Friday, August 12, 2011

In a nutshell: YSL's Opium pour Homme

Woody vanilla with hints of spice, talc, tobacco, cedar, and patchouli, wrapped in a tailored cashmere V-neck that still manages to breathe. Less baroque, boozy, and dramatic than the women's version, but with a similar fizzy cola veneer and autumnal hue. Opium pour Homme is masculine vanilla done right: soft, elegant, and sweetly sexy instead of obnoxiously gourmand (looking at you, A*Men) or viciously powdery and ironically femme (hi, Le Mâle and Joop!). Dries down to a warm, slightly leathery patchouli-cedar with a wisp of vanillic smoke curling throughout. The original Opium is a wonderful thing, a whirlwind of opulence coming at you from all angles - in Technicolor, with surround sound - but its elbow-jabbing sillage and brick-wall density make it something of a loose cannon, hard to tame and wear discreetly. Pour Homme is far more relaxed and user-friendly, yet doesn't descend into dullsville the way so many masculine sequels to feminine originals can (shout-out to my peeps Euphoria for Men and Dune pour Homme, among many others). Just like that tailored V-neck, Opium pour Homme works because it's built with care, demands nothing of its wearer, and needs no parade to prove its good taste. It's a winner, and easily wearable for women who want a smart, non-candied vanilla, or for whom the original Opium is just too much. Bonus: cheaper than dirt and about as easy to find (check online discounters, perfume shops, your local Wal-Mart, and hell, the gas station).


  1. Whoa! Who knew. This sounds absolutely divine, plus I like my cheap thrills. I'll have to check it out.

    Oh my gosh, I told someone on Katie's board, "I wouldn't buy that no matter what, it's too expensive, that's ridiculous."

    I am so unpopular.

  2. I know, right? I didn't expect it to make much of an impression, given the hot-and-cold (and lukewarm) reviews scattered across the Interwebs and Luca Turin's middling praise of it in The Guide, but I found it delish. Snagging a 100ml bottle for $30 at Wal-Mart was just gravy.

    What was the "too expensive" comment regarding? Because I'd probably agree with you. (Hence my habit of trawling Wal-Mart for discounts.)

  3. A quick addendum to my review: I re-sprayed Opium PH tonight after a weeklong absence, and was fairly blown away by the opening bergamot note, which is as close to ripping into the peel of the orange and tearing it back as any I've experienced in a fragrance - sharp, sweet, pungent, and bitter all at once. This note is coupled with hints of tobacco and talcum powder, giving it a cool, earthy elegance. Also, the drydown reminds me of the nutty, leathery final stage of Dior's Fahrenheit more and more with each wearing. (Apparently I should have written a full review instead of a "nutshell"!)

  4. Oh, the "too expensive," comment was regarding Katie's latest Guerlain whoopee, whose name escapes me. It smells like lily-of-the-valley, and it's almost $600 a bottle.

    I love perfume, but...I have a mortage, too.

    Yeah, although "The Guide," has been very useful, I don't always agree with what I like and don't like. Aromatics Elixir and Youth Dew--they're not horrible, but I don't like them, even though they got high ratings. I just don't want to smell like root beer.