How do I figure out why I love a perfume?
November 15, 2022 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Earlier this year I discovered Lost Cherry by Tom Ford and I love it. I've never been too big into perfumes but there are some I've liked over the years (Chloé Eau de Parfum and Stella by Stella McCartney, mostly), but Lost Cherry is just... amazing. But I can't figure out *WHY* I love it so much. How do I figure out what notes or what scents are why I love it?

This is the description of Lost Cherry on Fragrantica.
Lost Cherry by Tom Ford is a Amber Floral fragrance for women and men. Lost Cherry was launched in 2018. The nose behind this fragrance is Louise Turner. Top notes are Sour Cherry, Bitter Almond and Liquor; middle notes are Sour Cherry, Plum, Turkish Rose and Jasmine Sambac; base notes are Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Peru Balsam, Cinnamon, Benzoin, Sandalwood, Cloves, Cedar, Patchouli and Vetiver.
It's odd to describe it like this, but it was love at first sniff with this perfume. When I smelled it, I immediately thought: "THIS is how I've always dreamed of smelling." There's something about it that's like *deep* and, oddly, juicy smelling (which might not make any sense at all, but I can't think of another way to describe it!!!

But I'm not well versed in perfumes and I can't figure out what exactly about this one made it catch my attention, versus Chloé Eau de Parfum [description] or Stella by Stella McCartney. Obviously those two are florals, with rose accords... but there's something *else* that separates them from Lost Cherry.

I've never smelled a perfume that I've enjoyed as much, at all. I actually also like Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille [description], as well... but again, it doesn't hit my nose the same way Lost Cherry does.
posted by VirginiaPlain to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
You are preaching to the choir. This is also my favorite fragrance. The only perfumes I've found that hits the same key for me is Frank No. 3 and Blood Kiss from BPAL.

Excitedly following this question in the hopes of finding more.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 8:42 PM on November 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

I love perfume! Two things that have helped me figure out what I do and don’t like: sampling lots of perfumes, writing down my impressions, and then looking at the note breakdowns for each one and seeing what they’ve got in common. Trying lots of samples helped me figure out what the perfumes I like seem to have in common. Some things surprised me: previously, I would not, for example, have said I “like” patchouli, but it turns out I do—when it’s used as a base note. It doesn’t even appear as identifiable patchouli to me; it just reads as warm and deep.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:25 PM on November 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

The harmony of a scent also matters - the same notes can be put together with proportions that work together or clash completely, which is where so many knockoffs fail. Louise Turner seems to be a prolific perfumer, you may want to try her other compositions.

And if this is your It perfume, buy extra. If you get bored of it there's an active secondary market, and it's supremely frustrating to have your favourite discontinued. I recently broke a bottle of a limited Shalimar variant and can't find a new one for any price in my country.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:23 AM on November 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

It's a good one. If you want my two (s)cents, it's an example of the increasing use of heavy wood notes in feminine-leaning fragrances. If you're used to feminine-marketed perfumes, this might help it stand out from the crowd (unlike masculine-branded fragrances which have been so dominated by wood notes for decades that the opposite is true, and a well executed "butch floral" stands out—I find Gerald Ghislain's Petroleum captivating in part because he clothed a rich rose fragrance in all sorts of parlor tricks that make it sneak into a traditional men-targeting palette). I'm not the only one to make this observation (for example), and this has become a trend, or maybe an experimental movement, in the world of niche and high-end perfumery.

Now that you've found a fragrance that feels right, I encourage you to explore fragrances with similar notes and maybe even tangential ones. You may find something that takes you up a rung on the satisfaction ladder. My favorite scent of all time is 1740, also by Ghislain. It is heavy as hell and doesn't always feel appropriate for the moment (it's suffocating in hot, humid weather, and it's overwhelming in shared spaces, so I only really wear it when I'll be outdoors in cool weather). By testing others, I've found that I'm really drawn to immortelle and coriander (to the extent that at various times I've grown huge shrubs of immortelle out of curiosity and then fallen in love with the beautiful plant, too). Now I have l'Autre for warm weather, Eau Noire when I need subtlety, and Amber Kiso when I want the heavy syrup without so much 1740's DTF slut vibe. Over time I've built a nice collection of similar-but-different, with different profiles that I can choose from depending on the weather, time of day, where I'll be, and so on. It's been a fabulous process and over the last decade or so I've built nice little collection. You may also enjoy the interplay of layering fragrances (i.e. I'll sometimes put a spritz of Petrolem on one arm and a spritz of something else on the other to see how they play together, and to enjoy getting wafts of each throughout the day).

