Estee Lauder launched Cinnabar within weeks of YSL Opium coming out. The gauntlet was well and truly thrown down. That they are competitors cannot be coincidence with such a close time lapse between them and such unmistakable similarities.
Cinnabar was created in 1978 and has become somewhat of a standby classic. I don’t smell this very often on under 50s, which is a great shame . I would love to see younger people seek out fragrances like this and escape from the fog of modern fruity florals.
Cinnabar has a lot to offer. It is an Oriental Spice perfume, with other notes that make it chameleon-like in its adaptability. On first spray it is loud, fresh and spicy before drying down into a talcum powder masculine scent . But bear with it, as it soon changes again and becomes a delightful Incense fragrance with a hint of powdery orange and peach, and a definite loud-ish note of clove standing in the background. This is serious perfume: it’s not playful. I can’t help thinking of rather sombre females in dark suits, or elegant dames with pearls and no laughter lines.
On me I’m afraid it reminds me of a Toilet in a rather well to do house I visited years ago. I can’t help it. I smell a fragrance and a long forgotten memory just pops up and won’t go away. I think the hint of Jasmine, which is often indolic, has made this hard for me to love, but easy to admire. It also reminds me of a soap called Shield, used by a former adversary, which has kind of spoilt it for me. Strangely enough, I found this so similar to Estee Lauder Youth Dew, now in its 60th year, that I am not entirely clear why they made two fragrances so very similar. Yesterday I wore Cinnabar on one arm and Youth Dew on the other. At one point they were so alike I thought I was going to have to write “This one is Youth Dew” on my arm.
Cinnabar is not for me, but I hope it sticks around as we need more classics like this. It would be a tragedy if a beautiful Oriental were to be discontinued through lack of sales. With today’s trends for the lighter more modern fruits and vanillas, I sometimes fear for the good guys like Cinnabar.