martedì 3 aprile 2018

Opium, the Greatest.

"It will be the Greatest, and we will call it Opium"
(Yves Saint Laurent, 1976)

Sexy, Sultry, Seductive, Successful: it's Opium. After Samsara, this is my second tribute to wonderful scents of my youth: this time we talk about the Greatest one.
This article is divided in 7 parts:

- Opium at a glance
- Box and bottles through the years.
- Bottles "Year-by-Year"
- The Advertisements
- The Flankers
- The Opium Universe
- Tutorial Pics

I tried to make some sort of "Opium encyclopedia". Enjoy it!

FOREWORD: for any reference about YSL perfumes, (such as words as "batchcodes", "barcodes", "greendot", or "Charles of the Ritz", "Parfums Corp.", "Sanofi", "Gucci-Era", etc.... check this guide.) ....and remember YSL is famous for messing up boxes, labels and bottles! 

Part 1:
OPIUM at a Glance

- Launched during Year 1977 in France (1978 in USA), it was the fifth perfume by Yves Saint Laurent (after "Y", 1964; "Pour Homme", 1971; "Rive Gauche", 1971; and "Eau Libre", 1975).

- Created by Jean Louis Sieuzac, Jean Amic and Raymond Chaillan, three noses from "Roure", YSL's preferred perfume factory.

- Opium "Eau de Toilette" was so concentrated that they didn't even launch an "Eau de Parfum" (19%, Eau de Toilette, 30% Parfum)

- It was the first mass fragrance using the, new, revolutionary "natural spray" mechanism, instead of the usual gas-propellant" one; 

- The "Perfume" was purposely sold at an higher price than "Chanel N.5". Despite this, every bottle was sold within hours.

- Opium was arguably the most successful fragrance in the world: in just nine months, it amassed the astonishing amount of $3 million. At the time, Yves Saint Laurent did not owned YSL perfumes (it was "Charles of the Ritz"), and he received only a small percentage for any bottle sold. Then he decided to buy back the whole thing (YSL "Parfums Corp.", in year 1986). Actually, it was YSL's fortune.

- The tassels of the perfume bottles were difficult to obtain; production slowed down periodically, because of their scarcity. 

- Opium is one of the most counterfeited perfumes in history: someone calculated there are ten fake bottles, for every authentic one. Therefore, it's likely a lot of people have never experienced the real Opium; they always wore a fake fragrance.

The Japanese "inro" and the Opium splash bottle

- The traditional Opium "splash" bottle, designed by Pierre Dinand, was inspired by the so-called "inro", a Japanese lacquered small case, worn under the kimono.

- The name "Opium" caused a violent stir because it was named after a drug. It was banned in a few countries, but the controversy made the fragrance to gain a lot of attention and publicity.

- The party held in New York (September 1978) for the launch in USA, was one of the wildest, iconic and most sumptuous of the Seventies. 

A very easy method to detect early bottles is to find the mark "80°" alcohol volume. Later than 1980, the sign "80°" was forbidden and substituted with "80%". Obviously, old boxes were used until end of stocks, so you can find "80°" in 1981,1982,1983...

-The original lineup (1977) was composed by:
- Three "EdT" spray bottles with unusual sizes: 36ml (1.2oz), 69ml (2.3oz), and 105ml (3.5oz) 
- Two "EdT" splash bottles: 60ml (2oz) and 120ml (4oz)
- Three "Parfum" bottles: 7.5ml (1/4oz), 15ml (1/2oz), 30ml (1oz), plus one 7.5 ml refillable "purse spray".
- No sticker under the bottle, but writings "embossed" on the glass and batchcode painted over (unfortunately, the batccode was very easy to remove) 

-Batchcodes: until year 2004, you will find 4-digits on the box (example: 1234) but 5 digits on the bottom of the bottle: the same 4 digits plus "1" or "2" (same example: 12341 or 12342).

Opium was reformulated several times during years. According Rèmy F., once employed at L'Oreal (personal communication): "....let's consider the EdT during the last years: at least 5 or 6 reformulations occurred between 2000 and 2015.Not to mention EdP and Parfum." 
So, if you want experience something near the real Opium, be sure to find a bottle dated at least before year 2000. As usual, the older, the better.

- It was one the first fragrance to indicate the allergens list on the box, already in 2003.

- YSL was world-famous for confusing labels, bottles and boxes. All mixed up. You will need practice to come to terms with it. Just an example: the so-called "ParfumsCorp" Era ended in 1993. Well, you will find "ParfumsCorp" labels until 1996...... 
Another example: "Sanofi" Era began in 1993. Well, you will find "Sanofi" labels since 1996!   
To date Opium bottles with accuracy, in many cases you will need box and bottles together. Checking batchcodes with Barcodes, Greendots, Labels, etc, you will know all you need.

