Well, you can knock me over with a feather! Against all odds and much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed Lost Cherry, the newest release from Tom Ford. I must admit, I’m quite flummoxed. I’m not one who is normally keen on gourmand fragrances and cherry is not particularly high on my list of favourite fruit notes in perfumery. Plus, the fragrance is hardly perfect as there are performance, drydown, and price issues but, nevertheless, here we are: I think Lost Cherry is a heck of a lot of fun to wear and I wouldn’t mind a small decant to wear occasionally during the dark, icy months ahead.
Lost Cherry is an eau de parfum that is part of the Private Blend collection. It was released in the United States in October but its international release is slated for some time in November.
Its name continues the wink-wink salaciousness started by Tom Ford‘s Fucking Fabulous. If English is not your native tongue or if you’re unfamiliar with American slang, “lost cherry” means losing your virginity or, originally, popping your hymen, in the case of women. Let’s just consider Tom Ford a prepubescent boy with a pathological need to provoke a reaction from people via sex or silly names and move on.
On his website, Tom Ford describes the scent and its notes as follows:
Luscious. Tempting. Insatiable.
Lost Cherry is a contrasting scent that reveals a tempting dichotomy of playful, candy-like gleam on the outside and luscious flesh on the inside.
Innocence intersects indulgence with an opening the captures the classic perfection of the exotic cherry fruit. Black cherry’s ripe flesh dripping in cherry liqueur glistens with a teasing touch of bitter almond.
The heart bursts forth in cherry waves of sweet and tart. Griotte syrup expresses the textured maceration of voluptuous fruits while breathtaking florals of Turkish rose and jasmine sambac penetrate the senses and soul.
Peru balsam and roasted tonka at the drydown suggest a new portrait of an iconic symbol. When blended with an unexpected mélange of sandalwood, vetiver and cedar, the finish reaches fantasy-inspiring levels of insatiability.
The note list situation is a little bit odd. All of Tom Ford’s retailers quote what is clearly an official list that has been given to them, but that list does not include a good number of things which are referenced in Tom Ford’s description quoted above. The list you see everywhere is as follows:
black cherry accord, bitter almond, griotte sirup Scenttek™, rose absolute Orpur®, Peru balsam, roasted tonka Orpur.
However, if you include the raw materials or ingredients referenced by Tom Ford in his description, the complete note list is longer and more interesting in my eyes. (I’m OCD about details, shoot me.) It also includes some elements that definitely showed up when I wore Lost Cherry, so their omission doesn’t reflect the complete picture of what you might expect if you tried Lost Cherry. This is the full and total list of ingredients:
black cherry accord, bitter almond, griotte sirup Scenttek™, Turkish rose absolute Orpur®, jasmine sambac, sandalwood, vetiver, cedar, Peru balsam, roasted tonka Orpur. [Emphasis added by me.]
Lost Cherry opens on my skin with a blast of sugar and sugared musk lying like a white lacy veil over a brimming bowl of dark cherries. The cherries are black and rubied, sticky, juicy, and succulent. A tiny whisper of tartness quickly appears under them, a nod to the Griotte semi-sour varietal. It’s followed by an equally elusive whisper of greenness and woodiness, much like a singular, budding sprig of green and the woody stem of the actual fruit. Within two minutes, everything (including the sugared musk) dissolves into a single accord: black cherry cordial or cherry Kirsch. I would call it a liqueured note due to its concentrated nature except there isn’t anything “boozy” about it in the way that that word is traditionally used in perfumery. Still, it’s lovely, much like the dark, sweet liquid which oozes out when you take a bite of certain kinds of filled chocolates, especially the Kirsch kind.
Interestingly, Lost Cherry smelled a little different when I applied the same quantity of fragrance to my other arm. I frequently test fragrances on both, because I’ve noticed occasional differences over the years in the notes which are amplified or muted or in the nuances which may or may not appear. I think the skin on my right arm must be drier because it tends to eat more quickly through top notes and it also seems to bring out the dark, smoky, woody, or tobacco base notes in a composition to a greater degree. For reasons I don’t understand but which I’m guessing have to do with moister skin, the skin on my left arm isn’t as voracious and shows everything in a clearer fashion. (That’s why my left arm is the default, standard option.)