There's some really goood fragrance writing out there, too. You might dig reading Luca Turin. His Secret of Scent is a really enlightening read. It gets into the brain and how weird the neurological side of scent and emotion can be, because ultimately that's what your question comes down to—Lost Cherry has tickled something inside your brain and it's very difficult to really grasp the what and why of that experience. Fortunately, it's a pleasant experience, and one you can indulge in every time you catch a hint of the fragrance in the air, hold or even look at the bottle, and maybe even put a drop or two on a friend or loved one and share a smile of common experience with them. I have fond memories of cherry-almond smells from childhood, and I think it's related to this cheap handsoap that my mom used to keep in the bathrooms. Who on earth knows why that little combination takes me back to those motherly feelings of comfort? I'm just glad it does. I'm not man enough to want to wear Lost Cherry around as my fragrance of choice, but you bet I have a bottle that I bring out on bleak, rainy days when I want to curl up under a blanket with a book and feel like my mom is in the room with me. I hope your secret associations are just as good.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:46 AM on November 16, 2022 [21 favorites]

Yes! I'm sort of in the same boat with Bitter Peach. I hate to say it but Tom Ford does a good job at perfume (I'm still getting over my infatuation with Black Orchid from several years ago)! What I love about perfume is that everyone's experience is absolutely unique: how you respond to a scent, how it responds to your body over time, etc. is completely up to you and often entirely mysterious. I recently got back into perfumes and have enjoyed ordering a bunch of samples (there's lots of sites) of perfumes with similar notes and just seeing what lands.

Having said that, even when you can find scents with a lot of the same notes, you may not love them as much as this one. I adore Jardin Sur le Nil, but wish it had more staying power, yet not a single perfume I've tried with very similar notes can even hold a candle to it. Why? It's a mystery! But the search is fun...
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:49 AM on November 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend reading about perfume, even if it doesn't help you become an expert in analyzing scents (though it might)! Luca Turin, mentioned above, has a book with Tania Sanchez called Perfumes: The Guide that is a collection of perfume reviews and genuinely some of the best writing I've ever read. Translating scent into words is no small feat and this is also occasionally viciously funny. Similarly, the archives of The Dry Down (now defunct) are a writing master class. Both of these will give you a lot of language for scents in two senses: a demonstration of how one might describe the vibe or feel of a scent (a lot of this from The Dry Down), and technical language (more so from Turin and Sanchez, although "dry down" is also perfume jargon!).
posted by babelfish at 7:12 AM on November 16, 2022 [7 favorites]

Once upon a time I was lucky enough to do a sniffing session at Nose in Paris. While not quite the same as the experience in house (it was spot on), their online diagnosis tool may help give you a better definition of what you enjoy.
posted by socky_puppy at 8:08 AM on November 16, 2022

Your description makes me think you might want to try Bois et Fruits and Feminite du Bois if you haven't tried them already. Neither of them are quite as boozy as Lost Cherry sounds, but they're both known for having a big, juicy plum and stone fruit note over a woody, musky base.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:03 AM on November 16, 2022

In case you haven't seen it yet, Tom Ford was just purchased by Estee Lauder so you might want to stock up before they change/cheapen the formula. Obviously it's not guaranteed to happen, but unfortunately often does following acquisitions.
posted by CheeseLouise at 11:54 AM on November 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

There is also a lot of good information on the Basenotes forums.
posted by freakazoid at 10:21 AM on November 19, 2022

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