- Put it simply....

The EAN barcode.....
If you see the EAN barcode (i.e. the classical barcode) somewhere in the box, you can say it's after 1990.

Very difficult to see: the batch code written in the bottom side of the "Parfum" boxes. Black ink over black background!  

Golden, rounded cap? This means years 1991-2003.

Flat, red cap? This means years 2003-2009.

- In a few cases it is difficult to understand what we are talking about, because some bottles were produced only for some markets, and unavailable in others.

- Believe it or not, a still-sealed vintage , traditional "splash" bottle (60ml or 120ml, 2oz or 4oz.) is almost impossible to find nowadays, and it's one of the pieces most sought after by collectors.

Part 2:
Box and bottle Styles 

Spray EdT bottles 
1977-1991: "Original" bottle, with non-removable cap,
"YvesSaintLaurent" written in golden letters over a BLACK background, on the bottom of the box. Plain, not-decorated bottle. Sizes: 36ml, 69ml, 105ml ( 1.2oz, 2.3oz., 3.5oz), 

plus a rare 25ml/0.8 oz (spray) with removable cap.
Apparently a big 135ml /4.5 oz bottle (fixed cap) was produced only for a few markets.

Spray EdT bottles 

1991- 2003 : "Nineties"-style spray bottle, with removable golden cap.
"YSL" still written on BLACK background on the bottom of the box
Richly-decorated bottle. Sizes 30ml, 50ml, 100ml (1oz, 1.6oz, 3.3oz). 

Apparently a 20ml /0.7 oz EdT spray bottle was produced too, for a few markets.

Spray bottles 

2003-2009 : "Gucci"style, spray bottle with removable flat, red cap.
"YvesSaintLaurent" written without a black background on the box.
Mildly-decorated bottle. Sizes: 30ml, 50ml, 100ml (1oz, 1.6oz, 3.3oz).

Apparently a 15 ml EdT bottle was produced, only for a few markets.

Spray Bottles 
since 2009
Since 2009 : "L'Oreal-style" box and bottles



EdT "Splash" Bottles 
(1977-2003, then discontinued)
Years 1977-2003, then discontinued. 
Sizes: 60ml and 120 ml (2oz , 4 oz)

EAU de PARFUM (since 1991)

Splash and Spray bottles 
labelled as "Secret de Parfum"
(launched in 1991, discontinued in 2003)
"Secret de Parfum", 1991-2003, then discontinued
10ml, 50ml, Spray
"Secret de Parfum", splash bottle (1991-2003)

Classic "Eau de Parfum", 2003-2009.
EdP "Gucci-style" bottle (2003-2009), in plastic case.

EdP, since 2009
EdP "L'Oreal-style" bottle (since 2009)

"Parfum" bottles

Parfum, 1977-2003
Iconic Opium bottle with tassel, sizes: 7.5ml., 15ml, 30ml.
Parfum 7.5 ml Spray Refillable (1977-2003) 

Parfum, 2003-2009
Years 2003-2009:  7.5ml, 15ml, 30ml. 

Parfum, since 2009
Parfum since 2009 ("squared" box)

Part 3:

Year 1977 

Year 1977 leaflet

Year 1978
EdT spray bottle 69ml / 2.3oz. 

Year 1981
Batch 1163 = year 1981

Year 1982 
EdT 60ml splash bottle

Year 1983 
120ml/4oz. splash bottle with leaflet

NOTE: the old "80°" lettering

60ml splash bottle, batch 31371 = year 1983
NOTE the old "80°" lettering
year 1983, again...
EdT Spray bottle, 36 ml, batch 33001 = year 1983

Year 1984
36ml EdT Spray bottles

batch 4284 = year 1984

Year 1984, again...
EdT spray bottle 69ml / 2.3 oz

batch 4024 = year 1984

Year 1984, again...
Edt spray bottle 105ml / 3.5oz. (tester)
notice: no sticker, "105 ml" and "3.5oz." engraved on the glass
- batch 4353 painted on the glass-

Year 1985
Parfum 15 ml, batch 5270 = year 1985

Year 1986

Parfum, batch 6179 = year 1986

Rare 25ml spray bottle batch 6328 = year 1986

60ml splash bottle, batch 6244= year 1986

Year 1987
Parfum, 7.5 ml, batch 12381 = year 1987

60 ml splash bottle,
batch 7185 = year 1987

Year 1989
Parfum, 7.5 ml, batch 90811 = year 1989

Year 1990
50ml spray bottle, ParfumsCorp label,
batch 02741 = year 1990


Years 1991/1992:
new spray bottles with removable golden cap
 10ml, 30ml(1oz), 50ml(1.6oz), 100ml(3.3oz)
plus "Secret de Parfum" (splash and spray)

