Perfume lovers should check out the documentary film by Pierre Thoretton about the 50-year relationship between fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and businessman Pierre Bergé called L'Amour Fou for some of the insights it gives into YSL's aesthetic influences, but also his solitude.
There is a segment in the middle of the film about the launch of Opium. The name, as it turns out, was terribly non-PC and a group of Chinese activists let people know that to them it was like naming a fragrance "Holocaust" as it evoked the mass exterminations in China due to the opium wars...
There are also telling images about the houses in which the couturier lived. The most impressive of them was Château Gabriel, a house liek a cultural mausoleum dedicated to the universe of Proust. Even before Bergé started explaining the idea behind the decoration, it felt like a deep into an authentic, uncanny Proustian world, like a sophisticated, private version of a Proustian Disneyland set in Normandy.
Before Opium was housed in an inro as we know it, it looked through the eyes of YSL as a flaming fragrance bottle reminiscent of ormolu work. On the drawing board, suns and flames are a leitmotiv.
Yves Saint Laurent wrote "Opium évoque les flammes, le soleil, le feu, la fumée." "L'or des Mongols, le bronze, les torches de jade." This would translate as "Opium evokes flames, the sun, fire, smoke." "The gold of the Mongols, bronze, torches of jade."
You can check out this exhibition which was consecrated to Opium back in 2008.