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          Bitter Peach: Abstract Art in Perfumery
          Fragrance Reviews

          by Elena Prokofeva
          10/16/20 10:56:58 ( 28 comments )


          When discussing abstract art, people often remember artist Wassily Kandinsky's words:

          "Painting is a thundering collision of different worlds, intended to create a new world in and from the struggle with one another, a new world which is the work of art."


          Scent of Apricots on the Fields, 1944, Arshile Gorky


          Bitter Peach by Tom Ford is abstract art in the world of perfumery. However, it reminds me more of Arshile Gorky's body of work and not that of Kandisky, his teacher. Take  Scent of Apricots on the Fields or Apple Orchard. Look at them - possibly, it will help you understand the meaning and the essence of Bitter Peach better than any words could…


          Apple Orchard I & II, 1943-47, Arshile Gorky


          However, since words are closer and more understandable to me than visual expressions (especially, when it comes to abstract art), I will talk about Bitter Peach.

          …Occasionally, when you read a review of a fragrance or a comment in one of the forums, you start thinking: did the author of said review/comment and yourself have different perfumes, despite the latter bearing the same exact name and brand, or is the sense of smell truly so different from person to person? Truth be told, there is one more aspect that definitely impacts one's perception of a fragrance and that is the place where that fragrance is tested.

          I have long noticed that in Europe, especially in Italy and France, in a mild climate, perfumes seem to literally blossom, smelling divine.

          I've noticed that the treasures brought back from the expo in Milan never smell equally delightful in Moscow as they did back there.

          I've noticed, too, that Les Exclusifs de Chanel fragrances must be taken on trips to St.Petersburg - there, along the riverbanks and canals, in the fog, in the wind blowing from the Gulf of Finland, there, where it is always humid, those semi-transparent bouquets gladly give away all of their beauty.

          Quite the opposite, oil-based perfumes and attars should best be saved for trips to Egypt, since it is there, in the dry heat, where they fully open up, down to the last note, sparkling like a peacock's tail, whereas in Moscow I only get a hint at all that beauty, maybe a single peacock feather…

          In short, temperature and humidity are important... Everybody knows that, but, from time to time, even I need to remind myself of that fact.

          For example, such a reminder was direly needed in the case of Bitter Peach by Tom Ford. The new fragrance by Tom Ford not only shocked the fragrance community, it basically started a veritable 'War of the Noses'!



          When I read the then not yet translated review by Eddie Bulliqi, I was shocked. Did he really try the same fragrance that I did? After I had read Elena Knezhevich's piece on Bitter Peach, I thought that her perception was somewhat closer to mine (liquor, milk), but Elena, too, did not find the fragrance particularly pleasant…

          I, myself, did not find Bitter Peach particularly delightful either, unlike the recently released Black Orchid Parfum by Tom Ford – the latter is my latest perfumery crush and my main indulgence for this fall.

          However, I do not find Bitter Peach a flop of a perfume.
          It is original, maybe overly so. It is daring - again, maybe all too daring!.But it is interesting. It is unusual. It is like abstract art. It can be worn and enjoyed if you are into bitterness. So what is it with our different perceptions of it, then?

          Is it possible that Bitter Peach somehow develops poorly in a warm climate, but is more suitable for the cold Moscow fall?

          When I was testing Bitter Peach for the first time, I vividly remembered the sensations of discovering the first fragrances from Etat Libre d'Orange. Back then, they were sold in bottles with images on them, so they attacked you from every angle.
          The names alone were quite the revolution: Don't Get Me Wrong Baby, Secretions Magnifiques, Putain des Palaces, Charogne… 

          And those drawings! Try and remember the respective images on the flacons of Je Suis un Homme, Vierges et Toreros, Vraie Blonde, Fat Electrician! Such a shame that the bottles are now sold sans those provocative labels…

          Not to mention the originality of the fragrances themselves; people usually name Secretions Magnifiques as the brand's most shocking creation, I, however, was floored most by Jasmin et Cigarette.

          Many of the Etat Libre d'Orange fragrances have found their home in my perfume cabinet, some of them being 'repurchases', since I love and will continue to love them.
          But my initial impression when trying them! Bewilderment, shock, astonishment, delight, fascination, rapture; I experienced all of that and more.

