Yves Saint Laurent Cinema : Perfume Review



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



  • pam: I bought Cinema blind about a year ago, and fell in love with it. I have not tried the edp, I have the edt, but it is quite lovely. This is NOT the kind of fragrance I usually go for, so I was very surprised at how much I liked it. And it lasts for hours. November 14, 2011 at 7:30am Reply

  • Kym: I bought this on a “binge” at a local store that had many discontinued frags. Sadly, I does nothing for me unlike other Mimosa’s like Mac’s Naked Honey and Tauer’s Zeta (which smells pretty much the same as Naked Honey). Oh, well…at least I didn’t spend a lot (it wasn’t 15 bucks, tho!) November 14, 2011 at 11:25am Reply

  • Debbie: I initially bought the edp but now I’m addicted to the parfum. It has more depth than the edp but admittedly, doesn’t have the same sparkle. The clementine, vanilla and amber notes have been amped-up making it a perfect comfort scent for winter – although I enjoy wearing it all year round. November 14, 2011 at 11:26am Reply

  • Yelena: So delighted to see your review. Cinema is one of my favorites. I also wear it layered with la Myrrhe as well as Ambre Russe. I find that it gives an interesting aspect to both scents and actually makes them softer and warmer. I get more compliments on both when accompanied by Cinema. if you are ever bored, do try the layering. Once the weather gets a bot cooler, bith will become my signature go-to fragrances. November 14, 2011 at 11:29am Reply

  • Susan: I bought this not long after it came out and have enjoyed it immensely! This was before I knew much of anything about perfume – I sought it out after smelling it on a magazine scent strip! I think that some of the top notes in my bottle have deteriorated, but I still use it because I so enjoy the long drydown. I may have to repurchase a new bottle.. I am actually not sure which formulation I have it in, so I need to investigate that too! November 14, 2011 at 2:03pm Reply

  • Victoria: If you pass by the YSL counter, do try the edp. I am really enjoying it. The contrast between soft mimosa and warm amber drydown is very alluring. November 14, 2011 at 9:21am Reply

  • Audrey H.: I’ve never smelled this one but it sounds lovely. Will keep an eye out for at Ross’, TJ Maxx is opening a store here again in the near future will have to hang on to my wallet Lol!! I don’t mind blind buys if the price isn’t high and checking reviews helps also. November 14, 2011 at 5:58pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is definitely more amber-vanilla than floral overall. Like you I love Naked Honey, which is still one of my favorite florals. November 14, 2011 at 3:35pm Reply

  • Victoria: Mmmm, the parfum sounds so good. I have not seen testers around, but I will put it on my to-sample list. November 14, 2011 at 3:35pm Reply

  • Victoria: Ah, what a coincidence! I can see how it would be fantastic layered with Ambre Russe in particular. Something to amplify that velvety, yet dry amber note could be an interesting twist. November 14, 2011 at 3:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who enjoys Cinema. Glad I revisited it, because it has been one of my favorite fragrances this fall. November 14, 2011 at 3:37pm Reply

  • Cathleen56: I agree completely — I think this one is underrated. I don’t know why I haven’t bought this one yet. For some reason I associate this with Badgely Mischka, another underrated perfume, November 14, 2011 at 9:40pm Reply

  • Undina: I always liked Cinema and planned to buy a bottle but somehow after using up my sample I never got around to do that. I should probably re-test it nd see if I still like it.

    Thank you for the reminder. November 14, 2011 at 6:56pm Reply

  • Safran: Thank you for pointing this out, this is one of the fragrances, I’ll need to try again. November 15, 2011 at 9:12am Reply

  • Victoria: Sometimes TJ Maxx has some wonderful bargains! I also bought a bottle of Aromatics Elixir there for $20. November 15, 2011 at 12:54pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are welcome! 🙂 It is so well-done. November 15, 2011 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Victoria: It was kind of lost among other much louder floral orientals when it first came out. Today, it seems so distinctive. November 15, 2011 at 12:56pm Reply

  • Victoria: I like to revisit fragrances that did not appeal to me originally. One never knows what surprises one might discover. November 15, 2011 at 12:56pm Reply

  • Diane: Is it discontinued? Thanks in advance. November 16, 2011 at 12:21pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is still in production. Sephora carries it, for instance. November 16, 2011 at 1:09pm Reply

  • kuri: Wow, I happen to own this! However, it’s a bit too warm and sweet on my skin for my taste. Hrm. I wonder if I should put it away and revisit it in a few years. November 17, 2011 at 11:19am Reply

  • Victoria: It is on a sweet side, that's true. If you don't have issues with storage space, do hold onto it. It is such a well-crafted fragrance. November 17, 2011 at 1:40pm Reply

  • Lynda: This fragrance….is my signature fragrance. I originally found it in TJ Maxx and have been wearing it for the past few years. Its wonderful…so earthy and warm…like me… March 2, 2013 at 9:19pm Reply

  • Bastet: I just bought Cinema based on this review – love it. Best of all it is wonderful layered with L’Artisan Mimosa Pour Moi (not sure of the spelling). I’ve always had problems with the longevity of the Mimosa scent, but this really seems to make it last a long time and the two blend so nicely. Maybe the Mimosa wasn’t a mistake after all! September 9, 2013 at 4:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying Cinema. It’s somewhat underrated, in my opinion, but it’s definitely an excellent perfume. September 10, 2013 at 6:50am Reply

  • Julie: Hello- I always enjoyed Paris by YSL. I have worn and adore Yvresse too. I was birthday shopping for a friend of mine recently and stumbled on Cinema (EDP 1.6 oz.) for a great price. I think I should have tried this a long time ago! A nice scent for fall & a very nice bottle too. 🙂 A great review as always Victoria. Thank you! September 4, 2015 at 6:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Isn’t it great? It’s such a wonderful orange blossom-mimosa, and a touch of moss gives it a mellow, velvety feel. Perfect for this time of year. September 5, 2015 at 7:56am Reply

      • Julie: Yes! Velvety and mellow…
        It’s 58 degrees this morning. I will savor every drop! Have a great weekend Victoria. 🙂 September 5, 2015 at 8:05am Reply

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