Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb and Flowerbomb Extreme : Perfume Reviews

33333

Victorrolf

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

In contrast to their avant-garde clothing, with Flowerbomb, the Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf opted for a fragrance with wide appeal. The most controversial aspect of Flowerbomb is its bottle designed as a grenade.  Based on the commercial gourmand patchouli accord first introduced by Angel (1993), Flowerbomb (2005) is a mélange of creamy florals resting on a warm base of patchouli and vanilla. Created by Olivier Polge, Carlos Benaïm and Domitille Bertier, Flowerbomb is a smooth composition, polished to remove the hard edges of patchouli with its facets rounded by sweetness. It does not explode as the name would lead one to expect; it flows like spilled honey.

The composition is constructed to allow the accords to undulate gently, revealing one delicate floral note after another. Sheer freesia is folded into the sweetness of jasmine, touched by the subtle anisic notes and layered with creamy vanilla. …

On the scent strip, the spicy green notes provide an interesting counterpoint to the creamy sweetness, however on the skin, they immediately vanish into the gourmand richness. The woody amber in the base enveloped by musk hides the soft streak of patchouli.

Out of all gourmand patchouli compositions that became popular in the last decade, Flowerbomb is likely to be the most wearable, as the earthy pungency of patchouli is reduced to a minimum. The loud patchouli of either Angel or Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, another fragrance in this genre, is not to be found in this composition. The warm fruity sweetness that fills the body of the composition makes Flowerbomb reminiscent of Lolita Lempicka (1997), although the tobacco and licorice facet that darkened Lolita Lempicka is entirely missing in Flowerbomb. In fact, everything about it is cashmere and pearls—poised, sweet and pretty.

This very quality might be disappointing to those wishing for an edgy fragrance like Angel, as Flowerbomb does not attempt to compete with it. Whether its tame aspect can be deemed to be a positive or negative feature might depend on the effect one is seeking. Above all, it would be a good option to consider for those who find Angel and other fragrances of similar genre to be too brash and loud. The soft sweetness of Flowerbomb does not require effort to wear and is not likely to elicit the same polarized reactions as Angel.

Vrextreme107 Flowerbomb Extrême, released as a limited edition for the holidays, is an even softer and creamier fragrance. Its sweetness is amplified by the rich warmth of the vanilla and fruity notes, recalling a red pudding of stewed berries and whipped cream. If the patchouli was subtly rendered in the original, in the Extrême version it is merely an accent.  If I found the original to be too sweet for my tastes, the Extrême borders on cloying, however the fact that it stays closer to the skin makes this version wearable nevertheless.

Notes include bergamot, tea, bergamot, jasmine sambac, orange blossom, orchid, freesia, rose, amber, musk, and patchouli. The notes for Flowerbomb Extrême include osmanthus as well. Both fragrances can be found at Saks 5th Avenue.

Enjoyed this? Get blog posts via email:

Or, stay updated via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS

58 Comments

  • parislondres: I simply cannot wear Flowerbomb – it gave me a major headache and to my nose it is a mix of Coco Mlle and POTL. It is being pushed hard sales wise but I just cannot say I find it interesting.
    Enjoyed your review though dear V. 🙂 December 2, 2005 at 6:09am Reply

  • julien: Well…i love the scent in itself but this is a pity it just comes out after so many gourmand fragrances.
    I have never smell the extreme version.

    But it is well constructed and pleasurable enough.
    So…

    Kisses and thanks for the review.
    j. December 2, 2005 at 6:16am Reply

  • ChristinaH: This turned out nothing like what the name suggested. I have to be in the right mood to wear this as it reminds me of Pink Sugar. December 2, 2005 at 8:23am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): Dear V,
    I agree with you that this is a “tame” scent–a grenade that fizzles, as it were. I am not at all fan of Angel, but at least I can see why some people are. This seems to me to be going for the lowest common denominator. And while it’s unlikely to offend anyone, it doesn’t do much of anything else either. Sorry to be so negative; I guess blandness actually bothers me more than downright offensiveness. Liked your review, though, as always. Hugs XXXXXX J December 2, 2005 at 8:23am Reply