Opium "Secret de Parfum" spray mini-bottle 10ml

Year 1991
Opium "Secret de Parfum"
50 ml /1.6 oz, spray bottle, batch 1294 

Opium Secret de Parfum, batch 1294 = year 1991

30ml edt spray bottle, ParfumsCorp label
batch 12681 = year 1991

Year 1992
The new bottle, richly-decorated, 
with removable, golden cap

30ml EdT bottle with removable golden cap, batch 22671
year 1992

15ml parfum, batch 2162, year 1992

Year 1994
EdT spray 100ml / 3.3oz. bottle, batch 41301 = year 1994
EdT 60ml / 2 oz. splash bottle, batch 42081 

"ParfumsCorp" label, ,
batch 4208 = year 1994

Year 1995
120ml/ 4oz. EdT splash bottle, batch 53101 = year 1995

EdT 100 ml / 3.3 oz spray bottle , batch 50861
NOTE the old "ParfumsCorp"-style label instead of the Sanofi one.

EdT 50 ml / 1.6 oz spray bottle , batch 50821
NOTE the old "ParfumsCorp"-style label instead of the Sanofi one.

year 1996
EdT 30ml / 1oz. spray bottle,  batch 61442
NOTE the old "ParfumsCorp"-style label, instead of the Sanofi one.

50ml spray bottle, ParfusCorp label,
batch 62551 = year 1996

50ml spray bottle batch 6273 = year 1996
Note for the first time the "new" SANOFI label

year 1997
EdT 100ml / 3.3 oz spray bottle, batch 73091
with the Sanofi label
EdT 50ml spray bottle, Sanofi label,
batch 72452 = year 1997

year 1998
Secret de Parfum 10 ml, batch 82011 = year 1998
notice: the obsolete YSL "ParfumsCorp" plastic case

EdT 120ml / 4oz. splash bottle, batch 82261 = year 1998

EdT spray bottle, 50ml / 1.6 oz. , batch 81261

EdT spray bottle 30 ml, batch 81321

year 1999

EdT 100ml /3.3oz. spray bottle (Tester), 
"Sanofi" sticker, batch 91091 

EdT 30ml / 1fl. oz , batch 93571
Parfum 30ml / 1oz , batch 91861

Year 2000
EdT, 30 ml Spray, Sanofi label, batch 0096 = year 2000

50ml spray bottle, batch 0152 = year 2000

Splash bottle, 60 ml, Sanofi label,
 batch 02582 = year 2000

Secret de Parfum, 30ml, batch 00661 = year 2000
note the VERY OLD label ParfumsCorp

Year 2001
EdT Spray, 50 ml
Note the OLD Sanofi label , instead of "Gucci" one,

 batch code 10021 = year 2001

Edt Spray, 50 ml, with the new "Gucci" label,
batch 12771 = year 2001 

Year 2002

Splash bottle batch 2330 = year 2002

30ml spray bottle, Gucci label,
batch 21501 = year 2002

Year 2003: 
new "Gucci-era" bottles
(with flat red cap; with plastic EdP spray bottles, with glass EdT spray, mildly-decorated bottles; all splash bottles discontinued; all "Secret de Parfum" bottles discontinued)

NOTICE: the bottom changes its color and it's 
not BLACK anymore.
EdT, in red box (glass, mildly-decorated bottle)
Eau de Parfum, golden box (in plastic case)

Opium "Secret de Parfum", last bottle produced,
Gucci label, batch 30871 = year 2003

50ml spray bottle, batch 32341 = year 2003

Year 2004
"Summer Fragrance / Eau d'Ete", batch 40282

15 ml, Edt Spray,, Gucci label,
batch 42931 = year 2004

Year 2005
 EdP bottle 50ml / 1.6 oz., Gucci label,
batch 5AAA 

Guccci label, batch 5FBA = year 2005
Year 2006
EdP 50 ml / 1.6 oz, batch 6IAA
EdT 50ml / 1.6oz , batch 6EAA

Parfum 7.5 ml, bottom of the external box,
 batch 6KAA = year 2006 

Year 2007
Edt 30 ml, Batch 7IBD = year 2007 

EdT, 100ml spray bottle, Gucci label,
batch 7DAB = year 2007 

Eau de Parfum, 50 ml, batch 7xxx = year 2007

year 2008

EdP bottle 50ml / 1.6 oz., batch 8BAB

EdT bottle 100ml 3.3 oz,  with the B.R.I. L'Oreal label,
batch 8BAA = year 2008

Parfum 30ml, batch 8CAA

Year 2009 
(last "Gucci"-type bottles)
EdT 30ml /1 oz. batch 9BCA
NOTICE the "new" L'Oreal label with the B.R.I. lettering

50ml spray bottle batch 9IAA = year 2009
Note the B.R.I. lettering
New l'Oreal bottle EdP 90ml,
batch code 9KAB = year 2009

Year 2009: 
new "L'Oreal" bottles.

