Yves Saint Laurent Caban

Long time, no see, YSL. Mostly on my part. I’m looking into Caban today after I caught sight of it and fell in love with the bottle and minimalist aesthetic.



In Bottle: Sweet, rosy and deep like a sugared rose swimming in vanilla and a pinch of spiciness.

Applied:  Caban is more gourmand than I expected from it. Upon initial application, it has a very distinctive sweet tooth with a spicy kick added in. Immediately I smell vanilla, and a toffee-like sweetness that pervades the entire experience. Caban mellows into a middle with an added rose note and a mellowing woodsy scent. The spice is persistent and the rose and heavy sweetness tends to fade overtime, and in the end, it’s spices in the end with a very pleasant touch of sweet to carry out the scent.

Extra: I know next to nothing about fashion these days. So I only know that Caban is a relatively recent release from Yves Saint Laurent. It is one of five members of the new YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums collection.

Design: I love the bottle, it reminds me of the classically simple but eminently luxurious minimalist aesthetic.

Fragrance Family: Gourmand Floral

Notes: Caramel, vanilla, pepper, rose, sandalwood, tonka bean.

This is a beautifully done and elegant gourmand floral. One that would actually be a lovely Valentine’s Day gift to a fragrance-lover with a sweet tooth. Presently, Caban can be purchased at Bergdorf Goodman. It runs for $250USD.

Reviewed in This Post: Caban, 2015, Eau de Parfum.

Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme

A friend of mine raves about L’Homme and how much he loves it and gets compliments whenever he wears it. I have to admit that hype kind of puts a damper on things for me. Hype it just enough and I’ll be interested. Hype it a bit too much and I find myself avoiding it.



In Bottle: Bam. Familiar. Familiar in a rather good way. Takes it back to my early childhood where I remember lights, noises and of course the smell.

Applied: Citrus with a tempering ginger note a hint of sweet florals and woods. All of the notes are very well blended. I definitely get the citrus first, but then it molds together into a nice even fragrance that hits a memory nerve. The scent has a nice mild spiciness to it with an underlayer of woods with an inoffensive cedar note that provides a base for the sweet floral notes that are really the stars here. L’Homme is rather soft and yielding. It’s like the whole fragrance is composed of very delicate amounts of ingredients. And it really shows because L’Homme is a quick fader and is gone within a manner of a few hours. The smell takes me back to my childhood, reminds me of one of the houses I lived in as a toddler. It’s hot days, street noise, and the ever-present banging of Vietnam’s less than safe metalworking shops. I think L’Homme is taking me back because it smells like a laundry soap my mother used on our clothes back then and we always ended up smelling like it. In either case, my association with L’Homme makes me instantly like it. On a more objective note, it is a good fragrance. If it didn’t jive any memories in me, I would say there’s nothing too particularly special about it except for the fact that it’s a fairly well blended scent that’s accessible and easy to pull off.

Extra: L’Homme was released in 2006 and has a mixed reception. Some love it, some hate it. Most think it’s a pretty easy going fragrance that will work for the office.

Design: L’Homme’s bottle is really recognizable for me. Mainly because I see it everywhere I go. It’s one of those standard fragrances that isn’t very difficult to find and up until now, I never had the urge to actually walk up to it and spray some on because it was so unassuming a bottle. It’s simple, compact and would blend right in with the rest of your bottles.

Fragrance Family: Floral Woodsy

Notes: Ginger, bergamot, lemon, basil, ozone, pepper, spices, violet leaf, tonka bean, vetiver, cedar.

L’Homme does run a bit more sweet than most fragrances marketed to men. But it’s one of those scents that skirts the unisex to masculine line. So if you wanted a full on “man fragrance” then maybe this isn’t for you. L’Homme also doesn’t have the greatest longevity. What it does do well is provide a nice, inoffensive, easy to wear clean and floral scent. So I do so happen to like L’Homme–mostly because it reminded me of something good. Or at least, something familiar. Odd thing to do for a fragrance that was released long after I had those memories. But then, that’s what makes scents and memories fascinating.

Reviewed in This Post: L’Homme, 2011, Eau de Toilette.

Yves Saint Laurent Kouros

Every time someone asks for a strong, long-lasting fragrance marketed toward men someone else is bound to suggest Kouros.



In Bottle: Holy cow, it’s strong. Yeah, I’d say it lives up to its reputation. Bergamot, I think is what I’m smelling with a lot of aldehydes and some drowning florals.

