Yves Saint Laurent Belle D'Opium

"Hookah", not "hooker". I think.

When trying to figure a new perfume, context is a huge help. Where does this unfamiliar scent fit in the fragrance map of the world? Or, never mind the world -- how about your brain? Filing away Gucci Rush as the last word in disco-ball poppers perfume might be hasty, for example, before you'd had a chance to experience Byredo M/Mink and follow the yellow brick road from de trop to way de trop. (M/Mink takes the locker room/chlorine smell of poppers and pushes it so far into church-in-a-zoo animalic incense terrain, that you don't know whether to throw up or sigh with pleasure.) Or, writing off the mysterious dry fruitiness of Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit as impenetrable would be premature before encountering the same accord in Lutens' Daim Blond, and flashing on their shared sueded apricot. Connecting the dots between fragrances is fun, but it can also fool with your head. Relativity can diminish the allure of previously adored scents, as well as elevating others you'd already dismissed as clunkers. If I had first smelled Yves Saint Laurent Belle D'Opium in a universe devoid of any other perfume, I'd say, “Sweet. Peachy. Syrupy. Woody. Hot. Cottony.” And then I'd say, “Gee, I wish there were some other perfumes in this stupid universe.” But it wasn't like that. I first smelled Belle D'Opium in a universe stuffed to the gills with perfume, a universe containing Bond No. 9 Chinatown, itself a universe stuffed to the gills with its own craziness. With all of Chinatown's rock 'em, sock 'em peach and patchouli and shellacked wood and gardenia -- you practically need extra nostrils to take it all in. And now having smelled Chinatown, I have a place for Belle D'Opium in my mental taxonomy. It's the cheap'n'cheerful Chinatown, which in turn I consider the grown-up version of teenage fruity-florals. So I guess that makes Belle D'Opium the teenage version of an adult fruity-floral. I don't know if that's a double negative, but that's where I am with my perfume relativity theory. So far.
Belle D'Opium is available from Amazon.com, starting at $26 for .25 oz.


  1. I'm afraid to try Belle d'Opium for fear I might like it!

    I've been scowling at it like a deranged person at my local department store, or was the case yesterday, middle-class-ignoring the heck out it while trying on YSL lipstick and chatting with the sales woman.

    I really like Miss Dior Cherie which serves as my escapist comfort scent par excellance on days where the demands of my work are a bit too "grown up" for me. The little sweetheart must be administered sparingly - that's what i do - and then it's instant carefree perfume heaven.

    So, you see, if I end up craving Belle d'Opium it's no longer one sweet escape every now and then - it's the beginning of a veritable stampede!

    Could be the first draft for a new motto: When stampeding, smell sweeeeeet. And bring fruit.

  2. The idea of Rush and M/Mink sharing bloodlines in some way is so delicious that I can barely stand it. And so I sit. At your feet. More Please ...

  3. Junelady, I like your version of "Mother's Little Helper": sweet perfume. Belle D'Opium (ask YSL's graphics dept why they insist on that capital "D") might provide another sweet escape. And how about Bulgari Jasmin Noir edp? That could work, too.

    rekoob23 - I thought I felt something warm down there...;-)

  4. I hadn't noticed the stupid D. But now that you've called my attention to it I will have to control my natural impulse to actually go ahead and write them. I've been known to do stuff like that. I guess it all ties in with the need for sweet, comforting perfume.

    I will definitely be checking out Bulgari Jasmin Noir. It's going to be a long winter of hard work, and will have to rally all the little helpers I can persuade to join the boot camp. And the name alone promises the opposite of Scandinavian november days.

    I recently appealed for suggestions for perfumes that qualified for the de trop stamp of approval. On that note I went ahead and bought Angel on line (someone else's reject) - not the orginal Angel, but Angel la Rose. I didn't even know that a rose version existed. I knew of the Peony, but not this one. It should arrive tomorrow and I'm curious to find out if the angelic rose is indeed that, and if it will also qualify as a sweet comforter of the work worn.

  5. Junelady, I'm curious about that rosy Angel. Let me know how it hangs.

  6. I sniffed this recently, scored a sample in store, and liked it enough to accept the offer of a 10ml purse spray from a blogger friend in Germany. I found Belle d'Opium to be slightly plasticky lily going in, which is where I'd say its resemblance to Chinatown's "big synthetic cloud" vibe is most marked, then incense joins the lily - a pretty odd combo, it must be said - before the incense gets the upper hand. This one is definitely less sweet and fruity and more smoky on me - maybe I have fruit eating, spontaneously combusting skin?

  7. Vanessa, you skin sounds like the Spinal Tap drummer(s).

  8. Love your dress (or whatever it is) in your latest videos. Great-grandma but sexy !?

  9. Now there's a cracking film! Him indoors can't bear to watch it, mind - it is all too painfully close to home...