Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Opium by Yves Saint Laurent

Total Reviews: 140
Been searching long and hard for a fragrance to bring me back to a new house next to an orchard and farm meadow. This is it for me, until further notice - which I don’t imagine will be coming soon.
23rd January, 2021
Still the perfect Oriental.
Decadent, dangerous (ok not as much as it used to be) full of promise of forbidden worlds way out of reach of mere mortals, although it was probably more crushed velvet and chunky gold plated bling at Les Bains Douche. The 80's Parfum 7.5 ml refillable is one of my fondest treasures, given to me by my school chums mum who was gifted it and hated it, she was more of a RG girl, lucky me!
I love Chantal Roos story of how much she cried at the loss of revenue when it sold out at launch and they had to wait for weeks and weeks for the bottles to be manufactured before they could replenish the stores. It was so scandalous that they didn't really expect it to take off - bless her, sure she got over it after the first few million bottles sold.
09th October, 2020
Strong, mature, powdery, feminine scent. Smells very familiar which speaks to its popularity over the years. You definitely know someone or knew someone who wore this.

The drydown gets more unisex, so while I wouldn't wear it myself, it wouldn't be shocking to smell this on an older guy.

Performance lives up to its reputation with room-clearing projection and all-day longevity. Showers don't even get all of this off.
17th February, 2020
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant by Rainer Werner Fassbinder 1972
24th March, 2019
Yves Saint Laurent used to be a very controversial designer throughout the 1960's into the early 1980's, openly flaunting his homosexuality in a relationship with his partner Pierre Bergé at a time when society was much less-accepting of such, and placing women in "smoking suits" that were the austere antithesis of conventional femininity of the day. This controversial nature extended to his perfumes as well, starting with civet green floral chypre of Y (1964), to the sharp mossy rose of Rive Gauche (1971), and the innocuous lemony chypre known as Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme (1971), that fires up in nightclubs with a little body sweat. Saint Laurent brought back 2 of the perfumers he worked with in past creations to make his newest perfume for women, Opium (1977), and it was a creation polarizing in smell, name, and packaging alike at the time. Looking back now over 40 years later, what Opium presented seems like an archetype for a well-played genre, with DNA passed immediately down to orientals like Cinnabar (1978) and Obsession (1985), that doesn't feel anywhere near shocking to a modern nose, although it is still very much it's own beast compared to what passes as an oriental in the 21st century landscape. I can't possibly fit all the controversial launch party shenanigans surrounding Opium, nor all the bizarre outrage lobbed at it, but here is the basic version it: The name was linked to YSL condoning drug use, the Chinese aesthetic linked to an early form of disrespectful cultural appropriation which resulted in the formation of actual committees seeking punitive damages from YSL, and the smell of the stuff helping to reignite interest in rich orientals after florals and green chypres had dominated, resulting in tons of clones, plus plumes of Opium perfume filling all the usual hangout spaces of urban upper middle-class society. Flankers revived the nameplate many years after this was released, but most of them play up the theme of the original only tangentially, so I can't exactly say they're worthy of exploring.

The smell of Opium is still a product of the 70's mindset in perfumery at the time, with a dirty dryness in the heart not too dissimilar from Eau d'Hermès (1951), but whereas that effect is achieved by perfumer Edmond Roudnitska with cumin, in Opium the same effect is achieved with a kitchen sink accord of so many different spices, florals, and aromatics that it's impossible to pick out the culprit. Jean Amic of YSL Y fame returned, as did Raymond Chaillan of YSL Pour Homme fame, teamed with a third perfumer named Jean-Louis Sieuzac, who became known in his own right for this and later vintage fraghead faves like Pascal Morabito Or Black (1982), Hermès Bel Ami (1986), and Dior Fahrenheit (1988). It was rare that 3 perfumers were employed at once back then, although perfumer focus groups now seem common in the modern age of Calvin Klein or Giorgio Armani, where a happy medium is actually desired and not reached in compromise. With Opium, a hesperidic accord of bergamot, aldehydes, and mandarin is spiced up with clove, pepper, pimento, and bay. A touch of dark plum sweetness is added, and the whole party moves downstairs to dance with a crowd of stereotypical florals. Jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, carnation, and muguet play with orris root, cinnamon, and a peach note, making parallels to the dry green floral chypres circling at the time, but with spice in place of galbanum to keep it sharp. The base is the most congested of all the tiers in this note pyramid, and without naming everything in it, since you can't smell half of it anyway due to blending, let's agree that it's basically everything found in the bases of most other perfumes, combined. The incense, patchouli, sandalwood, and labdanum stand out most, with animalic undercurrents of castoreum, styrax, and musk mixing with a touch of dry vanilla to keep it from being bitter. Sillage is medium-high and longevity is also impressive, but this gets cloying fast so be mindful of application and the weather in which you intend to wear Opium, since all that factors in with something this dense in construction.