Applied: All right, I understand why a lot of people hate this fragrance. They were kidding when they said it was strong. If you were thinking of getting this because you wanted a strong (with italics and everything) fragrance then Kouros will make you happy. Well, it’ll make you happen if you happen to enjoy powerful animalic fougeres. Kouros starts off with a big hit of bergamot that’s bolstered with a ton of aldehydes and a spicy herbal treatment that adds to the masculinity of the fragrance. You’re going to see a lot of hyperbolic language in this post because this stuff is strong. Period. It’s a bit screechy at first, and if you’re not used to strong fragrances, you will get a headache or your nose will be overwhelmed. Let Kouros rest on your skin for a while and it’ll develop into a deeper more animal fragrance that introduces another round of spices and a bit of incense. This is complex defined with its classical personality paired with an 80s Powerhouse underbelly. The dry down never seems to come with this stuff as it’s just so strong and so dominant that I can only say by the time I had to shower it off, it still smelled finely of smoke, musks, spice, florals and confidence.

Extra: Kouros was released in 1981. Named after a Greecian statue that typically depicts a youth in a standing pose.

Design: Not the most interesting bottle to look at, but I do notice the relative simplicity of men’s fragrance packaging compared to women’s fragrances. Kouros is a fine design though. It’s simple but functional, would not look out of place on a man’s wardrobe or wherever he chooses to use his cologne. It’s nice to hold, easy to use, and has an excellent sprayer.

Fragrance Family: Fougere

Notes: Aldehydes, artemisia, coriander, clary sage, bergamot, carnation, patchouli, cinnamon, orris root, jasmine, vetiver, geranium, honey, leather, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, oakmoss, vanilla.

Despite being so strong Kouros hits a nice and reasonable ground with me so that I don’t find it repulsive and strong. It’s a good fragrance, it’s very strong, and it’s considered close to the classics. If you can handle it’s strength then you’ll be very happy with it.

Reviewed in This Post: Kouros,  ~2000, Eau de Parfum.

Yves Saint Laurent Belle d’Opium

Belle d’Opium seems to have a dedicated following as well as a number of detractors who think it’s a blight. Me, I kinda like it.

Bell d'Opium

Bell d'Opium

In Bottle: The original Opium took me a while to like but Belle d’Opium is a simpler animal that’s, consequently easier to get into. It’s a spicy floral with a woodsy heart.

Applied: Goes on strong with a blast of peppery florals. I get gardenia under the huge layer of pepper and a few minutes later I get some jasmine. The lily is a backstage thing, as it’s such a light note that the pepper, gardenia, jasmine and whatever else is in Belle d’Opium is drowning it out. This fragrance goes on strong but it’s not room-clearing, smell-you-across-the-football-field strong. It’s got a good amount of power but also has a sense of restraint. As you let Belle d’Opium progress it takes on a woodsy quality of perfumed sandalwood and spiciness. There is a bit of spiciness in the end stages as the lingering pepper imparts some more itself throughout the fragrance’s lifespan but there’s something to be said about a well done perfume that doesn’t resort to fruity floral territory. While this is no Opium, it’s still a pretty daring flanker.

Extra: Belle d’Opium is a fairly new fragrance, having been released in 2010. It was composed by Honorine Blanc who did fragrances such as Twilight Woods for Bath and Body Works, and funny enough, Someday for Justin Bieber. She was aided in this endeavor by Alberto Morillas who composed such greats like Acqua di Gio and Mugler Cologne.

Design: Belle d’Opium borrows a similar aesthetic to the new Opium bottle design. Only this time, it’s got some blue and purple in it. I’m still a bit sore from losing the classic Opium bottle but this redesign looks very nice and is rather suitable for the type of fragrance Opium projects itself as.

Fragrance Family: Floral Oriental

Notes: Pepper, lily, gardenia, jasmine, sandalwood.

The comparisons between this and original Opium are inevitable. To me, aside from being from relatively the same fragrance family, Belle d’Opium is a distant echo of the original fragrance. It’s been updated a bit, but still maintains a certain old world style. It’s strong but no where near the power that was Opium. It smells pleasant but probably won’t become the iconic success that Opium saw. It’s just a nice flanker, and that’s about all that can said for it.

Reviewed in This Post: Belle d’Opium, 2010, Eau de Parfum.

Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse

Yvresse has a bit of a funny history. According to Fragrantica, it was once known as champagne but was forced to change its name to Yvresse after a few lawsuits.


In Bottle: Juicy peach and nectarine note that’s very crisp coupled with a delicate white floral accord. Extremely pretty!