In this case, Lost Cherry on my left arm had very little musk in the opening as compared to the right. Instead, there was a strong, unmistakable, and gorgeous almond note which was like boozy amaretto liqueur mixed with the more bitter aroma of fresh, slightly green and raw almonds. The almond blast was very overt during the first two minutes but it quickly settles down to become a secondary note, like a generous sprinkling atop the central cherry cordial bouquet.
There are other scent differences between the two arms in the first 30 minutes as well. On my right arm, Lost Cherry is so thin in body and light in weight that it feels practically translucent. On my left arm, however, Lost Cherry is somewhat richer, heavier, more diffusive, and louder, although I wouldn’t call the scent rich or thick by any objective, non-comparative criteria.
In addition, there is a difference in the prominence of the woody base notes. On my right arm, a quiet undercurrent of smoky woodiness appears after just 15 minutes, smelling like total fusion of cedar and sandalwood. Again, it’s a quiet note and I have to sniff my arm up close to detect it, but it’s definitely there. On my left arm, however, the woody undercurrent takes longer, roughly 35 minutes, to appear because the cherry note and its accompanying amaretto are so much stronger, thicker, and more robust. To put it another way, Lost Cherry takes on a woody undercurrent much sooner on one arm than the other.
Both arms, however, end up wafting the same bouquet roughly 40 minutes into Lost Cherry’s evolution: ripe, juicy, sticky, succulent black cherries, splashed with a generous amount of boozy amaretto liquor and equally boozy vanilla, then lightly sprinkled with a pinch of confectioner’s sugar before served up on a small platter made out of roses and woods. The vanilla appears out of nowhere, smelling boozier than regular sugared vanillin but also boozier than ethyl maltol vanilla. It’s quite creamy, similar to the aroma of the vanilla in Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille but what it reminds me of most of all is the extra creamy, boozy, crème caramel vanilla lushness used in LM Parfums‘ Sensual & Decadent and in Profumum‘s Dulcis in Fundo. (I suspect a significantly higher ratio of vanilla is at play and explains the differences.) The vanilla’s sudden appearance and central prominence is important for another reason: it defuses and weakens the strength of the amaretto, although there is still more than enough of the later to result in a centerpiece accord of cherry, vanilla, and amaretto.
Just as the vanilla suddenly popped up, so does the rose. Granted, it’s nowhere as obvious, prominent, and central to the fragrance at this early stage as the vanilla and it certainly isn’t apparent when I sniff the fragrance from a distance on the scent wind, but it’s definitely there all of a sudden when I smell my arm up close. It lurks deep in the base, a thin ribbon of fruited, jammy floralcy that runs alongside the cedar-sandalwood woody accord.
Lest there is any misunderstanding, let me be completely clear that the cherry is still the most important and controlling factor in Lost Cherry’s mix. Not even its almond and vanilla companions are not as dominant. To give you a better idea of the proportions I’m talking about, I’d estimate that Lost Cherry’s bouquet from the 40-minute mark until the 120-minute point would roughly break down as follows:
- 50% black cherry cordial;
- 22% vanilla;
- 17% amaretto;
- 7% smoky woods; and
- 4% jammy roses.
Yes, those numbers are oddly specific, but I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking of how to best convey the exact strength, prominence, significance, and ratios of each of the secondary and tertiary notes, and that’s the relative weight and balance I came up with.
