This is the sort of thing we might expect a “newbie” to say, but I think many if not most aficionados would admit that they have had these kinds of thoughts even beyond their freshman year. Recently I sampled what I think is a vintage bottle of Cinnabar (1978) with a half spray just above the ankle. I didn’t wear any scent normally that day because I was waiting for one to arrive in the mail, and went over to a neighbor’s house for a short while. When I was there I thought I was smelling a woody scent with herbs and spices. I asked if they had put out Christmas potpourri, but I was told no. I asked if anyone was wearing fragrance, and mentioned Pino Silvestre, but again the answer was no.
When I got back home I smelled the same thing and realized that it was the Cinnabar. Smelling it up close on the skin is a bit different, revealing an odd animalic incense note that reminded me of a store a few miles away that sells ethnic items of India, including cheap incense sticks. Smelling it a few inches away from the skin led me to think of it as similar to the vintage Opium EdT I have. I think it is the textural quality of Cinnabar that is so interesting, perhaps mostly coming from the orange blossom. I usually associate that tingly “texture” with herbal notes. Moreover, my guess is that the citrus notes function in similar ways in Cinnabar and Pino SIlvestre, generating a kind of background “sparkle.”
While Cinnabar is more complex, they both possess citrus, wood, spice, amber, and floral (carnation) notes in common, but the construction is what is similar in particular, beyond the top notes at least. Of course if you want an obvious oregano/thyme type of note, Cinnabar will not supply it, but if you want something that smells a bit more complex (and to me, interesting) from a distance, Cinnabar is worth sampling. I don’t know why the dry down shouldn’t be considered “unisex,” especially if a niche company were to release something very similar today, and many women might in fact find this formulation too “masculine.” However, if you are on a budget, you might want to try Cafe by Cafe (1978) instead.
Here are the notes for Cinnabar (first) and then Pino Silvestre (taken from Fragrantica.com), and for those of you who are not aware, I try to avoid most of the top notes, which might explain why I don’t get strong lavender from PS nor strong peach from Cinnabar:
Top notes are spices, peach, cloves, bergamot, tangerine and orange blossom; middle notes are carnation, cinnamon, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, lily-of-the-valley and lily; base notes are tolu balsam, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver and incense.
…bergamot, lavender, basil, shiny lemon and juniper berries in the top notes. The heart carries an explosion of spicy notes of carnation, nutmeg, geranium, thyme and fir tree. The base contains accords of amber, cedar, musk, Tonka beans and moss.
As is often the case, there are claims about bad reformulations (even with Cafe by Cafe!), but to be fair some have said that reformulated Cinnabar is still not too far off the mark. The bottle I purchased is a 1.75 ml spray. The cap has no markings and the box was no longer present. There is a round label sticker on the bottom that is paper and not transparent. It says “Fragrance Spray,” and not Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette. The number is E A68E. There are two symbols, one is the “e” estimation symbol and the other is a red one with an arrow that I think means something about recycling. The color of the liquid is similar to the vintage splash bottles you can usually see on ebay (a rich red), and not the pale yellowish new one, which is pictured above.
I look forward to a normal wearing. which will be one spray to the center of the chest, and intend to report back with an update about whether my perception is different with that application. If you are not sure about whether to choose this one, Cafe, or Opium (assuming vintage in both cases), I’d say Opium is clearly more “feminine” (with floral notes more pronounced), whereas Cinnabar is more like a unisex niche scent, though more complex than most niche. Cafe by Cafe is for those on a tight budget; it’s simpler and doesn’t have the odd but interesting animalic incense of Cinnabar, but does have a kind of dry herbal quality and is natural smelling, just as the other two are. If you are used to mild orientals, you may not like any of these, but Cafe would be the one to try first, and you may also want to read my recent post here about “stonking” orientals !