          Similar emotions were provoked by Bitter Peach. The reason I have devoted so much time to describing Etat Libre d'Orange to you in detail is this: if I had to blind test Bitter Peach and then people would ask me who had created it - I would say the fragrance was from Etat Libre d'Orange, the genius perfumery pranksters who know how to combine the seemingly un-mixable things, creating shocking fragrances that first astonish you, yet later you wear them with great pleasure.

          Bitter Peach by Tom Ford will also become a source of pleasure for someone.
          Just don't expect a delicious juicy peach from it. There is none to be found.
          Better yet, don't expect anything at all...

          Just try it - try it in order to understand what images it shows you (abstract art, comic books, porn, or maybe blots from the Rorschach test?) and which notes will turn out the most prominent on you personally.

          To me Bitter Peach by Tom Ford first came as a sweet memory of sunsets on Lake Garda and a small lakefront cafe where friendly German pensioners ordered one cocktail after another, with a name that was utterly unpronounceable to me, hissing and simultaneously jarring to the ear. They have tried to teach me to pronounce it, again and again, but to no avail.

          Eventually, they simply helped me to order one. I also wanted to try the cocktail, because I saw that with each glass of the potion, they seemed to have more and more fun, yet it was that light and pleasant kind of fun ... Then I was taught to say the word correctly by an Italian waitress: "Spritz". Or rather - "Aperol Spritz". The cocktail included a good dose of prosecco, sparkling water, and the bitter Aperol: bitter as an herbal infusion. And for the ladies, orange juice was sometimes added. Or ... Peach syrup! Sweet and gooey!

          It's when I first recognized that exact Aperol Spritz with peach syrup, that relaxed mood and beautiful sunset in Bitter Peach by Tom Ford,  that I began thinking that I wanted to own a bottle of the fragrance…
          And then it literally went off like a bomb with some new, contrasting notes.

          It seemed as if a comic book hero jumped straight out of nowhere on the quiet embankment: a mad genius, capable of changing the laws of chemistry, a rascal from outer space in a costume as iridescent as the dead-nettle leaf beetle (Chrysolina fastuosa)…

          And that's when things really got going!

          Firstly, he smashed two gigantic juicy Sicilian oranges, red, sour and bitter, splashing their juice and aroma all around; the red orange will remain the main fruit in the perfume. He broke all the glasses filled with Aperol Spritz. Then he went for the bottles themselves; to the sound of the glass breaking, the bitter-herbal, tangy, alcoholic scent of Aperol blended with the childlike sweetness of the peach syrup.

          Then the rascal from outer space broke into a fragrance boutique…
          He started throwing flacons of Angel by Mugler on the floor, rummaging for the caramel and patchouli in the wreckage and ruthlessly pushing away everything else, i.e chocolate, tonka bean, blackberry, sandalwood, cotton candy, plum, honey, all the abundance of the magnificent Angel. He was interested strictly in the particular, Angel-kind of patchouli.

          He smashed a flacon of Vraie Blonde by Etat Libre d'Orange and deprived the charming woman residing in the bottle of her cream-colored suede handbag as well as all of her delicate lactone sweetness… Thank goodness he left her the roses, the champagne and the powder he was not at all interested in, for how would the poor blonde fare without those?

          He also threw down several flacons of Le Parfum by Elie Saab, taking with him a cloud of its sillage with orange blossom and jasmine.

          Finally, the rascal stole several litchi fruits from the greengrocer's, robbed a boutique specializing in exotic tea, from which he took the oolong and osmanthus varieties, deciding that the lactone sweetness taken from Vraie Blonde was insufficient, and he also pocketed a couple of bottles of milk from the local convenience store.



          After that he quietly sat down at the lakefront and began mixing his loot together, occasionally mixing some lake breeze in for the sake of freshness… He brought the orange colored flacon with him and kept it at the ready.

          But if we are to be serious (even though Bitter Peach tries to defy seriousness at all costs!) – what does the new fragrance from Tom Ford smell like?