Applied: Crisp and fruity opening, very peachy and nectarine-y. Quite edible on the opening actually even with the white florals hidden in the background. Yvresse has a delicate, fruity touch upon opening as it starts to evolve into its mid-stage with a warming sensation and an introduction of spices and heavier flowers. Much to my delight the peach and nectarine notes take their time to fade out as the spicy floral mid-stage takes hold. The rose is the major star in the middle stage, amping up with the spice to remind me of classic roses, and other spicy rose iterations like Le Labo’s Rose 31. Now the rose in mid-stage Yvresse is not quite like Rose 31, it’s cleaner, fruitier, definitely sweeter, and–somehow–smells more mainstream yet remains approachable. The dry down is marked with a warm, sweet, vetiver and a green soft mossiness that mingles perfectly well with the lingering traces of spiciness.

Extra: Yvresse has been noted by some as a fruity chypre. And while I can readily agree with the fruity part, I was originally hesitant to call this a chypre myself. It certainly has the oak moss base and the progression of a chypre but I was still a bit hesitant. A little more thought and a little more time and I eventually came around to it all. Oak moss or no, Yvresse progresses like a Chypre. Its opening peach note often relating it to Mitsouko. But Mitsouko’s peach is still a great deal more sophisticated, and significantly less sweet. Yvresse, nevertheless, remains absolutely beautiful.

Design: Yvress’ bottle is a glass oval-like shape with textured elements on the glass itself. The juice is a yellow-golden color, giving the look of the bottle a luxurious edge. This bottle is easy to hold and easy to use. I just wish the cap wasn’t plastic–but then, I always end up wishing that.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Chypre

Notes: Nectarine, peach, caraway, anise, menthol, carnation, rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, cinnamon, litchi, vanilla, benzoin, amber, musk, styrax, oak moss, patchouli, vetiver.

I found it quite the challenge to get a look at this one in a department store. One would think a beautiful piece like this from a rather famous house like Yves Saint Laurent would be much easier to get a hold of.

Reviewed in This Post: Yvresse, 1998, Eau de Toilette.

Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne

Parisienne is a weird fragrance. Weird because it’s very famous, sometimes maligned, vinyl accord note is a deal breaker for a lot of people. And can you really blame them? The vinyl has been accused of smelling like, “cat pee”, “vomit”, “rubber”, “plastic”, and the ever popular, “yuck!”

Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne

In Bottle: Bright berry note with a really nice sweet rose up front. This reminds me a bit of Paris, it’s the rose doing most of it though and the shape of the bottle.

Applied: Starts off on a good sweet berry and pink rose note but the rose is gone in an instant. Replacing it is the vinyl accord. They were pretty upfront about this, I guess. Now vinyl accord is–well, I’m not sure what YSL was intending for this fragrance and this vinyl note but it makes the whole thing smell like fruity plastic. This smells like I rubbed a bowl of berries on a tire. The vinyl is a trickster too. It’ll fade out upon midstage where the fruitiness is toned down and you’re left with a faintly plastic smelling rosy floral concoction of confusion and wariness. Then when you think you’ve made it past Parisienne, vinyl comes roaring back in the end stage though it is more behaved there, playing rather nicely with the patchouli and woods waiting there.

Extra: Parisienne echoes the design sensibility of Paris but aside from a fleeting rose note, the two are different monsters. Paris is a light, fun-filled floral on a sunny day. Parisienne is paint fumes and fruit arrangements.

Design: Parisienne’s bottle is similar to that of Paris. It’s an egg-shaped glass that reminds me a bit of the bottle for Flowerbomb–only girlier, with more glam. The bottle’s kind of a miss for me, not because it’s ugly or anything. I just don’t think it looks like anything special.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Damascus rose, violet, peony, vinyl accord, lacquer, cranberry, patchouli, vetiver, musk, sandalwood.

I’m not going wild over Parisienne here. There’s moments where going full on synthetic is forgivable and fun. But this perfume just doesn’t smell right to me.

Reviewed in This Post: Parisienne, 2009, Eau de  Parfum.

Yves Saint Laurent Opium

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. Opium

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.

YSL Opium Fleur Imperiale

Still working up to my ultimate appreciation of Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium. I decided that since I wasn’t able to work myself up to Opium yet, I should start with Opium Light, as I call it. Otherwise known as the limited edition Summer Opium Flankers that feature Fleur Imperiale. Opium Fleur Imperiale

In Bottle: Definitely Opium based but the original fragrance has been reduced from its big flashy self to a lighter pleasant base for a layer of clean and sheer woods.

