Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb : Perfume Review

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

After Flowerbomb, Antidote, and Eau Méga, the Amsterdam fashion house Viktor & Rolf has launched Spicebomb, a new masculine fragrance. While the clothing by designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren is avant-garde and edgy, the fragrances feel to me driven mostly by the desire to boost the company’s profit margins. They are well-made, polished, but perhaps stay too close to current trends. Spicebomb is a pleasant surprise in the line up—a fragrance that blends gender boundaries as effortlessly as Tilda Swinton—V&R’s muse—in Orlando and that has a few dark and smoky surprises in its layers.

Spices provide the delicious sparkle throughout Spicebomb, but despite the name, it is not a fiery, pungent fragrance like Serge Lutens Arabie or Parfums de Nicolaï Maharadjah. After the peppery shimmer of the top notes, Spicebomb enters the gentleman’s library with its rich sweetness of pipe tobacco, dark woods and tangy leather. The medicinal warmth of saffron plays up the musk backdrop against which the suave cherry almond notes of tobacco unfold.

Although billed as a masculine fragrance, Spicebomb has none of the men’s cologne clichés. Those who mourn the discontinuation of L’Artisan Tea for Two will find a similar smoky woods and sweet spices leitmotif in Spicebomb. It also shares the vanilla musk of Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille and the tobacco sweetness of A*Men Pure Havane. The sweetness is moderated by woods, and the character of Spicebomb remains caressing and elegant. It can effortlessly accompany you to work, to a late night party and then it might even comfort you like a favorite cashmere scarf. For all of its idiosyncrasies, Spicebomb is an easy to love perfume.

Now, for the negative. I dislike two things about Spicebomb—its moderate lasting power and the packaging. For a fragrance named “a bomb,” it at most sizzles, and while it wears well, I wish its richness were amplified. As for the packaging, I find the grenade shaped bottle vulgar and in poor taste, and I refuse to even look for a glimmer of camp humor that Viktor & Rolf wants me to see in the whole thing. The fragrance really deserves much better.

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb includes notes of bergamot, pink pepper, cinnamon, vetiver, red pepper, elemi, grapefruit, leather, and tobacco. Available in Eau de Toilette concentration, 50ml and 90 ml bottles.

Sample: my own acquisition

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15 Comments

  • Emma: This sounds intriguing.

    I must confess I quite liked the bottle of Flowerbomb, but I think it was mostly because of the contrast between the aggressive connotations of the shape and the femininity of the juice.

    I’ll definitely give Spicebomb a fair shot after this review! March 7, 2012 at 8:18am Reply

  • Victoria: The Flowerbomb bottle made me think of “make love, not war” campaigns of the 1970s, so I agree you on the contrast. Here, I just don’t see the same thing. It is a grey bottle that looks far too close to the real thing. Maybe, I am in minority.

    The fragrance is very good though. If you like smoky woods and sweet pipe tobacco fragrances like Tea for Two and others I mentioned, you will enjoy it. March 7, 2012 at 9:14am Reply

  • Elisa: This sounds so good to me! I need to get myself to a Sephora. March 7, 2012 at 11:21am Reply

  • Victoria: I am seriously considering a full bottle, especially since I have been remiss at buying a back up for my Tea for Two. March 7, 2012 at 11:31am Reply

  • dee: This sounds gorgeous V., although the naff lasting power makes me hesitant to seek it out. Since we all know that seeking something out frequently leads to a new bottle in the cabinet, and these days, I really want at least five hours out of a new addition!

    Although… I will keep my eyes peeled for the inevitable day when it lands at the discounters ;) March 7, 2012 at 11:45am Reply

  • Victoria: I am really enjoying it! The lasting power is comparable to that of Tea for Two, maybe better. It is just that for something named a  bomb, I would have loved an actual sillage bomb.

    So far, the year is shaping up nicely with some interesting new discoveries–L'Eau de Chloe, What We Do in Paris is Secret, Spicebomb. And I am enjoying Seville a l'Aube, which seems to be garnering some great reviews online. March 7, 2012 at 11:57am Reply

  • elizabeth: I hadn’t been too excited about this before your review, but the fragrances you reference here have me itching to try it. Thank you for another of your lovely & useful reviews! March 8, 2012 at 12:07am Reply

  • Victoria: I wasn't excited about it at first, but I'm glad I tried it. Although they position it as a masculine, a woman can definitely wear.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 9:01am Reply

  • Elisa: I have a bottle of Tea for Two sitting on my Amazon wish list, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. March 8, 2012 at 4:20pm Reply

  • Victoria: I haven’t either. Maybe, once I move, I will buy it. But for now, I have a large decant, and it suffices, along with Spicebomb. March 8, 2012 at 11:00pm Reply

  • Camille: I’m not at all bothered by the packaging but I’m definately intrigued enough to go and test it for myself immediately! June 12, 2012 at 2:08pm Reply

  • hajusuuri: I got a sample of this from Nordstrom, tried it this past weekend…and love it! The lasting power is anemic but that allowed me to layer it with one spritz of Tauer Incense Extreme and that combination created the right oomph. June 18, 2012 at 11:08pm Reply

  • eminere: I’ve finally figured out what this smells like: Gucci Pour Homme II, the blue juice in the rectangular bottle with the brushed gold cap. Love it. April 28, 2013 at 9:47am Reply

  • Susiebelle: Trying this now using a sample. Actually lasted over 18 hours but when all is said and done, smells like vintage Coty Musk on me. July 11, 2013 at 6:39am Reply

  • Iris: Just got myself a bottle today. I love the not so sweet spice. It will be perfect for the office. August 18, 2013 at 7:05am Reply

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