Viktor & Rolf have a chequered perfumed past. Their debut fragrance Flowerbomb is a good concept disappointingly executed, their second feminine Eau Mega is dull and their first masculine Antidote is an abomination. They appear to follow a high-fashion approach to their packaging but have yet to show any substance within their fragrant compositions.
Although I haven’t been particularly overwhelmed with their past offerings I am always intrigued to see what Viktor & Rolf are up to, if not simply for the visual aspect of things but also in the vain hope that maybe, just maybe they will hit the ball out of the park. Their latest fragrance Spicebomb ever-so-nearly achieves that much-needed home run.
Spicebomb is Viktor & Rolf’s second masculine and follows the absolutely atrocious behemoth-lavender of Antidote. It has been created as a male counterpart to Flowerbomb and is billed as “a cocktail of virility, crafted with refinement”  that “finds the perfect balance between strength and elegance, intensity and subtlety.” Where Flowerbomb was all loud and proud with her sickly sweet explosion of flowers and candy floss, Spicebomb is quiet, warm, cosy and handsome.
Top: Bergamot and Grapefruit
Heart: Pimento – Jamaica Pepper, Elemi, Pepper and Saffron
Base: Vetiver, Leather, Tobacco and Oriental Notes
How Does it Smell?
Spicebomb was a big surprise for me, firstly because the “bomb” in its name is a complete misnomer and it’s fair to say that it is more of an implosion than an explosion of spice, and secondly because it is rather well done, if not a little on the unadventurous side of things, but we can’t have it all now, can we?
The spiciness that the name suggests is most prominent in the opening, where spiky pepper and sweet cinnamon intertwine in a double-helix fashion, bouncing off and playing with each other’s warm, aromatic facets. There’s also a touch of something fruity lurking in the background that does a good job of intensifying the sweeter facets. But the overall impression is of warm spices with dabs of sweetness.
After its initial liveliness, Spicebomb takes a detour down the amber route, drawing inspiration from fragrances such as the warm fruit pastry vibe of Hermès’ Ambre Narguilé and the sweet apple pie of Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million. In fact, Spicebomb feels like a more smoothed-out and intelligent version of the latter. Unusual touches of elemi and saffron stop Spicebomb from becoming a true amber, but at the same time they give it an quirky edge that is sadly short-lived.
As Spicebomb heads in to the dry down a strong, metallic vetiver becomes quite prominent and is blended with smoky leather, sweet tobacco and cosy vanilla. The whole thing is warm, soft, cuddly and ever-so-easy to enjoy. Whatever spice there was in the beginning has all but disappeared, leaving only the faintest whiff of cinnamon to contend with all that vanilla and warmth.
Spicebomb is 10 times better than I thought it would be and I would go as far as saying that it is the most enjoyable and well-made designer masculine of this year so far (not counting Jean Paul Gaultier’s Kokorico which was also technically launched this year but reviewed by me last year) but, and I know you saw a “but” coming somewhere, there seems to be a real discord between the concept of Spicebomb and the actual product.
Spicebomb is an incredibly soft fragrance with little oomph (and for once I’m not going to ask for more, it works well the way it is) and doesn’t resemble an explosion in any way, shape or form. That said, its a solid effort and definitely the best from Viktor & Rolf so far. Thumbs up from me!
Like Viktor & Rolf’s flagship feminine “Flowerbomb”, Spicebomb’s flacon takes its inspiration from a grenade, except this time it is presented in a more utilitarian and realistic fashion than its pretty-in-pink female counterpart.
As handsome and striking as this grenade bottle is, I can’t help but agree with Victoria of Bois de Jasmin, that the bottle is a bit too close to the real thing to be considered tasteful.
That may sound odd, but if you take away the pink jewel-like quality of Flowerbomb’s bottle the irony/joke seem to be lost, leaving a more serious and frighteningly accurate representation of such a destructive weapon.
Spicebomb is available in 50ml and 90ml Eau de Toilette with prices ranging from £45-£60. An aftershave balm (£30 for 100ml) is also available.
Image 1 meltystyle.fr. Image 2 blackmarketmag.wordpress.com. Image cocosteaparty.com.  &  viktor-rolf.com. Notes via osmoz.com.