Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Yves Saint Laurent - Opium, old and new

This isn't a perfume review as such, but today I was in Boots, the Chemist chain in the UK, and noticed the new bottle of Yves Saint Laurent Opium, pictured left. It is very similar to the more recent Belle D'Opium, which is purple-coloured. The funny thing is, when I last tried Opium a few months ago, I thought what I was trying is the reformulated juice. I thought to myself that it wasn't half bad and wondered what all the fuss was. I'm sure many of you are well aware of the controversy surrounding the new Opium, which I don't have the time or inclination to go into here; there are plenty of bloggers posts on this issue. The bottle of perfume I tried is the one pictured in the second picture below left. 

It turns out that what I tried, if I am not mistaken, is an earlier incarnation of Opium. Perhaps what I tried is even the original formula. I'm not an expert on this sort of thing - possibly there has been more than one tweak of this over the years. 

To cut a long story short, I tried the new Opium today, if it can be called that, and my, what a marked difference. It goes to show just how far reaching reformulation can be, because this smells very different to the earlier version I tried. I'd go so far as to say that until well into development I wouldn't have been able to guess it was Opium, had it been a blind test. Later on several facets do emerge that nod to the original, but it is a much meeker, wrinkle-free incarnation, and worse for it, in my opinion. Of course, there is some debate over whether this is meant to be a brand new fragrance that just happens to share the same name as the original, or an ingredient-restricted attempt at reformulation. I don't care, frankly, it just isn't as good as the earlier Opium, whichever way you look at it.

Some people have commented on how garish and ugly the new bottle is, but frankly, the second bottle pictured is hardly a looker, at least in my opinion, although it is a typical YSL bottle style!

Image credit - second picture:


  1. Hardly a looker, indeed. I have always avoided Opium, in part because of the ugly bottle. I am indeed that shallow. :)

  2. Jen, thanks for the comment. Generally I'm not that fussed over bottles, although I do love a few beauties. But speaking of ugly, the Paco Rabanne 1 Million bottles are hideous! I refuse to try them simply because of that.

  3. The last time I tried Opium in Spain I thought about the different scent I used to have in the beginning of the 80s but I have not tried the uggly bottle. I love what is inside about Opium though. Funny thing is in Cuba when I got there in 91 I was wearing Opium and a Cuban friend said Oh you are wearing an imitation! Oh what, I said , no it's not an imitation, it's Opium. And he said oh yes, IT IS an imitation. Cause the true scent is Cafe. What?? Cafe? And Cafe is an imitation of Opium but I bought it and it was ok. :D

  4. Don't, don't, don't get me started.

    Apparently, the EDT of Chanel No. 5 has just been messed with too!

  5. Vintage Lady and Persolaise, thanks for the comments. Funny story about Cafe and Opium. Not sure about Cafe to be honest. I haven't smelled No 5 in some time. My wife has quite a large bottle of this that I dip into from time to time, so I seldom consider it when out and about. I might compare the two now though!

  6. I love (old) Opium SOOO much! I'm afraid to sniff the new version - thanks for sniffing for me!

  7. Frida, perhaps give it a try, just to see how much it has changed, then get your mitts on the old stuff, before it's gone or priced up into the stratosphere!

  8. I know it's been a while since these posts but I have an old bottle of Opium from the 80s and it definitely is different now! Not at deep and rich a fragrance now. It used to last for ever. I have a tiny bit left in the old bottle and am too afraid to use it as when it's gone, that's it - gone forever.



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