DSH Perfumes Euphorisme d’Opium (The YSL Retrospective Collection)

Natalie Portman by Mert & Marcus for W magazine, 2006. Source: photochronograph.ru

Natalie Portman by Mert & Marcus for W magazine, 2006. Source: photochronograph.ru

The Goddess now has a daughter. The ferocious, untamed, raw sexuality of vintage Opium has been handed down to a more restrained, less overtly voluptuous, quieter girl called Euphorisme d’Opium. She may be less bold, less likely to take your head off with fiery roar, but my response is: “Come to mama.” Actually, that was one of the ways that I wanted to open this review, since it was only slightly less inelegant than simply telling the legion of Opium fans to just get out their credit card. But get out your credit card. If you’re one of the many in the Opium cult, one of those who has mourned the passing of the “Bitch Goddess” (to use a friend of mine’s loving description for the YSL classic), then this is the time to rejoice. Euphorisme d’Opium from DSH Perfumes is as close as we’re going to get to reinvention of the Queen. She finally has a daughter.

Photo: Mert & Marcus for Interview Magazine.

Photo: Mert & Marcus for Interview Magazine.

There is nothing in the world like vintage Opium. Nothing. And there never will be. That needs to be stated right at the start. Absolutely nothing can or will ever replicate the precise beauty of that monster powerhouse down to a T. The reasons are simple, starting primarily with the scarcity of Mysore sandalwood which might as well be extinct for anyone not possessing massive financial resources. Modern IFRA regulations on eugenol, ceiling limitations on the quantities of various other ingredients, and the issue of animal musk are other supporting factors as well. Yet, to the extent that an olfactory daughter may be possible, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes has done it.

Photo series for Interview Magazine by Mert & Marcus.

Opium Den photo series for Interview Magazine by Mert & Marcus.

It’s not something I say lightly. Regular readers know that vintage Opium is my absolute favorite fragrance, and that I despise the modern monstrosity that purports to bear its name. Modern “Opium” is a castrati, a disemboweled, emasculated eunuch, and a utter travesty. (L’Oreal, you should be ashamed of yourselves, you despicable, parasitic vultures.) If anything, I’m likely to be much tougher on attempts to seize The Goddess’ mantle. If they fall short, you can be sure that I would rip it apart. No-one messes with my beloved Opium, and lives to tell the tale.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Source: The Perfume Magazine.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Source: The Perfume Magazine.

To take on a reinvention of Opium is a very tall order. Apart from technical difficulties involving the ingredient restrictions, it probably cannot be done unless you have a deep love and understanding of who Yves St. Laurent was himself. The Indie, artisanal perfumer, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, has that in spades, and it clearly shows. Euphorisme d’Opium is part of her YSL Retrospective Collection for the Denver Art Museum that I talked about in my review for Le Smoking. The latter is a gloriously beautiful fragrance that captures the very essence of what The Maestro was trying to do with his revolutionary, gender-bending jackets. And she’s done the same thing in capturing the essence, heart, and character of his Opium as well.

Euphorisme d'Opium in pure parfum and in an antique bottle. Source: DSH Parfums website.

Euphorisme d’Opium in pure parfum and in an antique bottle. Source: DSH Parfums website.

The DSH website describes Euphorisme d’Opium as follows:

The original “YSL Opium” perfume, when launched was a scandal. Not only for the open drug reference but for it’s open sexuality and sensuality. Just as YSL was inspired by his beloved Morocco and the Orient, I have infused the original design of Opium perfume (which as of 2010, is no longer on the market) with some extra doses of the euphoric aromas that bring this enchanting Spicy-Oriental perfume to life.

According to Ms. Hurwitz’s comments to me in email correspondence, the notes in Euphorisme d’Opium include:

bergamot, bitter orange, bay laurel, pimento berry, mandarin, eugenol-based carnation, bulgarian rose absolute, cinnamon bark, aldehyde c-14 (aka: gamma-undecalactone – peach), clove bud, egyptian jasmine absolute, olibanum, east indian patchouli, eastern lily – mixed media accord, australian sandalwood, tolu balsam, benzoin, beeswax absolute, myrrh gum, pink pepper, ylang ylang, amber essence, atlas cedar, galaxolide, cedramber, indolene, and vanilla absolute.

Photo: Alamy. Source: The Daily Mail.

Photo: Alamy. Source: The Daily Mail.

Euphorisme d’Opium opens on my skin with a strong burst of spices. Instantly, you are hit by cloves, black pepper, pink pepper, and the bite of fiery chilis. They are followed by orange and bergamot, both of which have been infused with patchouli and incense, and the whole thing lies on a base of golden amber. Moments later, other notes arrive. There are delicate pink roses, trailed by hints of jasmine and ylang-ylang. The most prominent thing, however, is a dark, blood-red carnation. It practical swaggers into an arena dominated by spices and incense. The latter is interesting, smelling of both the black frankincense variety and the dustier myrrh sort.

Source: 1stdibs.com

Source: 1stdibs.com

In fact, there is initially almost a dusty quality to Euphorisme d’Opium, subtle though it may be. It is evocative of an old spice drawer whose contents have been unsettled, blowing fiery, pungent, and peppered particles into the air like a cloud of red, brown, and black dust. They swirl into the fruits which are such a key part of vintage Opium’s beginning.

There is a particular opening accord in that famous fragrance that everyone knows, where the bergamot feels transformed almost as if by pungent oakmoss into something brown-green, bitter, but sweet. In the same way, the orange is never just a warm glow of sun-sweetened, heavy juices, but something more pungent, spiced, and rich. It’s a peculiar transformation due to the spices and accompanying elements in Opium, where simple fruits are turned into something completely new with a darkness and a bite.

Source: Flowerpics.net

Source: Flowerpics.net

That happens here, too, with Euphorisme d’Opium. The spices are not the sole cause. The carnation is critical, though a rich, brown patchouli helps to a small extent. In fact, the carnation note is extremely prominent in the opening phase, smelling both floral and a little like cloves as well. Speaking of the cloves, I really don’t find the note to be as bold or as strong in Euphorisme d’Opium as it was in the original. It’s a shame, as that is one of my favorite elements of vintage Opium, but it probably makes Euphorisme much more approachable for a modern audience.

