Unobtanium Ultima: Guerlain Djedi

Well, it seems like it’s All Guerlain, All the Time here at Perfume Posse, after all these reviews. But I swear, we don’t chat in advance and plan it- it just sort of happens.

This one happened because I was looking on the Surrender to Chance website for something else and saw that they had samples. Spendy, yes, but bottles of this are going for practically the price of a decent used car and I’ve been good and when am I going to smell it again andIdeservethisonething….

So I put the sample in my cart and it arrived in record time.

Djedi was crated by Jacques Guerlain in 1927. It was apparently inspired by Egyptian mythology. All of us weren’t there of course, but with the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 there was sort of worldwide vogue of things Egyptian: fashion, jewelry, art and architecture showed Egyptian influences. LA boasts a number of these Egyptian Deco buildings, arguably the most famous of which surviving today in Graumann’s Egyptian on Hollywood Boulevard, recently redone and re-opened by Netflix (the last time I’d been there was in the American Cinematheque days, seeing “Earthquake” with a Q&A with Genevieve Bujold, and shown in Sensurround for the first time since it premiered up the street at Graumann’s Chinese, the Egyptian’s younger and more famous sister theater.) There was a brief revival of Egypto-mania in the late 70’s when the Treasures of King Tut toured the country and there is still the Temple of Dendur at the Met, which has stood in it’s own Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo- designed glassed in, climate controlled wing when it was moved to make way for the Aswan Dam.

March reviewed this one here on the Posse back in ’07 and referenced Marina’s review on PST (go ahead and read the links, I’ll be here) It’s been described as a bone-dry leathery chypre in the vein of Bandit, and on me it does eventually get there- but the first dab is an earthy, moist root, smelling of vetiver and roses and moss that’s fairly dripping with juice- an oasis. Or a mirage, because that moistness dissipates like cool water in the desert heat and the vetiver becomes dry witch grass and the leather becomes sun baked and desiccated. There’s patchouli and musk, but neither of those are oily- the patchouli is even drier than in Borneo 1834 and the musk seems to stand apart like a mirage: you smell it, but the instant you look for it, it’s gone hiding. Like March, I get a ghost of Guerlinade towards the end- but that powdery vanilla is devoid of the yeasty voluptuousness that cushions the base of other Guerlains. It’s a hard warmth- like the surface of a sandstone temple in the desert. It’s up to you to find your way into the cool interior and whatever treasures are hidden, and whatever fate befalls those who dare defile the temple..

I am assuming that this sample is from the 1996 reissue, which was released in 1000 numbered Baccarat bottles and which, I assume with the new restrictions, could not be released again. Which is really annoying. We sell drugs OTC that have warnings that they will cause explosive nipple syndrome and sell cigarettes which will outright kill you, but something that may, possible, cause a few people to get a rash must be stopped (please don’t come for me if you gat rashes.) Honestly, stick a label on it “Purchase of this product indemnifies manufacture, distributor, and resellers against all claims of liability for dermal reactions. For external use only. Do not use on broken skin. Do not pull a Patsy and drink.” As I wrote on FacePlace “I don’t care if it causes brush fires, gas prices to spike, or an even more tedious season of ‘Feud’. This one needs to come back.” Oh to be able to use with abandon and not ration it like precious final drops of water in the sun-parched desert..

Any thoughts on this one? Let us know in the comments..

My samples are from Surrender to Chance. Photos are mine, Wikimedia Commons and Pexels

  • MzCrz says:

    I tried Djedi back in 2003. This is what I wrote:

    (Note: I believe Djedi was first released in the early 1900s, but allow me my creative license.)

    Djedi. Imagine a post dinner party in the late 50’s.

    Dinner is over, and 4 couples were sitting in the
    living room, having after dinner highballs, listening
    to the hi fi and relaxing. The women were wearing
    the very heavy fragrances of the 50’s (fill in the ones
    you imagine), the dark, thick red lipstick, waxy,
    penciled brows, cake mascara and very “sprayed”
    hair dos. Everyone had been smoking.

