Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Sometimes I like to revisit fragrances a few years after their initial launch. My tastes might change in the meantime, but also the landscape of the market itself is likely to be different enough that what seemed disappointing earlier, turns out to be a pleasant discovery. This is exactly what happened with Yves Saint Laurent Cinéma. When I first smelled it in 2004, this amber laced mimosa seemed lost in the sea of other floral orientals—Giorgio Armani Sensi (2002), Cacharel Amor Amor (2003), Burberry Brit (2003,) Dolce & Gabbana Sicily (2003,) Christian Dior Pure Poison (2004,) to name a few prominent launches. Today, its warmth and softness stand out as particularly sophisticated next to the sugary gourmand blends currently popular. While it may sound like a backhanded compliment, Cinéma is a well-made, polished blend that deserves a second chance.
The perfumer Jacques Cavallier who created Cinéma has a talent for building accords that retain their radiance over the entire life cycle of fragrance. From the moment Cinéma hits the skin to the last few chords of its amber and vanilla base, it retains a fantastic luminosity. The initial spark is set by sweet citrus notes and soft aldehydes, which lend a hint of retro to the composition. The main star of Cinéma is mimosa, which is rendered tender and delicate, with jasmine and rose playing up its sweetness. A classical oriental layer of vanilla, sandalwood and musk is made translucent through the use of modern crisp amber materials.
Despite the ads and the name suggesting a haughty bombshell, Cinéma is elegant and soft-spoken. It will not announce its wearer before she enters the room, but its shimmery form has an alluring and distinctive presence. The EDT is much less interesting than the EDP, which is the main subject of this review. It is a brighter, sharper composition that misses the plush warmth of the original EDP. The floral impression is more of a rose-peony, rather than mimosa-jasmine. Like most fragrances that have been on the market for a few years, both versions of Cinéma are often available at large discounts. My bottle of EDP was scored at TJ Maxx for a mere $15 for a 1.6oz bottle.
Yves Saint Laurent Cinéma EDP contains notes of clementine, almond blossom, amaryllis, cyclamen, jasmine, peony, amber, white musk, and vanilla. The EDT includes cyclamen, mimosa, clementine, amaryllis, jasmine, white peony, amber, white musk, and vanilla. Available from major retailers and very inexpensively online from various perfume discounter websites.
Sample: my own acquisition