Adele by Mert & Marcus for US Vogue, 2013. Source: meltyfashion.fr

Adele by Mert & Marcus for US Vogue, 2013. Source: meltyfashion.fr

That is one of the many early differences that I detect. The cloves are not as robust, the incense is much lighter, the perfume is much less smoky, there is no Mysore sandalwood adding to the spiciness of the bouquet, and the perfume feels substantially sheerer in the opening moments.

With Euphorisme d’Opium, there isn’t an instant impression of fiery red and brown, nor a sense of viscosity that blankets you with heavy, thick, almost resinous, almost mossy, primordial ooze. Though the perfume changes later on to gain more body and richness, the opening verges on the gauzy at times. Euphorisme d’Opium is strong and potent in actual smell, but the visuals convey sheerness, and the cloves don’t punch you in the gut in quite the same way. (It’s undoubtedly due to the rules and limitations on eugenol, though Ms. Hurwitz has tried to use an “eugenol-based carnation” instead.) To compensate for that fact, the levels of both the black pepper and the rose in Euphorisme d’Opium seem higher than in the original.

These are small things that only someone who has worshiped, studied, dissected, and worn Opium for almost 30 years would ever realise. Well, probably not the initial sheerness, as I think that is extremely obvious, but definitely the rest. For the most part, Euphorisme d’Opium has an extremely similar feel of spicy, pungent, smoky richness infused with orange and crisp bergamot fruits that are simultaneously bitter and juicily sweet. There is the same visual of a golden bed of amber, and the same sense of florals lightly swirled into the mix, but waiting to show off the full extent of their voluptuous character.

Ylang-Ylang. Source: Soapgoods.com

Ylang-Ylang. Source: Soapgoods.com

The first hints of that character occur less than 15 minutes into Euphorisme d’Opium’s development. First, the vanilla peeks out its head. Then, minutes later, the ylang-ylang starts to emerge, adding its slightly custardy, banana-y, richly yellowed, velvety opulence to the mix. Both notes grow stronger with every passing moment. The ylang-ylang takes over the lead from the carnation, while the rose recedes to the sidelines.

In the horse race that is Euphorisme d’Opium, a hint of cedar appears at the starting gate, while the jasmine suddenly bolts out of the blue to the front of the pack. Its syrupy sweetness vies neck and neck with the ylang-ylang’s velvet to create a floral brew that is rich, heady, and narcotic. The two leaders are trailed by the spice pack, then by the bitter-sweet bergamot and orange, incense, carnation, and patchouli. Amber and vanilla are a few lengths back, while the poor cedar is still struggling to get out of the gate. The rose now watches in the Kentucky Derby’s guest box, sipping on a cocktail, and admiring the ylang-ylang leader’s yellow silks.

The overall effect is to suddenly wipe out that initial impression of thinness and gauziness, adding body and depth to Euphorisme d’Opium. There is almost a voluptuousness about the scent, the same feeling of languid, purring sensuality that lay at the heart of vintage Opium. Yet, the differences from the original continue to manifest themselves. I don’t think Euphorisme d’Opium is anywhere near as heavily smoky or incense driven as vintage Opium. The focus seems more floral in nature, with the buttery ylang-ylang in particular being stronger.

"Tattooed Salome," c.1876 by Gustave Moreau.

“Tattooed Salome,” c.1876 by Gustave Moreau.

As a whole, Euphorisme d’Opium feels much softer in attitude, as well as in its notes. Vintage Opium was a “Spice King” for Luca Turin, biblical Salome in my eyes, and the ultimate “Bitch Goddess” for one of my readers. Euphorisme d’Opium is a tempting courtesan bedecked with smoke, spices, and heady florals, but she’s not going to rip your head off and stick a dagger into your heart if you cross her. She won’t shiv you with cloves after blinding your eyes with smoke. She won’t undulate in a slithering lap dance of dark, treacly, balsamic resins, and she won’t take away your willpower with a thick haze of heavy amber.

Opium’s daughter is much less slutty, less brazenly bold, less intense. She is a more well-behaved courtesan with a light heart who prefers to flaunt her floral robes instead, though those robes are still covered with spices and slit quite low in a suggestive wink.

Natalie Portman by Mert & Marcus for W magazine, 2006. Source: forums.thefashionspot.com

Natalie Portman by Mert & Marcus for W magazine, 2006. Source: forums.thefashionspot.com

At the start of the 2nd hour, Euphorisme d’Opium shifts a little. The perfume loses some of the heft that it had gained, and becomes thinner again. The spices weaken as well, leaving a bouquet that is primarily centered on ylang-ylang, jasmine, bergamot, orange, and spices (in that order) with incense, patchouli and vanilla. The ylang-ylang and the jasmine are still in their horse race for first place, alternating places in the lead as Euphorisme d’Opium progresses. There is little carnation, the rose is still sitting in the visitor’s box, and the cedar is still trailing the pack. The smoke is well-blended throughout, but it really isn’t a powerful, solitary presence in its own right. In other words, it is not the hefty wall that exists in Opium, but a thinner veil.

1977 Opium advert featuring Jerry Hall. Photo: Helmut Newton. Source: Vogue.com

1977 Opium advert featuring Jerry Hall. Photo: Helmut Newton. Source: Vogue.com

Perhaps the best way that I can convey the comparative feel of Euphorisme d’Opium is with numbers. If the original, vintage version of Opium (especially that from the late 70s) set everything at a 10 on the scale (or blew it out at an 11), then Euphorisme d’Opium starts out initially at an 7.5 across most categories, but creates the general sense of an 8. After 2 hours, the numbers then drop down to a 6 for the ylang-ylang, 5s for the remainder, and a 4 for the spices. (Opium would still be at a 10 at this point.) But these are good numbers for the DSH creation, given that the 2000 to 2005 versions of Opium are barely worth classification, in my opinion, and certainly nothing after that period. (I won’t even smell the current scent. To whichever L’Oreal executives approved the castrated eunuchs, I hope you’re plagued with nightmares for the rest of your miserable existence. Euphorisme d’Opium proves that it is possible to have a modern, reformulated Opium, you money-hungry idiots.)

Going back to Euphorisme d’Opium, the whole thing is cocooned in a golden embrace, but amber isn’t a strong component of the scent in any clearly delineated, individually distinct way. I don’t smell Euphorisme d’Opium and think, “aha, labdanum!” The amber works with the tolu balsam resin indirectly to create a warmth and richness that tie all the notes together, but they’re not a driving force.