          First and foremost - it smells of bitters as in liquor, it can be Aperol, or Jaegermeister or even Beherovka, the spicy notes of which I occasionally seem to recognize in there.

          It smells of sour-and-bitter orange and sweet-and-sour litchi: the sensation of their light natural 'bite' is preserved in both fruits.

          It also smells of sweet peach syrup, that is blended with an even sweeter patchouli, caramel, styrax, vanilla and cardamom.

          Fragrant suede, milk, freshly brewed oolong tea perfumed with a delicate, almost honey-like osmanthus aroma are detectable, too

          So many sweet notes…
          And yet, Bitter Peach is primarily bitter, very bitter indeed. It is bitter not in the way wormwood or even oakmoss are, but in the way quinine is. The bitterness permeates every note, be it milk or peach syrup, sandalwood or vanilla, osmanthus or cardamom. Even the white floral notes shrouding the weird composition are tinged with bitterness.

          Looks like only with the help of bitterness could all of those scents be combined into a certain organic whole -  and it worked out, that organic whole, a lactone-suede, sweet-aromatic, bitter-herbal perfume. Only the Sicilian orange and the litchi continue to riot, disturbing the already fragile harmony, so it seems that Bitter Peach will soon break into separate notes again, with the art piece, complete despite being created in the abstract style, being lost forever... However, the bitterness in Bitter Peach is strong, it holds the respective fruits in the place allotted to them in the fragrance - much like blots and lines in an abstract painting.



          Bitter Peach is a weird fragrance. But it is not a flop, no. I see a new direction in the creative process of the Tom Ford the brand, a certain perfumery experiment. And, like anything new, it is not particularly easy to understand or accept.

          I hope that Tom Ford will not go exceedingly into that direction. I am still loyal to the brand's earlier masterpieces. And yet I have no doubt that to someone, Bitter Peach will become the long-awaited fragrance from the "I want something special yet I can't find it anywhere" category.

          Try it. There it is, something special. Maybe it's what you have been looking for…Or maybe you will be disappointed, like Eddie and Elena.


          Elena Prokofeva

          Elena Prokofeva Writer

          Elena was born in Moscow. She studied at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography and at the Philological faculty of Moscow State University. She is the author of several novels (some of those written under the pen name of Elena Klemm) and specializes in writing biographical books. She loves history, Gothic novels, tales of terror, ancient cemeteries and old maisons, St. Petersburg, Carcassonne, Blois, Siena, Toledo, and Cesky Krumlov. Her enamorment with perfumes dates back to her childhood, and now she has a profound collection of perfumes significant for her.

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          News Comments

          Write your comment

          myricle 10/23/20 08:48

          Gotta love the gushing comments by people with *no* activity on the site, other than said comment(s). No bios, no, shelves, no reviews, no "loves" (etc.), no "test list," no forum activity. I hope I don't get "disappeared" for this comment.
          La Fille de Berlin

          jeca 10/21/20 12:19

          @hedward, we do different formats, and now, when it is not easy for everyone to try the new fragrance at the same time, this kind of approach is not bad to write about the new launch of the popular brand. Why not? I do not like it when everything is super structured, there is no life in it. I like some spontaneity ;o) It doesn't hurt.

          Kenzoh25 10/19/20 08:21

          What a wonderful description of Bitter Peach Elena! I also find it a weird fragrance but in a good way. Its sweet but not overly so, slightly bitter and tenacious. Some folks comparing it to Mugler’s Angel and i can understand where they are coming from but Bitter Peach is still quite unique and original scent. Also the longevity on me is insane!
          Aura Mugler

          RainStars 10/18/20 03:05

          Victoria's Secret recently came out with Very Sexy Orchid EDP, in a beautiful royal purple bottle. Would love an article on that. Something different than multiple duplicate articles on 1 expensive fragrance.

