Opium was imported to China by the British, who procured it from their colonies in the Indian subcontinent. It was introduced in order to create a market demand for British product where there otherwise was none and reduce the cost of trading for Chinese tea and silk. The Chinese eventually banned the drug as it reduced their society to narcotic addled degeneracy. The resulting retaliation led to the Opium Wars, which the Chinese lost, and the cession of Hong Kong into the British Empire.
Noses Jean Amic and Jean-Louis Sieuzac created Opium for Yves. St Laurent in 1977. In perhaps no other YSL scent is the designer’s disposition for the exotic more present. It was launched with a couture collection featuring pagoda shoulders and mandarin jackets, the mysteries of the orient echoed by the scent’s notes of mandarin, plum, cinnamon, jasmine, and orris. The scent is special in its sweet woody base notes including sandalwood and musk, creating the female equivalent of Old Spice. It’s a bold perfume, for a woman, not a girl, and as it wafts into the nostrils its effect is the kind of seduction that is pure St. Laurent. It is just as potent now as it was in 1977.