2.75 hours into Euphorisme d’Opium’s development, the perfume is a soft intimate scent of spiced ylang-ylang and jasmine with bergamot, slightly dusty myrrh, an increasingly syrupy patchouli and dry cedar, atop a resinous, ambered base flecked with vanilla. The Australian sandalwood emerges in the base, though it doesn’t really smell of sandalwood in any particular way. Its primary characteristic is creaminess, which is helped by the lovely vanilla. Between the sweet jasmine, the velvety ylang-ylang, and that base, Euphorisme d’Opium feels incredibly smooth, feeling an elegant, sleek sheath that coats the skin like silk. It’s a rich scent up close, but far from opaque or heavy. From afar, the overall impression is of cloved, spicy florals with tendrils of incense.

Photo: bykoket.com

Photo: bykoket.com

Euphorisme d’Opium continues to soften. As the 3rd hour draws to a close, the perfume is smear of spiced florals with incense, amber, and vanilla. Euphorisme d’Opium grows more floral, more vanillic, and less spicy with every passing hour. By the middle of the 5th, it’s an absolutely beautiful jasmine and ylang-ylang scent that is only lightly spiced, but fully infused with a creamy, slightly dry vanilla, and a touch of smoke. About 7.5 hours in, Euphorisme d’Opium is a sexy, delicate, intimate scent of creamy flowers with vanilla and a touch of smoke. It remains that way for hours and hours, feeling compulsively sniffable whenever I bring my arm to my nose. In its final moments, Euphorisme d’Opium is a mere blur of floral sweetness, fading away a huge 13.5 hours from the start. The longevity is fantastic.

I’m less enthused by the sillage. Vintage Opium was a powerhouse. Euphorisme d’Opium is not. Ms. Hurwitz has told me that she doesn’t like big sillage or scents that leave a taste in one’s mouth. She prefers for fragrances to be intimate. Euphorisme d’Opium is stronger than many of the fragrances in her line, but only if you apply a lot. I was given a small atomizer to test and, the very first time I applied Euphorisme d’Opium, I merely dabbed it on. I didn’t spray, but applied a decent smear. Euphorisme d’Opium turned into a skin scent on me within 20 minutes. It was strong in bouquet, but only if I put my nose right on the skin. Interestingly, however, my shirt that I also sprayed it on wafted a huge amount of fragrance, about 5 inches in radius at first. But my skin? Nope. So I tried 2 smears of Euphorisme d’Opium — that didn’t do much for me, either. The perfume turned into a skin scent on me after an hour.

While dabbing and small quantities are a lost cause, Euphorisme d’Opium is a whole different story with spraying. Aerosolisation always increases the power and potency of a fragrance, but that seems especially true for this scent. 3 decent sprays from my small atomizer created a soft cloud that wafted 2-3 inches above the skin. For the sake of comparison, a similar amount of vintage Opium projects well over a foot on me, while 3 sprays from an actual bottle will give me about 3 feet in projection. (God, I love vintage Opium!) But Opium’s daughter is a child of the modern age, of modern tastes, and, most of all, of Ms. Hurwitz’s preference for softer, intimate fragrances that aren’t force fields. Euphorisme d’Opium’s sillage drops an inch after 30 minutes, then another at the end of the first hour.

Source: abm-enterprises.net

Source: abm-enterprises.net

It hovers a mere inch, at best, above the skin from the end of the first hour until approximately the 2.5 hour mark when it turns into a skin scent. However, it is still extremely rich, deep, and potent when smelled up close. And no voracious sniffing is required, either. Euphorisme d’Opium remains that way until the start of the 8th hour, which is when more effort is required, and when the perfume turns truly wispy and thin. It’s really lovely though, and the overall longevity on my perfume-consuming skin is fantastic.

There are no reviews for Euphorisme d’Opium on Fragrantica‘s entry page, but there are very positive assessments for the fragrance on blogs. On Bois de Jasmin, a guest post from Suzanna reads:

Euphorisme is based upon the original Opium formula, which DSH has enhanced.  It sounds as if it might be dangerous territory, but DSH handles it smoothly, creating not a dupe but a chypre/Oriental for the 21st century with delicious orange/pimento notes shining through a veil of carnation and spice. DSH added honey and pink pepper notes that were to the best of her knowledge not in the original.  Euphorisme is seduction by spice.

The sultry Victoria at EauMG writes, in part:

Euphorisme d’Opium opens as a spicy bitter citrus and aldehydes over fresh florals – carnation and rose, and lilies. There’s a creamy peach that adds a freshness to this spicy floral. It has a cloud of spices – pink pepper, clove, cinnamon. The heart is a spicy floral sweetened by a raw, sensual honey. The dry-down is warm and smoky incense and resins. The civet adds a depth that you just don’t smell in modern perfumes. It’s an intoxicating fragrance.

Ava Gardner photo from EauMG's review.

Ava Gardner photo from EauMG’s review.

Opium fans are aware that in 2010 the perfume was reformulated. Euphorisme d’Opium is closer to the original but isn’t a 100% dupe. In relation to Estee Lauder Cinnabar (you can’t talk about Opium without speaking of Cinnabar), Euphorisme d’Opium is smoother and doesn’t have such an aggressive, growling top/opening. In comparison to the pre-reformulated Opium and Cinnabar, Euphorisme is sheerer and more approachable to a “right now” audience. For example, original Opium wore like an Afghan coat, Euphorisme d’Opium is more like a satin kimono sleeve robe with an exotic print.

For The Alembicated Genie, Euphorisme d’Opium is just as spectacular as the original, though she too notes differences:

As Oriental perfumes go, Opium was another gold standard of feisty, fierce spice-and-fire, and in Dawn’s version, it is nothing more nor one whit less spectacular than its inspiration. The carnation-clove-orange and cinnamon beginnings – a large part of what made the original so distinctive – are here dampened a bit compared to the Opium I remember, and since I recall Opium sillage trails so thick you could taste them (those were the days, people!), this is no bad thing. Instead, it’s Opium without quite so much of a perfume hangover the next day, brighter and lighter and altogether a glorious twist on a perfume so iconic, I don’t even have to locate my mini of the original. I close my eyes, and in a twinkling of that spice and that fire, in the benzoin, myrrh-laden, vanilla embers that spark and flame long, long hours later, I’m all there and still happily caught in that moment, singing “Hot Stuff” along with Donna Summer.

