Opium Vapeurs de Parfum Eau de Toilette Légère (Yves Saint Laurent)

This past week, my friend Mary had reported the arrival of a fragrance stash at a local church thrift store. She scored me some great minis for my birthday (Guerlain Shalimar Parfum de Toilette, Van Cleef & Arpels First, Eau de Givenchy, Cacharel Lou Lou, and Davidoff Cool Water) and urged me to go check out the rest. I did so yesterday, while the sun shone and before the snow started.

Amid the usual Avons, White Shoulders, and the inevitable Trésor, I spied a slightly depleted bottle of Jennifer Lopez' Deseo sitting next to cheap boxed cologne from some Jamaican duty-free trap. For some reason, they had Ms. Lopez priced at $3, but the tourist swill was going for FIFTEEN DOLLARS. ("Because it's never been opened," the church volunteer proudly explained. Lady, there is a REASON for that.) A mini of Paloma Picasso Minotaure Pour Homme interested me briefly until I opened it for a critical sniff; again, it didn't seem worth the overinflated price ticket ($8). The whole trip looked as though it would turn out to be a bust.

Then a pale glimmer caught my eye... subtle gold foil in a distinctive bamboo motif on a copper-colored box.

I miss Opium. The reformulated version now sold at perfume counters is an unforgivably cheap parody of a fragrance I truly loved. Does YSL really expect us to believe that they saved Opium from IFRA by turning it into that? One could just as easily preserve the Sistine Chapel ceiling by reducing it to a laser-printed postcard! After smelling the Body Snatcher version of Opium, I flatly refused to go anywhere near its creepy little sister, Belle d'Opium. (Note to whoever choreographed that ridiculous Bd'O commercial: opiates generally make a person nod out passively on the floor, not flail about expressively like a 'shroomer at a Phish concert.)

Needless to say, skepticism was high as I hefted this apparently-untouched bottle of Opium Vapeurs de Parfum EdT in my hand. As I slid out the bottle to view the pink liquid so typical of the modern eau légère, I believe I actually snorted.

Can I take it back?  (The snort, I mean... not the perfume.)

YSL calls Opium Vapeur de Parfum a "delicate and light reinterpretation of the mythical fragrance" from which it borrows its name. So long as you know it has absolutely nothing to do with Opium proper, you're in the clear. Instead of the dense spice monster we associate with the brand name, this is a shimmering, sun-touched orange-vanilla affair devoid of the cloying heavy amber that made Givenchy's Organza Indecence seem so high-calorie. Citrus peel and benzoin are the twin stars here, warm and expansive, with all the other notes playing highly harmonious supporting roles. Yet Opium Vapeurs de Parfum is never cluttered; it smells very simple. If the steam rising from a cup of Mandarin Orange Spice tea could be captured by a chromatograph, this eau would be its fascimile, minus the spoon.

Though every scent element contained within is one that I might claim is "not my thing" (pink pepper, jasmine, orange blossom), there's some type of gentle, unifying beam of light that runs through Opium Vapeurs de Parfum and wins me over to its side. From the first spray (clandestine, on the inner lid of the box, so as not to annoy fellow shoppers) to the last (three hours ago, nape and wrists), Opium VdP has been lovely, just lovely... and I've been apologizing in my mind for the irrational prejudice that nearly made me pass this pretty thing up. Thank goodness I listened to my nose, the wisest of all.

And anyway, it was way cheaper than that stuff from Sandals™ Montego Bay.

PS: Today (February 3rd) is Parfümieren's 3rd Blogoversary, and I didn't mention Breath of God ONCE-- oh. Dammit.

Scent Elements: Mandarin orange zest, pink pepper, jasmine sambac, orange blossom, benzoin, nutmeg, amber, vanilla, patchouli, woods