Friday, September 9, 2011

Doing the classics - YSL Opium

A while ago I was the lucky winner of "Perfumes, the A-Z guide" by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez in a draw on the lovely blog Feminine Things. "Perfumes", if you don't know of it, contain reviews of 1200 or so perfumes. The authors do not hold back on critisism, neither good nor bad, making it a very entertaining read.

There are several ways to read the book. The reviews I've found the most useful are the ones reviewing the classics. Even the saddest little perfume shop, among all the clelbrity scents and cheapo fruit blends there tend to be a few classics still hanging around. They might look sad and out dated but, when you think about it, the reason for them being there is that someone has dearly loved them, loved them so much they've gone back time and time again to buy them, in some cases during more that 50 years. And by reading "Perfumes" I've gained two pals to hold my hand and giving me a guided tour on what's so remarkable about those classics.
Yesterday, after delving into "Perfumes", I decided it was time to try on the legendary icon YSL Opium. It was originally launched in 1977 and, as far as I understand, pretty much dominated the scent scene during the years thereafter. How to describe it? Well, if Opium was a movie it would be from 1977 (duh!). The plot would take place in an old antique shop, specializing in intricate oriental wood carvings. It would also turn out that the owner is dabbling in Chinese medicine, in his bathtub he's trying to create a elixir of youth, based on equal part old school sun tan lotion and Nivea cream, spiked with a secret blend of oriental spices, resins and balsams. Main character is played by Linda Lovelace (seen on the left) and the plot itself (or lack thereof) I will leave to you, my dear readers, as an excercise.

Or, trying to be a bit serious here, Opium starts out very two sided. There is strong, freshly cut up, wood and a creamy generic sun tan lotion. After half an hour these merge into a malange of vanillia, cinnamon, balsam resiny goodness. It's soft, smooth and well integrated. I kept thining of Opium as a Ormonde Jayne Tolu, but everything golden is replaces by a 70-ies hue of mahogany brown (if that makes any sense to anyone). Opium also turned out to have remarkable staying power, I sparyed it on at 10 a.m. and it was still strong 12 hour later.

What surprised me most about Opium is that I fell in love with it. I thought this would be a little experiment, aiding to my general perfumista knowledge but I found I seriously enjoyed wearing it. So much I'll be getting a full bottle somewhere in the near future.

Disclaimer: I don't own a sample of Opium. This blog post is based on my one time experience, spraying some of the reformulated 2003 version of Opium on, at a store counter.


  1. I am not a huge fan of Opium, but I do like the bottle! :) Glad you found something new (old) to enjoy.

  2. Yes, it was really funny, I put Opium on at the store, put on my thick autumn jacket and forgot about it. 30 mins later I had a doctors appointment and I started thinking, hmmm, that doctor smells really good. Are they really allowed to wear this amount of perfume at work? (not that I mind, I was just wondering) Then I realised it was me smelling :)

  3. Ha ha. :) I have had similar experiences before. I'm always surprised when a small amount really has a lot of sillage. (I tend to apply small amounts if I don't know the perfume)

  4. I sprayed Opium too, randomly, form a bottle at the perfume counter. Was surprised that I liked it. i remember it was strong, though (but I liked it..:)). Must revisit.

  5. Lavanya, yes, it does take up a whole room, even if you just spray on the tiniest squirt. I was surprised at how likeable I found it to be, considering it's reputation. It has been out of fashion for a while now, but maybe the time is ripe for an Opium comeback now!