          Vanessa_Waldorf 10/18/20 02:13

          I was like: oh no another article of this
          but then reading your article I realized how great is to see different opinions about the same parfume. One opinion can manipulate you, but 3? it made me think

          Karl4Ever76 10/17/20 19:28

          Just for my two cents... I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS FRAGRANCE! One of TF’s best! It smells like the way peach schnapps tastes on your upper palate! It’s delicious and sensual and yes... CREAMY! I used to macerate peaches in sugar and vanilla and then pour milk or cream in them and the far dry down of this smells like that tasted! I didn’t get the creamy lactonic notes until the end nor on my skin does it smell in any way sour or bitter, it is very boozy but in a good rummy kind of way! It and Lost Cherry and Rose Prick are my current favorites and I need them all! A masterful scent, but unlike certain posters, I will actually add that it is only masterful to me... I am sure not everyone smells it the same as I do and that’s perfectly fine! You need not love it... I love it enough for all our us!

          damebrunette 10/17/20 13:27

          Nice review. Beautiful bottle. Would like to try it.
          Rose de Nuit

          rp6969 10/17/20 09:12

          Thank you for a very interesting perspective on an already controversial and much-discussed fragrance.
          Baccarat Rouge 540 Extrait de Parfum

          Germany 10/17/20 08:40

          Absolutly love bitter peach ?? one of the best releases as of late. Loved it the first second I sprayed it and then grew to an addiction. Bottle is so great too ! Sweet,sexy warm and fresh all at once. Huuuuuge thumbs up Mr Ford !! I do not mind Tom Ford prices , this way not everyone on the block is wearing it !

          Karl4Ever76 10/17/20 07:29

          @BirkinSmell I sincerely and truly think it is you who needs to get over themselves! You act as if you’re some beacon of truth and verity and that your opinion actually amounts to anything other than an enlarged and obviously very well cultivated ego! No one is coming here for validation with the possible exception of you! I needn’t anyone’s opinion of something being great or trash to encourage or discourage me from buying anything and that you assume that, just proves how much gravitas you’re giving to your own impotent opinion! You’re seeming disdain for TF and Estée Lauder Is shamefully obvious, and one must absolutely take anything you say as being hopelessly biased. Good Day!

          hedward 10/17/20 02:06

          Wasn't there just a couple of months ago a backlash which resulted from the editors lashing together black-owned perfume businesses in one single article? Couldn't there have been a similar coordination and publish one big article on Bitter Peach rather than have it on the starting page for two weeks in a row. Even if there weren't any ulterior motives it does come off as a bit bizarre. There's a review section in every perfumes own page - why not use that like we others do?

          BirkinSmell 10/16/20 22:34

          So I see that everyone is hating on me because I have given this perfume a negative review? I recommend that you get over yourselves. I am sorry that you bought something that other people think is a total overpriced cash grab piece of rubbish, but that’s life. You come here for constant validation of your purchase, and that’s unwise because this is a review site, not a censored, neutered site that is designed to not hurt any feelings. If you don’t like reviews that do not validate your own opinion, stop coming to this site. Never once did I criticize anyone for liking this fragrance, but you are criticizing me for disliking it. Hilarious.
          Elixir des Merveilles

          latafan 10/16/20 20:48

          seriously? i presume everyone who writes for Fragrantica loves fragrances and has quite some extensive experience with them. this happens to be a fragrance that in some way was interesting to many fragrantica writers - it doesn't seem to be destined to become a mass favorite - and it is indeed a release that will be interesting to many other people too - if just for the name of Tom Ford, what can you do - so a few of their writers felt like writing something about it. so, what? after one person wrote about it all the others don't get to review it anymore?

          none of the reviews enticed me in any way to buy (or even try, to be frank) this fragrance. if this is supposed to be advertising, then it's not doing its job very well. god forbid different people want to express their different impressions and opinions on one and the same fragrance on this fragrance review page...

          if you're bored reading three or even four articles on the same frag, maybe don't bother clicking on the second, third or fourth one? this is just weird to me.
          La Fille de Berlin

          jeca 10/16/20 20:18

          We publish articles about BP because Tom Ford is interesting, and our authors came up with different articles, including a silly one from me, why not to publish all of them? That was the reason, especially when I have already done my own photo session of the bottle ;o)

          Karl4Ever76 10/16/20 19:40

          Funny how someone like @BirkinSmell can be do belligerently obtuse to think just because they personally do not like something means that it is truly awful! Especially in an arena like fragrance where the complete nature of the exercise is a total matter of subjectivity! All these armchair critics are so enthusiastic in propagating their own inflated sense of disappointment and self righteous condemnation that they patently forget that their opinion is just that! You hating proves nothing other than your nose smells this scent differently than others! When anyone gets up on their ivory tower of self importance and decries a fragrance I am always extremely bemused... if you don’t like it... you don’t have to buy it! Simple as that! I mean truly, do you, Boo! But really, all this bloviated vigourous vitriol about a perfume... please, do politely get over yourself!

