Monday, December 15, 2014


There are certain fragrances that we love and consider as among our favourites. Though we may not wear them in public often, yet we receive immense pleasure by putting them on in our private moments. 

I also consider few of my favourite perfumes as private indulgences.

Two of them are by Yves Saint Laurent (YSL):

1) Opium 
2) Black Opium


Yves Saint Laurent is the French fashion house founded by Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, and his partner Pierre Berge. The house and designer are often abbreviated as YSL.

Laurent's career in fashion began at the tender age of 17, when he served as assistant to Christian Dior. With Dior's death four years later, Laurent was named head of the house of Dior at just 21 years of age. Still a young man when the Algerian War of Independence broke out, Laurent was drafted into the army in 1960 and lost his position at Dior. Military service and despair over the loss of his design position resulted in a hospital stay. After a brief period of recuperation, Laurent started his own fashion company and went on to become one of the most influential fashion designers of the 1960s and 1970s.

Yves Saint Laurent remained active as the collection's main designer through the late 1980s. After his retirement, a series of designers including Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford and Stefano Pilati have produced collections for the brand. Yves Saint Laurent passed away in 2008.

The house's first fragrance, Y for women, was launched in 1964. Y and several other launches by YSL, including Rive Gauche (1970), Opium (1977), men's scent Kourous (1981), and Paris (1983) have become modern classics of the perfume world and remain best-sellers. 

The company's other fragrances include, Opium Pour Homme (1995), Baby Doll (2000), Elle (2007), Opium (Reformulated Version, 2009), La Nuit de l'Homme (2009), Belle 'd Opium (2010), Opium Vapeurs de Parfum (2012), Manifesto (2012), Manifesto L'Elixir (2013), Manifesto L' Eclat (2014) and Black Opium (2014).

YSL offers fragrances in conjunction with L'Oreal Group.


OPIUM is an Oriental-Spicy perfume for women, created for fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) by perfumer Jean Amic and Jean-Louis Sieuzac of Roure, first marketed in 1977.

OPIUM caused a stir with its controversial name and brought accusations that brand designer Yves Saint Laurent was condoning drug use. In the United States, a group of Chinese Americans demanded a change of the name and a public apology from Saint Laurent for "his insensitivity to Chinese history and Chinese American concerns." They formed a committee called the American Coalition Against Opium and Drug Abuse, which expressed outrage at the choice of a name representing "a menace that destroyed many lives in China." But such controversies rather helped the perfume to be well-publicized, which soon became a best-selling scent.

Fragrance Notes:

Top: Mandarin Orange, Bergamot, Plum, Clove, Coriander, Pepper, Bay Leaf.

Heart: Jasmine, Rose, Lily-of-the-valley, Carnation, Cinnamon, Peach, Orris Root. 

Base: Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Myrrh, Opoponax, Labdanum, Benzoin, Castoreum, Amber, Incense, Musk, Coconut, Patchouli, Tolu balsam, Vanilla, Vetiver.

In 2009, the YSL house discontinued OPIUM and reintroduced a new version. The original formula of OPIUM contained so many ingredients considered allergenic that trying to save it was a losing battle.

Antoine Maisondieu was faced with the formidable task of reviving OPIUM. With half of its formula missing from the modern perfumer’s palette, recreating the spicy bite and smoldering sensation of the classical oriental was almost impossible. 

Maisondieu approached OPIUM not via the spice route but the incense road. He recomposed the fragrance based on the sticky, smoky interplay of opoponax, myrrh and sweet resins.

What we have is a voluptuous scent contrasting the richness of resins and woods with creamy jasmine. The subtle crunch of peppercorns is enough to give texture to the soft veil of OPIUM. Except for a flirtation with orange and pale carnation, the perfume hits one dark note after another–incense, amber, patchouli.

The delicate sweetness in OPIUM comes from the opoponax and benzoin, two materials with a unique velvety sensation. 

As OPIUM settles into its incredibly long lasting drydown, it wears like soft velvet and smells like well-aged dry sherry and clove studded oranges.

OPIUM is available as the Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette. 

They are not too different but the EDP is heavier on incense, amber and myrrh, and places all of its accents on the powdery, warm finish. 

While the EDT has a stronger contrast between it's fresh citrusy top, laced with sweet orange and pepper, and velvety, enveloping drydown. 

It is said that to compare and contrast the new OPIUM with its 1977 namesake, would be pointless and unfair because they are so vastly different. The new OPIUM deserves being loved on its own merits, rather than as a replacement for something that can’t be replaced.


From the first moment, I have been completely enamoured by it's enchantment. 