It takes Lost Cherry a long time to change in any significant, appreciable way. Most of the changes are so incremental that they’re difficult to notice at first glance and in a single test, even if I sniff my arm up close frequently. Generally, the jammy rose begins to grow in strength at the end of the second hour and start of the third. In my second text, I noticed a different sort of syrupiness appearing at roughly the same time, one which, if I focused and concentrated enough, seemed to suggest the syrupy floralcy of jasmine sambac. But the jasmine is not at all obvious or clear, not even as floral syrup. The cherry-vanilla continues blasting with so much strength and with the two notes so tightly welded together as the central note that it diminishes the clarity of any tangential olfactory flotsam. (And both the rose and jasmine really are akin to microscopic flotsam.) While all this is going on, the amaretto has now retreated to the sidelines where it is joined by tiny puffs of wood smoke from the cedar-sandalwood accord. Once again, the wood notes are stronger and more easily detectable on my right arm than on my left.
I have to say, this middle stage of Lost Cherry is my favourite. And the reason why may surprise long-time readers of the blog: it’s the rose. It’s not an obvious, distinct, overt, or clearly delineated note and it is, in fact, more like a rose-hued floral suggestion than anything easily quantifiable but, man, it is just a perfect touch with the cherry, vanilla, amaretto, floral syrup, and puffs of wood smoke. Something about the combination is fragrantly lovely, inviting, comforting and cozy.
There are a few reasons why. First, there is just the right balance of sweetness and floralcy. To my great surprise, this stage of Lost Cherry doesn’t scream “gourmand,” at least not in a foghorn fashion and not as compared to the blast in the opening. The bouquet now certainly isn’t cloying, sugared, or heavily sticky. Instead, the sweet notes have been indirectly (but clearly) counterbalanced and kept in check by the wood notes (and their tiny puffs of smoke). Second, the very lightness of the scent helps to prevent a sense of nauseating excess. Lost Cherry is strong when I put my nose right on my arm but it’s lightweight in body and not sticky or oppressive in feel, in addition to being quite sheer in the scent cloud from afar. Third, when diffused over a distance, notes which might otherwise feel too sugared or cloying up close end up hitting the right spots and balance in a haze of dark cherry, vanilla creamy, rosy sweetness, woodiness, liqueur booziness, and floral syrup — all wrapped up with tendrils of dry, dark smoke.
I’ve tested Lost Cherry a few times now and even in my first test, I was drawn to this stage, sniffing my arm appreciatively. But I’ve grown to like this part even more in subsequent wearings. It’s such a “cozy comfort scent” and, if you’ve read me for any amount of time now, you’ll know it is my second favourite genre of perfumery. Right from the first go-around, I just found something so inviting, relaxing, and fun about Lost Cherry during this particular stage, but my appreciation only grew with my second and third tests. I have the feeling that this is a fragrance which, for people who like its main notes, will only grow more appealing with time. Even if the first (and, alas, the drydown last) stage is too sweet for me personally, I actually wouldn’t mind a decant of this for those cold winter nights where, invariably, I start to suddenly crave sweet, warm comfort to offset the ice and darkness outside.
I will be frank, the middle stage of Lost Cherry is the best, in my opinion, and it rather goes down hill after that. A big part of the problem is that sugared, laundry-clean white musk bullies its way in, blanketing the other notes, minimizing them, and turning everything into a haze. That’s what happens from the end of the 5th hour onwards. There is just a deluge of incredibly common-smelling, cheap, white sugared vanillin sugar that begins to coat everything in sight. The vanilla no longer smells creamy. Actually, it’s only slightly boozy and now smells like ethyl maltol drenched in vanillin’s white sugar, then tossed in a bowl of white musk.
The result is no longer a balanced scent with many accompanying parts but, instead, a very simplistic and quite uninteresting, generic, banal fragrance. Everything is so whitewashed by sugar and clean musk that the things which made Lost Cherry so appealing originally have become a mere memory. It’s now merely a heavily, heavily sugared vanilla-fruity bouquet, cocooned in a haze of sugary white musk, then overseen from a distance by tiny tendrils of smoky sandalwood, floral syrup and, somewhere in most distant, far periphery, by abstract, amorphous streaks of something vaguely rosy-ish. Heavily sugared fruity-vanilla bouquets with hints of something floral and/or woody are pretty much a dime a dozen, so I’m disappointed.
