YSL Black Opium Eau de Parfum – Where Black Is the New Sweet

Hello fragrance entries, we meet again!

I’m not going to say it’s been awhile, even though it has, because it’s starting to seem like my entries are highly biased towards one side and I’ve not been giving a good number of categories equal spotlight, until this 30 Days of YSL that is!

I know that inequality is largely true – it’s been very makeup-focused, collection-release-focused, and just a whole lot of rara on new and upcoming stuff. It’s sad but also inevitable due to the little amount of time I can squeeze out for my blog space once New Job started.

Which left me thinking… no matter how epic in proportions this series was and no matter how much time it took, I’m glad for it. Because it allowed me to revisit and fall in love once more with doing up such (fragrance, foundie reviews, skincare mentions etc) entries again, apart from simply ‘keeping with the times‘.

So anyway, back to this fragrance write up!

Now… Black Opium, where do I even start with this.

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Putting the Black in Opium –

I’m not the most well-versed when it comes to YSL’s fragrances. In fact this is probably my second encounter with their scents, the first being a deluxe sample with Manifesto when it launched and I didn’t quite deem it my kind of scent to think much of it but… that’s that so back to Black Opium.

Based on some searching about I did to better understand YSL’s fragrances, Black Opium is apparently the third flanker to YSL’s very iconic and slightly vintage Opium range.

I’m not sure how Opium, or the prior 2 flankers, smells like (be it the original or the newly revamped version) but from what I gather of feedback online and reading notes, it seems like Black Opium is quite a departure from the sensuality and maturity that the Opium series has.

It’s almost as if Black Opium is that teenage little sister in the family, taking a different turn from the rest of the family but yet in some essence still a part of it because it still carries the same strength and ‘weight’ that the Opium range does.

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Now, about the Black Opium scent…

I feel that instead of going straight to it and giving you the breakdown of notes, I always like to express perfume reviews in a more emotive way. Speaking about the feelings the scent is suppose to invoke, the scenarios it aims to play out and the sort of personality it hopes to represent.

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I’ll do the same for Black Opium but instead of just focusing on how the scent plays out from spritz to dry down, which frankly and sadly isn’t much of a transformation because while the notes do change it’s largely linear on me, I’ll also talk about impressions from the print ad, to bottle design and all.

Because I think where Black Opium is concerned, the impression and experience from bottle to spritz is as crucial because that was where I felt a bit of a disconnect.

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Perhaps because I missed the ‘gourmand scent’ memo, but… Just to be sure you don’t get as taken aback as I did, here’s Black Opium. 

 

The Black Opium Kinda Girl…

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YSL’s Black Opium is like that girl in a sleek black dress, slightly glam-ed up but yet still a little sexy and playful – edgy perhaps. She’s standing by herself, drink in hand with a gaze that’s both quite mesmerizing and slightly intimidating at the same time. Unapproachable almost in how immaculate she carries herself, not that she’s overly poised because there’s an element of casual in her demeanor with her hair slightly tousled but she feels intense with her perfectly smoked eye makeup and piercing gaze.

Though, giving it a shot you approach her and the minute she catches your gaze on her and the small steps you take in her direction she breaks out to a smile. A smile that’s bright and mismatching of the mysterious aura she has shrouded herself in. A smile that is inviting and warm that you find yourself drawn to her.

Taken aback a little, maybe, but curious.

So you chat and you get to know her better and she’s not all that daunting and hardly even that edgy and mysterious. She’s bright, bubbly, infectious and warm – comfortable almost in a sweet and intoxicating way with her personality. The only thing that still stands from her demeanor is her intent gaze.

Friendlier and warmer now, but still intense.

That, to me, sums up the Black Opium experience.

It’s not a scent I dislike, I think it all boils down to a matter of preference and, as the personification describes, whether it works out to be the reason why you approached the fragrance to begin with.

If you wanted a cool, dark and mysterious fragrance akin to the edginess that YSL embodies as a brand, then you might be surprised and confused to find that Black Opium – despite its perfectly matching exterior – is not that.

