When Viktor & Rolf launched Spicebomb earlier this year, I was highly put-off with the imagery, the name, and most of all- with the bottle. A hand grenade as an object of desire- don't you just love how explosive it is?
But then comes the fragrance itself, a warm and spicy oriental that's pretty easy to wear once the initial blast (yes, that's a pun) calms down. The only "explosive" thing is Spicebomb's projection during the first ten minutes. There's something a bit juvenile about opening with such an aggressive bang (I'll stop now) only to retreat into the safety of a sweet amber. But it's hard and silly to complain, because I'd rather smell the masses wearing Viktor & Rolf's masculine answer to their Flowerbomb than the original feminine offering.
The opening of Spicebomb is sharp and citrusy with a surprising chilly and metallic note that makes you stop and reconsider the wisdom of wearing the fragrance. It mostly goes away before I make up my mind about it, which is probably for the best. From that point on, Spicebomb takes a turn into a crowd-pleasing sweet tobacco and a tonka-ish cinnamon-laced amber. It's kind of appetizing in an abstract not really edible way, and to tell the truth, also not very original. Others who reviewed this Viktor & Rolf fragrance (Bois de Jasmin, Candy Perfume Boy, 1000 Fragrances and Perfume Shrine) already made comparisons to other assertive sweet tobacco ambery perfumes, from Tobacco Vanille (Tom Ford Private Blend) to Ambre Narguile (Hermes). I'm firmly in the Ambre Narguile camp in this case, even though I do enjoy Spicebomb and heavily dislike Jean-Claude Ellena's apple turnover.
The thing is, that perfumer Olivier Polge who composed Spicebomb for Viktor & Rolf took out the part I dislike in Ambre Narguile, that overcooked and too fruity pie filling and left us with only a hint of dried fruit (how very Lutensique), heavily spiced and mixed with sweet tobacco that dries down into a golden sweetness. It's warm and welcoming, a style that many consider as a fall/winter fragrance I will not argue with that. As far as I'm concerned Spicebomb is a great gender-neutral perfume, unless a woman is completely against wearing a tobacco note (but then she wouldn't enjoy Havana Vanille, Chergui, Fumerie Turque and, yes, Tobacco Vanille, either). I also think that Spicebomb is a very good mainstream introduction to this particular perfumer genre, and a great place for the department store-shopper to start when venturing out of the fresh and clean bubble while still remaining with a trendy label.
Notes: bergamot, pink pepper, cinnamon, vetiver, red pepper, elemi, grapefruit, leather, and tobacco.
Spicebomb by Viktor & Rolf ($75, 50ml) is available from most department stores and at Sephora.
Top photo: The Viktor&Rolf Spicebomb Point of Sale at Harrod's, designed by Tommaso Nicolao via retaildesignblog.net. Other images: Behind the scenes images of the Viktor&Rolf Spicebomb ad featuring model Sean O'Pry, and a playful representation of the main notes of the fragrance along with the designers' famous black-rimmed glasses. Both from Viktor & Rolf's Facebook fan page.