  • Marina: Great review, V. I haven’t tried the Extreme, but thought the original one a pleasant if not very remarkable scent. It is warm and pretty and runs along the lines of what my mum likes these days(sort of gentler Angel-esque scents), so I am actually thinking of buying it for her 🙂 December 2, 2005 at 9:41am Reply

  • kaie: I was disappointed because I expected something unusual like V&R fashions. Flowerbomb was ok. It reminded me of Angel and Chance. I don’t know the Extrême but I love that gold flacon! December 2, 2005 at 10:42am Reply

  • linda: Your review is fair. I find it so tame it bores me but one of my sisters loved it. She doesn’t like anything too edgy. I guess that it’s nice, pretty, inoffensive… yawn… The bottle is interesting though. December 2, 2005 at 11:10am Reply

  • Tania: I have failed utterly to remember this fragrance for anything at all, so I thank you for this review, which reminds me. This way I can stop trying it in Saks, thinking, “Did I try this already?” Because I keep expecting it to be edgy and exciting. But it’s not.

    As for grenade bottling, this is an odd trend, especially in wartime. The Montales have a grenade like pulltab and the look of some sort of dangerous chemical kept in aluminum cans. Agent Provocateur also has a grenade pull tab. While kitschy and strange, it does have a bonus function: it allows you to throw the fragrance in your bag without fear, since the pull tab (on the Agent Provocateur and Montale bottles) keeps the atomizer from squeezing and dispensing pints of fragrance all over your stuff. December 2, 2005 at 11:26am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, a mix of Coco Mlle and POTL actually sounds more interesting! I am almost tempted to layer and see what would happe. 🙂 It is pushed hard here too, and numerous SAs will tell you that it is the number one selling fragrance in the country. I think that it must be a marketing speak though. December 2, 2005 at 11:51am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, yes, it is nicely composed. It does not attempt to be trendsetting, and I do not think that V&R wanted that to begin with. I thought that it was a nice alternative to gourmand patchouli of Angel, but for me, it is too sweet and too gourmand. Plus, it reminds of Lolita Lempicka in some aspects, and I already have a bottle I hardly ever use. I also have a bottle of Angel. December 2, 2005 at 11:53am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, yes, the grenade image is a bit misleading here. It does have a rich floral heart, but it does not explode, at least in my opinion. December 2, 2005 at 11:55am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear Judith, I completely agree about it not offending anyone. The variants of Angel’s gourmand patchouli are so numerous now that it is difficult to make the impact at this point even of the kind that Coco Mlle did.

    I do like Prada Intense though, because it seems to have a rich ambery note that makes for a nice pairing with patchouli. That one is not as popular though, from what I understand. December 2, 2005 at 12:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you. I think that you summed it up nicely when you said, “gentle Angeliesque scents.” Angel is a trendsetter, but it does not make it easy to wear. I can see how someone might like a softer take on the theme. Flowerbomb does that nicely, even if personally I would not be interested in buying it. December 2, 2005 at 12:03pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: K, this is definitely not as cutting edge as V&R fashions, which I always find fascinating. The bottle caused lots of controversy, from what I understand. It seems like a strange choice during the war. December 2, 2005 at 12:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, yes, for anyone who likes soft and sweet, it is probably one of the best options. Hope that your sister is enjoying it! December 2, 2005 at 12:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, this actually made me think of a whole new topic–what is the role of riding on the trends? Is it just “let’s make a new Angel,” leading to the briefs that ask for the same thing as Angel and hope for the same level of sales. Which do not tend to materialize. Is it a welcome phenomenon that allows the perfumers to refine the compostions and to perfect something that came before? For instance, Coty Chypre was fantastic and trendsetting, but Guerlain Mitsouko is much easier to wear, and it is indeed more complex. It is very possible that Chypre inspired it, as it did a number of other fragrances. Nowadays, with the advent of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, it is very easy to understand what goes into competitor’s formula and change/improve/etc. it. This was not the case even 30 years ago, and the advent of this new technology had a profound effect. It is still a source of debate, whether it is good or bad. December 2, 2005 at 12:12pm Reply