          Asaskian 10/16/20 19:29

          This is the 4th article on this perfume within a month.
          We never get this kind of mad-dash opinions from everyone, so why... is it because it is a TF, with an inane stupid name?
          What... none of the other brands are releasing any perfumes??
          Can we move on please.

          Annemarie 10/16/20 18:39

          I too enjoyed reading the variety of opinions. Why not? This is a major release from a major brand. Love the term 'War of the Noses'! I'll certainly try Bitter Peach if I see it. I don't like the brand and I can't afford it's high end stuff, but for the sake of my perfume education, I'd like to smell it.

          hedward 10/16/20 16:02

          Yeah ok that's nice, but can we switch to another fragrance now?

          angelfishie 10/16/20 15:13

          Goodness. I do want to sniff this Bitter Peach to experience firsthand what all the buzz is about, and I *have* enjoyed reading the contrasting interpretations, but yet another full, frontpage article? For Tom Ford's marketing team that certainly is... peachy.
          Kathryn J.

          Kathryn J. 10/16/20 14:55

          I really don’t want a perfume that challenges me. I just want people to want to cozy up to me and tell me I smell good. I want to get nice whiffs of myself throughout the day. This perfume sounds like too much work. The reviews are exhausting!
          Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo - Cipresso di Toscana

          oobunillaoo 10/16/20 14:29

          that estee lauder check must be good to warrant 3 whole articles, good lord
          Iggy Igz

          Iggy Igz 10/16/20 14:20

          This is the 3rd article written about this perfume! It be nice to hear about another fragrance that launched. I agree with the post below that this marketing is sus.
          Hermessence Ambre Narguile

          tandaina 10/16/20 14:05

          So this is the THIRD article about this same fragrance within what, a month? Why? I begin to suspect Fragrantica is being paid to promote it and not disclosing properly that these posts are sponsored.
          Flying Dutchman
          Patchouli Ardent

          Flying Dutchman 10/16/20 13:36

          It is indeed the 4th piece on the fragrance.
          Unfortunately that does not deter users like Birkinsmell to post similar comments with 3 of them.
          As long as there are these type of users that want to make their point over and over again, Fragrantica can post 15 reviews on the same perfume.
          Claire Dessert
          Eau D'Hermes

          Claire Dessert 10/16/20 13:36

          Ok, article one said it was terrible, the second one said it was ok but that you had to understand it to appreciate it, now it is a must try. Please post the fourth article about it’s absolute genious soon so we can call it a day and move on? Thank you!
          Dent de Lait

          scorpio_rising 10/16/20 13:19

          For real. Why all the press?
          Benjoin Vanillee Parfum Extrait

          blancherussell1967 10/16/20 13:05

          It must have SOMETHING going for it. I think this is the fourth time it has been written about in our News section in the last month.

          BirkinSmell 10/16/20 11:34

          In my opinion this is the most underwhelming fragrance that Tom Ford has ever released, and that speaks volumes because this brand has released probably close to 100 fragrances since its inception. Even if you take away the fact that this fragrance is beyond criminally overpriced at nearly $8 per ML, the fragrance just isn't good and completely fails to evoke anything positive, stimulating, avant garde, or high end. It smells like a peach flavored Tums, or like playground chalk with a slight hint of peach room spray from Bath & Body Works. I had high hopes for this fragrance because brands like Histories de Parfums and Kilian have released stellar peach fragrances for lower prices, but Bitter Peach is blown out of the water by those fragrances. There is no comparison. I predict that this will be the first fragrance from TF's high end "raunchy" line that will be discontinued. In fact, I am actively praying that it is discontinued; I think it is an embarrassment to the brand.

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