Tag Archives: Yves Saint Laurent Opium

YSL Black Opium Floral Shock

floral shock

As you may know, I’m not really a fan of Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium.  I am a fan of Old Opium or OO as dear Lisa Jones calls it,  but sadly,  Black Opium was a turkey for me.

Ironically, I have in the past complemented two strangers on smelling fabulous, only to find out it was YSL Black Opium.  I guess, like stilettoes, it’s good on other people but not for me.

black opium

Recently I came across the latest Black Opium flanker,  Floral Shock. Anything with Shock in the title is always worth a punt and I tried two squirts on skin, one on sleeve and one on a blotter.  Reader, if I told you that the blotter is still going strong after a week, would you believe me? It is true. This stuff has nuclear longevity, which makes it a curse or a blessing depending on your preference.

Personally, I could define very few differences between Floral Shock and Black Opium.  The opening of Floral Shock is lighter than the opening of Black Opium and has more florals, as the name would suggest.  Both open with pear and vanilla and sweet syrupy fruit,  at least to my nose.  Both have strong coffee notes and thick vanilla.  In fact, the main difference between Black Opium and Black Opium Floral Shock is that the top notes of Floral Shock are slightly more floral.  The flowers do a little shimmy number, and then Floral Shock turns back into Black Opium again.

The Fragrance Shop UK
The Fragrance Shop UK

Apparently, Floral Shock has no patchouli in it, but I discerned plenty, or maybe I was getting confused because Black Opium has it and this is very similar.  What I know for sure is that if you already own a bottle of Black Opium then you probably don’t need this one too. There’s not much to play for.  In a fight it would be a draw.

This review  is, of course,  just my opinion and not gospel.  You may be one of the strangers I stopped and said “Sorry to bother you, but you smell amazing.  What is it please?” If you do wear this, you probably smell great, but trust me, on my skin this was red syrupy fruit, pears, coffee, vanilla and a little touch of migraine.

Fans of YSL Mon Paris and Dior Poison Girl may well enjoy this too.

Stockists: I found this in House of Fraser. You can also buy it from The Fragrance Shop UK among other places.

How About You?

Have you tried Black Opium or Black Opium Floral Shock? or are you a fan of the original? Or even the original original?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.


Yves Saint Laurent Opium Old-vs-New:  The Verdict


  For a few days now I have been mulling over the comments of readers and my own response to old and new YSL Opium.  We’ve heard passionate arguments in favour of the older formulation, and several positive comments about the new one ( including from yours truly). Now that friend of the blog Lisa has kindly let me borrow her gorgeous bottle of old Opium ( see photo) and I have tried both the old and the new, I feel qualified to give my opinion.

emily blunt opium

New Opium is still a wonderful daytime scent that I would happily have on my dressing table. It’s widely available and there’s nothing wrong with it at all: it’s even suitable for daywear in August.

Old Opium, which I am wearing now, is indeed the “woah there” scent that friends of the blog Sally and Lisa argued so passionately in favour of and can only be had on eBay it would seem.  It’s a whopper with sillage that could kill a canary.  It’s shamelessly blousy and glamorous: like a drunk at a party- loud and unmissable but witty and fun.  It’s powdery and classic (some would say old fashioned, I say classic) and has done a trolley dash through the Oriental Perfume Ingredients Store and bought everything.  It’s fabulous and it was in its day, a groundbreaker.

opium old

Here’s my verdict:  New Opium is indeed a shadow of the Old Opium, to the point where it is in fact a lite version and should have been labelled as such.  New Opium is excellent in its own right but the very fact that I would recommend it for daywear even in August goes to show how weak it is compared to its night-time-only- it’ll-blow-your-socks-off original. What YSL should have done is kept old Opium intact and called new Opium by the name of a flanker such as Eau D’Opium or Opium Summer (In fact confusingly there is an Opium Summer-Eau d’été- a name which would have suited the current formulation)

I therefore declare YSL guilty of murdering a perfectly good scent and replacing it with an imposter.  A good imposter, but an imposter nonetheless.  They may be cousins  but  they don’t even look alike. *gavel*



Yves Saint Laurent Opium: Old-vs-New: The Prosecution Speaks



You may have noticed that I reviewed YSL Opium  recently.  Now I do not claim to have a preference between the old and the new and cannot until I have tried the old one.  I thought it would be only fair to give the other side of the coin after my fan letter to new Opium.  My review inspired two impassioned replies from die hard pre refurb Opium lovers.

