Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium – major whinging ahead

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium, when I first read about it, got my heart going a little faster.  A darker, more smoky, coffee-infused Opium?  OMGOMGOMGZOMG.

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Perfume


Then I read that Hedi Slimane said no to Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium by making it clear he had zero to do with the creative direction of the fragrance.  Damn, Hedi, I’m alarmed by this.  Early reviews of Black Opium seemed to go in the same sad direction.  It was initially released in Europe, and I did find it when I was in Paris. Oh!

I forgot to apologize for the lack of a post last week.  Never, ever think you can go to Paris for four days.  I spent at least that much time traveling, and I was exhausted from start to finish.

After spending almost 48 hours in airports and on planes, it’s an understatement to say I had some time to browse in the airport duty free.  There it was, YSL Black Opium. I sniffed the cap.  This was not the dark, smoky perfume in my dreams. This was a slightly sweet, generic concoction that I expect of mainstream perfumes.  Sweet.  Reeeeeeally sweet.  I tried to back out of expectations and wonder what I would think of it if it weren’t named YSL Black Opium, if it didn’t have that legacy behind it.  Who cares?  The people behind that legacy chose to slap the name on it, so I don’t have to forget its history. I felt the same way about Chanel Coco Noir.  Not a terrible fragrance exactly, just forgettable and in no way the heir to the Coco name.

Black Opium is a sad heir to what Opium was.  A frothy sweet dessert that would fit better in Paris Hilton’s lineup that YSL’s.  Ugh.  Why do two great perfume houses decide to double down on some of their best perfumes and do such a horrible job with seemingly no historical connection to the fragrance that lent them their name?

I’m pretty turnt up about the whole situation.  Notes of Pink Pepper, Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Coffee, Vanilla, Patchouli and Sandalwood (not listed, sugar, sugar, maple, candy corn, more sugar and syrup).  AND incredible stupidity.  Welcome to Chanel’s Stupid Flanker Idea Club, YSL.

I’d offer some samples as a drawing, but everyone would bail on me.  Instead, what have you guys been up to the last couple of weeks?  Missed you!  Have you tried this one yet, do you even want to at this point, even out of curiosity?

  • Lisa D says:

    I loved and wore Opium ages and ages ago – it smelled fantastic on me. The description of Black Opium is indeed enough to get the heart racing, but after reading all of the remarkably negative reviews, I’m determined to just put the thought of a darker version of my first perfume love completely out of my mind. Not going to sample it, not going to spritz it at the perfume counter. It would, though, have been a great perfume if it had been done well!

  • poodle says:

    All these craptacular flankers just depress me. Just make a perfume and give it a name and see if it can stand on its own instead of trying to convince people it’s some fabulous reincarnation of a classic.

  • LaDona says:

    I’m pretty new to true fragrance snobbery, but I’ve taken to it like a Trump to Cartier. And please take this at face value…there ain’t a damned thing wrong with snobbery. My great grandmother wore Chanel no.5, my gran wore white shoulders…and my hippie mom wore patchouli oil. So I’ve run the gamut. I got really serious about looking for a fragrance at about Christmas, and already I am hip-deep in some of the most craptastic swill created. I nearly fainted when I smelled some alleged Shalimar flanker at Saks. Pretty bottle, utter incoherent nonsense inside it…I get that someone would want to capitalize on a classic, but Jesus, do it a little justice! It can’t be that hard! I was never an Opium devotee, but I can certainly appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of it. Missed opportunities sometimes sting more than flaming failures, because you imagine what could have been.

    • Julie L says:

      I wouldn’t call it snobbery…it’s just knowing and understanding what ones are and realizing the sheer amount of what’s being churned out each year is just ridiculous, boring, and repetitive. My scope of knowledge is wayyy less than most here (even though I’ve been a fragrance nut since high school)-I just get stuck on 3-10 frag, usually older ones, and don’t have the money to blow on full bottles every month.

  • SallyM says:

    Yes, this is absolutely hideous. As a self confessed Opium addict and who was at the grand launch of the original at Selfridges, I blame L’Oreal for this debacle. Slimane was right to literally turn his nose up at this monstrosity and YSL would be rolling in his grave. I’m just thankful that I still have vats o’ vintage to get me through the remainder of my life, with plenty to pass on to my grand daughter, who mercifully seems to have a great appreciation of classic frags as opposed to the sickly sweet frootchooli dreck that assaults our olfactory passages today.
    Excellent review Patty – bang on.