Photo: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP for Vivienne Westwood, London Fashion week, 2013. Source: Salon.com

Photo: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP for Vivienne Westwood, London Fashion week, 2013. Source: Salon.com

For Undina of Undina’s Looking Glass, the fragrance was almost too strong from mere dabbing, and all about the red, spicy carnation:

Don’t let [the] plethora of notes confuse you: this is a carnation-centered perfume. Too bad that “pissed-off carnation” name had been already taken: in my opinion, it would have suited this fragrance much better than Serge Lutens’ one. I sample it from a dab vial sent to me by the perfumer and thought it was a very powerful perfume. I’m not sure I could stand it sprayed – this is how intense it is. I’m still testing Euphorisme d’Opium trying to figure out if I should go for a bottle of it – while it’s still available.

Clearly, the issue of strength is going to come down to a person’s perfume style, tastes, and what they’re used to. If you worship and wear (or wore) vintage Opium, her modern daughter will seem very well-mannered, though decently strong, and you should definitely spray Euphorisme d’Opium. Preferably, at least two good spritzes, or you may be disappointed. However, if you hated vintage Opium’s potency or don’t like perfumes that open strongly, then dabbing will be your best bet.

Photo: Matt Anderson via elements-magazine.com

Photo: Matt Anderson via elements-magazine.com

If you’re someone who is ambivalent about vintage Opium or who only remembers the scent from your mother, let me emphasize that this is not your mother’s perfume. It is a very modern reinvention of the scent for the current era. Whether or not you like that version is really going to depend on your feelings about spicy florientals. Do you enjoy cloves? Do you like opulent, strong scents? Does the mere mention of carnation, jasmine, or ylang-ylang send you screaming for the hills? If so, then you should stay away.

Otherwise, please give Euphorisme d’Opium a try. It is my absolute favorite from the DSH line, followed by the beautiful Le Smoking with its green chypre opening and tobacco-cannabis ambered heart. My issues with the latter’s weak sillage and longevity shouldn’t dissuade you, especially if you get an aerosol spray sample, because the scent really is that lovely. It is absolutely worth a try. (You may want to just plaster it on.)

Since this is the very last review in my DSH Perfumes series, I would also recommend sniffing my third favorite from the brand which is Parfum de Luxe. Granted, I had an atypical expresso-licorice experience with that one, but I’m hardly alone in finding it wonderful and sultry. Other people also love the chypre-oriental with its tobacco head and labdanum amber heart, infused with neroli, tuberose, ylang-ylang, herbal notes, and darkness. And if you like gourmands centered on cinnamon that soon turn darker with resinous amber, then you may want to keep Cafe Noir in mind, while hardcore patchouli and amber-vanilla lovers will want to consider Bodhi Sativa and Vanille Botanique, respectively. (I would also recommend DSH Perfume’s Poivre, for a peppered-clove fragrance. I haven’t officially covered that one yet, and won’t for a long time, but I liked it quite a bit.)

I would like to add that all of these fragrances could be worn by men, especially Le Smoking and some of the darker scents listed above. That said, I do think that men who are unused to wearing ylang-ylang might find Euphorisme d’Opium’s drydown to skew slightly into the feminine territory. They need to try vintage Opium, because, honestly, they don’t know what they are missing out on. It is a fragrance which is a hundred times better, richer, spicier, and more “masculine” than its male counterpart (Opium for Men). As for the men who have already discovered the dragon’s roar of vintage Opium and love it, I think they would enjoy the daughter as well. Even if they own Opium, I would hope they would both be open to trying a modern take on the spicy classic. There is no way that a man couldn’t comfortably pull off Euphorisme d’Opium’s bold opening.

The 10 ml bottle of EDP.  Source: Fragrantica.

The 10 ml bottle of EDP. Source: Fragrantica.

For me, not all the DSH fragrances suit my personal tastes, especially given their intimate sillage. (Hey, I was weaned on vintage Opium at the age of 7. It became the standard baseline of what I thought was “normal.”) But I definitely want Euphorisme d’Opium. It’s wonderful, and I can’t get that silky smooth, delicious drydown out of my head. Plus, the perfume is affordable enough to enable spraying with wild abandon (and in quantities that would probably terrify Ms. Hurwitz) to get it more up to vintage Opium territory. Euphorisme d’Opium costs $55 for a 10 ml Eau de Parfum spray, and $125 for a 1 oz/30 ml bottle. (Other sizes, minis, and a pure parfum extrait option are available as well, with the latter being something I want to try before I make up my mind.) Even better, I can stop worrying about using up my stock of vintage Opium that I hoard like Smaug and his gold.

Euphorisme d’Opium is not the dangerous, fiery dragon that is her mother, she’s too well-mannered to be a brazen, biblical temptress, and she’s most definitely a modern girl who believes in intimate relationships, but she’s beautiful. Really beautiful.

Disclosure: Perfume sample courtesy of DSH Perfumes. That did not impact this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

Cost & Availability: Euphorisme d’Opium is an eau de parfum that comes in a variety of sizes, as well as in a pure parfum extrait concentration. It is available exclusively on the DSH Perfumes website. The perfume is offered in: a 1 dram or 3.7 ml miniature-sized flask of what I think is pure parfum extrait for $45; a 10 ml EDP concentration spray for $55; and a 1 oz/30 ml bottle of EDP for $125. The elegant antique bottle of Pure Parfum Extrait is 0.5 oz and costs $198. Samples of the EDP are available at $5 for a 1/2 ml vial. In general, all orders over $10 will receive free samples of fragrances, with the number depending on the amount of your order. If you are outside the U.S., international shipping is available if you contact DSH Fragrances.

52 thoughts on “DSH Perfumes Euphorisme d’Opium (The YSL Retrospective Collection)

  1. Oh dear! Phenomenal review. I hope Ms. Hurwitz realizes this is high praise indeed, to even be mentioned in the same breathe as vintage Opium in a positive manner. Though the sillage is diminished, I actually would be quite tempted by this – I love, love, love, LOVE vintage Opium but I really don’t wear it often because I feel the sillage is too powerful for a lot of people, and I try to be conscious of that. Having an alternative which evokes the real deal but doesn’t completely gas people out sounds like a compromise I’d be willing to make if it allowed me to bask in the glory of Opium (or at least something Opium-adjacent) more often!