Opium eventually got a "Pour Homme" version composed by Jacques Cavallier in 1996, which dials down the florals some and enhances the woods, spices, and rich base, but it seems rather superfluous and unnecessary, which is probably why it languishes in Discounter Hell these days. Opium in it's original feminine-marketed version is plenty balanced enough for men to wear too, and any guy who owns Aramis JHL (1982), Jaïpur Homme (1997), Penhaligon's Endymion (2003), or even Azzaro Wanted by Night (2018) has already smelled sweeter and arguably more "feminine" oriental fare than Opium, but dressed up in masculine packaging. For this reason, I urge anyone to float over and find a tester of this at a YSL counter and give it a sniff, swatting the sales associate away if they try to "correct" your choices. Opium is a spicy, heady, semi-sweet oriental blast canon of a fragrance that suit anyone looking to cut the chill air with trails of the orient. Funny fact, most "opium" incense sold at gas stations doesn't try to emulate the smell of the opium poppy, but rather this fragrance, which doesn't really contain any actual opium flower, so if you've burned sticks of that stuff, you've already smelled a clone of this old girl in action. I recommend using this only in winter, or conservatively as a mature night scent, to a dinner, play, or night on the town window shopping. This stuff is a bit too formal and serious for clubbing, since it isn't quite as sweet as modern takes on the genre, and the spice is just so present here that you might be seen as "over-doing it" in terms of the attention department. Wherever you wear Opium, people young and old will notice, either by remembrance of how contrarian it once was, or by being affronted with a wall of congealed aromatics, so it's not for the meek. Thumbs up, but wear responsibly, unless you want people to form a committee in protest against you the way they did Yves Saint Laurent years ago.
22nd October, 2018
An old school good scent. And yes, it's unisex IMO. Complex, not too versatile but with a giant projection and longevity.

04th June, 2018
I have owned the vintage Opium from the early days ever since I tried some at a perfume counter. I just had to have some.

Most of the time I considered it far too potent for casual wear, so that is the reason I still have it in nearly full bottles.

But being curious about the new formulation, I have finally decided to give it a try.

The initial blast is far different from the vintage formula. Lots of synthetic notes in there. Not the same at all.

But after 30 minutes or so, it does settle down into an exact representation of the vintage Opium.

The only thing now is to see how it stays after a few days or so. The original just keeps going and going on your clothing.
27th May, 2018
This is a review of the 2009 version. It is pretty much like I remember wearing, back in the 90's. Less spice though. The top is briefly sweet then quickly turns flowery. Carnation and jasmine are prominent for me, in the middle. The base is darkish for awhile, then the amber and vanilla kicks in. I will enjoy the decant I have but, a full bottle isn't in my future. I DO have a vintage sample around somewhere. That review will follow later, at some point...
22nd April, 2018
Charged with starting the
Opioid epidemic,
She proudly confessed.
06th December, 2017
A very "white" fragrance. When I think of "Opium" I think of dark drug dens in old England, full of smoke. This is the opposite. White flowers amber and myrrh. A bit of a anticlimax after all of the hype over the years.
26th July, 2017
Even if it doesn't rock your world straight off - that first spray is heavy and unusual - don't give up.

