cause me to be in an alternate reality, and who doesn’t need that? /:)

  • Nava says:

    Damn! just when I thought I’ve smelled absolutely everything there is to smell!

    It sounds wonderful, and I’m with you in your love for milky comfort scents. I’m not ashamed to report that I bought not one, but 2 bottles of Lostmarc’h Lann Ael (unsniffed)based on the “Froot Loops” description posted here. It’s gotten me through some rough days.

    Enjoy your “lima bean” while it lasts, March. Who knows? Miracles sometimes happen. 🙂

    • March says:

      Lann-Ael is hilarious, isn’t it? What a basket of weirdness. I only want it on specific days, but then I REALLY want it.

  • Judith says:

    Not a big fan of milky comfort scents (or BB for that matter–I don’t dislike it, but I don’t feel the love). 10 CC and Tam Dao, on the other hand, I really like, but I already have them. . . so I will enjoy your quest vicariously. Love the lima bean, though. To tell the truth, I haven’t been feeling the desire to buy any new perfumes, lately.:o

    • March says:

      I wonder where we all are in our fragrance addiction? I’m still on it, but not sniffing as frenetically. I’ve been wearing things for almost the entire day, which is a new one for me. It’s nice to be able to track the development that way, though.

      I don’t think there’s any shortage of fragrance at your house! Just the stuff Mr. Lily thoughtfully disposed of… or did we decide to blame your housekeeper? /:)

  • Tarn says:

    I’m sure I’ve seen that bottle before! It’s so unusual. Maybe on one of my trawls through Selfridges fragrance department, back in the days when the unusual could be found there. (Well, perhaps it still can be – I just got tired of dealing with the horrors of Oxford Street!)
    It sounds really lovely. Though that right there is my downfall… 😉 I will often fall for a perfume based on a wonderful review, and can’t rest til I search it out (you’re right, the hunt can be fun).
    Luckily for my poor bank account, I recently discovered the joys of decanters and swaps!

    • March says:

      Decants and swaps are the way to go, most of the time. My general rule I bore people with is: work through a decant before you buy a bottle. That’s kept a lot of bottles off my shelf. :d But sometimes there *aren’t* decants and the only way you’re going to get some is the bottle. The hunt for the obscure stuff is fun, particularly since so much of it is overseas.

      • Tarn says:

        That’s good advice.
        I’ve certainly gone from ‘love it’ to ‘urrgghh’ (and the other way around) on samples and decants, after trying them a few times. And my bank account loves me for my new-found ability to resist buying full bottles all the time!

        • March says:

          I’m even worse — I lust something shamelessly until I get a bottle. Then not so much. Having to use up a decant has spared me some of that. :d You’re right though — sometimes on the third or fifth try I’ll realize there’s something not quite right about whatever the fragrance is.

  • Louise says:

    Damn, girl, a lima bean? After all the hunting? But it is a chic bean, in any case :d/ Glad the scent is at least pleasant.

    I do love the adventure of the hunt, and getting an even acceptable scent after the arduous pursuit is great. I find this currently most true with vintage perfumes-I got a beautiful engraved flacon of Coty Chypre parfum on *bay a little while ago-for not much at all-and while I love the scent, I cherish almost as much for the effort and luck of procurement 🙂

    I tried to figure out the “recommencer, rejaillir, renaitre” tag-and got stuck on “rejaillir” (recommencer is “begin again”; renaitre is “to be born again/reincarnated”) My unreliable online translators came up with “spurt” “regurge” and “flashback”-I am hoping it’s the later 8-| Other French speaker out there?

    • MattS says:

      I think I would be all about a scent with the tagline “Spurt–regurge–flashback.”:d

      • Louise says:

        Oh, that would be so *you* 😡

        • Lee says:

          You dirty dawgs.

          • Louise says:

            Aw, heck, we got caught :”>

          • Musette says:



            How’s doin’s? Hope you are well.


            ps. this is a postscript to Erin T’s post (too lazy to do this twice). ^:)^ for the hearing aid reference. I’ve been stumped as to what it reminded me of ever since Robin posted the image on NST. Then it bugged me again this am. You saaaaved me! It would’ve been like one of those annoying tune-snippets, where you can’t remember the whole song!

          • Erin T says:

            Hey, thanks. I can’t remember if Robin mentioned that in the original NST post – maybe she did? It’s a good thing it’s a little too big or I would have gotten an irrestible urge to put the mini in my ear (ew!)

      • March says:

        I mean, why doesn’t the spam filter catch the two of you?!?! I need to adjust the smut level … it needs to stop picking on Elizabeth and Shelley.

    • March says:

      Okay, I’m trying to say something warm and joyous about the bottle of Chypre, but I’m laughing too hard on “spurt, regurgitate, flashback” — wth?!?!? Is that what we want from Annam? How about … “spray, (something), remember?”

      Okay, it’s a CUTE lima bean. But it woundn’t win a Fifi.

  • MattS says:

    Awww, man, I always want the one I can’t have…fragrance or otherwise.

    Gimme sillage, gimme longevity, and gimme escape. I want something to take me away from the mundane to some place much more interesting. I want a scent to take me deeper into myself or, alternately, further away from myself, all dependent upon my mood.

    I wanna be the Boy That Always Smells Good. These things aren’t too much to ask, right?

    I’m fascinated by that bottle–it almost looks as if you could place a tea-light candle inside it. But I’m glad I don’t need this; I don’t need anything else to lust after.

    • March says:

      I bet your lust list is seriously long, but don’t quite see this on it. I think the rest of your goals are admirable. 😡

  • tmp00 says:

    I sort of know what you mean- I love the chase sometimes more than the capture. I love that there are only a small-ish group of us out there that get it. it’s like being in a group that has great knowledge of food or wine or art where everyone has a new and fascinating perspective.

    Of course, I also love the smells…:d

    • March says:

      The chase is fun, isn’t it? I mean, really. If you could walk down the street from your house every day to Perfume Bonanza and smell all the stuff we chase down, wouldn’t it take some of the pleasure out of it? It would, for me. The quest is definitely part of the payoff. (Um, on some unsniffed stuff the quest is the ONLY payoff. :”> )

      • Existentialist says:

        That is sort of the reason I am just as glad not to be fabulously wealthy. If I was, I’d be able to buy anything and everything, no waiting, and that would take some of the joy of anticipation out of life.

        • March says:

          Well …. yes. Which would you rather have: joyous anticipation? Or 2000 bottles of perfume?

          Wait, don’t answer that. 😉