    • Ms. Hurwitz knows of my love of vintage Opium, though I don’t think she realises the full extent of it. For Euphorisme d’Opium, all she knew from beforehand was my initial frustration with the sillage when I was lightly dabbing on the perfume, so hopefully, she’ll enjoy the review after I tested it every which way to Sunday. LOL. But I think she will be completely terrified at my plans to spray enough Euphorisme d’Opium in one go to create a mushroom cloud that extends out to the DSH studios in Colorado. 😀 (Go BIG, or it’s not Opium!)

      As for the scent in question, YOU, Kevin, YOU must run and order this. Run. I think it would give you a freedom to wear the scent frequently and even to work, depending on how much you apply. More importantly, you can stop hoarding your vintage Opium!

  2. I now have evaluated you to genius, based on this post! I love that you wrote, “L’Oreal, you should be ashamed of yourselves, you despicable, parasitic vultures!” Your writing entertains me on every level, from a line such as this (nearly the gutter) to your in-depth intellectual analysis of scent. Thank you ever so much!

    Now, Opium. You make me want to smell it again, and to smell DSH’s take on it. I had thought I’d never want to smell Opium again, as I had a small clothing boutique in New York in the 80’s. Opium and Poison were my enemies. Frankly, all the loud 80’s scents were, as they lingered on the clothes forever, and their sillage was suffocating in a small shop.

    But, those days are over, and you make me want to try both some old nemeses and this! Thank you! I don’t know how you write such in depth stuff so frequently. I really do applaud do!!!

    Enough of the exclamation marks. !!!

    • HAHA, that was the highly edited version of what I had originally written about L’Oreal. I toned it down enormously, since it seemed my rage and hatred was positively leaping off the page in a way that seemed a little… er… violent. 😀 😉

      As for vintage Opium, oh Jules, you must try it. You really, REALLY, REALLY MUST try it!! Hopefully, you can get an ’80s version or a Pure Parfum, as they are the best. (70s are fantastic, but the likelihood of them going “off” in the top notes is much higher. That’s what happened to mine, or I would send you some.) Even 90s era Opium is okay. But post-90s…. NO. Categorically no. (I have a whole section in my Opium Tribute post that covers bottle swirls and what versions come from which decade.) Whatever people may say about Opium being dead after 2008 or 2010 is wrong. It died MUCH sooner. (They merely beat its dead corpse into smithereens after 2008.)

      As for Euphorisme d’Opium, I think that is an equal “Must try” for you, simply because of those memories of original Opium. Your tastes may have changed and you may be more open now, but there is still the chance that it will feel too loud for you. I guess it depends on just how traumatized you were back then. LOL.

      But Euphorisme d’Opium stands to be much, much more approachable and easy-going, especially if you only dab on a little.

      • I’m still more than a bit afraid! At least you’re not suggesting I try Poison.

        And, I’d LOVE to read your unedited writing! I’m sure it’s fantabulous. 🙂

      • It’s funny because if I didn’t know vintage Opium I’d say your rant was overly dramatic. But having smelled a recent (but not *the* most recent*) version of Opium, I’d say you exercised restraint! It’s honestly not even a shadow of its former self. If I were blindfolded and asked to smell it, I would never guess it was Opium as I know it. Frankly, it’s abysmal they can even use the name. I wonder how many folks wasted their hard earned money on a bottle after reformulating, only to discover it had been, as you so perfectly put it, castrated beyond recognition. What’s more maddening, on top of all of this, is the broader issue that companies are constantly reformulating stuff beyond recognition then claiming innocently nothing was changed. It’s like they are trying to gaslight the consumer, except no one with two functioning brain cells would fall for it. Especially people who wore the same scent for years and know it well – I can’t believe they can look their consumer in their proverbial eyes and say they haven’t tinkered with (read: positively destroyed) their classic scents.

        Suddenly, I’m feeling tempted to buy more vintage Opium just to ensure I have enough to last me forever. Any discussion of it always gets the hoarding tendencies working overtime! Although I guess I’ll wait until I try this one, which sounds so promising and I’ve no doubt I’ll love! 🙂

        • Thank you for all of that, because I do realise that I sound quite extreme to anyone who doesn’t know the vintage version. But the differences are truly THAT profound. One might as well be talking about a completely different perfume with the post-2005 versions. You know, someone who absolutely HATED original Opium and struggled with all its resinous, spiced character wrote in the Opium Tribute thread that smelled one of the versions in 2008 and thought, “huh, I can almost manage this.” Then, she smelled the newest version and found it to be totally manageable, and nothing like the original. The differences were so extreme and so different from the original that the new version was completely tolerable to her. And she said that it was essentially an entirely different perfume.

          When something like that happens, it’s clear that it’s not only the Opium lovers who see the differences and it’s not a question of our bias. New “Opium” is simply not *Opium* at all.

          It really amounts to fraud what they are doing, but there is no way that anyone could successfully sue L’Oreal. (And why bother?) But you nailed it with the gaslighting thing and their nerve in so innocently pretending that everything is the same. The way they look their consumers in their proverbial eyes and insist nothing has happened… it’s insulting as hell.

  3. As the daughter of a woman who wore original Opium really really well, I will definitely try the Euphorisme d’Opium. Thank you for the wonderful review!

    • I think you will find that this is YOUR version of “Opium,” Vicki, and one that you can make your own. It won’t feel like you are walking fully in your mother’s shoes, and I think you’d actually prefer the softer floralacy of Euphorisme d’Opium. Plus, the vanilla parts of the drydown have your name written all over it. 🙂

  4. Hahaha, “come to mama” it is then. Fantastic review. I feel and love your rage against the despicable reformulated version and money making idiots. Hilarious!
    I am dreaming of that spicy, pungent beginning. I adore the smokiness, spiciness, and thick amber of V. Opium and that is what I wish I could smell not to mention that sandalwood in all its 70’s richness. I will try of course this floral version. I am adding Le Smocking. I am also tempted by Keni, Lumiere, Winter Spices, and Egyptian Shalimar. Ah! I don’t have enough skin for all the samples I want.
    Thanks so much for this review Kafka darling. I was waiting for it! Your seal of approval means the world to me because you love the Bitch Goddess. You understand her without judging her generous sexuality. I am happy. This review made my day.