It mellows significantly, while maintaining depth and interest. It becomes vanilla and wood and gentle spice, but with a twist utterly unique to Opium.

You can use this very sparingly; just a dab beneath the hair will do. OR, you can spray more liberally and command a room with it.

I could wear this to an opera, or to a heavy metal festival. It's classy and complex, not in any way girly. It's also brave, and would do well rubbed off on a black leather jacket - a man's or a woman's.

09th June, 2017
Oh wow!

This is the very first time I have smelled this cult fragrance and it is in its true vintage form - WOW! I can definitely see why so many seek it out - but I cannot pull it off. I know this was/is marketed to women, but there is NO REASON why a man should not own as EASILY wear this scent today!

I think this needs to be worn with Christian Louboutin heels, at least 3" high if you are a woman, which is why I cannot pull this off. Having screwed up my back, knees, and having broken a toe during multiple sporting pursuits as well as psychiatric holds, I am simply unable to rise above 1" heals - and that will not do for vintage Opium. Not at all.

Or I'd need a sex-change, and heels or not, I am ALL woman. No changes necessary or desired.

I still give it a positive review as it is everything it claims to be - it is me that cannot be WITH it.
06th May, 2017
I've got a sample of "Opium Secret de Parfum". I guess it's the same as the EDP, as the notes and descriptions fit. The opening is very aggressive, itchy, acid, almost vinegar-ish. Then it settles in a beautiful mix of florals (jasmine) and myrrhe which gives it a masculine side. Beautifully vintage and sexily feminine though. Sillage and longevity are huge!

I like the EDT even better, as it is softer and spicier, but with as much sillage.
02nd May, 2017
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

kjp Show all reviews
United States
perfection in its original form.classic.i always have a bottle in case of emergency
24th July, 2016
Musk and flowers and a little powder. So much more depth than some of the lighter, fruitier fragrances I tested at the counter. I was warned this had a lot of musk, and was happy to find out it was true. It has a few oils in it, so they tell me, and it does wear closer to the body.

I enjoyed it
19th July, 2016
Oh,to me the Original spicy oriental that as a young child I loved. I have seen so many different ingrediant lists. It just pulls me to find out what i found so irresistable.

I found what is my thing spicy orientals. Several natural perfumeries have similarly wonderous mixes. Wish I could remember their names. Anyas Garden, Ayala something, oh so many I need to name.
16th June, 2016
One of the few balsamic spicy scents I really like. The silliage and the opening notes may be a bit overwhelming, but the base notes are as smokey and addictive as they should be.
23rd March, 2016
As a man, I happily wear the vintage EDT. In fact, I'm having something of a love affair with it. Go easy on the trigger, and forget the current formulations, and for god's sake pass on the "Pour Homme" version-dreadful.
Disregard the marketing. This is fully unisex. The vintage is warm, sensuous and wears like your favorite scotch.
10th February, 2016
When I was in my 20's a friend received a fantastic bottle of parfum she did not like, she gave it to me and I adored.

Last year I decided to try it again in a perfumery shop, I appreciated it and the friend with me bought it for me!

It is an opulent fragrance that I use sometimes when it is really cold, it is spicy and unique and in my opinion may be used by man avoiding over spray.
29th December, 2015
I no longer have the 1980s Opium of my youth, but I have the Classic EDT from 2008, a 2015 EDT, and a 2015 EDP. Of those three, the 2008 EDT comes closest to my memory of the original fragrance - spicy, layered, sharp, complex, lingering. The 2015 EDT is bland by comparison, a pleasant but nondescript semi-oriental, with poor longevity (about 3 hours on my skin). The 2015 EDP is much superior to the 2015 EDT, coming very close to the 2008 Classic EDT - richer, deeper, and more nuanced than the current EDT, with twice the longevity.

