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…