    It is now 4 hours after everyone has departed. Take the
    smell of the unemptied ash trays full of the lipstick
    smeared butts, the sweet-ish, yet bitter smell of the

    highball dregs, animalistic traces of the perfumes and a
    touch of the vinyl from the 33rpm albums and the
    tiniest hint of the heat and dust smell from the vacuum
    tubes in the hi fi.

    Put this in a jar. Let it sit in a detached, wooden garage
    for the month of August.

    Open that jar in September and bottle the contents.
    Djedi is not just “a scent”-it’s an olfactory snapshot of
    one evening in an era long ago. This scent has so much
    presence by itself, I just feel like a stage for it.

  • alityke says:

    Did you read the open letter sent to the regulators by Pia Long & I think it was Christophe Laudamiel in late 2023? It was an impressive paper, worth searching for & reading.

  • Portia says:

    Oh yes, the theatre of safety. “Let’s act as if we are doing something important and they won’t notice us doing this.” Drives me batshit crazy.
    Djedi! O my.
    Portia xx

  • March says:

    Ooooooh yeah Djedi, baby! We are having a Guerlain moment, aren’t we? What a fun post to read, as usual. I totally agree — stick huge black-box warning labels all over these things that say “your arm may fall off!” and let me choose whether I want to take the “risk.”

    • Tom says:

      They do it on other things that will actually kill you (and the person next to you if they stay close enough.) Why not this?

  • Dina C. says:

    I read all three reviews (thanks for the links), and the descriptions are so powerful and evocative. A dark forest, the moon, a desert oasis. This is another Guerlain I haven’t sniffed yet, but next time I wish on a birthday candle, falling star. eyelash, four-leaf-clover, etc. I’ll add it to the list! I do really like vetiver, so I might enjoy this one.

    • Tom says:

      It’s kind of like Vetiver from outer space- it goes from moist to bone dry with no middle ground. I am hoarding my sample like a miser, but how I’d like to really go nuts with it and really immerse myself in it.

  • cinnamon says:

    I have this idea that I’ve smelled this — from a tiny amount in a vial sent by someone from MUA. But really I think I’m imagining it and whatever that small drop of juice was, it wasn’t Djedi. Your description of how dry everything in it is … just want-making.

    • Tom says:

      You might have. I’m sorry I’m creating a want. Maybe if I wish (or delude myself) hard enough I can convince myself our words will cause someone at Guerlain to go “Hey, maybe a reissue?”

  • Jill says:

    I really do love this one, and not just because it’s unobtainable! I find it to be completely unique and utterly wearable. I have a couple of samples obtained at different times – one from one of the decanter sites, and one from an old friend who had a bottle or two. I dip in now and again, and am transported (and spend much of the day nose-to-wrist). This is one of a small number of scents I wish would get released again: Djedi, Hermes Doblis, Gobin Daude Jardins Ottomans, Lanvin Scandal, the original Donna Karan in the bird bottle… With the exception of the Gobin Daude, I figure there’s always a chance for an eventual reissue!!

    • Tom says:

      I’ve never smelled Doblis or the infamous Gobin Daude and I am not sure I could take it- I hate unobtanium. But yes, this is unique and completely wearable and needs to come back.

  • Maya says:

    I had a small sample of Djedi years ago. At that time I got all of my vintage samples from TPC because it was the only place I knew of that had vintage perfume samples. I don’t remember what Djedi smelled like but do remember that I was very surprised that I actually liked it. I wouldn’t mind having a bottle now of what I smelled then.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    I have a small vintage decant that I got from either STC or TPC ages ago but haven’t tried it yet. I think it might be very, very vintage and since I don’t have the vial in front of me, it’s probably the parfum version. What always seems to get me is that there are OTC products that could kill us in a nanosecond, cigarettes and booze too and yet people get all up in arms about an ingredient in perfume causing a rash. I do have to wonder about some of this stuff that people want to ban.

    • Tom says:

      If its earlier than the one I got then you’re really got something.

      I really wish they could release it again- I’d sigh a release!