Originally perfumers were the most important people to know in the perfume universe. They controlled all aspects of the industry through to the early 20th century. In the 1920’s a revolution of sorts began as fashion designers started to introduce their own scents, most notably Chanel No 5 in 1921. Fast forward to today and the fashion houses clearly own the market share of the business.
Through the decades, fragrances have come and gone but none like Opium Yves Saint Laurent Controversial first by the name. The fragrance took criticism with the perception it glorified drug use. Chinese Americans were offended since many of their friends and family lives were destroyed through addiction to opium which is highly addictive and all you want is to feel that high again. Nothing else mattered except the high.
Yves Saint Laurent introduced Opium with a lavish party in New York Harbor that included a tall ship, the Peking that was docked at the South Street Seaport. The ship was covered with 2,000 Hawaiian orchids, Chinese temples and a giant 1,000 pound bronze Buddha. A huge fireworks display over the harbor indicated the end of the event.
Rumors of an actual opium den on the ship spread adding to the controversy – which was false.
The party was dubbed the “event of the season”, “The Opium Wars”, “Big Glamorous YSL Opium Party” by Andy Warhol – and ended up costing $300,000. Attendees included: Yves Saint Laurent of course, Steve Ruebell owner of Studio 54, Steven Tyler, Michael Jackson, Truman Capote, Jerry Hall, Paloma Picasso, Bianca Jagger to name a few along with New York social icons of the time.
Between the controversy created by the name, rumors and the party, the fragrance received a tremendous amount of media coverage. This all translated into sales, resulting in a best seller fragrance and today Opium is considered a true classic, an Oriental-spicy fragrance.
Notes include: fruit, spices, mandarin orange, plum, clove, coriander, pepper, bay leaf, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, carnation, cinnamon, peach, orris root, sandalwood, cedarwood, myrrh, opopanax, labdanum, benzoin, castoreum, amber, incense, musk, patchouli and vetiver.
Controversy continues through the years with an evolution of packaging but the most notable controversy is in the 2000 advertising campaign with a naked Sophie Dahl wearing only gold stilettos and is positioned on her back. There is no doubt controversy will always surround Opium and I am pretty sure Yves Saint Laurent would not have it any other way.
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Layered with over 2,000 Swarovski crystals. Glam rock aesthetic, addictive floral – notes: black coffee, vanilla, jasmine sambac, absolu of fleur d’oranger, cedar and patchouli. Highly addictive and seductively intoxicating, BLACK OPIUM gives a sensation of light-headedness, bordering on ecstasy. Made in France
2015 Best New Female Fragrance by the Fragrance Foundation and Allure Best of Beauty award winner.
With a glam rock aesthetic, this addictive gourmand floral entices with notes of black coffee for a shot of adrenaline, white florals to instantly.
Overtly sensual spirit with notes of mandarin and bergamot are made mystical with middle notes myrrh and jasmine.