Black Opium

YSL Black Opium mini bottle–an asphalt surfaced redux of the original flask–with a pink porthole window. And half a pear.

I remember first hearing about this–I hoped for a noir version of YSL’s original Opium, à la Lolita Lempicka Midnight, taking the heady spicy notes even deeper, more mysterious–but they took it to a confectionery, instead.

The opening breath is fresh sliced pears, but then it goes syrup sweet, the garnish on a marzipan tart–but soon honey florals hit the back of the throat, until it dries down to patchi woods with a pleasant grit of coffee-pot grounds, as if to wash down all the sugar.

So many people get a different dessert note, with it’s own particular vibe. I’ve seen descriptions of a relaxing cafe latte, a black pepper licorice twist, narcotic vanilla, sticky candied fruits–
I get the whole damned sweet shoppe, and while I love a good gourmand, this one just left me with sour caffeine breath and a desperate need to go brush my teeth.


Miley covered the Arctic Monkeys in 2014, the same year Black Opium came out.

Mon Paris

mon paris edgy
Ad peelie of bottle with pink eau and black ribbon.

The magazine peelie was raspberry lemonade and tentative patchouli, in an unassuming way.

The bottle in the store was more strawberry ice and jasmine musk and lasted the car ride home close to the skin. She didn’t offer any stimulating conversation on the way.

Definitely from YSL’s conservative good-taste-over-personality line, rather than the avant garde bare-a-boob, Broadway Boogie-Woogie and Studio 54 editorial Opium and Kouros.

Yves Saint Laurent released Mon Paris with Lee-la Baum’s cover of U2’s Love Is Blindness. (Jack White’s is also incredible.)


Vintage champagne cork shaped mini bottle, detailed with indentations of the muselet–the wire cage that “muzzles” the top–and rumpled gold foil, with red lettering.

Happy, happy.

The best New Year’s party ever, that changed its name from Champagne for copyright reasons.
(Perfume is technically alcohol, so it cannot legally be sold with the word champagne unless it is made from specific grapes by a specific method in a specific region.)
The new name is a play on YSL and the word ivresse, which means intoxication.)

Yvresse does sparkle out of the bottle, a joyful room-filling effervescent peach muddled up with delicious spices, that calms to petal-soft fuzzy apricot florals in slow dance space for the evening.
Finishes with lovely sweet wine notes over resinous woods–another pun on the cork–that last the night, leaving rosy dregs on the skin in the morning.

Rich and light-hearted, but not silly.
‘Til next year!



Mini flask of Opium with a half pearl cap, gold eau and dark red lettering, sitting in a blush carnation.

Sexy Grandma.

Normally I dislike the “old lady” ageist cliche of describing vintage perfume–but my grandmother actually wore this, and damn if she wasn’t the swimsuit model at the pool in her retirement home’s brochure.

And I’m going to be that guy too, and complain that ~ThEy DoN’t MaKe It LiKe ThEy UsEd To~ but the original was much sweeter, with big banging cloves at the top sweetened by peaches and plums, and a resinous dry-down held in place with charred wood.

The 2009 version still has the carnation and myrrh at the center, but her rockin’ bottom has grown a bit soft, droopy amber patchouli and vanilla with no verve, rather than rounded out with sandalwood, cinnamon and incense.

If you need a hit of classic eighties balsamic spice, grab a vintage bottle–and pair with a pussy-bow shirt belted over culottes.


Opium came out in 1977, the same year Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat hit the charts.