Friend of the blog Sally wrote such a heartfelt and erudite reply about her love for “Old” Opium that I thought it would make a blog post in its own right.  Fellow friend of the blog and guest writer Lisa Wordbird agrees  “I’m in absolute agreement with Sally’s fantastic comments. I am a fellow ‘Old Opium’ lover. It was almost a signature scent for me through the nineties and early noughties and I have a stash of the good stuff that I amassed when I heard they were going to reformulate. At least they were honest. At least they changed the bottles and the packaging and relaunched with a new fragrance that is a tribute to the dear old duchess and that you can see the resemblance to. But she’s not my girl.”

Here’s Sally’s post in full- she really knows her stuff:

“Oh dear – here I was, quietly drinking my morning cuppa in the relative cool of the day before the thermometers reach breaking point again, and enjoying “blog time.” I see the word “Opium” in the heading of your post in my email box and pounce to open it. Yes! At last, a post about The Holy Grail from your good self. Then I slump in despair as I see the pic of the reformulated version and my head falls to my desk. For I am admittedly one of those Purists who most definitely will shriek that today’s version of Opium ain’t the same – in fact I go so far as to say I think it’s a positive travesty compared to The Beloved One.

I have tried – several times – to readjust my thinking about the modern. I’ve tried to stop thinking the name “Opium” when I’ve smelled it, attempting to lull myself into a false sense of security that it really is all right, don’t compare the two, smell it as a standalone perfume and take it for what it’s worth. Can’t do it. In fact, I almost envy you for not having smelled the original, as you can truly be objective and provide, as usual, a great review – a review, I might add, that if I didn’t have the ghost of Opium Past stuck firmly in my olfactory memories – would have me heading to try the perfume in question.

I think the main problem with the modern is that it *can* be described as “light and pretty” and not the “woah there!” fragrance that is was and still should be. That “woah there!” is the very reason why legions of women simply opened office windows to accommodate 16 feet of sillage. BIG was the word back then and the thought of the (increasing) number of fragrance free public spaces of today, would have set us guffawing in disbelief.

I alone, kept YSL afloat in the late 70s and 80s with Opium everything. Now L’Oreal gets not one penny from my purse.   I would love to send you a decant of the vintage original – I still have a large supply from the early 80s as I bought huge bottles in duty free every year for several years. I’d be interested to know your opinion!”

Thanks Sally- you have made me long to try the old one and luckily Lisa can help me out on this with a sample.  I’ll keep you posted!

PS The photo of the aged looking bottle is borrowed from fragrantica.com.



Opium For The Masses. Opium For Me


When Yves Saint Laurent Opium was created, it seemed to make Orientals more mainstream and is still a byword for the genre.  Its reputation precedes it:  “Nothing heavy please, nothing like Opium or stuff like that” and sometimes I fear it has  become platitudinous i.e it is so ubiquitous people don’t even see it any more.

I have avoided reviewing it thus far as I find it hard to train myself to just test one at a time whilst walking through my local House of Fraser, but today I just tried Opium (EDT) and nothing else. (It was tempting though, I had to walk fast past all the other bottles winking at me.)

Despite it being a mild summer’s day, not too hot, not too cold, somehow Opium surprisingly, felt just right.  I say surprisingly as I would have thought that Opium was too heavy for summer, but in fact the lightness of the citruses came out like an expensive eau de cologne, with added spice and extra staying power.  I find that I’m wearing a rather thirst quenching scent today that doesn’t feel at all heavy.

Purists may have other ideas about today’s version of Opium, as it has been very much reformulated since its iconic brown packaging at its launch.  I cannot comment on the difference as I am not familiar with the original, but I trust those who tell me, the new kid ain’t the same.

Opium has all the spicy/rich ingredients thing going on, but I think the reason I found it light and pretty is because it has no gourmand stuff in it. There’s no sticky cakey vanilla or sugar or caramel:  all ingredients which are hard to escape in today’s perfume stores.   After smelling so many scents that smell like cake crumbs, Opium is a refreshing change, and yes there is vanilla in it, but its barely discernible and seems to just round off the sharp edges a bit.

You can definitely notice the heavyweight Christmassy duo of Frankincense and Myrrh with their rich, deep resonance,  and the patchouli packs a punch, but somehow, this wasn’t a “woah there!” fragrance.  It felt just right for a sunny day with breezy spells.

Opium has managed to hang on to it’s green, spicy, citrus roots and was a breath of fresh air today: something I never thought I’d say about Opium in August. It’s gone onto the Wish List and I’m only amazed it took me so long to get there.  Oh and did I mention longevity? around fourteen hours for two squirts.  Amazing stuff.