Opium (Yves Saint Laurent)

For the ultimate oriental, look no further than Opium. Sniffing it today, it's utterly plausible to suppose that this was what Marlene Dietrich's Magdalen wore while kissing smoke across velvet-curtained train cars in the movie Shanghai Express. Decadent myrrh, nutmeg, opoponax, and amber fill the composition to a bursting point, saved only by its deliberate exoticism and natural volume. This fragrance is full-figured, and accepting of herself. It could make a fine masculine these days, although only if applied very lightly and in social settings. If I were to be totally frank, I'd consult younger men to explore other orientals before Opium. Old Spice is a much safer alternative, and there's no shame in wearing it, although you risk coming across as a bit of a bore, which isn't an issue with YSL. I must admit, however, that the prospect of meeting an Opium-wearing woman fills me with desire, followed by a little fear, followed by desire again and again. A masterpiece.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see Emily Blunt as the new face of Opium. I had heard that she had been drafted for this role a little while ago, and the end result is good stuff. Orientals like Opium need a strong, sexy, intelligent face to promote them, because only strong, sexy, intelligent people can pull them off.

Opium is a strange scent to review because it does different things on different people. A few of my grade school teachers wore it, and they always smelled like cinnamon sticks on steroids. A younger woman might be more successful in animating the delicate sweetness of its opoponax and myrrh, while also grounding some of those piercing red spices. If I were to wear Opium it would undoubtedly develop into makeup powder, as many '80s orientals seem to do with me. Emily Blunt . . . well, I can see it smelling like heaven on her. Then again, I'm fairly certain Ms. Blunt could wear the detestable Jovan Woman and still smell like a multimillion dollar western European movie star. As could Marlene Dietrich, so she's in royal company.

Ignoring its flankers, I have to wonder if the original perfume is still relevant to the fashion sensibilities of today. My theory is that this fragrance is iconic enough, and modern enough, to continue influencing feminine styles for years to come. Long live the '80s, long live bombastic spicy '80s orientals, and long live Opium. May it continue making subway commuters sneeze and shift managers furrow their brows well into the dark heart of the 21st century.


  1. I am happy to see Emily Blunt as their spokesperson too. There were a few sniggers about her ads, but I quite like them. They do not, however, compare to Marion Cotillard for Dior. :)

    1. with this comparison, Ms. Cotillard is the more beautiful woman, and the ads are more dynamic, so yeah, she definitely shines a little brighter, as does the art director's color choices (Lady Rouge? genius). Emily Blunt is beautiful, but I do find a bit more of a girl-next-door quality to her that other European actresses sometimes surpass. I don't know what it is though, but these Opium ads feel like they took more than a few cues from a 1980s graphic style of some sort.

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