Opium has suffered through reformulation, and its dangerous edge has been dulled as a result, but the 2015 EDP is still beautiful and harks back to its origins more faithfully than the current EDT. If you can find a 2008 Classic EDT, snap it up.
13th December, 2015 (last edited: 10th September, 2016)
Honestly, I have to say that I don't understand how anyone can't like this perfume! It's been a while since I tried wearing "Opium" (the original) so I forgot some things about it, but I have some of it sprayed on my wrist right now so I can actually review it properly!
First of all, on me, and to my nose, it's actually quite subtle! I didn't spray on a lot but I can still tell that on myself "Opium" doesn't have really huge sillage and projection. It's actually quite soft and powdery sweet, and once it dries down to the actual heart of the fragrance, even the spices aren't really that heavy or strong. It's just a really beautiful smelling perfume, and again, I noticed that I receive compliments when I wear this one! So my point is, I don't understand how anyone can actually be really bothered by this scent or not want to sit next to someone wearing it! I think it's so gorgeous and perfect that I just want to go on smelling it all day! (Luckily, the longevity of "Opium" is really good!) I also want to add, without any exaggeration whatsoever, that "Opium" is simply just sex in a bottle to me! It is, hands down, one of the sexiest perfumes that exists, and again, if I made a list of top ten best perfumes ever made, "Opium" might be on that list! Or, at least, it's definitely one the ten best orientals ever made! I also want to add that I greatly prefer "Opium" to "Shalimar.". On me, "Shalimar" is far too overwhelmingly strong and just never seems right for everyday wear. I also just think that "Opium" smells better. Plus, I never received the same compliments when I tried "Shalimar." So, to me, this one is the clear winner! Probably most of you know "Opium", but for younger readers, if you've never tried it I definitely think you should! It's just a really great classic perfume! :)
13th December, 2015
Grown up and in control...

Few designer perfumes today still have the power to give such an aura of "in control" than <i>Opium</i> by <i>Yves Saint-Laurent</i>. I am comparing between the modern Eau de Parfum here and the vintage Eau de Toilette.

This was a ground-breaking fragrance for it's time. A heady mix of spices and resins which took no prisoners. A rich, decadent cocktail of myrrh, carnation, cloves, cinnamon, amber, vanilla, jasmine, sandalwood, oppoponax & tolu balsam... the list is endless it seems.

<i>Opium</i> is one hell of a fragrance. I guess by today's standards it would seem strange, as it doesn't fit in with the sweet, fruity trends we see marketed for young women out there. This was a fragrance that asserted it's presence. One which gave itself permission to be in control. To be in charge. If you want a statement fragrance, a real "diva" perfume, then look to <i>Opium</i> (vintage).

<i>Opium</i> is a very "grown up" fragrance to my nose, because it doesn't have the same sweet, innocent, sugary vibe of the modern female-marketed perfumes of today. It has a host of spices and resins. I get a lot of cloves and myrrh and oppoponax, with a juicy mandarin orange and soft lily-of-the-valley in the opening. I do detect carnation but more of the jasmine in the middle, with heavy, dominant amber in the base.

I would say the differences between this one and the vintage is that the vintage (to me) is the <b>intense</b> version, I would say. This is still a legend, but maybe tamed down for the modern generation. Absolutely wearable if you like dark, sensual, smoky, spicy fragrances. Not bad.
14th October, 2015
I can't say enough good things about post-2010 Opium. Yes, I went through bottles of the vintage, but the fact is this just smells wonderful on men and women, lasts forever, and retains the character of the original. When you smell it, there is no doubt it is Opium. If it were marketed under a different name it would be hailed as a glorious, baroque throwback oriental. You can achieve the effect of the original by just wearing more. My dirty laundry all smells of sandalwood incense weeks later. I get told I smell like leather and incense.The powder effect that got "old lady" comments is reduced and the myrrh and incense amped up. This is more wearable in 2015 but still strange enough that you will stand out from the aquatic and Iso E cedar crowd and people with dull minds and uninteresting taste will wish you wore something else. I actually admire YSL's honesty in changing the bottle, making it easier to discern between new and old. Treasure this while we have it.
02nd October, 2015
Review is for the pre L'Oreal version:

This is the one spicy oriental to seek out.