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The Scent & Notes –

While the notes play heavily on the inclusion of coffee as well as a rather beautiful (in theory) mix of white flowers, it somehow didn’t end up being what I had envisioned in my mind given what I know of those notes.

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Immediately, Black Opium opens sweet and vibrant but thankfully not fruity. It truly is gourmand and I’m not sure where that sweetness is coming from with the top notes of Pink Pepper and Orange Blossom.

The Pink Pepper’s refreshing kicker is detectable but again, mostly marred by the sweet creamy blend of everything else.

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At the heart you have Jasmine and Coffee which I could not detect and place, not obviously at least. Maybe it’s me or the way they blend together that I’m unaccustomed to.

I have to really sniff my wrist to detect the ground earthiness and more robust creaminess of the coffee note and as for the jasmine, I prefer my jasmine stronger and I could hardly detect it here.

The base notes and dry down are most evident on me, which is not a surprise because from what I’ve learnt my body chemistry lovessss playing up the warm notes and jumping straight to the bases.

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The vanilla and cedarwood are most apparent, even from the first spritz and the patchouli takes its turn to peek out here and there through wear. Even then I can’t be too sure because after wearing varying fragrances for so long I still can’t quite pin-point patchouli as a scent… But that’s just me.

Top Notes: Pink Pepper, Orange Blossom
Heart Notes: Jasmine, Coffee
Base Notes: Vanilla, Patchouli, Cedarwood

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Summing It Up…

In all, I’m not going to say that Black Opium is a bad scent because scent is so personal and subjective. From what I have seen, opinions on this are diversed with a group adoring it and another group throwing some shade at it only because they expected more of the fragrance, or of YSL.

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I don’t blame them for it because a part of me did feel that while gourmand there could be a little more spice or a little more freshness or rebellious fun to the scent instead of coming out as a straight and frankly slightly predictable gourmand.

The saving grace is the slightly sweet and smokey turns this fragrance has that gives it a little more intensity and depth than the truly typical fruity or candy splashes of gourmands. It’s like a grown up version of sweet perfumes and the kind of guilty pleasure indulgence that ladies from an older age group who love gourmands can look to and a slightly more grown up option for the younger ladies who are looking to transit from their sweet favorites to something more ‘adult’ and intense.

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That all aside, I’m also happy to report that this Eau de Parfum wears well through the entire day and I still get wafts of the creamy sweetness at 8pm (after a day at work).

A word of caution though, it is a strong and prominent scent so spritz in moderation!

I know I got a little carried away with this perfume write up, as I always do, but I hope it helps you better envision the scent.

As always I still recommend you to visit the boutique and give this a whiff for yourself!

I don’t believe Black Opium deserves all the negativity it is getting, rather it’s more about managing what to expect from this and frankly if this isn’t your kind of scent, YSL has loads more fragrances in their portfolio to explore!

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I’m kinda in love with another from them so I’ll talk about that soon, real soon!
Thanks for reading!

YSL’s Black Opium Eau de Parfum retails for S$159 for 90ml. This product is permanent.

Sponsorship disclosure

Another Neroli Goodness – L'OCCITANE's Néroli & Orchidée Fragrance

Neroli, oh Neroli, what have you done to me that you have me wrapped about your delicate petals.

Before I dwell into the fragrance let me first explain this magical ingredient that I seem just about obsessed with of late. I have (temporarily) tossed my long-standing affection for roses to be deeply infatuated with this sweet, aromatic and softly floral note.

Neroli is a plant oil derived from the white blooms of the Bitter Orange plant, which is the reason why it usually goes by two names – Neroli or Orange Blossom. However the name Neroli, is somewhat an honorrific status given to this particular scent because in the 17th Century, the Princess of Nerola, Italy (Anne Marie Orsini) favored this fragrance, perfuming her bath and gloves with it.

So, with all that history said and done, let’s move on to L’OCCITANE’s take on Neroli, infused with a french flair.

Joining L’OCCITANE’s La Collection de Grasse is this exquisiutely beautiful fragrance that is… actually a little difficult to describe.

