This is nothing like Opium. Let’s get that point out of the way right from the start. Black Opium isn’t even in the same galaxy as the original, let alone a related flanker with strong olfactory kinship. Regardless of whether you loved the original Opium or hated it, the objective reality is that the fragrance was a masterpiece that changed the perfume landscape, ushering in the oriental genre like nothing else before it, and becoming the benchmark by which all subsequent orientals were measured. Black Opium is not a masterpiece. In my opinion, it doesn’t deserve to bear the “Opium” name even in a small way.
This is an extremely difficult review for me to write. As I’ve said many times in the past, original vintage Opium is my Holy Grail, one of two fragrances that changed everything for me and made me the perfume lover that I am today. Luca Turin called it “The Spice King” in his Five Star Review, but I prefer a friend’s loving, adoring term, “The Bitch Goddess.” In my wholly biased, subjective view, there is nothing like 1970s or 1980s Opium. It is bottled magic that transcends a mere set of notes to become something else entirely. It is a roaring, spectacular, bold masterpiece that is the Sistine Chapel of Orientals, a warrior’s olfactory shield worthy of Joan of Arc and all of the Seven Veils for Salomé. Men should wear it, women should seduce with it. There is simply nothing like vintage Opium, in my opinion. Period. (Note: versions post-1992 or 1995 are not so special, while absolutely none of this applies to anything put out during L’Oreal’s reign of horrors at YSL from the late-2000s onwards.)