Tom Ford Shanghai Lily Review

Tom Ford introduced his new Atelier d’Orient series recently, and I’d like to talk about all of them, but I can’t get past Tom Ford Shanghai Lily. I am such a big old Lily ‘Ho, it’s not funny. You’d think I’d gotten my fill with the Le Labo Lys 41, and while I really loved that one, the Shanghai Lily is  enough like Yves Saint Laurent Opium, without the ’70s hair and disco boot hangover that sometimes comes with it that it just is enchanting in a darker, smokier, spicier way.

tom ford shanghai lily

The dark lily.  White floral over notes of bitter orange, clove, pepper, jasmine, rose, vetiver, guaiacwood, amber, benzoin, castoreum, frankincense, and vanilla.  You get the pepper and clove all the way through giving the lily some bite, the orange providing a little sunshine, while the incense smokes from under it, and all of it smoothed out with the other floral notes and a dollop of vanilla.  I keep expecting the notes in this to overpower the lily or the lily to become so pungent that it beats all the other notes into indolic submission. But no, not at all. They find this amazing tension that lets all of them exist happily – especially me.

Not just a bit of love for this one, but a big burning love. It is the perfect smoked spiced oriental lily.   There are very few of the Tom Ford Private Blends that I have loved, several I’ve liked okay, a lot more than I’ve detested. Velvet Gardenia was perfection. Cafe rose pretty much rocks when I’m in the mood for rose.  I think there’s another one or two that are mood ones that float to the top of the list.  Tom Ford Shanghai Lily is at the top of the list for this line and at the top of the list for a lily perfume.  It is amazing. It’s still summer, so a great time for white florals. As a bonus, with all the oriental notes, this thing will just have me clutching my pearls all winter long. Lord, it is a wonder, and I take back all the bad thing I’ve said about Tom Ford just for this one scent.   You can also read a Tom Ford Shanghai Lily review at Bois de Jasmin.

And of course a giveaway!  I haven’t forgotten about the Neela Vermeire giveaway on her glorious new scent, Ashoka, but I sorta misplaced my teeny vial with the scent in it, so I may have to do that winner when I get my hand on more. Sorry! Let’s pick six winners this week of the Tom Ford Shanghai Lily sample, drawn from comments on this post.  Tell me how your summer is going, if you’re sad to see it end or happy, or if you love or hate Tom Ford perfumes and if you love some, what’s your faves?

  • Steve Tsotras says:

    I think Tom Ford is a genius, some of my favorite scents of all time come from the house, Tuscan Leather, Tobacco Vanille, Oud Wood. Would really love to try the new ones.

  • Tatiana says:

    I think this is the first summer in a long time where I don’t want it to end. We’ve had great weather and it’s been good. Not looking forward to my “only” going back to school in two weeks. I’m also hoping that we do not have a late heat wave. Shanghai Lily sounds lovely and I’d love to try it.

  • mim666 says:

    Summer feels like it just got started! Not ready for it to end, so much to do. I love Casa Blanca lilies and stargazers too, they have a salty-smoky almost meaty thing in them along with vanillic incense in the white ones…LOVE.
    Tom Ford–guy weirds me out, like many of the scents though.

  • Mary K says:

    I’m having a great summer and do hate to see summer end. I’m hoping that September will be warm where I live, since we had such a cold spring. I do like Tom Ford perfumes and Shanghai Lily sounds wonderful. please enter me in the drawing.

  • Beth says:

    Oh darn it Patty, now I must have a sample of this!! You had me at “oriental lily”. Do you know when I first started gardening, I walked through an entire greenhouse following my nose til I came upon the Stargazer Lily. I could smell it from the entry. They are so GORGEOUS. Sadly, the warren of bunnies in my yard also think they are tasty. I planted dozens and no longer get a one of them. But I still crave that smell.

    Tom Ford has been pretty good to me. I haven’t smelled a lot of his, but what I have has worked. The Tobacco Vanille is one of my favorite comfort scents and Neroli Portofino works well for me in the summer. I like the Jasmin Rouge too, but I haven’t had a chance to heavily sample this line.