  • mreenymo: No, Flowerbomb was not for me. It smelled of nothing but patchouli on me, so I gave it to a perfume friend who wanted to give it a good home. 🙂

    Hugs! December 2, 2005 at 12:35pm Reply

  • Robin: Perfect description of the difference, V. The Extreme is sweeter, but less loud & therefore maybe more wearable. Neither version is a must-have for me. December 2, 2005 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Qwendy: Hmmmmmm, you know I wish I read more actual criticism of scents online. I guess I want stronger language about strong stuff, although perhaps this weak stuff requires milder language. Since my nose isn’t at the level of yours, I guess I want to hear your interesting measured view of what this scent might be in relation to other scents, those references are enlightening, and your perception of the notes are things I can barely discern, so I love reading about them. But I can’t help but wonder why won’t anyone lambast this scent for it’s double message, trading on the buzz of V & R to market yet another insipid fragrance to an undiscerning public, and falsely using the groovy name and outré packaging to trick us into thinking it’s something it’s not? Basically they are thinking JPG did it, so we can too, and they are right, but I don’t think that successful marketing strategies are necessarily something that perfume lovers need to respect, but here I am putting words in your mouth! I guess it’s really politics that are getting me down………. December 2, 2005 at 1:35pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, at least, it found a new home. I guess that patchouli might still be strong for those who do not like it.

    Have a great weekend, and I hope that your computer problems are fixed. December 2, 2005 at 1:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R (NST), yes, that is true. Since the sweetness in the Extreme is not diffusive, it might easier to wear. Still, both are very sweet for my tastes. December 2, 2005 at 1:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Wendy, I could not lambast this composition if I wanted, because it is not bad per se. As I posted to Tania above, I am ambivalent on what riding on the trends can achieve, but if I look at the fragrance objectively, I cannot criticize it for being poorly made. I did not think I gave thumbs up to the marketing decisions made by V&R in the review, but then again, I deal with politics too much in my daily life to care about it in fragrance. I try to look at what composition is like and I could care less what bottle and under what name it comes. Perhaps, I pay so little attention to marketing that I assume (wrongly) others do too.

    However, if someone disagrees, that is fine. They are more than welcome to offer an alternative opinion, and I thank you for yours. That is what makes the discussion vibrant in the end. December 2, 2005 at 2:08pm Reply

  • Qwendy: Thanks for taking my comment so nicely! You know, as a designer, I’m so conscious of what is being communicated by names and packaging, and perhaps in this case, too responsive to it . On the other hand, being a conscious outsider to the design world at large, I applaud attemptes to push it’s boundaries, so when edgy designers like V & R are doing both at once, pushing buttons AND playing it safe, it pushes MY buttons! Perhaps because of my frustrations with politics today I’m taking it all too seriously! Thanks for your indulgence! December 2, 2005 at 2:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ah, it indulges me too. 🙂 That is an interesting perspective, which I can understand given your background. I tend to isolate the compositions from the marketing demands, for better or worse. However, if I shift my focus on the V&R duo, then yes, I am right behind you. They certainly are not willing to take chances, and it is disappointing from the designers who take chances with their fashion collections. It is as if they suddenly put out a show full of pastel shift dresses and twinsets.