Part 4:

1977-1982 (Jerry Hall)


1987 (Linda Evangelista, 1st)

1992 (Nastasia Urbano)



1993-1995 (Kate Moss, 1st)

1996-1998 (Linda Evangelista, 2nd)

1999 (Natalia Semenova)



2000 (Sophie Dahl)

2003 (Kate Moss, 2nd)

2006 (Maria Carla Boscono)

2008 (Malgorzata Bela)

2009 (Karen Elson)

2011 (Emily Blunt)

Part 5:

year 1998:
Fraicheur d'Orient


year 2002: 
Eau d'Ete / Summer Fragrance

year 2003:

Eau d'Ete / Summer Fragrance 2003

year 2004:
Eau d'Ete / Summer Fragrance 2004
year 2005: 
Fleur de Shanghai

year 2006: 2 flankers

Fleur Imperiale

Oriental Collector's Edition 2006

plus: Opium Prestige (special bottle)

year 2007: 3 flankers

Legendes de Chine

Orchidee de Chine

Orient Extreme

year 2008: 2 flankers

Poesie de Chine

Elixir Voluptueux

plus: Collector's Edition 2008 (special bottle)

Part 6:
The Opium Universe

Perfumed Necklace

Parfum Spray 7.5ml refillable + Pochette

Parfum Spray 7.5 ml Refillable, plus Pochette.

Advertising Card
Edt 30 ml splash, "Inro" Bottle

Miniature 7.5ml


Miniature, 7.5 ml, year 2002 (Gucci-Era)

Scented Ceramic
Secret de Parfum, Vial plus Tassel Key Ring

Heart-shaped, limited edition year 2007

EdT Limited edition year 1995  

EdT Limited edition year 1995 

15th Anniversary Limited Edition Parfum year 1992

15th Anniversary Limited Edition Parfum year 1992

Opium Parfum, limited edition 15ml bottle

Gucci-Era, year 2000s, Parfum 3.5ml 

Yves Saint Laurent limited edition Opium, £1,700 EDP
Opium 40th Anniversary limited edition (2017)

Part 7:

The rare "Made in USA" 2.3 oz bottle
(thanks to Kafkaesque Blog)
The rare "Made in USA" bottle, 1.2 oz (36ml.)

The "Made in Usa" sticker under the spray bottle

The "Made in USA" sticker under the splash bottle.

The rare "Made in USA" leaflet. NOTE: as you can read, the 105 ml (3.5oz) spray bottle and the 120ml (4oz) splash bottle were NOT produced in USA.

The "Made in Usa" leaflet

1980s Spray bottle, 36 ml. 

1970s spray bottle, 36 ml  (1.2 oz)

Early EdT spray bottle, 69 ml,
Note the "80°" sign instead of "80%"

EdT spray bottle, 105 ml

EdT Spray bottle, 105 ml, 3.5 oz (year 1984)

Parfum 7.5 ml rechargeable

Late 1980s, Parfum, 7.5 ml, refill spray

Parfum, 7.5 ml purse spray with Pochette 

Rare 25ml / 0.8oz spray bottle (1980s) with removable cap

Another uncommon bottle: 0.7 oz / 20 ml (removable cap)
with "ParfumsCorp" label

The classic "ParfumsCorp" label: although "ParfumsCorp" Era lasted from 1986 to 1993,
you can see this label used until 1996....and beyond

A typical "Sanofi" label. "Sanofi" Era lasted from 1993 to 1999,
but you can see "Sanofi" labels starting in 1996.....

A typical Gucci-label: The Gucci era lasted from 1999 to 2007,
but you can see this label since 2001.

1990s Spray bottle, 30 ml,  with old "fixed" cap.

Parfum, 15ml, with Gucci label

"Gucci" Parfum bottle, year 2005 ingredients

L'Oreal Parfum bottle, year 2009 ingredients
(different from previous pic)
Eau de Toilette, Year 2007 "Ingredients" 


.....and thanks to all the fans around the world 
who have supported me in this work.
Love you all,

(All pictures provided by friends, from unknown sources; if some copyright is violated, please advice us and we'll remove pictures immediately)

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