"Taking the Opium Express" by Pauline, Guest Contributor
To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Yves Saint Laurent's most famous perfume, Opium, an exhibition or “espace ephémère” (lit. ephemeral space) as the French call it was created in the heart of the Marais neighborhood in Paris in order to rediscover this sensual fragrance through an artistic and sensory itinerary, meant to be taken at a leisurely pace. The exhibit proves to be a succession of unforeseen surprises and sensory delights. One is invited along the way to slide open the drawers of a mysterious curios cabinet and discover their exotic contents, sip fragrant tea in the tea room, and even take a relaxing massage. Opium was inspired by Yves Saint Laurent's numerous travels to Morocco, Japan, China, Mongolia, India and Turkey and these multi-cultural sources of inspiration form the theme of the “Opium Express” exhibit.......
The various components of Opium and the various limited editions of masculine and feminine fragrances are on view in a black lacquered curios cabinet, emulating the 18th century European cabinets. Opium contains a blend of mandarin, bergamote, muguet /lily of the valley in the top notes; jasmine, carnation, myrrh in the middle notes, and amber, vanilla, patchouli, and opoponax in the base notes.
The design of the perfume bottle was inspired by the Japanese tiered inro cases, which were carried by men to shelter their small personal belongings. The round opening of the lacquer case symbolizes the Japanese rising sun, as well as allows the fragrance lover to see, in anticipation of the pleasure to wear it, the warm amber-y color of the perfume.
Some of the comments left in the guest book are: "lovely sensual experience", "Timeless experience, luxury and beauty", "A mix of Zen, perfume, and travels", "A very good marketing operation". I walk away from the exhibition having discovered a preference for the masculine version of Opium (editor's note: see short review of Opium pour Homme by Dusan Z) and its peppery (Sichuan Pepper) and woodsy notes, which I find more to my liking as the scent turns out to be less sweet and rich (capiteux) than the feminine version.
Look out for the new Eau de Toilette by Yves Saint Laurent, which will be available in a limited edition only, from spring until fall 2008! (A new version, which highlights one particular component, appears each spring)
Opium Express, Loft Sévigné, 46 rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris.
Until 19 January 2008
Free entrance, 10h00-19h00 (except Mondays)
You can also watch a mini video put together by Pauline here.