Yves Saint Laurent Belle d’Opium : Perfume Review

Belle dopium

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The creativity of the marketing campaign for Yves Saint Laurent Belle d’Opium dramatically contrasts with the banality of the fragrance. If it had even a touch of the originality and mystery possessed by the visuals, in which actress Mélanie Thierry interprets the dance of Salomé, Belle d’Opium would have been much more interesting. Instead, the fresh fruity accord underpinned by the patchouli-cotton candy notes suggests nothing more than a softer amber-oriental take on Chanel Coco Mademoiselle.

Belle d’Opium was created by Alberto Morillas and Honorine Blanc-Hattab for Yves Saint Laurent as a new youthful, modern take on the grand dame Opium. Granted, the reformulated version of Opium is so removed from the spicy and dramatic original– IFRA restricts the use of various materials that are integral to its structure—that I would very much anticipate a new Opium interpretation. After all, the woody-oriental theme has been explored in some interesting ways lately, both in niche and prestige launches.

As one might expect from a fragrance created by such talented perfumers, Belle d’Opium is a very competent, well-balanced fragrance. Every accord comprising its structure is appealing. The fruity-citrusy prelude is a nice blend of creamy apricot-peach notes and zesty mandarin. The floral heart is transparent and refined, a shower of rose and jasmine petals. The oriental base is cashmere-soft and sheer, with the woods being polished and the amber crisp. Yet, on the whole, there is nothing original in its character. Being quite sweet and fruity, it does not even strike me as particularly suited to the sophisticated Yves Saint Laurent aesthetic. As I wear it, I am reminded of so many fragrances that I cannot even recall anything that makes up the distinctive signature of Belle d’Opium. It feels like it had a very interesting start and then got market tested to death.

Yves Saint Laurent Belle d’Opium (fragrance family: soft oriental, strong fruity and amber accents) contains notes of mandarin, white pepper, peach, gardenia, jasmine, lily, rose incense, myrrh, patchouli, sandalwood, benzoin, suede. There are plenty fragrances that are very similar. Some of the ones that come to mind as I smell Belle d’Opium are Chanel Chance, Badgley Mischka Couture, Halle Berry, Lancôme Miracle Forever, Ralph Lauren Notorious, Calvin Klein Obsession Night, Chopard Wish. They have a similar fresh fruity opening and a warm oriental base, though Belle d’Opium is less woody than all of these choices. The warm balsamic-woody backdrop also links it closely with Missoni (2006).



  • Scent Hive: Perfect summation V:

    “It feels like it had a very interesting start and then got market tested to death.”

    It’s really too bad. December 30, 2010 at 4:08am Reply

  • Olfactoria: You are absolutely right. Belle d’Opium sports such a great visual campaign for such a bland, personality-free fragrance, it is another wasted chance. December 30, 2010 at 6:02am Reply

  • Isa: I own the flanker Opium Poésie de Chine and I love it, and it still has the Opium signature. I can smell Opium there.
    However, Belle d’Opium is something completely bland and forgettable. December 30, 2010 at 11:25am Reply

  • Marina: I love that ad! So does this smell like it is at all related to Opium, even if 7ya voda na kisele, or not at all? December 30, 2010 at 10:55am Reply

  • Vintage Lady: Opium and Belle d’Opium… 10 and 3. Really so disappointed! December 30, 2010 at 10:59am Reply

  • Victoria: It feels like a missed chance to do something original.
    You can find more creative things than this in the mass market brands. December 30, 2010 at 11:11am Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, it smells like so many other fragrances, a cocktail of everything commercial. December 30, 2010 at 11:14am Reply

  • Victoria: I love the ads. Did you see the ones on youtube.com? They are gorgeous!
    I really do not see any relationship to Opium, other than the fact that both are orientals. Opium was very spicy and dry. Belle d’Opium is very sweet, sugary, lactonic. December 30, 2010 at 11:17am Reply

  • Victoria: I would not mind a youthful take on Opium, if it were done like Coco and Coco Mademoiselle, something different and original. Belle d’Opium does none of that. December 30, 2010 at 11:18am Reply

  • Victoria: I completely agree. As an Opium flanker, Belle d’Opium is not convincing, as it has none of the signature there. Yet, even if you forget about the Opium relationship and look at it as a modern oriental, it does not work either. There are some interesting elements in it (after all, YSL got such a terrific perfumer team to work on it,) but they were so tamed down that in the end, the fragrance says nothing at all. December 30, 2010 at 11:39am Reply

  • Marina: shame… December 30, 2010 at 11:56am Reply

  • Victoria: It actully had so much promise, but I guess they decided to go the safe route in the end. December 30, 2010 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Re-formulating scents is such an absurd idea! If the original Opium hasn’t racked up a body count in 25 or 30 years, it’s not likely to kill anyone now! The new Chloe is characterless, not at all the ravishingly sexy scent I remember from way back in the when, and Oscar de la Renta’s gorgeous white flower bouquet is a shadow of it’s former self. At least YSL’s Nu, with its problematic bottle was pretty closely reincarnated as Tom Ford’s Black Orchid. Clever recycling, dude! December 30, 2010 at 6:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: Lynn, oh, you are so right on the mark about Nu. I prefer it to Black Orchid by far. It is such a ravishing, sexy incense fragrance, and I am sad that they discontinued it. The bottle is problematic though, always leaking.
    Flankers are never an improvement on the original, but when they are completely without character, it is even more disappointing. December 30, 2010 at 11:29pm Reply

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