    • Really, don’t get me started on L’Oreal’s money-making schemes and their complete incompetence. They have created 6,000 flanker versions of “Opium,” and seemingly 18,000 version of Paris, because they are incapable of really coming up with anything of their own. They have sucked the life, character, and essence out of each Yves St. Laurent creation like leeches, slashed the notes, and sacrificed quality until they are virtually unrecognizable — all in the name of making money. And they’ve increased prices all the while. What they’ve done to Opium…. unspeakable. It’s a perfume version of crimes against humanity. Whenever I think of L’Oreal in the context of Opium, I would like to stab someone through the heart.

      Er… I better change the subject before I start frothing at the mouth. So, onto DSH’s creations. I’m not surprised you’re adding this one to your cart (yay!), but I’m SOOOO happy to hear about Le Smoking too! Is “Winter Spices” the Hiver-something one? If so, I think you may enjoy it. Which one is Egyptian Shalimar, Arome d’Egypte with the Spikenard? Or Mata Hari? I’ve got samples of both, but perhaps you’re talking about a different one? (There are so many DSH perfumes, it gets confusing.)

      • Wonderful rant though. powerful and true.
        Yes I meant the Epices d’Hiver something and that’s why it has taken me so long to place my order because of the huuuge variety and I can easily get both confused and tempted. I think it is called Egyptian Shalimar just like that. I am not sure if it is ok with you to paste a link here but just for clarification: http://www.dshperfumes.com/shop/egyptian-shalimar/

        • There is absolutely nothing wrong with links provided for clarification or related to the issue of perfume. I actually appreciate it in cases like this. I hadn’t seen Egyptian Shalimar, but the description sounds very tempting! The only thing that gives me pause is the comment about “even sweeter.” I’m not generally a fan of things that are hugely sweet, though I don’t get the sense that Ms. Hurwitz is either. So you’ll have to let me know what it’s like when you get your sample. You can be my guinea pig! lol

  5. EXCELLENT, evocative review, Kafka!! Oh my God, I swear my mouth was watering with the memory of being inside of a portable cloud of vintage Opium!!!! Nothing in the world could make a young woman (at that time) feel so grown-up, sexy, powerful, and just plain FEMALE like Opium!! It wasn’t even a scent to me, it was more a state of being, of BECOMING all that women of the day were working towards gaining. Mere adjectives do vintage Opium an injustice!
    As far as L’Oreal goes, what do you say about a company that murderously butchered our beloved juice? I think you said it, much more delicately than I’m sure you wanted! Like you, I have never even gone near a bottle of the new “Opium”. It would be pointless, if not downright painful.
    And lastly, oh, how I wish my birthday was looming on the horizon (and you won’t hear me say THAT very often!! ) so I could request a bottle of this!! I’m DYING to smell this DSH creation!! I had actually just ordered some samples of her other creations, and can only hope that Euphorism L’Opium is one of the free samples I receive. I did choose the Egyptian Shalimar; hoping that will quell the fever your review has caused!! 😉

    • You know, vintage Opium really WAS about a state of mind and a state of being. That is one of the main reasons why it resonates so strongly for me. You put it so well.

      Re. your order, when did you place it? What I’d suggest that you do is that you email DSH instantly and ask for the Euphorisme d’Opium to be one of your samples, if it’s not too late. There is no harm in asking, and you’d probably get it if the order hasn’t shipped out already.

      • Unfortunately, my order had already shipped, so I’ll have to add the Ed’O to my wishlist. Damn! Oh, who am I kidding? I’m going to order a sample NOW!! You are much too talented a writer- your reviews make my resolve NOT to order crumble like a fine French pastry!, 😉

        • P.S: I think what very little French I once (thought) I knew has now totally disintegrated to where I’m completely mangling WRITING it, never mind speaking it!! Many pardons to those of you who speak and write the language! 🙂

        • Awww, thank you, Lexi. And yay for you getting to try the Euphorisme! As a lover of vintage Opium, consider the sample almost as your duty! 😉 LOL

  6. Opium is the only perfume I was asked not to wear by a colleague. The original,(it was) like Bal a Versailles, was thick with eugenol and other naughties. Today I am wearing Apres L’Ondee in EDT, the parfum having fallen to regulations. It is good news to hear of Euphorisme D’Opium and we needed a good news day.

    • Ha, original Opium was naughty, wasn’t it? Sexual in the best and most refined way possible. Far less sexual than Bal à Versailles, though. That one was the Mothership for raunchy dirtiness and skank!

  7. Dearest Kafka–a few things… first, I am reading “Perfume” and loving every. single. word. I am relishing it. Second, as you had suggested, I tried Lutens’ Chergui and I really, really like it. I do think I prefer Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille (much to my surprise since I didn’t think I was into vanilla) but Chergui is right up there. Third, I was traumatized as a child by, I think, Opium. LOL. I definitely remember that boxy brown bottle with the little maritime window hole being on somebody’s dresser, and I have an inquiry in to my aunts (who all wore perfume, including Dior’s Poison, back in the day…). 🙂 Anyway, someone spilled a large quantity of it in a car I had to ride in (and in the Caribbean where I lived the roads were/are very winding and can be nauseating on their own, nevermind with a backseat full of Opium!) and it was so overpowering that, along with the winding roads and subsequent nausea, I was put off amber scents until just recently, when I got into perfume again. However, I am now SOOO curious to smell it or something like it that I ordered a sample of Euphorisme d’Opium based on your excellent review. I’ll let you know what I think!

    • I don’t know which part makes me happier, the Perfume book, the Chergui working out for you, or the fact that you’re willing to try again with an Opium-like fragrance. I think it’s the Perfume book by Suskind. LOL. It’s so beautifully written, isn’t it? Simply spectacular, and definitely required reading for any perfumista! As for Chergui, I can understand how Tobacco Vanille may appeal more. It’s much bolder, richer, fuller and more viscous in nature. Definitely something perfect for cold weather. For me, the plummy undertones are a little too much and a little too syrupy, which is why I prefer Chergui, but both are excellent!