In my mind, this highly sophisticated fragrance deserves elegant finery, exclusive venues and very formal events. Just like these are not a part of my routine lifestyle, in the same way, this perfume is not a regular part of my somewhat modest social life.

Yet, every time I do get an opportunity to wear this sublime creation, instead of being intimidated or fearing that I have failed to reach its exceptional standard, I always end up feeling special and alluring, and actually believe that we both belong together...! 

It is an undeniable fact that I love this fragrance so very much, that sometimes, I cannot refrain from spraying a little on my wrist and continue to inhale it ecstatically for all of 4 to 5 hours the EDT stays on me and 7 to 8 hours the EDP stays on me.

By the way, this perfume can also be ideal for certain intimate occasions...

Well, anyway...!

To explain one more reason of why I have categorized this fragrance as a private indulgence, I would have to confess to an eccentricity that not everyone may be able to bear with composure. I still remember the 'freaked out' expression on my husband's face, when the first time after our marriage, our car rolled into the petrol station, and I opened my window and began sniffing enthusiastically...! In the initial years of our marriage, he tried his best to cure me of this weakness, admonishing me that I should grow into a mature and sensible (read: sane) woman. However, I think that by now he has, either managed to accept or learned to ignore, this habit of mine. 

I have only revealed, what is probably the worst kept secret of my life anyway, with the hope that everyone will be as tolerant about it as my dear and loving husband, because, well, it will certainly sound weird, but whenever I inhale this fragrance, I am reminded of the same exhilaration that I feel while smelling petrol...!

In any case, please don't let me put you off, from what, to me at least, is definitely one of the most wonderful and seductive fragrance that I have ever experienced.


In the autumn of 2014, YSL launched a feminine fragrance, BLACK OPIUM, which is announced as a glamorous, rock'n'roll interpretation of the classic, full of mystery and energy.

Master perfumers Nathalie Lorson and Marie Salamagne, in collaboration with Olivier Cresp and Honorine Blanc, developed the composition. 

Fragrance Notes:
Notes of coffee, present in large quantities, dominate the scent. Additional accords are pink pepper, orange blossom, jasmine, vanilla, patchouli and cedar.

Even though BLACK OPIUM is officially a flanker of OPIUM, but to me, the only resemblance these two fragrances bear with each other, apart from their names of course, is that both, in entirely different ways, are extremely addictive. 

The closest description I can offer is that it seems to give off a strong aroma of freshly brewed and bitter coffee, with a hint of sweet and creamy-powdery vanilla custard...!

Now, I admit that this comes across as a bit strange, especially to those who are comparatively new to gourmand fragrances, and maybe if evaluated according to a rigid perception of what a perfume should be like, it may even sound unappealing. 

However, I for one, love it when I can sniff this delightful fragrance on myself, in private, or at most, when among few close friends. 

It seems to envelop me in a comforting and and cosy warmth, particularly welcome during the cold winter evenings, for the entire duration of 7 to 8 hours that it stays on me.


I would like to conclude by expressing my heartfelt gratitude to the YSL Company, for creating two of my favourite fragrances, OPIUM and BLACK OPIUM, indulging in which have been a source of enormous happiness to me, especially in my private moments...!


  1. Oohh. Didn't realise the opium available now is not the one available 20 yrs ago. That one was terrific. My mother's favourite. Will check out the one available now.

    1. Well, unfortunately, I never got an opportunity to try out the original Opium, so I really can't comment on how they would compare.

      However, it's quite obvious, that with so many of it's previous ingredients missing, it wouldn't be quite the same...!

      Anyway, as I already mentioned, according to my research, it would be pointless to compare both, and the current Opium needs to be evaluated on its own merits.

      Still, keeping in mind few of your favourite perfumes that you mentioned through your comment in the post "My Favourite Perfumes...!" I feel sure that if you approach the current Opium as a new fragrance, instead of as a comparison with the original version, then you will end up loving it too...!

      In any case, please do provide your feedback, once you get to try out the current Opium.


  2. Also this blog is giving me a lot of information which I never realised exists. My way was to rush through the duty free shops. Check this and that. Spray on me whichever I liked. Happy to smell good! !! So thanks for all the info provided.

    1. Thanks, I am glad that my blog is of a help to you...!

      To be honest, I also have loads of fun while spontaneously checking out the various perfumes.

      And sometimes, in these moments, one can stumble across a fragrance that goes on to become a favourite later on. I am saying this because this has actually happened to me few times :-)

      However, it's true that a little research on the fragrance notes and reviews, as well as trying out a perfume on yourself few times, is highly recommended, when contemplating a purchase.