This one does not need any review.

Heady, far out, intoxicating.
21st June, 2015

Incredibly Seductive and Supremely Intoxicating.OPIUM is one of the best YSL fragrances fusion of Oriental ingredients combined with a Magnetic and Rich Spicy that makes Unforgettable moments for you and Feels Wonderful to everyone around you. Passionate, Hypnotic,Hot,Strong,Classic,Deep, Attractive,Complex,Luxurious and Mysterious.

So strong opening and a Beautiful heart notes but above all a Deep and Rich blend of Vanilla,Musk,Incense and Sandalwood in the base leaves a trail of Allure and Glamour for the Passionate Ladies as I adore the base notes.It draws attention and complements every time You wear the fragrance.

OPIUM is not for the faint of heart and in my opinion it makes you more of a Simple Lady as it reminds me a Femme Fatale with Alluring Eyes.I definitely suggest it to Ladies 30 and older.Surely for SPECIAL EVENINGS when you want to make a lasting impression meantime it is definitely for WINTER weather but Test it first before Buying.



09th June, 2015
Judging by the name and gorgeous bottle design, Opium is exactly what I expected it to be: Deep and smoky, ancient and exotic... It immediately evokes imagery of ancient Egypt, Myrrh and Frankincense. Even though I've only just tried Opium for the first time, it's extremely nostalgic for me. It smells exactly like 'Earth Lore' - The smoky, incense-laden shop I frequented as a curious teenager, which was stocked with small Egyptian & Buddhist trinkets, crystals, and books on witchcraft. Opium has the same mystical elements, and is an utterly phenomenal aromatic experience.
06th April, 2015
One of my go to fragrances for the colder months. Warm & comforting but sexy and spicy. My first try with an oriental perfume. Just beautiful. I don't find it overwhelming and wear it during the day also. it can be dressed up or down, the longevity is fantastic and I can still smell it off my scarves days later. I always get complements when I wear this.
21st March, 2015
Love it. The vintage, 1980s bottle of Opium EDT that I am lucky enough to own smells fabulous, and not at all as overwhelming as I thought it was going to be. Its scent actually reminds me a lot of the collected scents of the various houses and apartments where my stepmother has lived over the years. Her name is Snezana, which means Snow White (really) and she comes from Macedonia, in the former Yugoslavia, but went to live in Denmark with her family when she was a child. As an immigrant and a part-time gypsy therefore, she has a fierce magpie instinct, collecting objects and tchotchkes like amber beads, fat sachets of lavender from the Croatian islands, incense, sandalwood soap, bags of Orthodox frankincense, and wooden balls rubbed with essential oils. These objects give her comfort. Her skin and hair smell exotic too, the spicy food she eats and the herbal, folklore-type medicines she uses radiating from her pores.

Every house that Snezana has lived in has smelled of the mixture of these oils, spices, incense, dusty flower sachets, wood, and soap. It is a smell specific to her, and one that I recognized immediately when I smelled Opium. My bottle is a vintage EDT from the 1980s, so the top notes are a little ‘decayed’, but after those notes die down, I smell smoky, bitter myrrh, a clove-like carnation, and dusty, indolic florals. It dries down quickly to a soapy sandalwood and spiced amber base. Combined with a pleasant whiff of human sweat (some unlisted cumin perhaps?), Opium tends to merge with my skin so completely that, far from being the overwhelming oriental monster I’d expected, it smells instead like the best version of skin that my skin can be. Soapy, warm, balmy, and spicy.
19th February, 2015
Fascinating to find this change over time, so that each time I try it, it keeps getting better and better.

The initial attempt to test Opium (current formulation EDT) resulted in me reeling from a cacophony of loud notes, generic "department store" and little old lady aromas, and just a dash of lemon pledge.

After an hour on this first test, the shock of the jumbled notes wore off and a core of spice, hints of old lumber & warm opoponax made it's statement, but still fighting the the cloying chemical mess from the opening. It was also amazingly masculine to my nose, for such a legendary fragrance associated solely with sultry, sophisticated ladies.

