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Although Cinéma came out in 2004 and I'd seen the adverts - loads of cat-eyed women surrounded by the requisite adoring men, shot in glamorous shades ofgold - I'd never smelt it until recently. And boy, did it surprise me. Created by Jacques Cavallier (who's responsible for other recent offerings such as Lancôme Magnifique, YSL Elle, Stella McCartney Stella), YSL's Cinéma is anything but the sharp, sultry old-school perfume I'd been expecting, given its name and the traditional imagery in the ads: it's actually a really sweet floral.
See, this is why I had such a shock when Cinéma turned out to be a dish of candy and not a woody oriental or an astringent green. The box is a very traditional, rectangular offering in a glam shade of gold with Art Deco-style bordering, with "Cinéma" written very simply in black at the top and "Yves Saint Laurent" at the bottom, again in just black. It's not pink, it's not pastel, it's not girly in any way - in fact, it's unashamedly grownup and elegant, a real return to 1930s and 40s glamour in the golden age of cinema. The bottle, too, is classically elegant and a million miles away from the young and girlish designs usually found on sweet perfumes: it's square, tall and slim, clear to display the amber-coloured liquid inside, with a repeated design of "YSL" in tiny rows horizontally across the bottle. It's very beautiful, actually, and with a definite hint of the orient or at least the exotic; the lid is a large gold cap which sets the whole thing off perfectly.
THE PERFUME ITSELF
Once the alcohol dies down (it's actually very pronounced in this fragrance, I needed to give it at least 30 seconds to dissipate properly) Cinéma opens with a confused melee of scents - floral, fruity, sweet - which take a minute to layer out into definite scents. The first note I could identify was a really fruity, light and sparkling note of clementine - sweeter and rounder than actual orange, it's nevertheless unashamedly citrus. The freshness is quite welcome because it slides very quickly into the second note, some kind of blossom which I find overwhelmingly cloying and too sweet.
The thing about Cinéma, like many other light fragrances, is that it doesn't hang around for long: the middle notes begin appearing after about 20 minutes, which isn't much time at all. Once it reaches this stage, the sparkle and the fruit dies down and becomes much softer; the blossom turns into the much heavier scent of jasmine and another more floral scent appears. According to Basenotes, this other scent is peony, but I don't know that I'd recognise it as that - I'd describe it as being very sweet, as heavy as jasmine but not as exotic. The middle notes are very nebulous, not particularly one thing or another, a bit of a cloud of scent which tends towards the sweet and the floral without being strong. It's not exactly weak but it doesn't project very far, so there's no chance you'll smell overwhelming; in fact, you can definitely get away with a couple of sprays of this without knocking everyone out around you!
After about 3 hours or so, the drydown begins, and the main note I get at this point is vanilla. Loads of vanilla - not gourmand, edible-smelling vanilla, but that very inedible, slightly removed yet still warm type. Having gone from fruit to flowers, it's now incredibly creamy and warm, from time to time I even get hints of benzoin (a resin-like substance) which backs up the vanilla even more and adds a tiny hit of something resembling incense, although it's anything but smoky or oriental. It's easy to wash this perfume off, so be careful about washing your hands too vigorously if you want to preserve the scent; it's also quite fleeting and all traces of it are gone after 6 or so hours.
Well, I must admit I'm disappointed. I know I'm biased because I'm not keen on sweetness or too much fruit in a perfume, but Cinéma was boring, and all the more disappointingly so because of its frankly beautiful packaging and overall image. The progression of fruit-sweet floral-vanilla is overdone, kind of trite and not particularly original; I can think of at least a couple of other perfumes which follow this trend (Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle probably does it the best as it's got a couple of more interesting oriental notes going on there, plus it's less heavy-handed on the fruit, but it's definitely a pattern I've smelt in Dior's Miss Dior Cherie as well and I have mistaken these two for each other during the heart note stages).
Fundamentally, there's nothing wrong with Cinéma, and it's a perfectly wearable, everyday fragrance. It's not going to offend anyone in the office, nor is it going to gas people on the tube, so if you're after a light, friendly and approachable kind of scent, this might well be an option (although as I've said, for a similar but slightly more individual effect, try Coco Mademoiselle). It also doesn't smell cheap or at all like cleaning-products, which is a mercy, but on the other hand, it's not very original or noteworthy; it's not particularly compelling, interesting or memorable. I think I'm just really disappointed about the massive disconnect between the incredibly glam bottle and the kind of pedestrian pinkness IN the bottle - I wanted Brief Encounter, but unfortunately I got Clueless!
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
As it's new and seems to sell well, Cinéma is available pretty much everywhere - I've seen it in Boots, priced at £39 for 35ml of EDP. At that price it's not exactly cheap, and as it's on the weak side you might end up having to spray a little more of it, but as it is a quality perfume perhaps the price is right.
It is important to know what type of girl each perfume is intended for, so I will first start by introducing the YSL cinema wearing woman. The YSL website claims that the perfume is 'a tribute to beauty, pleasure and seduction...revealing the star lurking inside every woman' . The CINÉMA woman is attractive and she likes to feel attractive. Aware of her power, she likes to seduce.
I would describe the perfume as a daytime oriental perfume, it contains the floral aromas of Almond Tree Blossom, Amaryllis and Amber. I have long been an YSL opium wearer by night, but I needed a sensual day perfume, something that would make me feel instantly good when I put it on and make me feel prepared for the day. Cinema does just that. I walk out my front door feeling great every morning.
Furthermore, it is a long lasting fragrance, and I have been asked hours later what the luscious smelling perfume is. I can wear it at any time, although I have continued my habit of wearing opium at night, cinema is a lighter but equal match.