  • Jamie says:

    I’m so curious about the new collection! I haven’t smelled many Tom Ford’s but I really like the Champaca Absolute. Not in love with the price tag as others have mentioned. As for summer. We’ve had horrible heat and humidity and then a few warm and breezy days. More warm and breezy, please! Otherwise, bring on the fall.

  • scentatorium says:

    This fragrance sounds delightful! I love lily. And even more so, I love fragrances that do double duty and can be worked in either hot or cold weather. This is now on my list as a must sample!

  • Audrey H. says:

    Summer has been nice, looking forward to some cooler weather though. I like Violet Blonde but have to be in a certain mood to wear it usually. This Shanghai Lily sounds beautiful.

  • Dana says:

    This summer is going by way too quickly. We’ve been remodeling our kitchen, so no trips this summer. I really like Black Orchid and Violet Blonde.

  • imapirate007 says:

    You…had…me.. at…OPIUM! I’m looking for something deeper for the fall. As for Tom Ford, how can anyone not love his Tobacco Vanille which I’m looking forward to wearing in the cooler weather. I loved my summer, and enjoyed the good old Jersey shore last week. I brought a bunch of samples to try out on the beach and I’m sure half the vials I sprayed on me ended up blowing onto my beach neighbors. Thanks for the draw!

  • Sapphire says:

    Summer was kind of a beating up until this weekend. My boys didn’t like their babysitter and were getting the worst attitude. But this week, they are out of town staying with my brother and sister-in-law and their cousins. My husband is out of town for work. So that leaves me, the cat, two dogs and a hamster. Which means I can play with all my samples when I’m not at work! I tried Shanghai Lily after reading Victoria’s review and thought it was really nice, probably just what I have been after in a lily fragrance. Would love to get a sample to see if it’s FBW. Have liked Tobacco Vanille, Violet Blonde and Amber Absolute okay, but there was always something about them that didn’t sit right. Shanghai Lily just might be the TF for me.

  • maggiecat says:

    I’ve been craving a sample of Shanghai Lily – I love lily scents and this seems more interesting than most. I also love Fall, the season, as opposed to the hell that is North Texas summer (100-degree + days, dry, yuck). I enjoy the easier teaching schedule and the less crowded campus…but I prefer cooler, more varied weather. Oh, and Tom Ford’s Jasmine Musk worked for me, but not enough to buy a FB.

  • egabbert says:

    I wanna try! My fave TF’s include Noir de Noir and Amber Absolute. And Sahara Noir demands further testing.

    I ALWAYS mourn the end of summer. I like fall weather but conceptually it feels like Monday.

  • Fernando says:

    Summer is, well, too short. There are so many things I want to do, and I never get to them all.

    As for Tom Ford’s perfumes, too expensive! This one sounds very good, but the price is scary.

  • CC ... says:

    I love the nail polish on the photo. Sadly, my summer has been very melancholy … and exhausting. My beloved 16 year old beagle went from perky and lively just 2 months ago to confused and addled so I have been caring for him (almost 24/7 — my mom has been helping while I am at work). Thankfully, he is responding to a new treatment plan as of about 2 weeks ago. Keeping fingers crossed. What a great draw, thank you!

  • ElizabethC says:

    I’ve been wearing Lutens Un Lys lately. Sweet and beautiful but explodes when you are wearing it in a hot car 🙂 None of the Tom Fords have really grabbed me yet, would love to give this one a chance!

  • Stacey says:

    I’m having the best summer I can remember since being a kid! I moved to Seattle from Columbus, Ohio, and I don’t miss the sticky, humid summers there at all. We had maybe 3 days of clouds and 1 day of rain all through July. Oh,and I live right by a beautiful lake. And since I don’t have kids and am not in school myself, I don’t feel like summer is ending yet at all. Woohoo for August!

  • Thora_W says:

    I feel a little bad admitting that there isn’t a single Tom Ford fragrance that I love. There are a few that are in my “Eh, it’s ok” category but none that I have needed to buy. I am quite happy that summer is coming to a close though. I hate the heat and have been wearing some of my favorite fall fragrances lately as my own one woman protest against the oppressive Texas heat. I would love another fragrance to wear now that could be a good fall fragrance.

  • solanace says:

    Hi Patty,
    We’re having such cold days lately, I’ve been on an iris binge. My favorite TF scent is Black Orchid. Would love to try Shangai Lilly, thank’s for the draw!