It’s not that Lost Cherry smells bad, because it doesn’t, but it’s such a steep decline from the quality, nuanced character, and appeal of the earlier hours that it’s hard not to be disappointed. Generic fruity-vanilla-white-musk fragrances are a dime a dozen and to have only four good hours of Lost Cherry before it turns banal is a little exasperating at this price point. (More on the significantly elevated price tag for Lost Cherry later.)
Lost Cherry’s drydown begins roughly 5.75 hours in and I wish I could say that it was interesting, but it is not. Not even remotely. In a nutshell, it’s a candy sweet, heavily sugared fruit-vanilla accord with white musk and a soupçon of smoky woodiness infused within. There is nothing actually rosy about the smell, unless you interpret generic red fruitiness (à la fruitchouli) to be a rose scent. In fact, there isn’t much which is cherried about Lost Cherry at this point either. To be honest, it’s a red, jammy fruitiness which is not so far off from fruitchouli and pink peppercorns in aroma, all mashed up within a haze of sugared candied floss. Actual cherry? No. Not any more. Fruitchouli candy floss? In abundance. It’s disappointing, cheap-smelling, and generic, and it doesn’t change one iota until Lost Cherry finally dies away in a blurry wisp of fruited, sugared, white musk sweetness.
Lost Cherry had fair performance on my skin when taken as a whole but I think I was luckier than many others because my skin holds onto aromachemicals like vanillin and white musk like crazy. From what I’ve read on Fragrantica, Sephora, and elsewhere, it seems as though a lot of people had major sillage and longevity issues with the scent. On me, using several generous, wide, large smears from a sample vial amounting to roughly 2 sprays from an actual bottle, Lost Cherry opened with low projection of about 1.5 to 2 inches and a scent trail of about 4. The sillage grew fractionally larger after 40 minutes, but not by much. Maybe an inch or two. Roughly 4.5 hours in, Lost Cherry hovered above the skin in projection and the scent cloud was close to the body unless I moved my arms close to my nose. Lost Cherry turned into a skin scent after 6 hours, although it was still easy to detect if I put my nose right on my arm until the middle of the 8th hour. After that, I had to dig in. In total, Lost Cherry lasted between 11.5 and 12.5 hours, depending on which arm I put it on. (My right arm ate through the scent more quickly, while it clung on my left arm better.)(No, I don’t understand my crazy skin. I can only tell you what happens with it.)
Lost Cherry seems to be a big, big hit across the perfume world. It’s sold out on a few department stores sites (like Nordstrom’s) and samples are also sold out at Luckyscent at the time of this review. On a purely olfactory basis, Sephora reviewers seem to love it, calling it “divine,” “enchanting,” “beautifully balanced,” and “delicious.” But — and there is a big “but” here — reviewers there and elsewhere repeatedly claim it has the shelf-life of a flea. Reports abound about the fragrance lasting for only an hour or two. To be fair, I think some of these people are confusing sillage with longevity and some may not be smelling their arms up close but, be that as it may, the complaint is pretty uniform between sites. On Fragrantica, Lost Cherry’s longevity is rated harshly by the sum-total majority number of reviewers. At the time of this post, 13 people rate the longevity as “poor,” the very lowest category, while “15” call it “moderate.” In terms of sillage, second place again goes to the lowest category (“soft” with 13 votes) while first place goes to “moderate” (with 25 votes).
Obviously, how much you apply will impact and alter your numbers, and you never know if the person is rating things after spraying vociferously at Harrod’s, after lightly dabbing a small smear from a sample vial, or after taking a mere sniff from a scent strip in store (and believe me, scent strips never reveal the whole story!) but it seems pretty clear that a significant number of people are extremely disappointed with Lost Cherry’s soft presence and its tenacity. Even those who otherwise love the fragrance. To quote one Sephora poster who entitled their post with the word “Divine and Enchanting”:
the consensus seems to be this fragrance has no tenacity and I’m gonna have to agree. I smelled Lost Cherry at a TF counter and it disappeared off the blotter after just a few minutes. The rep said it’s long lasting and you only need one or two sprays but I think this is their follow up to any push back about the price. With that being said, the blend is absolutely divine and enchanting with the harmonious blend between cherry, rose and roasted tonka. It has no resemblance to cough syrup despite the review left below. I couldn’t stop smelling the blotter, like I couldn’t take my nose off of it. I would buy this in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the hefty price tag. I just can’t justify buying a fragrance for this much if it isn’t going to last beyond an hour or two on the skin.