    I am more than ever grateful for the companies that allow the perfumers their creative freedom, like Frederic Malle and S-Perfume. Whether one cares for their creations or not, one has to admit that they offer novel and very personal creations (personal from the standpoint of the perfumer). December 2, 2005 at 2:51pm Reply

  • julien: If you don’t know what to do with your Angel and Lolita lempicka,just send it to me!lol
    😉

    Kidding…
    Well,it is really beautiful but not innovative,i think exactly the same,V&R didn’t want to begin with that but they did their best. December 2, 2005 at 2:53pm Reply

  • Qwendy: Yes, I suppose my whole raison d’etre is vive l’independence, and I feel exactly the same about this in perfume as in film and fashion = perhaps the three most public art forms (food?) although it somehow applies to fine art too, but I’ll leave that to the other side of my household.

    In the global culture of neutral products with marketing tactics meant to “surprise” us , it’s so refreshing to be truly surprised by a whiff of a Serge Lutens, F Malle, JAR (so wonderfully wierd), OJ (must try S-) etc. to know that they are doing something else entirely. There is a kind of backlash in the explosion of small fashion labels and small perfumers with an audience hungry for the original and individual expression they offer. Who said small is beautiful? Ah, EF Shumacker. December 2, 2005 at 3:16pm Reply

  • michelle: There are those who enjoy and are refreshed by surprising scents – and many more (I’m guessing) who want something that doesn’t startle or make them question. There is room for both, and just because we prefer one to the other doesn’t make that other wrong.

    Turning to the name of the scent – flowerbomb – think about what you would actually get if a “bomb” made of flowers went off. You would be pelted by soft, velvety petals which might leave behind soft traces of their scent as they fell to the ground. If you hold that image, the name is not so far away from the scent itself. A bomb of flowers is a soft thing.

    BTW, this scent did nothing for me – I, too, prefer to be surprised by my scents. But my younger coworker thinks it’s the bomb, and so the men around her. I gave her a purse spray of Angel, since she expressed interest in it, but I don’t think she wears it. She prefers flowerbomb. December 2, 2005 at 4:00pm Reply

  • Tania: The image of a flowerbomb actually reminds me of those make-love-not-war images of daisies pouring out of guns. December 2, 2005 at 4:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, thanks for your thoughtful offer. 🙂 For now, Angel is in frequent rotation, especially during these cold months. December 2, 2005 at 4:49pm Reply

  • Qwendy: Great image Tania, it made me think more figuratively of a kind of cartoon style BOOM! Something to shake one out of lethargy, something extremely amusing or entertaining. Like the time I was on a blind date (maybe 10 years ago) and the waiter described a wine to us as “humourous,” and we both knew that we needed such a thing on our date. How can wine be humourous? Well, it wasn’t that amusing. But the name flowerbomb itself is full of irony (lowercase bomb!) as well as melodrama, and is a bit of an oxymoron as well. Of course all of this is unconscious when one hears it, but it sure was disappointing on all counts. And to the average scent consumer, I wonder if the name is anything at all but just a name, like Debbie or Susie? December 2, 2005 at 4:54pm Reply

  • Cait: Qwendy,
    Maybe your waiter was paraphrasing this 1944 James Thurber cartoon caption: “It’s a naive domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption.”
    I always loved that one. December 2, 2005 at 5:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Wendy, yes, it is refreshing to be surprised. For instance, today I am wearing Donna Karan Black Cashmere, and its rich incense suits this dreary day perfectly. I also enjoy the unusual, but I can also enjoy just “smells good” fragrances once in a while. My favourite in that category is Dior Hypnotic Poison. I doubt that it shall make an entry in Perfume Legends, but it is wonderful.

    I also wanted to mention that I love your mules! Such interesting designs and beautiful colours. Very impressed. December 2, 2005 at 7:09pm Reply

  • Katie: Flowerbomb reminded me SO SO MUCH of Molinard’s Nirmala edp. They don’t smell identical on me, but oy , are they ever close. Seperated at birth nearly. December 2, 2005 at 7:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Michelle, true, there is no right and wrong here, the issue is simply a matter of taste.

