It was bound to happen one day but we were all hoping it wasn’t this soon. Opium has been (quietly) reformulated into a shadow of its former self. So it is with this review that I bid goodbye to an old classic and an icon of oriental fragrance.
In Bottle: Heady, rich, deep and spicy. Opium is not a time waster. She’s a woman of drastic sophistication and daring. Often referred to as sexy and mysterious. This fragrance opens with a big spicy kick followed by a huge wave of thick resinous amber.
Applied: Cinnamon and amber upfront as Opium’s opener flares instead of rolls. This fragrance announces its presence with a capital A. You want a powerhouse? Opium’s your gal. She’s no meek, slinking fruity floral girl in a white dress. She’s decked to the nines in diamonds and blood red pumps. The ambery cinnamon scent sticks around in the background giving Opium a smooth and punchy background while the heart notes of powdered jasmine, rose and dark myrrh flood the middle. Opium’s a strong and long lasting fragrance that you’ll struggle through if you don’t like it. The heart sticks around for a very long while before the dry down of deep, dense woodsy patchouli and myrrh base join that ever present spice and amber with the faded floral hearts. Even then it takes Opium a long time to completely fade with its mixture of base notes.
Extra: It takes a while to love Opium. A fragrance fanatic or an individual born into the era when Opium reigned would find it easy to appreciate this but someone young and inexperienced coming into the scene needs to be gently introduced. I got myself acquainted with Shalimar before I could brave Opium. And I’m glad I had a classic bottle to do it with. The new Opium is a slightly damaged affair. It smells younger, but more vapid. Like its missing some of its daring in exchange for modern ease.
Design: The most well-known bottle of Opium (at the moment anyway) is a thin pretty glass flacon with the signature Opium colors and designs on it. I’ve always though the bottle was beautiful and I was happy to note that Opium’s sprayer nozzle (unlike its flankers) was metal.
Fragrance Family: Oriental
Notes: Mandarin orange, bergamot, lily of the valley, jasmine, carnation, myrrh, vanilla, patchouli, opoponaux, amber.
Opium was quietly reformulated in and around the time its new bottle (the current look) was released. Quiet reformulations of old fragrances is not a new thing. It happened to many fragrances and will continue to happen due to industry regulation changes, materials availability, and a slew of other consequences that a fragrance lover may never come to terms with. Thanks for a good thirty years, Opium.
Reviewed in This Post: Opium, ~1990, Eau de Parfum.