  • wefadetogray says:

    I am glad summer is coming to an end. I couldnt leave NYC this summer and it was painful to stay here. i’d say without a doubt that this was my worst summer. I was sick and spent almost 2 months in bed so I am happy to embrace the cold weather. I like Tom Ford’s fragrances. not all of them certainly. I adore Santal Blush which is not everybody’s cup of tea on the internet, I know, but I just adore it. I also like Tobacco Vanille and Jasmin rouge. I reallt want to try this one!
    Thanks for the giveaway

    • Ann says:

      Oh, dear, sorry to hear that you were ill this summer. Hope you’re back to normal now and enjoying the things you love. BTW, I really like Santal Blush and Jasmin Rouge, too.

  • Yulina says:

    We do not have summer here, but currently we are having holiday too! If we have summer here, I’d be sad to see it goes, I love beach, and holiday!
    I have not tried Tom Ford yet. They are hard to find here, but I would definitely love to try some. Tobacco Vanille might be my favorite note-wise. And I love lilies, so I am excited to see this!

  • This summer has been pretty good, constant rain not withstanding, can’t complain. Always HATE to see summer end, I’m such a Leo and love the heat (fire!) and the water and the long days of sunlight. I watch the days shorten with a sense of impending loss. It’s not the loss of the hot days, but rather the loss of the light and the knowledge that we are headed into winter and her long, dark days. “Shudder” SUCH a drama queen, lol, but it’s true.

    I like most of Tom Ford’s scents, but I do love several– Tobacco Vanille and Violet Blond come to mind immediately, as does the Noir de Noir and Lys Fume. I love lilies of all kinds, so this Shanghai Lily would be a lovely addition to my little sample collection. ?

  • Irina says:

    summer is my fav and it goes rather well this year- we still have some 2 months to go and I’m already saddened by the comming end…
    would love to try the new TF, I haven’t read such an enthusiastic review for a rather long time
    My favorite for now is Sahara noire, but I hadn’t had the chance of trying many

  • JuliaHK says:

    My summer is going well! It’s hot and humid here, but it’s been great beach weather, and thankfully I live not too far from one. and I’ve only tried Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde but I am a big fan. Would love to try Shanghai Lily! 🙂

  • Janet in California says:

    It is cool and foggy this morning. Sunny in the afternoon- perfect.
    I love Velvet Gardenia! My decant is almost gone and I can’t justify a full bottle, yet.
    I’d love to try this one!

  • rosarita says:

    I’m not a fan of summer weather, but we’ve been having unusually cool days and nights and I’m loving it (shh! Don’t tell Musette!) This Tom Ford Lily – I do love lily, and between you, Victoria and CaFleurebon, it sounds like a must try, even though there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’ll spring for a bottle. Love your review 🙂

  • Maureen says:

    Summer here in suburban Philly has been wet…today is just beautiful though. I’ve been down the shore a couple of times, so that’s always fun. September is one of my favorite months, too. I have liked TF Black Orchid, Neroli Portofino…they are the only ones I have had samples of. I would love to try Shanghai Lily….I have been testing the big ole 80’s fumes like Obsession…which I remember thinking was way too strong in my youth, but I kinda like it now, so I might like Opium and something like Opium now. Thanks for the review and the draw.

  • Dina C. says:

    So far this summer, we’ve gone to the beach and to the country. Later this month, we’ll go to the lake. It’s been a busy season. I greatly enjoy those rare days when the temps don’t get to high, and we have relatively low humidity. Then I’m a fan of summer. But our normal summer days of high humidity and high temps make me long for autumn.

    I haven’t sniffed more than a couple of TFs. The high price tag scares me off. As for Shanghai Lily, lily can be overwhelming to me. I love Stargazer lilies, but dislike Easter lilies. I associate them with the overpowering scent of the church at Easter and trying to sing choral anthems while gasping for air. In fact, our church no longer decorates with Easter lilies at all. We use potted hydrangeas and azaleas instead. No need to enter me in this drawing. Thanks Patti! 🙂

  • Tiara says:

    Have avoided most of the TF Private Blends due to price point. There are so many other affordable scents available that I haven’t allowed myself get sucked into his line. However, after Victoria’s review and now yours, I may have to make an exception.