Applied: Neroli and Jasmine make a first impression as the Opium base matures and sticks around for the mid and dry down stages. Over Opium there is a nice, dusty sandalwood that covers the fragrance in a clean twang. The rest is handled by dry osmanthus and cleaned up myrrh. At its heart, this is a more flowery version of the original Opium. Carnation is used sparingly in this giving the fragrance a bit of floral spice. Not a lot though so if you were concerned about it, don’t be. Fleur Imperiale smells exotic. Like a nap under the shade of a tree in a desert  palace. It helps that Fleur Imperiale is a dry, warm, clean scent as its approach on dry down is a parched but beautiful myrrh-backed, golden vanilla amber.

Extra: Great introductory fragrance to Opium, the classic. Even though this is a flanker one wouldn’t venture to purchase a flanker if they didn’t like original Opium. I urge you to try the summer limited editions, however. Particularly Fleur Imperiale and Shanghai. They are toned down and more sheer. Great for anyone hesitant and anyone who wants to come to understand and appreciate Opium for all its earthy, spicy goodness.

Design: I love the design on this bottle. It’s shaped like Opium with pretty red flowers on the glass. My major complaint, however, is the plastic sprayer and plastic cap. Okay, the plastic caps are common and I should stop raging about those now. I can dig that. But a plastic sprayer? Come on. Every time I go to spray this stuff, I’m worried the plastic sprayer is going to somehow break or worse yet, break off. The plastic sprayer just feels and looks cheap. I’d like a hardware upgrade (too late for that) but other than that, Opium Fleur Imperiale is a pleasant thing to behold.

Fragrance Family: Floral Oriental

Notes: Mandarin orange, neroli, bergamot, carnation, jasmine, apricot blossom, amber, patchouli, vanilla, osmanthus, woods, myrrh.

I was very  impressed though a little disappointed by how similar Fleur Imperiale and Fleur de Shanghai are. There is a minor difference though as Imperiale is decidedly warmer and lacks the gentle sweetness.

Reviewed in This Post: Fleur Imperiale, 2006, Eau de Toilette.

Yves Saint Laurent Elle

Light, sweet, and fruity. Elle is Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)’s attempt at attracting a younger female audience. While there has been some discussion about Elle smelling like tea, I have to differ. It’s a bright fruity, clean, woodsy scent and that is pretty much where the buck stops. Elle

In Bottle: Immediate smell of citrus and fruits. Elle comes on strong and sweet with a burst of lychee and berries after the citrus carries it up to the nose. The fruits don’t quit when this stuff is in the bottle and they make it difficult to detect anything beneath them. Yet, I get this clean feeling from the scent with a touch of steady base that I attribute to the woods.

Applied: Again, citrus and sweet fruits up front and center as the fragrance pulls no punches in making itself well known. Elle has a veneer of simplicity though because as the fragrances ages on the skin the fruits are slowly complimented by the wood notes giving this fragrance a sharper quality. There are elements of florals in this fragrance but the fruits are difficult to get past. I can barely detect the jasmine hanging out. As for the two earth notes (vetiver and patchouli) that are supposed to be in this? They’re there but they compliment the fruits so well that I didn’t really notice them. Overall, Elle is a well incorporated fragrance though the fruits in here are very prominent but they are kept well in line by the woods. The rest of the notes seem to be content with just hanging out.

Extra: With perfumers Olivier Cresp and Jacques Cavallier behind the creation of Elle, it’s really no surprise how we came to arrive at this woodsy fruity mix. Cresp and Cavallier are known (to me) as the men behind Nina Ricci’s Nina (2006), a sweet citrus fruity fragrance. My first “grown up” perfume.

Design: I can’t say I’m wild about the bottle for Elle. On paper it looks bold and interesting. In person, the bottle fails to impress me. With its hard sharp edges, Elle is built like a skyscraper with a plastic hot pink detachable cube to protect the sprayer. The design looks girly and metropolitan at the same time but the shape and the feel of it just seems lacking to me like there’s something missing in the design that would make it stand out a bit more.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Chypre

Notes: Citrus, lychee, berries, jasmine, woods, vetiver, and patchouli.

Pleasant, pleasing and inoffensive. Elle’s got it all if you’re looking for an easy to wear, fruity chypre. I wouldn’t say it’d be my first pick for a fruity perfume but the woods definitely give it a bit of uniqueness when compared to the other fruity fragrances it has to compete with. As for that tea thing? I don’t smell no tea.

Reviewed in This Post: Elle, 2010, Eau de Parfum Tester.