    Your image of the flower bomb is great. I would only say that the fragrance does not strike me as floral as I expected based on the name. The bomb seems to release lots of warm vanilla cream as well, therefore it did not seem to explode with flowers to me, but rather ooze with sweet juices. Much like a piece of baklava. December 2, 2005 at 7:15pm Reply

  • Cait: V,
    baklava. now i’m hungry! i concur in the use value of comfort scents. mine is bois et fruits. OT, but elsewhere you lamented the loss of chanel star red. have you tried chanel new york red? it is fairly effective when worn in the snow with a black fedora, as i found today. December 2, 2005 at 8:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, I believe that is what V&R were aiming at, if I remember the interviews correctly. December 3, 2005 at 12:48am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Wendy, wine described as humourous is not something I would be able to pass up either! What did he mean by that, I wonder? December 3, 2005 at 12:50am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, thank you for a laugh. I have always loved that caption too. A friend of mine used to paraphrase it frequently, applying it to all sorts of situations and objects. December 3, 2005 at 12:52am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I do not remember Nirmala that well, but I recall that someone thought of it resembling Angel. So, perhaps, the link is not that far off. December 3, 2005 at 12:52am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, yes, I have been desperate to replace my Star Red for a while. Thank you for a recommendation. I have counted on getting Shanghai Red, but it has been out of stock for longer than I can remember. December 3, 2005 at 12:53am Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, I´m a bit late with my comment, but I just got to read your newest review! I don´t know the extreme version of Flowerbomb, just the “normal” one & I don´t get a lot of patchouli (if I didn´t know that patchouli was in it, I don´t think I´d have recognized it at all). I do like the scent, it´s a nice composition but in my oppinion nothing extraordinary. I like the powdery drydown, but all in all it´s too sweet for my liking & for that reason I think it would get on my nerves when very quickly. December 3, 2005 at 7:27am Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: Hello everybody! Extraordinary review, as always, V. I agree with many of your comments. I find Flowerbomb nice but uninteresting. I purchased a small bottle,…which I still have…that is, almost untouched. Since I hate Angel, I don´t really think they are alike.I completely agree with Sisonne about “I think it would get on my nerves very quickly”. December 3, 2005 at 10:14am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear C, the extreme version is really just sweeter and creamier. I wish V&R were aiming for extraordinary, but they ended up with a nice fragrance. I would have liked it more if it were less sweet, with more patchouli, but perhaps in that case it would have been more like Angel and some of my other favourites in that genre. December 3, 2005 at 2:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, thank you. Flowerbomb does not smell like Angel, but it has the same gourmand patchouli aspect which was inspired by Angel. Many Angel haters might appreciate it nevertheless. I love Angel, and I like Flowerbomb, but its sweetness is what I find to be too much. I like my fragrances slighly drier. On the other hand, if someone likes sweet compositions, this will be a nice discovery. December 3, 2005 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Qwendy: Victoria, thanks for the compliment! I have no idea what he meant by the wine bieng humourous, probably something in Thurber’s neighborhood (thanks so much for that great quote Cait, my BF will learn it by heart and be just like your friend Victoria), just trying to say something interesting……. It must have been in the early 90’s, so it’s sort of on the cusp of florid wine description mania, don’t you think? Maybe wine and perfume have sort of parallel trajectories. There’s a fascinating DVD out of a documentary about big and commercial vs small and personal in the wine world : Mondovino.
    BTW, Victoria, where are you based on land, is it a secret? December 3, 2005 at 8:39pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Wendy, makes sense! Humourous still sounds rather like an interesting adjective to apply to wine. I will have to look for the DVD you mentioned. It sounds fascinating.

    I have been traveling so much lately, I feel that I am mostly based in air, rather than on land! 🙂 December 4, 2005 at 10:01pm Reply

  • Tara: Well, it appears I am the lone dissenter here – I love Flowerbomb. I was grateful to finally find a sweet patchouli scent I could enjoy, as sadly Angel has a rotting melon note on me and I cannot wear it. Haven’t tried the FB Extreme yet as Saks here in San Diego is continually sold out of it. Must be popular! December 12, 2005 at 5:25pm Reply

  • Frances: Hello All:
    My signature scent is Caralina Herra. I bought Flower Bomb at Nordstroms. I liked it, in the store. I was smelling my arm, at the mall for over 2 hours. My husband likes it but:
    when we got home, I developed a severe headache from the scent.
    I’m taking it back to Nordy’s tomorrow.