Some Fragrantica comments are much harsher about the performance issues but echo the same refrain of olfactory love mixed with performance disappointment. Take, for example, one chap “Stephen.Patton” whose scolding, all-caps chastisement of Tom Ford at the very end of his review made me laugh out loud (and still makes me laugh whenever I re-read it):
Such a shame, this is my SOTD and there is no doubt its an amazing smelling fragrance, it smells addictive, warm, sweet, juicy cherry! BUT it lasts an HOUR if that on my skin! I have a feeling tom ford is telling his aasociates to keep pumping out fragrances but has become less important than it used to be! IT IS NEVER WORTH THE MONEY! I wouldn’t even pay £100 never mind what it is
VERY POOR TOM!!!!!
I’ll let you read the reviews later on your own if you’re interested because I want to move on to an issue referenced in the two comments quoted above: Price. Price makes a big difference to people’s tolerance of performance issues and, in this case, Tom Ford has absolutely YANKED UP the cost of one of his Private Blends. While he’s increased prices every year and now has most of the standard Private Blends up to $235 for 50 ml, he deviated from course significantly with Fucking Fabulous, listing it at $320. (And it sold out on its first run even then. Oh, the power of a name and of symbolic hipness by association.) With Lost Cherry, Tom Ford is once again asking for a more than the standard Private Blends: $320, €279, or €218 for a mere 50 ml. And, just as with Fucking Fabulous, Lost Cherry has sold out at some sites. However, unlike Fucking Fabulous, I personally think this one actually has some appealing parts and is enjoyable to wear, at least most of the time. (As an added bonus, it also does not smell like baby wipes, which is what many people said about FF.)
But there is no denying that Lost Cherry’s $320 price brings one to a screeching halt. It’s not only the performance issues; there is also the fact that, at the end of the day, it’s really not a particularly complex or groundbreaking fragrance. Serge Lutens covered this basic territory long ago with Louve and with its Paris Bell Jar Exclusive, Rahat Loukoum. In fact, all the good parts of Lost Cherry remind me a lot of Rahat Loukhoum (in its original, unreformulated version), only Lost Cherry has a stickier, heavier, thicker, and creamier vanilla note and no powder. (Rahat Loukoum has a noticeable overlap in notes, too, based on what I’ve smelled and others have also reported regarding the secret note list: aldehydes, almond, cherry, hawthorn, Turkish rose, heliotrope, white honey, vanilla, tonka bean, cedar, sandalwood, Peru or Tolu balsam, and musk.) Okay, so mere fragrance overlap has never stopped me from buying a fragrance before, but a high price tag accompanied by low sillage and a banal, generic, cheap drydown (loaded up with laundry white musk) certainly has.
I enjoyed Lost Cherry enough during its first four or five hours to wish a few times for a small decant to wear occasionally on those dark, icy winter nights when the weather seems to beg for a warm, sweet, cozy comfort fragrance to relax with, but I honestly cannot imagine spending $320 on a small 50 ml bottle. I simply can’t fathom it, not given the totality of circumstances and my personal tastes. If I were a hardcore gourmand lover, however, I think the balance of factors might be quite different. In fact, I’ve seen gourmand lovers, both male and female, writing about Lost Cherry with rapturous admiration, a few of whom could not stop themselves from buying a full bottle after a single wearing. At the end of the day, price is a highly individualized, purely subjective factor which turns on a whole host of considerations, so I think you should give Lost Cherry a sniff and then consider the totality of the circumstances before you decide.