      As for your childhood experience with Opium, my God, that sort of thing would be enough to put anyone off any fragrance, let alone something as potent as vintage Opium used to be. I can almost feel myself in your shoes, in that car as it wound round the roads. I don’t blame you for being scarred for life. LOL. I hope the new DSH reinvention works for you and doesn’t bring back childhood memories. 🙂

  8. I’m actually relieved that you have wrapped up your DSH reviews, Kafka! Your tempting missives and Dawn’s Aladdin’s Cave of a website have had me salivating and longing – and frustrated that she doesn’t do UK/European distribution. First or Jovoy would be handy. Ah well, at some point I’ll just have to get around to phoning DSH – as directed on the site. I’ve read comments regarding their costly shipping rates (plus there’s exorbitant UK international call charges) so I’m a wee bit hesitant. However, this clearly ravishing beauty now joins PdL (and me also the spikenard one) on the must-have-want-list…

    Oh – and if I may say, my dearest Kafka: whilst your choice of artwork is always an inspired dream, this time I felt you truly excelled in evoking the lush and entrancing spirit of original Opium. In fact, I think I’ll read and enjoy it now all over again…

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the artwork. Many are photos from my favorite modern photographers, the brilliant duo of Mert & Marcus whom I’ve talked about in the past. They are definitely Helmut Newton’s heirs, in my opinion, and I love using their work. Some of the photos here were a bit darker in hue than what Euphorisme d’Opium really conveys, but they work for the lushness and sensuality. Plus, that bright yellow pop of Adele’s skirt really symbolises the bright yellow of the ylang-ylang for me and how it stands out.

      As for DSH and international shipping, you don’t need to incur phone charges to inquire. The Contact page has an email submission form which should work just to ask about the overall rates. That, unfortunately, doesn’t resolve the issue of what the cost may be. I’m afraid I have no idea how must she charges.

      I was wondering, do you have a friend in the U.S. whose address you could use and who could then mail the samples off to you at a lower rate?

      • Thank you, dear one 🙂

        I wondered if an email would suffice but they do specifically say to call – which I thought might be part of this strange, new internet-order-caginess thing? I notice a couple of European sites doing it now: ‘call us to order this product’.

        And no, I ruefully admit to not knowing anyone Stateside – honestly, how can that be? LOL – I will not be defeated! Must complete mission to attain perfume wardrobe perfection… I’ll take your advice and send an email.

        Best, as always, Gx

        • I don’t think calling was specified as the only option, merely as one of them. Either way, I am sure that Ms. Hurwitz wouldn’t expect anyone to incur large overseas, international calling rates, and would completely understand an email query just on the issue of pricing. 🙂

  9. I’m convinced. And this is no mean feat given that I am a complete Opium addict ( I positively revel in saying that, all the while inwardly giggling like a schoolgirl ). As a woman whose “time” was the late 1960 s and the decade of the 1970s, I have vivid memories of growing up in the London fashion scene – Twiggy, Mary Quant, Biba, Carnaby Street, to name but a few. Rive Gauche was my rebellion against Catholic school and reading Cosmopolitan had long been a secret delight for myself and my school friends (they of the giggling variety). So when Selfridges announced the launch of Opium with suitable fanfare, I was there with bells on. Smelling The Holy Grail for the first time is a memory which will stay with me always and never fails to come again to the fore when I unstopper one of my vintage bottles today.

    I do believe I singlehandedly kept YSL afloat for the next decade – I had the body lotion, talc, bath oil, parfum, EDT in all sizes. I layered like a madwoman, without a thought for my fellow humans – after all, BIG was the name of the game back then and the thought of fragrance free offices would have sent us into a state of guffawing incredulity. Every time I went to France ( which was at least once a year as it was so close and so cheap to get there) I bought another bottle, and so did others who knew of my mania. Consequently, I had a collection that would have given the Selfridges counter a run for its money. All these years later, I still have several bottles – so far only one has lost the top notes which is quite amazing. My best in show is a one ounce bottle of parfum and an enormous 4 oz EDT which are barely used due to my OCD hoarding tendencies.

    Several people have tried to convince me to try the hideous abomination that is the new Opium, suggesting that I shouldn’t compare the two, but simply try the new on its own merits. Gasp! As far as I can judge unsniffed, it *has* no merits. Close but no cigar doesn’t begin to do it for me. But this absolutely stellar review has given me some hope that I can finally start splashing with wild abandon my old stock – at least once in a while – with the knowledge that there is finally something out there that is worthy for those times when the The Bitch Goddess ( love it) needs a rest.

    • I thoroughly enjoyed EVERY single one of your YSL memories, from the Rive Gauche and the London scene with Mary Quant and Twiggy (and Biba! OMG, BIBA! What memories that name brings back!), to what happened once you smelled The Holy Grail for the first time. And then, the passionate love affair which ensued, right down to your current OCD hoarding tendencies. (I know that last one all too well!) I envy your collection, but am so glad you have it!

      As for That Modern Thing Which Must Not Be Named… well, let’s not talk about it. Let’s pretend it doesn’t exist, since, to all effects and purposes, it might as well not.

      Try the new reinvention from DSH, get enough to spray on (as I think that will be key, since dabbing won’t work in terms of what people like you and I expect) and then let me know what you think!

  10. An older cousin of mine wore Opium so even though I loved it, it was always her scent to me. Perhaps this one could finally make Opium mine. I love that there is a strong carnation note and you made the rest of it sound wonderful too. Also, as Gaia HR said, the artwork you chose is beautiful. I think that is adding to my wanting this perfume.

    • Thank you, sweetie. The photos are from my favorite photographers (of the modern generation), Mert & Marcus, a really brilliant duo who know how to capture strong, sensual women. As for the perfume, I hope it works for you and can become something that you can make your own, instead of feeling as though you’re walking in your cousin’s shoes. 🙂

  11. Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading this. I worship at the shrine of the Bitch-Goddess and have a trove of vintage Opium that I hoard jealously, but I also wear and love Ms. Hurwitz’s homage/recreation and was delighted to see such a thorough and thoughtful review. I agree that it is the most magical of her creations. I have longevity problems with it, getting 3-4 hours max, but this is true for me with nearly all perfumes so no surprises there. I really want to try the parfum version. I do wish that she would offer samples of that.
    I was very interested to read about Ms. Hurwitz’s distaste for higher levels of sillage. It explains a lot about my reactions to many of her fragrances. My skin consumes perfume so fast that only a fairly big scent has a chance of having any projection at all. I wish she would make them a little bigger! But I remain intrigued with her line because she excels at the narcotic quality that I can’t quite define but recognize at one sniff. It’s in Euphorisme, and in her Pink Gardenia, and hovers hypnotically below the surface of a few others that I’ve smelled. But dabbing her scents just doesn’t work for me, and I think that I need to obtain small sprays of some that I’m interested in, and spray them lavishly, to see what they can do.
    Thanks again for this magical review of a favorite scent.

