Perfume Directory

Cinnabar (1978)
by Estée Lauder

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Cinnabar information

Year of Launch1978
GenderFeminine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 214 votes)

People and companies

HouseEstée Lauder
PerfumerBernard Chant
PerfumerJosephine Catapano
PackagingIra Levy
Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies

About Cinnabar

Cinnabar is a feminine perfume by Estée Lauder. The scent was launched in 1978 and the fragrance was created by perfumers Josephine Catapano and Bernard Chant. The bottle was designed by Ira Levy

Cinnabar fragrance notes

Reviews of Cinnabar

Warm, spicy & gorgeous!

I've been wearing this one recently and I must say, it has certainly left an impression on me!

Cinnabar is a very unusual and beautiful fragrance. It is based around cinnamon and deep spices like benzoin, tolu balsam, amber & other resins. These are combined with slight floral notes of rose, lilly and carnation. This gives it a very deep, warm, spicy, slightly powdery smell. It reminds me of red dust. Shimmering red dust with powder and spice.

It is a very opulent perfume. People will notice you in some way or another. I don't think it's loud, but if oversprayed it will project at least 6 feet around you.

It is said that Estée Lauder launched this one to coincide with Yves Saint - Laurent Opium released within months of each other. Other sources say that YSL copied her in releasing Opium. However I find differences between them. This one has a higher concentration of cinnamon, whereas Opium has a whole blend of spices.

Overall, I think Cinnabar is a wonderful fragrance, and an example of a beautiful, warm, emotional type of perfumery which has an old, classic feel of class and sophistication. I imagine the woman wearing this to also be wearing fur and pearls and a hat. I don't imagine an old or middle aged woman either. For me this fragrance would suit anyone in their the late 20's and above. Of course it can also be worn by someone younger, but I think it has a "grown-up" kind of confidence to it which you need to have as well to pull it off. I wear this, and also the men's version Aramis JHL.
26th March, 2018
Spicy, resinous amber perfumes are a feel-good genre in perfumery. The individual components (vanilla, benzoin, labdanum…) are like prefab bases and can single-handedly provide the blueprint for an Oriental perfume. The risk is the kitchen-sink syndrome.

Cinnabar's topnotes juxtapose a bright, aldehyde/bergamot accord against a boozy amber mix, a trick learned from Youth Dew. The segue from citrus to sweet brings out the matte, rubbery side of amber, but it doesn't jibe well with the vanillic undercurrent and the custard doesn't quite settle. Despite aldehydic jazz hands the topnotes don't have nearly enough torque to dig the spices out of the trenches. Little light escapes the cinnamon/clove event horizon and wearing Cinnabar gives me olfactory claustrophobia. It's a quick journey from the topnotes to the perfume’s next and only other phase, drydown, which lasts from the 30 minute mark until about 24 hours later. Cinnabar does grow less dense as the half-lives pass but it never becomes any less opaque.

Cinnabar might have cribbed some tricks from Auntie Youth Dew, but it should have studied history more closely. The pairing of citrus/aromatics and balsams was the compositional coup of the 1920s. Shalimar and Habanita steered the pairing toward leather and Nuit de Noel and Bois des Isles went the cozy fur-coat route but they all share a similar design concept.

The perfumes of the 1970s and the 1920s had a lot in common. Aldeyhydic florals were chic as hell and bitter chypres were all the rage, but the voluptuous orientals were the shit. Cinnabar and its exact contemporaries Yves Saint Laurent Opium and Lancome Magie Noire reinvented animalsim via spice and opened the door to a new style of oriental perfume that Chanel put on the map with Coco, Bois Noir and Egoiste.

The identity of the perfumer of Cinnabar is not 100% certain, but rumor has it that it was Bernard Chant. For the life of me I can't imagine that the perfumer of Cabochard and Aromatics Elixir didn't know how to square the bergamot/amber circle. If he is in fact Cinnabar's author, I have to imagine that the fault lies in reformulation. Chant was just too good to be credited with the murky version of the perfume available today.

The proof will be in the pudding. I've just found an unopened bottle of the original Cinnabar ("Soft Youth Dew") on ebay and it's en route. It'll go head-to-head with a pristine bottle of YSL Opium that I recently found. More to follow.

from scenthurdle.com
20th July, 2017
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Review of the original Eau de Parfum:

A peachy-peary fruity start is given a spiciness as if boiled in a spice soup for several hours. A cautious but definite addition of aldehydic undertones add some sparks such as to prevent is from being all too dark.

In the head notes sweetness arisies, a mix of a rich and scrumptious cinnamon that is never too thick or cloying. This is nicely combined with a rich ylang-ylang, and this dyadic partners work together exceedingly well. Jasmine - with a touch of verdant vibrations - is present too.

A pleasant tanginess leads into the base, and it turns out to be derived from clove with a well-placed component of some ambery orris. This turns into a gently crisp spiciness owing to an underlying layer of darkish patchouli. The ylang-ylang sweetness, however, stands its ground and is now fortified by a dense but not too heavy tonka impression.

I get moderate sillage, excellent projection and a superb twelve hours of longevity on my skin.

A rich oriental and wintery creation, less heavy than Opium and never too overwhelming. This is well-blended out of ingredients of a very respectable quality. The aldehydic notes as well and the spicy-tangy aromas are incorporated in a very balanced fashion. At times it lacks vibrancy and can be a bit dull though. Overall 3.5/5.
24th May, 2017
This is how I'd hoped Opium pour homme would smell, spicy with a bit of funk in a way that recalls Kouros.
07th June, 2016
bFlay Show all reviews
United States
Cheap cinnamon air freshener and vinegar/floral feminine deodorant spray! Foul all around...
18th May, 2016 (last edited: 21st May, 2016)
The current version is a will-o'-the-wisp compared to its original self. I recently bought a bottle for old times' sake, and expected to like it in spite of reformulation, but no. It's pleasant, but it barely even smells spicy to me and I can't differentiate any of the dissonant notes that used to make it interesting. Very little remains of the storied olfactory resemblance between Cinnabar and Opium or Youth Dew. Such a shame.
16th December, 2015 (last edited: 27th December, 2015)

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