Speaking of the unisex appeal of the fragrance, let me quote one chap, “HullHockey91,” who adored Lost Cherry and who wrote on Fragrantica, in large part, as follows:
This stuff is cherries on top of more cherries but in a good way. Not in a synthetic, annoying way, but more so in a deep fruity, Dr. Pepper kind of way. I definitely get a deep, boozy, nutty cherry at the start.
As the fragrance moves along, the intense cherry starts to fade allowing the tonka bean and almond to round it out. It is a creamy, sweet almond backed by a fantastic warm tonka bean with the cherries in the back seat, but still noticeable.
On the dry down, I get a gorgeous vanilla note which shines through beautifully blending with the cherries, almonds and tonka bean. This vanilla is absolutely stunning with the cherries.
This stuff is crazy delicious. Its so different and such a tremendous quality.
Yes, this stuff is all about the cherries, but no, this is not just pure cherries. This is sooo good because the cherries really do play a huge part, but at the same time its not the only thing I notice….Not even close. The almonds, tonka and vanilla are amazing.
This is also perfectly unisex. I typically dont like unisex frags, but this could work on either. I am a 26 year old male who usually only likes macho frags.
Love it! Such a nice release.
Okay….I feel like on the dry down the cedar also expresses itself which turns this gem masculine. This is in my top 5 favorites as of now. Everything is just so good about it.
As always, I have to emphasize that skin chemistry will make a difference in what you experience and in the extent of nuances which appear. The simplicity of Lost Cherry and the dominance of the cherry note means you could easily end up with the one or two note fragrance which “Fragrant Regard” experienced:
It is impressive that the cherry persists for quite some time on a smelling strip. It is complex and more dynamic than the simple, fleeting cherry notes of other fragrances which consist only of benzaldehyde. Not overly sweet like the cherry facet in Lolita Lempicka, for example.
Unfortunately, this is it. Smells quite like coumarin (a shallow, cheapened and uninteresting tonka bean, in other words). Not nearly as sickening as Fucking Fabulous, which is simply a caricature of its own name; but the price tag: if one is going to spend 320 dollars to lose their cherry, certainly this purchase would be one of the least pleasurable ways of doing so. [Emphasis to other perfume names added by me.]
Personally, I think scent strips bring out only a portion of a fragrance’s notes and that actual skin is a more accurate reflection of a fragrance’s nuances, character, and performance, but that’s not why I’ve quoted this chap. It’s because, on some people, I could see an all too real danger of Lost Cherry flattening into a simple cherry-vanilla fragrance with clean laundry musk and, possibly, maybe, just a soupçon of amaretto — but nothing else.
So, do me a favour: test before you buy. And don’t just sniff in a shop or on a scent strip. Ask for a sample to take home and to test at length on your skin and outside of their commercially air-vacuumed spaces.
At the end of the day, a cherry-amaretto-vanilla fragrance with flotsam bits of woods and roses may not sound like the most exciting thing on earth but, honest to God, I thought it was surprisingly enjoyable and fun to wear. If you give it a try, you might end up being as surprised as I was. But whether you think it’s worth spending $320 is an entirely different and separate matter.
Details/Links: Lost Cherry is an eau de parfum in concentration. The 50 ml bottle costs $320, €279, or €218. Although there is no 100 ml or 250 ml size currently being offered at the time of this post, I read on Fragrantica that Tom Ford will eventually offer a 250 ml bottle for $815. In the U.S.: Lost Cherry is available at Tom Ford; Luckyscent; Sephora; Nordstrom; Neiman Marcus; and Bergdorf’s. Outside the U.S.: Lost Cherry won’t be available at most international retailers until some time in November. Even so, right now, it’s listed and available for purchase at Canada’s Holt Renfrew, Germany’s First in Fragrance, and the UK’s Selfridges. Once the fragrance launches more fully overseas, you should find it at Tom Ford retailers like: Harrods, John Lewis, Sephora France, and others. Samples: I purchased my sample from Surrender to Chance where prices start at $8.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. To find a Tom Ford Store near you, you can use the Tom Ford Store Locator on his website.