  • Tatiana says:

    No, I’m not going out of my way to sniff this one. If I walk by a counter that has it, I might spritz it on paper, but that’s it. I’m tired of this nonsense. I have enough perfume I love to last my lifetime. I love Opium and a few other vintage perfumes, but I’m tired of chasing them down on various websites, only to find I’ve gotten burned when I receive a completely ruined or obviously doctored bottle of juice. I’m tired of how insipid and bland most modern perfume offerings are. The only reason I bother to go to Sniffs anymore is to meet up with my friends and to make new ones.
    I have to admit there is still a part of me that hopes for a bottle of something that knocks my socks off. Until then, I’m happy with my small collection and sniffing the wares of independent and niche perfumers.

  • Julie L says:

    I’m an original Opium girl. It was my very first, big girl perfume in high school, right next to Chanel #5. I have the newer one and rarely wear her because it not as creamy, dreamy as it used to be and boy, yes! I’ve read the horrible reviews on Black! Shame, isn’t it…the bottle is gorgeous!….but.what I WOULD love to try is the Belle, and a couple of the flankers, oddly enough. Sorry about your experience 🙁 We missed you!!!!

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I probably have smelled the original Opium on others but haven’t tried it on myself. Sweet isn’t exactly my thing but maybe I should give this a go.

  • Sapphire says:

    Have to admit to a certain morbid curiosity about it. I will try it if I come across it, but it doesn’t sound worth the effort of a drawing.

  • Donna says:

    I know exactly what you mean!! We all get that initial rush of excitement for a new release from a well regarded house and then you open the top….sniff and…maybe even give it a spray just to be fair and then UGH! Such a shame. Too many times I have been through this tease.

  • bevfred says:

    I loved the old Opium and it smelled delicious on me. But I am prepared to dislike Black Opium; I’m just not into stupid sweet these days. Smart sweet maybe.
    Each to their own bits!

  • Rina says:

    Felt the same way about Coco Noir! So wanted to love the gorgeous bottle but couldn’t get past the internal dreck.

  • FeralJasmine says:

    Please excoriate this awful non-effort, Patty! I have a drawerful of carefully collected vintage Opium from the late 70s and early 80s, but I was very prepared to judge Black Opium on its own merits. If only it had any… I have seldom been so underwhelmed as when I got my eagerly awaited sample. No coffee notes either, at least not on my skin. This belongs at Macy’s with all the other panderers. If this is what the house of YSL currently thinks of as elegant decadence, they might as well start making dresses for junior proms.
    Oh, and Hedy Slimane, congrats on your discernment and general good sense. This is one for someone with taste to back rapidly away from.

    • Julie L says:

      Lucky you to have that awesome drawer full! I only can WISH I had bought another bottle back then and kept it 🙁

      • FeralJasmine says:

        I imagine myself in my (rapidly approaching) dotage, dabbing my precious stock on the young perfumistas of the future and saying “There was a time when you could smell like this any time you wanted to. We didn’t die of it, either, and we didn’t even get rashes.”

        • Julie L says:

          THAT IS HILARIOUS!!!!….if ONLY all of the new dpt scents weren’t so gross (in my humble opinion)….I just can’t deal with them at all, restrictions or not, they’re all just the same to me. Screechy, sour….just Saturday night I was able to get a new sample of MIss Dior, PARFUM. I couldn’t wait to get it off of me and had to use peroxide. It smelled of cheap candy and reminded me of the local college bar full of sorority girls giggling, doing shots, and holding each other’s hair in the bathroom while they vomit. Just horrid…and that’s what most of the newer things smell like to me! I’m sad 🙁

  • Sun Mi says:

    Hehe I enjoyed reading this. I’m sorry it was such a disappointment. I don’t know this one, or the original for that matter, but everyone seems to think this flanker is a pile of steaming you know what 🙂

  • Musette says:

    damn shame. I hate Opium like a mongoose hates a snake but I bow to its legacy of Massive Majestic Majesty. To have the name bastardized in the name of ….what? Folks who love Opium will be furious and folks who hate it like a mongoose hates a snake will still hate this because it sounds godawaful. Everybody else won’t even know what they are smelling (or not).

    sigh. That Hedley. Smart man to have bailed on this one.