    So wish I could live in a place with summer all year round. Love the birds singing so early in the morning, the flowers…I don’t even mind the grass cutting!

  • Diana says:

    Aw man! They were the entire reason for our trips to Tyson’s from Baltimore, and they are very missed indeed!

  • tammy says:

    Well, this went straight to the top of the Try list….. I love Opium ( Before the godforsaken Reformation!) and the one Tom Ford I have tried I liked a lot. (Tobacco Vanille) Apparently I need to hunt down some Cafe Rose, too!

    Despise summer. Growing up in the South will do that to you. At 2 a.m., we had 100 percent humidity with no rain and it was 92, thankyouverymuch. I do love the fresh produce and fireflies, but other than that, I’d never miss it.

    Thanks for the chance to try this, it sounds glorious!

  • Kathryn says:

    We’ve had lots of rain here this summer, but the few sparkling days we’ve had have been perfection. I’m actually looking forward to September, often the best month here in Maine and definitely less crowded than high summer. I haven’t yet found a TF to love, but if Tobacco Vanille were a tad less sweet that would be the one. Your description of Shanghai Lily has put it on my must try list.

  • Martha says:

    Well, summer’s been OK this year. I’m never sorry to see it go, though. The review of Shanghai Lily has me curious and longing to give it a sniff so yes, I’d love to win some in a giveaway.

  • Diana Ross says:

    I make a semi-annual pilgrimage to Neiman’s (over and hour away) just to sniff. It’s a day-long adventure sniffing through NM, saks, chanel, and a flower shop that stocks niche line.

    Btw, anyone know what happened to Art With Flowers? There was a men’s suit store in their place and we about wept!

    • Dina C. says:

      Art with Flowers went out of business. They had a very lengthy Going-out-of-Business sale, but it was very picked over by the time I got there. I’ll miss them. They were my only brick and mortar niche source in this area. Bummer.

      • Jamie says:

        When I stopped in at Art with Flowers, two ladies were buying dozens and dozens of bottles (MDCI, Amourage, SL, a Different Company etc.) at 50% off. The owner then gave them whatever stock was remaining of the bottles they were buying — brand new in boxes, cellophane wrapped along with the testers. It was unbelievable.

  • Lynne Marie says:

    Summer has been mostly lovely and is always far too short where I am. I have liked but not loved most Tom Fords – Santal blush is very nice but it’s no Santal Blanc, Violet Blonde left me going “meh”. Black Orchid was ok ( although I may have to revisit that one). THEN I tried Noir de Noir and fell madly, completely in love and I don’t even “DO” roses ( well, it since turns out that I do if they are gentle and in the background). But Noir de Noir – full-on crazy love lust. A FB is definitely in my future. I’m not sure how I feel about lily as a note, sounds like Shanghai Lily might be a good way to find out.
    A side note – I’m so envious of you all who mention popping into your local Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom etc to sample perfumes. So, so jealous. 😉 The best I can do around here is a Macy’s that’s about 35 miles away and they cater mostly to the teeny-bopper crowd. I would love to spend time at a good perfume counter, sigh….

  • Dina56 says:

    After the dreadful spring months summer finally started for us in July and it has been really hot the past weeks. Today is gray and a lot cooler, the garden might get some much needed water. I always feel sad when summer is coming to an end and when you start to feel fall in the air – meaning I will have to wait a whole year for another summer to arrive.
    I have not smelled any Tom Ford fragrances yet but your review and that of Victoria of Boisdejasmin has me craving for this one, specially because I love lilies.

  • FearsMice says:

    I crave long summer evenings all year round. We’ve had a “cool spell” recently, which I have really been loving — hate to see it go! As for TFs, the only Private Blend I’ve ever smelled is Tobacco Vanille, which I like pretty well. Would love to try more! Your mention of Opium is enough to have me seeking out the Shanghai Lily ASAP.

  • Connie says:

    Oh! And! I went to Saks ANS Neimi’s recently to try the new TFs and at Saks I think they had hidden them, and at Neimi’s they had them but the TF SA was carrying them around the store with her! Never setting them down! Needless to say, I didn’t get my nose on them.