    What have I learned from this exercise?

    Get a sample first [I know better}.Luckily , I got several samples, of the scent & wore them & tried in vain, to like it, but it just did not work for me.

    Guess it’s back to Caralina Herra. You can get it on line, for $34.00 & some change. At Nordstroms, it’s $75.00 plus tax. May 9, 2006 at 2:40am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Frances, I cannot agree with you more. One should always sample and spend a few days with the fragrance before buying a full bottle. May 9, 2006 at 2:05pm Reply

  • SHARON HAIRGROVE: TRUE STORY,

    SINCE I AM WEARING FLOWER BOMB MY BUSINESS GOT BETTER AND BETTER. IT GIVES EVERY ONE AROUND ME A POSITIVE ENERGY, EVERYTHINS SEEMS POSITIVE AROUND ME AND IT MAKES MY SALES BUSINESS BETTER AND BETTER. BUY IT . TRUST ME. June 29, 2006 at 2:01pm Reply

  • Asli Baysal: I’m writing in Turkiye.How can I take this parfum ? Online shop with send cargo ? anything ways ??
    Please answer this mail.
    Thank you. July 28, 2006 at 11:05am Reply

  • Amy: I don’t really know why most of you guys are so negative about this perfume… I LOVE it… I mean, compared to Angel (which by the way, stinks to me),and some other crap out there, i think it is the bomb. October 25, 2006 at 1:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Amy, your comment proves my point above–if one did not care for Angel, then Flowerbomb is the fragrance to consider. It is definitely softer and less aggressive. October 25, 2006 at 1:43pm Reply

  • Joyti: This sounds like a wonderful fragrance. I recently purchased a Harney & Sons tea called “Paris”…it smells like berries (top note) with a creamy/vanilla base…and I was looking for a similar perfume…flowerbomb extreme sounds like that may be it. Now to find a sample or find it… December 8, 2006 at 5:52pm Reply

  • mancho: Fantastic fragrance.Sorry,

    I can’t get it in my country. I just asked my friend to bring it from abroad. Can’t wait!!! October 26, 2011 at 12:58pm Reply

  • Eirin: This seems to be a love it or leave it fragrance. Like any other frag, it either works with your chemistry or it doesn’t. I find it delicious from start to finish. It evolves into a sweet, powdery spice that I can’t stop sniffing. It’s also nice that my husband loves this on me. I get a lot of compliments on this one. March 10, 2012 at 6:48pm Reply

  • Esra: While I appreciate the success of Flowerbomb, it started to scare me. I feel that most (if not all!) new offerings are somehow competing with Flowerbomb’s sales figures.
    For example, Guerlain have discontinued Shalimar Parfum Initial (a gourmand). The reason is it didn’t sell as much as they expected. When a new perfume is introduced usually there’s an initial excitement turnover that the companies love to take. I feel that as more and more perfumes in gourmand genre being produced, originality is being compromised.
    I would also like to talk about Angel being the mother of all gourmands. This statement has become a widespread conviction however I think Angel although smelling very sweet, is a gourmand oriental rather than a gourmand-floral like mainstream offerings and it is still quite original. So a part of me wonders, if Angel is the mother of all the gourmands, why are they not more like it? Angel might affected the trends, however in my mind it has its own place and it hasn’t been ‘copied’ to a large extent. November 18, 2014 at 3:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Angel was the first fragrance to start the gourmand trend, so while the next generation gourmands may not smell exactly like it, they follow its structure. If you embellish Angel’s structure with enough floral notes, you temper the woody part of it, but deep inside, it’s still Angel. November 24, 2014 at 1:01pm Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2016 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.