A second test spritz, about one week later, left me at least considering it "interesting," certainly heavy and complex, but no winner as far as I could tell.

I wanted to like this - to love this, to get that half-closed-eyelid bliss that so many women get when speaking of the legendary Opium. In disappointment, I gave it a neutral review in here, and put it away in a drawer.

Today tho, a revelation, a stunning transformation. I tried my supply *one more time* before reluctantly putting it up on ebay, and it had become an entirely different juice.

The experience led with bright citrus/floral notes that popped and receded like quick fireworks. This revealed the core of spice and woods - as if a rare antique chest of treasures were pulled from a hidden shelf. I was enveloped in that mysterious, complex, spicy legend that everyone had raved about. Amazing.

*THIS* this was it - that magical dark myrrh-infused elixir that makes'em swoon. What had changed? The spray, sitting in my desk drawer for a couple of months? Was it my nose's progression from Spring to Summer? Was it the alignment of the stars?

No matter, this elegant, complex legend is staying with me, and my mantra of test, test, test, remains tested and true.
13th November, 2014 (last edited: 03rd August, 2015)
"Words could never be enough...”

For the first and last time, I'll let the words of others speak on my behalf...

-It is a scent of contradictions, like the ancient incense of vespers and the fleeting musk of an one night stand.

-In small doses, Opium is not incompatible with dining, clubbing or romance. Used excessively it will ward off flies, humans and evil spirits.

-A spectacular incense of monstrous proportions.

-The smell of Marco Polo's clothes as well as come back at Venice from his journey along the silk route.

-I particularly love to apply a single, small squirt before bed. The smell is just heavenly. And all night I dream of the hanging gardens of Babylon...

-I know why this perfume is called Opium. It is totally addictive...

-Good lord, this is chemical warfare of the highest concentration!

-God, Opium... what are you doing to me?

-Is it possible not to be consumed by its beauty?

-This is a sin. It must be.And the name, God that name! The whole thing is criminal.

-The Opium is the most glamorous and dangerous girl ever appeared from Paris, seducing one feeble admirer after the other as she moves along.

-Holy mother of god, this is amazing!!!It is just to die for...

-OPIUM feels more like an impressionist painting about life and love on the ancient Silk Road. Truly you can't appreciate what an oriental fragrance really is until you've smelled this masterpiece.

-Oh god, I literally felt like this perfume had a death grip on my throat.

-Even after 32 years on the market, this scent still screams "OBEY ME."

-I like it because it doesn't try to be likeable. It's just there.

-I do believe that this perfume wears you...

-While I do not wear it regularly, when I do, I intoxicate.Seduction in a bottle...

-This is what I imagine the spice from Dune smells like...

-It caused such a stirring in my loins that I'd track and hunt a woman wearing this down forever. BRILLIANT!

-Treat yourself to the parfum. There is nothing in the world like it.

-Opium is intoxicating and heady stuff. Something no wicked, decadent girl should be without.

-It is my default fragrance. The one I want to be remembered for. The one I want to be buried in.

-When it comes down to Opium, I'd have to say I'm a total sucker for it.

-Dear God!!!What on earth is this???How could you ever create such a temptation???

-Opium is timeless and magical, and it is still THE Oriental.

-Proof that there is a heaven.

-I admit it, I'm hooked. I always heard that opium was highly addictive...

-This stuff should be illegal...

-It doesn't offer any favors, you don't have to just like it, you have to love it and if it loves you back, it will be a best friend for ever ...

-It’s a bit of a creepy feeling, like meeting one of your old boyfriends, or someone’s walking over your grave...

-Opium is the most magnificent antidote to the waves of pubescent pop princess, foody/deodorant-style, mass-made scents that rule young fragrance buyers as the 20th century closed and the 21st century begins.

-I thought I bought a scent,I got Lilith in a bottle...

Do I need to say more?...
23rd October, 2014