  • Connie says:

    My Summer’s been lovely. Dad and I are renovating the kitchen, and I love home improvement projects, so it’s all good, even though we have the fridge in the living room. Not excited to see the summer end. I’m off to my first year in college, and am very stressed about leaving my family, my home, city, pets, all that stuff.
    About Tom Ford… I loved Cafe Rose and the discontinued Amber Absolute, but that’s about it. Italian Cypress is nice, if not my thing.

  • Diana Ross says:

    The temp took a bit of a dip this week (which will save on the electric bill and make me feel better about my recent Coromandel acquisition!) But I’ll fully admit, I don’t adhere to the seasonal ‘rules’ of fragrance. I love wearing ambers/leathers in the summer and crystalline florals and crisp greens in the winter. It’s totally a mood thing for me.

    I’m a bit of a TF groupie, but I haven’t been all that wowed by the recent releases. Black Orchid is one of my sigs, I have the PB coffret and bottles of Tob/van, moss breches, and champaca absol, and hubby wears TF for men.

    My sniffa buddies have both grabbed some of the newest releases, but I keep thinking they all smell quite the same on dry down. some of them even end up like hint o’ pencil shavings. I’ll have to give Lily a full wearing rather than a paper sniff this time around.:)

  • dremybluz says:

    Summer has been hot and dry. Praying for some rain. While I was on vacation a few weeks ago, I tried a few Tom Fords at Bergdorf. Certainly not impressed enough to fork over all those $$$. I parted with my $$$ buying Black Oud and Black Musk by Illuminum and a bottle of Velvet Rope

  • aubrey says:

    Like all good perfimistas I adore tobacco vanilla. But the tom ford that haunts me is santal blush. I sprayed it on a card and carried it around in my wallet for 6 months. Seriously. It lasted that long on the card. I would love to try this one.

  • patriciaC says:

    Meh summer is ok-it has its perks. I do love fall and winter better though. I have not tryed any Tom Ford fragrances yet, as i am a new convert to fragrancing. I would very much love to try violet blond. Thanks for the review and draw.

  • Lavanya says:

    Oh My! I need to try this now (also need to try cafe rose). A woman at a grocery store was walking in a (good) cloud of scent which reminded me of the dry downs of one of the Montale rose-ouds. She said she she was wearing tom ford but didn’t know which. Whatever she was wearing is my favorite Tom wonder if it was cafe rose) I used to like Noir de Noir but it started turning on my skin, so I’m thinking the Tom Ford I like the most might be the discontinued Moss breches

  • Elia says:

    It’s too early to call an end to summer. I still have plenty of time to spend at the beach.
    I’ve tried a few Tom Fords. I think Azure Lime is one of the most under-rated fragrances ever,
    and Tobacco Vanille one of the most over-rated.

  • Belle says:

    At my place, Summer already ended a month ago, but I’m personally happy about it. After a week of no school, I was deadly bored, and the sun and humidity were unbearable. I’m more of a rainy person, so now that that season has started, I’m quite glad (: I haven’t tried any From Tom Ford yet, especially because of the price tag *shivers*

  • StaceyW says:

    Feeling sad that summer is over as I’ve been enjoying spending a lot of time with my school-aged son. I also love Lys 41 and now can’t wait to get my hands on this new Tom Ford. I adore Velvet Gardenia but haven’t been able to try any others in the Private Blend line yet. Thanks for the draw!

  • KL says:

    From where I live, it’s summer all year round. So not much of a difference to me.
    I love Tom ford private blends, my fav have to be noir de noir and tuscan leather . 🙂

  • leathermountain says:

    Oh, Lily. Just when I thought I’d racked up enough crazy expensive white flower frags (in my mind, not in my apartment), I had to go and get into Lily. Like Lys Mediterranee, Un Lys, and oh, I’ve been avoiding smelling this TF since reading the Bois de Jasmin review. Well, if it’s meant to be….

