BITTER PEACH by TOM FORD (2020)


Bitter Peach is a fun name and concept for a fragrance – particularly one by Tom Ford. I love the presentation : a confitured venom, encased in a sealed, vitreous cyanide chamber like a nectarous poison. Or high gloss nail varnish. A bitter peach is an oxymoron : we expect the flesh to be sweet, unless we bite into the kernel of toxic amygdalin.

I am not immune to bitterness (nor averse to the taste in food or liqueurs); there can be strange pleasures to be had in that involuntary shudder. I also love the smell of peaches : fruit tones that can be found in many a classic chypre or aldehyde (the best perhaps being Femme De Rochas), lending flattering curves and inner sunshine – from MCDI’s lovely Peche Cardinal to The Different Company’s White Zagara via the Body Shop’s classic Peach Oil. They are girlish ; carefree.



The new Tom Ford release Bitter Peach, which I tried yesterday at Yokohama Takashimaya (¥41000 – about $400 for the small bottle pictured), starts promisingly, like peach pot-pourried wood shavings (blood orange, cardamom); lighthearted and easy; upbeat, but then quickly, for me at least, becomes cloying and sickly; a peach skin without pores, as davana-infused cognac and rum meld with labdanum and vanilla…………an overly sweetened confection that on most of us will smell overboiled and tongue-rotting trollope;, but which you can certainly imagine more readily – in measures doses —— on one of his gap-toothed, inveterately nubile young models.

20 Comments

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20 responses to “BITTER PEACH by TOM FORD (2020)

  1. Not a Tom Ford fan. I find his aesthetics to be increasingly gimmicky and stale. The whole 70s porn chic trend is tired. And yes, I get the whole “hipster irony” of it. Tom Ford’s perfume & makeup lines are just gussied up Estee Lauder anyway. I had a bottle of Jasmin Rouge but don’t think it was worth the price. The bottles are gorgeous with a lovely heft though.
    Bitter Peach as a theme would put me in mind of a voluptuous floral peach scent underscored by bitter almond benzaldehyde or perhaps even an astringent green peach warmed up with cardamom, cloves & cinnamon? Certainly not some cloyingly sweet obnoxiousness.

  2. Filomena

    I love your perfume reviews! They are always unbiased, to the point and amusing. I do own Jasmin Rouge and a few other of Tom Ford’s old perfumes, but none of his newer ones. In fact, the only one of his newer ones that I have even sampled (F…ing Fabulous) inspired only yawns from me.

    • Thanks Filomena.

      This one is overstuffed and not worth your attention ( I can already feel your politely suppressed yawns).

      A student of mine told me on Wednesday night that she ( bizarrely ) has a peach allergy so bad that if she even comes into contact with a peach skin she could be taken off in an ambulance.

      It was a strange coincidence that before school I had gone to the department store to try this. It is not unpleasant, and captures a certain ‘peachiness’ but ‘is ultimately too thick and obvious

  3. Robin

    I had a feeling Bitter Peach would be like this. Finally, a review I can trust.

    You know, I was reading up about this one, and someone mentioned having three favourite fragrance houses: Tom Ford, By Kilian and MFK. I think they’re right. I think they’re squarely in the same category. All three would appeal to the same customer for the same reasons. The same reasons they don’t particularly appeal to me overall, although I do like several releases from each. (Above all, I would happily own a bottle of Cruel Intentions. That Kilian was incredible. Released in the period before the brand got carried away with itself. And of course, it is discontinued. Of course.)

    I love peach as a note. If it’s cut with something sharp, earthy, mossy, woody or bitter, so much the better. Femme is THE example. It’s in my top ten of all time. Of all fragrances, it — and Diorama and Feminité du Bois — feel like me.

    • DIORAMA : I DON’T KNOW IT !!!!!
      I have only briefly smelled a newer reconstruction. What is it like ?

      Re Bitter Peach, I sometimes think that a lot of the Youtubers and bloggers are just like paid for hire ventriloquist dummies .

      The perfect peach ! The perfect peach !

      And the categorization of the high end brands .: yes. Solid quality on the whole; very overpriced – basically status symbols with little room to breathe.

      • Robin

        Exactly. And my idea of status symbol is altogether different. To me, it’s an ounce of pristine, ultra-rare vintage Tabac Blonde, not 50mls of Tom Ford FF (which I wouldn’t keep around if a bottle was left on my doorstep.)

        Wow, eh? I guess Diorama just didn’t get the traction in Japan that Miss Dior did. The didn’t do a bad job of the reform, but it’s really nothing much like the original Roudnitska. The vintage is, oh god. If you imagine vintage Femme, but lean it a little towards melon and away from peach, keep the plum, dry the fruits out a bit, add a little galbanum, bergamot, vetiver and civet, make the spices a little lighter, cooler, less cinnamon-y, beef up the oakmoss and leather, dial up the floral component with a smidge of violet, but a greener violet, not a powdery one, a bit of creamy gardenia. I can’t do any better than that. Like other masterpieces, it loses something in the parsing. It is perfectly balanced and has masses of beauty. Maybe if Le Parfum de Thérèse, Miss Dior, Feminité du Bois, Jolie Madame and Femme were all splooshed together . . .

      • When Creed’s Spring Flower first came out in 1996 it had the most luscious ripe peach note in its opening. I had Spring Flower on my list of purchase potentials for my niece’s wedding in 2018, tried the current version & it is now reminiscent of watery bathroom air freshener. What happened?

      • Cheapskate horrendousness.

      • Robin

        It really and truly is. I ran across it because of my best friend’s mom when we were in high school. Mrs. Morrison was so beautiful and a true pre-glamazon in a classic seventies Canadian way: a tall, broad-shouldered former swim champ, graceful daredevil skier, tanned and freckled, short tousled strawberry blonde hair, minimal make-up except for big nights out with Mr. Morrison, famous for very dry martinis and a mean roast chicken. She wore Diorama and told me never to tell anyone there was a perfume by that name, because she didn’t want anyone else to discover it. She wore it all the time, even at their summertime beach house from first thing in the morning, before breakfast, lots of it: just an automatic reflex to make herself completely herself, she said. I loved the idea of perfume even as a four year old, but Mrs. M. sealed the deal for me, made me appreciate what it could DO.

      • I held my breath while reading this.

        FUCKING DIVINE

  4. Tara C

    I smelled this on a blotter but haven’t tested on skin yet. It smelled nice on the blotter though. My current peach scent is Fragonard Arielle, although I would like to try the Outremer Pêche as well. Peach doesn’t seem to be a popular haute parfumerie note, the vast majority listed on Fragrantica are quite low end.

  5. Tom Fords scents just don’t do it for me. The only one that I have ever really liked is Plum Japonais, and that I do not reach for that often. His stuff is just too trite, kitsch, and contrived for my liking, but I guess it appeals to that certain demographic that perceives it as “posh”.

    Now I have to admit, I am quite shocked you have never smelled Diorama.
    It is exactly as Robin describes, it is beyond amazing, truly a little known masterpiece. I will add that to the list of samples I have to make you, you must smell the vintage iteration, sublime. This evening, après bain, I think I will put a bit on.

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