Spicebomb Viktor & Rolf: the importance of being honest

The importance of being honest

The last mass market release that I remember enjoying was L’Agent by Agent Provocateur. Most of what I have tried was not only boring but at times made me mad because I could see the disrespect for the market in the composition. I could see marketing specialists behind one way mirror glass looking at the reactions of testers with no particular interest in fragrance (“if we can get them to notice we expand the market”). The problem is that perfumes hitting the market this way could be very nice laundry detergent scents, chewing gum flavours, room fragrances but they definitely are not engaging, emotional or even intelligent.

Viktor & Rolf (or their marketing specialists) have actually created a scent that feels like a natural development of what they have done till today. Nothing irritates me more than a “for her” and a “for him” scent with the same name and nothing in common in the end result. Although Spicebomb is not named Flowerbomb for Him it definitely is. It opens with a very clear note of pink pepper that makes a somersault  in the topnotes and before I can blink is covered by a sweet citrus scent, mandarin I think, and a bit of bitter almond/tonka. It reminded me a lot of Christos at this point. Development however is fast. It is like peeling away layers of an onion. In the middle stage of its development it feels bittersweet, creamy and vanillic and reminds me quite a lot of Antidote. It is like they took the creamy, shaving cream-like middle of Antidote, removed the jasmine from the composition and added a vague spicy substitute. Cinnamon mostly but not very clearly delineated. Spicebomb at this stage is sweet. There is a maraschino note, the combination of cherry and almond, but very well done and restrained. I do not find Spicebomb to be a clear-cut masculine scent. It is definitely a unisex scent and many of the women who like Flowerbomb in any of its versions, especially the eau de parfum, will definitely appreciate it for their significant others but will also steel some for themselves. The sweet middle phase lasts a lot but in the transition from to the drydown a dry powdery note appears. It reminds me of coffee but looking at the official note listing I notice paprika and it does ring a bell. A little bitter, a little tangy, a little woody. There is also a hint of tobacco but I feel like it is a composite of other notes interacting and not a direct tobacco accord added expressly in there. Some of Antidote’s jasmine adds a floral layer in the late middle development and I like this continuity. I like the fact that they didn’t call this Antidote Extreme or Hot Antidote or Antidote 911. It is a no-brainer of course that they preferred the name association with the much more successful Flowerbomb but it is nice to see that they did not renounce the heritage of their first masculine release. Even though it wasn’t a hit, I loved it.

After all the layers have been peeled back the deep drydown is a peppery, powdery patchouli base with a coffee note that I like very much. First of all it is surprisingly dry. All the previous sweetness has been harnessed. It is almost identical to the patchouli-hazelnut base that I smell in Flowerbomb. I cannot say that I can pick up a serious leather note and the tobacco note is more of the cherry pipe flavoured variety of Chergui and less the real deal of Fumerie Turque or Fougere Bengale. To put things straight, tobacco does not smell like cherry! It only does if it is flavoured.

I thoroughly enjoyed Spicebomb. I like its complexity, the overtly sweet middle stage, the references to Antidote and the warm patchouli base that they have transplanted straight from Flowerbomb. It does not feel like a committee decision or I should say it feels like a decision taken by a very intelligent committee that was targeting Viktor & Rolf clients and not World Fragrance Market Domination.

Notes from Fragrantica: chili, saffron, leather, tobacco, vetiver, bergamot, grapefruit, elemi and pink pepper.

Notes from my nose: pink pepper, mandarine, cherry, almond, cinnamon, jasmine, patchouli, powder, coffee


About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.


  1. hedonist222

    I share the same sentiments. Finally a designer or non-niche that is actually good.

    Well blended, dynamic, complex and unique.
    It reminded me of Caravelle Epicee by Frapin for an hour.

  2. I was so impatient reading it, until you mentioned the magic word. Patchouli at the base. Looking forward to smell it. By the way I adore L’Agent (although not stated in the notes list I get a Cuir de Russie like leather note, do you?)

  3. I was in a store yesterday and there was a display for Spicebomb. I just put the bottle to my nose and found it pretty sweet and disregarded it. I never sprayed any on, but now I am thinking I might have to give it a spritz!

    • It is verrrry sweet but all this sweetness evaporates eventually and the drydown is very good. And even in the sweetest phase it avoids using the fruity-woody overdone cliché of recent masculines.

  4. First I tried Spicebomb on paper and was surprised how much I liked it. Later, after reading a positive reaction from one of my blogo-friends, I decided to give it some skin time (with my backlog of untested samples it is a big deal – to decide to try a mainstream perfume). I’m not sure I’m glad I did, though. But not for the obvious reason.

    I rather liked Spicebomb. Not enough to want it in my collection but I could probably wear it (or smell it on my vSO). It reminds me a lot of some other perfumes, which I either own or have previously tried. And here comes the not obvious part: I can’t figure out which ones and it drives me crazy!!! Voyage d’Hermes? Tobaco Vanille? Pure Havane? I don’t know and I don’t want to spend more time testing them in parallel – I didn’t like Spicebomb that much. But it keeps bothering me.

    Enjoyed your review (and the title 🙂 ).

    • It is not groundbreaking but it is elegant, it doesn’t belong in either of the two main masculine trends (citrusy-woody and fruity-woody) and it has the V&R lineage. It has a bit of Chergui in it I think.

  5. As usual… a scent that I dismiss as “meh” sends me running back to my sample after reading one of your reviews! Thanks for proving me wrong… once again!


  6. Christos, as I’m in that minority of perfumistas who love Flowerbomb, I have a feeling I’ll love Spicebomb too. I have to say, though, while the Flowerbomb perfume bottle actually looks great in person (not really like the grenade it’s supposed to represent, it’s a lot more elegant), the photos of the Spicebomb bottle look juvenile and awful! I think they still could have named it Spicebomb and not had to be so literal with the bottle.

    • Usually if I have to use the phrase “it looks exactly like” to describe a bottle, it’s not a good a thing… And this one “looks exactly like a hand grenade”. The bottle of Antidote however is one of the most beautiful bottles ever made. It has a “by Killian” feel.

  7. Natalie

    I loved the title of this. 🙂 Spicebomb is nice, but something about it doesn’t move me. I’m sort’ve meh on it. But, I do like that they didn’t go super avant garde weird, which is kind’ve what I expected.

    • OK, I will confess that I smelled this right after trying Chanel Allure Homme Sport Eau Extreme so maybe the comparison to the generic AXE/LYNX type of smell of CAHSEU made it glow 🙂

  8. I’m a huge fan of this one. I was at Nordstroms poking around a few weeks ago when I saw it in person for the first time. The grenade shaped bottle turned me off at first, but after I gave it a try and wore it around for a few hours I loved it! Shame that I had to find it at a time of the year that these spicy colognes are a little “out of season”..

    • Nice to see you here.

      It was released at a strange time, as the whether was getting warmer. I guess customers on the southern hemisphere will have the right conditions to enjoy this.

  9. Pingback: New year revolutions, 2015 | Memory Of Scent

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