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