  • Barbara says:

    I’d love to try the new Tom Ford. It will sparkle up an already lovely summer.So far, I’ve tried, loved, and bought Violet Blonde. This winter will most likely jump into the tobacco blends as we have long, long winters here and I’ll go for anything that will soothe and uplift. To have sunshine flooding my windows on some mornings is an incredible treat after many many gray days. In fact I’m planning on getting one of those special lights that’s supposed to help “seasonal affective disorder” if that’s what the problem is other than a simple despondence brought about by constant dark skies.
    So count me in for the drawing, please.

  • Erika says:

    Having a great summer with more plans on the way! I would love to try the TF Shanghai Lily.

  • Ann says:

    Hiya, Patty! So glad you’re smitten with this one. I *think* I could, be, too. I tried it last week at my Neiman Marcus (along with several others from the new line) and I liked this one best, but need to wear it again by itself. Of course, no draw for me.
    I have mixed feelings about summer ending and school starting; sure was nice to be able to sleep past 7 a.m. on the weekdays, but it’ll be good to have my kiddo back in school and in a routine.

  • ncmyers says:

    Summer seems a memory already with school starting next week on our town. I’ve never tried the TF line, though I’ve heard mostly good things. This one sounds terrific but I’ll stay out of the draw as I was a lucky winner in the Le Labo Lys and Ylang giveaway! Both are wonderful, btw. I may try to copy the TF lily in my little home lab instead!

  • FeralJasmine says:

    I don’t care for the majority of the Tom Ford scents, and yet some of my all-time favorite scents are Tom Fords. Velvet Gardenia, for example, and Noir de Noir, and now Shanghai Lily. I just got some from a split this afternoon, and oh my is it lovely. If I win the sample I will send it to another lily fiend and feel confident that they will be wowed by it.

  • spiker says:

    I am not even remotely ready for the end of summer. Where did it go???

    I’ve never tried any of the Tom Ford’s, but I could use the distraction. Please enter me for the draw.

  • Meg O. says:

    I’m enjoying the summer, mainly because when I get off of work, I can spray a nice “go big or go home” floral on and wallow in it. Lys 41 *is* a great one — it’s actually the first lily I’ve been able to wear, and I’m really enjoying it.

    I’ve liked quite a few of the Tom Fords (haven’t smelled many of the Private Blends, though), and fell in love last fall with Violet Blonde and its nice dirty undercurrent. Shanghai Lily sounds very different, but like a definite must-try.

    Thanks for the draw!

  • Kim B says:

    Haven’t been that impressed with the initial few I tried so I sort of gave up on the line
    Will have to try this lily one but I have a long, hardcore love of Opium – right from the first sniff oh so many years ago, YSL Opium was pure love for me. And I don’t mind the 70’s hair hangover. But I do mind how Opium has been reformulated.
    So is this “darker, smokier, spicier” than current Opium? Cuz if it gets back towards that original Opium parfum – yowser, I am there!
    And thanks as always for the draw

  • Shanghai Lily is sounding pretty great, so I’ll have to look for it next time I’m in Neiman Marcus. I like Tobacco Vanille, and I remember liking Black Violet and Noir when I smelled them in the store. I like Neroli Portofino too. I honestly don’t remember that much about the rest of the private blend line.

    We had a heat advisory here today because the heat index got up to 110. Too damn hot. I’m usually ready for summer to be over by this point but it won’t really start cooling down for at least another month or two.

  • patrick says:

    I don’t want summer to end. Love the long hours, the warmer temps, and the smell of backyard barbecues. My fave Tom Ford is Sahara Noir but this Lily sounds like it is right up my alley. Thanks for the draw.

  • Bridget C says:

    I have liked all the Tom Fords I’ve tried so far. I just didn’t love them, at least not at their price point. Maybe this one will be the one to make me fork over some $$$. As always, thanks for the generous draw!!!!

  • Rina says:

    Love Love Love TF! Last tried the Sahara Noir and that may be a FB by winter. There is nothing he does that I don’t like…will have to smell it when I go to Vegas next week and stop into his boutique. It’s the only one I feel comfortable going into, all the SAs are ridiculously nice.

  • susan says:

    Summer is good. It’s not been long enough for my tastes- my vacation was to my mom’s house, and God bless her, a ‘vacation’ at your mother’s house isn’t much of a vacation, KWIM?

    Re: Tom Ford, I’ve had mixed results. I really do like Violet Blonde. That’s probably my fave so far.