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  1. #1

    Default Opium, maceration, madness

    I have a bottle of the current formulation of Opium for women edt, the one with the window in the bottle. Everyone hates this, I gather, and thinks it's totally garbage and totally untrue to old Opium. I hope some Opium experts can help me figure out what's going on, because I've had a rather strange experience with it. I'm not terribly knowledgeable about Opium: I spritzed Opium a number of times when I was a teenager in the 80's, and I know there was a bottle of Cinnabar around back then too, which is supposed to be similar. So I know nothing, basically.

    I buy a bottle last summer, brand new from Sephora. It smells ok, but no more. It's like a lighter Youth Dew, and rather sweet. Enough like molasses that I get weird cravings for pecan pie whenever I wear it (absolutely not kidding; it was really unnerving). Every so often I get some niftier complexity, jasmine, more varied spice and woods, but most of the time it's stuck in treacle mode and stays there. It's not really bad but definitely not that exciting in comparison to a lot of other stuff so I wear it maybe once every 6 weeks or something. Jump forward to a week ago. Time to give Opium an outing again, and it's totally brilliant. Dryer, more complex. It has a structure to it that it lacked before. There's a point to it; it just makes sense all of a sudden. Tons of jasmine incense, tons of sandalwood. Great balance of spices. Still has the Youth Dew balsams, but no molasses, and doesn't read sweet to me much at all anymore.

    There are a couple of explanations I have come up with, and it would be interesting to hear from others.
    1. It's been macerating for several months, and my house is rather warm all year round, so the process may be a bit accelerated. I read Thierry Wasser's maceration theory of disgruntled perfumaniacs in that interesting interview basenotes did with him a few months ago (everyone always thinks perfumes are getting worse because they're comparing the last few drops of delightfully macerated fragrance to a brand new bottle, which is going to be harsher and thinner). I imagine it's a controversial notion.
    2. It's gone bad, and it turns out I love rancid Opium.
    3. I've smelled a ton of things since then, so I'm just reading it differently.
    4. I am imagining things, should get an MRI, maybe stop licking toads, etc.

    Thanks for any ideas/reflections

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Washington, DC

    Default Re: Opium, maceration, madness

    Interesting - I don't know about the maceration theory, but I've heard too that some perfumes change over the course of the first few months from production. Perhaps you just got a very new batch.

    Of course, over time, when the alcohol evaporates, the juice inside become more concentrated, some top notes evaporate, and the smell is richer and deeper. But I think it takes years for the process, plus, it would be evident from the bottle how much has evaporated.

    2 seems unlikely. Too short a time, unless you kept the bottle in full sunlight. Even so, when a perfume goes off, usually you get off smells (cardboard, vinyl, etc), not pleasant ones. 3. can be a part as well, as for food, we get used to intense flavors. But again, usually I think the direction is the opposite: that is, what felt strong before, now feels weaker.

    Temperature could occasionally be a factor too. With heat, things evaporate faster; some molecules which are not evident in low temperature now become more noticeable, and this happens earlier on in the development of the perfume.


  3. #3
    Basenotes Institution
    Mimi Gardenia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Exactly Where I Should Be

    Default Re: Opium, maceration, madness

    I really don't know either .
    I've decided I do like the current Opium EDP - I have not tried the new EDT .

    I do know that my modern post reformulation Mitsouko extrait does smell a lot better and somewhat closer to the older Mitsouko formulations after I have opened it and had it for a while .
    Petty small minded people have no place in my life.
    Currently wearing: Angel by Thierry Mugler

  4. #4

    Default Re: Opium, maceration, madness

    How interesting. I received a gift set of new Opium at Xmas. Wore it at New Year and it's sillage and longevity were on a par with a nuclear winter. Harsh didn't come close, though I could see the relationship between new and old formulas the new was course and too 'in ya face'. My response was to purchase both vintage EDT and EdP, both of which are soft and swoon inducing.

    Your experience will sent me to the new Opium this evening.

    Btw the new bath/shower gel and the new body cream are both a gorgeous as ever

  5. #5

    Default Re: Opium, maceration, madness

    I use to love Opium and have recently found a few old bottles of EDT and Sedcret de parfum. I must confess i never bothered to smell the new version of EDP only the EDT, so this is going to be a weekend project.

  6. #6
    Guest 3

    Default Re: Opium, maceration, madness

    I think that it could be a combination of maceration and a change in your diet/hormones that alters your perception AND the way fragrance smells on you. Weather could be a factor, too. Glad to hear you're enjoying it at any rate!

  7. #7
    Evangeline's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Angers, France

    Default Re: Opium, maceration, madness

    Hi elsaana - welcome to basenotes!

    I agree with lilybelle - I think it's a combination of the fragrance aging, external conditions and your own perceptions evolving. But the maceration has a big part of it, I'm sure. It's a gradual process, so I don't know exactly how long it takes to be noticeable, but I've definitely noticed this happening, particularly with Chanel (and most specifically with No22 - I'm so glad I got the big bottle, because the older it gets the better it smells!) And I agree that it probably doesn't occur to people that a three-yr. old bottle has aged (how can it not?) and will, naturally, smell different than a "fresh" bottle ...I absolutely believe this accounts for many cries of "reformulation" when none have taken place.

    At any rate, aren't you glad that you gave it another chance? This is one of the main reasons I have a hard time getting rid of fragrances. Just because I don't love them now doesn't mean I won't love them later!
    Science is not only compatible with spirituality, it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. ..Carl Sagan

  8. #8

    Default Re: Opium, maceration, madness

    I think orientals like Shalimar and Opium often do improve a bit with time as more of their character is about the resinous basenotes which keep on getting better unlike the citrus / herbal top notes.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Opium, maceration, madness

    Thanks everyone for all your ideas!

    Quote Originally Posted by Evangeline View Post

    At any rate, aren't you glad that you gave it another chance? This is one of the main reasons I have a hard time getting rid of fragrances. Just because I don't love them now doesn't mean I won't love them later!

    Absolutely! I've had more obviously intellectual changes of opinion. Fracas was a real scubber in the beginning and I only kept it around because it's a classic and I thought I should know what it smells like. The initial blast of tuberose still smells like a dirty engine covered in snail slime like it did at the get-go, but now I really admire how it deals with tuberose weird, and I love how it develops over time, and it's become my reference for all big florals ("but in comparison to Fracas, it's pretty banal"). It smells the same, but my thinking is different. This business with Opium is different. It totally smells different, so either my perception has shifted really drastically (like learning how to see ultraviolet all of a sudden) or there are weird chemical reactions happening in my bedroom closet. I think I have taken account of controllable things, like how much I apply, and I bought it in the warm end of summer and now it's a warm spring. It's pretty entertaining.

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