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