I am in no way a scent expert but I do like to write perfume entries because I feel it allows me to be… free. Very much like the abstractness of perfume ads, it’s always about the flow of the scent, the fluidity (or not) of how they transit, meld and work together to invoke the best of each other.

But of course not all perfumes are a delight to describe with some being way too complex to word and are best experienced for yourself.

In a way, Neroli & Orchidee is exactly like that.

For one, it isn’t extremely complex or very ‘cult’. It is simply a very very beautiful scent.

Describing it this simply is not doing it enough justice so I shall try to put it in some abstract context on the sort of emotions, and invoked thoughts that come to mind when this fragrance wafts by me.

This fragrance is a true beauty, radiant and lifting while being perfectly demure and calm all the same.

It brings to mind a poised individual with many facades, though notably someone a little older than their teens because of the soft musky aspect, though don’t think this wears heavily (ala Fleur d’Or & Acacia).

The scent wears pretty linear on me but given how beautiful it starts off and continues to wear (on my body chemistry), I don’t mind that aspect of it.

One intriguing and, well, beautiful (how many times have I used this?) aspect of this fragrance is how softly and yet evidently it lingers.

It isn’t an overpowering scent on, unlike (Penhaligon’s) Ellenisia for example, and what it does is work as a perfect ‘aura’ around you in as subtle a way possible.

I have gotten people asking “what’s that nice smell” when I am close by them instead of a “what perfume are you wearing?”. For some, who prefer their fragrances to work in the background a little, this is perfect.

As for the lasting ability, this lasts extremely well on me be it through a cool short day or a long and hot day at work. Though it does morph a little towards the end and develop a slightly more powdery, sweet musk edge but it doesn’t fade to nothing nor does it get overpoweringly musky.

While linear in a general observation this scent does have tiny twists and turns, hardly noticeable but still evident if you must pick it out.

The Scent Journey –

Starting with the top notes, the first spritz is very fresh, juicy and pronounced. It starts of vibrant and youthful with the Top Notes of Mandarin and Orange. Yet somehow with these citrus kickers, the scent still remains very creamy and smooth without being overly vibrant or tangy. Citrus scents aren’t something I particularly prefer so I am glad for this.

The Heart Notes kick in very quickly for me, almost immediately after the initial fresh burst, I get the meld of Neroli followed by a warm mix of florals. For the longest time I could not pin-point what this wafting scent was but I believe it could be the fusion of Peach with Lily of the Valley (one of my favorite perfume notes) along with Neroli amping up the warmth of this fruity floral mix. Quick note, perfumes always take a warmer turn on my skin, for some reason. There is apparently Fig Milk within this Heart Note mix but I can’t seem to pick up on it so I presume it has blended beautifully into the mix.

The base notes further play up the soft powdery florals of this as Orchid makes its entrance and blends in with Lily of the Valley, making it a more floral and powdery scent with Iris and Musk warming and sweetening it up. Though thankfully with Neroli still present at this turn, it prevents the scent from turning too sweet or musky / powdery on that it gets a little heavy and sickening.

Instead the blend by this point is absolutely beautiful and lasts well through the day with the florals taking a peek every now and then through the course of wear.

In all, this scent is feminine and soft while having a radiant personality and a soft spunkiness brought about by the strong presence of Neroli.

Overall it is a scent that i highly recommend everyone check out because of how perfectly wearable it is for everyday yet still dressy enough to make everyday feel special.

It is especially beautiful to wear to work, I feel, be it for client meetings or if you will just be within the office. It brings to mind this strong and productive career woman imagery, weird I know, that is confident and no-nonsense when it comes to work but can unwind and have a good laugh with colleagues when need be.

I know, it’s weird but yes, as I said, I think sometimes perfumes are best expressed with some situational imagery. Though of course this is my story, you should give the perfume a whirl and tell me what your story is!

L’OCCITANE’s Néroli & Orchidée Eau de Toilette retails for S$94 (for 75ml) and will be permanent to La Collection de Grasse

Thanks for reading!