    • I was so curious to see what you thought of Euphorisme, given your feelings on the Bitch Goddess! I’m so happy to hear you love it.

      As for the sillage issue, I share your hope that she will make perfumes that are bigger. You and I are not unique in having problematic skin, nor in the importance that we place on sillage as a critical element of a perfume. Intimate sillage is NOT to everyone’s taste; I can’t tell you how many lovely, gorgeous perfumes I have walked away from simply because intimate sillage sucks big-time. Intimate sillage = a perfume I refuse to have anything to do with.

      At least the Euphorisme is big(ger) than some of the others if one sprays. (The key word being spraying.) But dabbing…. dabbing is a lost cause for a number of her scents, imo. At least on my skin, and, clearly, on yours too. I think the best way to go for someone like you would be to get the mini “dram” that is about 3.7 ml and to pour it into an atomizer. Apply it that way, because dabbing (even in large enormous smears that wet a test area on an arm) is really not going to do much for projection on skin like ours.

      Have you tried her Le Smoking? I think you’d love that one. Perhaps her Parfum de Luxe, too, depending on how it manifested itself on your skin. Which ones are you interested in?

      • I haven’t tried those two but will. I’m putting together a sample order, and am still working on my no-longer-undying hatred for patchouli, so I will try a few of her patch-centered fragrances too, and who knows what else. I only wish I could afford to sample the dram bottle of all my picks so that I could spray. I remember being in some touristy perfume shop once in which the (regrettably chemical) fragrances came in “regular” and “double strength ” versions. I wish very much that Ms. Hurwitz would extend her talents to some “double strength” perfumes! I think she is a remarkably talented perfumer but I would have to bathe in some of her scents to get any sillage out of them.

  12. Opium for the office! I probably won’t wait until the next sale but the thought of navigating the DSH website is making me cringe. I’ll probably end up ordering everything you reviewed because they all sound like perfumes that I would enjoy. Thanks for your DSH series!

    • ROFL at the “Opium for the office” — I bet that’s the first time THAT has ever been said! *grin* As for the series, you’re very welcome. I’m glad it could be of some help. While you’re navigating that website, look up Egyptian Shalimar. The description talks about much more sweetness, so it may be one to think about as well. 🙂 I think I’m most excited about you trying Cafe Noir, as I think that one may very much be you!

    • You’re very welcome. I hope you’ll let me know what you think. 🙂 But I also have a secret wish for you to hunt down some vintage Opium. I think you’d love that!

      • I totally love this one. It is definitely Opium, but modernized. I am so impressed. Thanks Kafka 🙂

        • Hurrah, I’m so glad, Cohibadad. So, so glad — both that you love it and are impressed, but also that you feel it is definitely related to Opium!

          • I just adore it. It has that obvious Opium smell. I’d have to read your review while analyzing to see what is different, but DSH did an amazing job of recreating the heart of Opium. I got Le Smoking too. It’s a winner too!

          • I’m really happy that you opted to try Le Smoking, and that you love it as well. I’m curious about the sillage and longevity of either fragrance on your skin. BTW, if you merely ordered samples but are ever tempted to buy a full bottle, I believe that DSH has a sale on right now that until April 15th or so: 15% off.

          • I think both the longevity and sillage are below average on me. Is this due to the natural ingredients or is it just the way she wanted it? I think for a man, the lower sillage of Euphorisme d’Opium is a good thing compared to the powerhouse Opium, especially in the office. DSH sent some samples. I’ve tried Michelangelo and Megaleion and they are both very nice scents. I think low sillage and longevity are common throughout.

          • I think the sillage is due to both factors that you mentioned, but especially her personal preferences, imo. After all, some of the Via del Profumo scents (which are also all-natural) have quite a lot of sillage at first. The DSH line seems to opt for a much softer approach. Interesting to hear that the longevity isn’t high on you either. Well, that makes me feel a little better. 🙂

    • I hadn’t at the time, but I did soon after. Thank you for sharing it, sweetie. 🙂

  13. There is hope!! I am so happy to read this might work. I don´t know how to tell you how heartbroken and infuriated I was when I bought the “new” version of Opium. “They just changed the bottle” the sales woman insisted. Well, there was no way to convince her that I have been wearing that fragrance for 30 years and I knew it very well. It has been part of my core identity for three decades!! Every time I have gone to the mall and ask about something similar to Opium because of the change in the new one, I hear the same story about just changing the bottle and it´s infuriating. It´s like calling us customers imbeciles. I didn´t know there were other souls like me out there cherishing Opium! I hope the L´oreal guys read this blog and see how we feel. At least say clearly that you changed it!!! Tell the sales people so the customers don´t feel like idiots!!! I just ordered my Euphorisme. I am very hopeful after reading your review!! There is hope! Thanks Kafka. You communicate your passion through your writing and it´s just great and refreshing. You made my day!!

    • I completely agree that L’Oreal treats us all like idiots, and that they should really just change the name entirely for the scent that is currently out there. It’s NOT Opium — not by any stretch of the imagination. “Just changed the bottle,” my foot! It’s so damn insulting.

      As for the DSH Euphorisme, I have to emphasize again that it is more like Opium’s daughter or grand-daughter than a close sister. The projection and power are also significantly different. But it’s as good as we’re going to get, alas. I hope the Euphorisme works out for you and brings you some joy. My recommendation is to apply a LOT of it.

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  15. I’m reading your earlier reviews of Ms. Hurwitz’s offerings and I believe I didn’t read this one. I know you had done a review of Euphorisme, but was afraid to read it because I know that absolutely nothing would ever come close to vintage Opium, the one with the biggest capital “O” of all time.
    I touched on my early experience and exposure to Opium when I was 13. It’s a story that is a bit too long to relate to you on here, so I will send you that email although I know how tremendously busy you are. No need to reply, as I’ve said. :).
    I’ll be going to DSH to search out those samples, since my Christmas hourglass is woefully running out of time- still need to get partner his bottle of something (I just panicked at the thought!)

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