It’s funny what weird and wonderful things you come across while Googling fragrance ads in the name of research. I mean, just look at this 1978 ad for Reo – touted as the world’s first cologne exclusively for gay men. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. After all, it proves that someone got there nearly 20 years before Thierry Mugler did with A*Men. Wonder what it smelt like?
In the last few years the Holy Grail in terms of men’s fragrance has been to come up with something as successful as Paco Rabanne’s surprise hit 1 Million. I say surprise because, in reality, the fragrance itself is a bit ‘meh’ – its natural home being a Wolverhampton nightclub on a rainy Saturday night. But the bling bling bottle is genius which kind of makes it the ‘all-fur-coat-and-no-knickers’ of the fragrance world. Or ‘all-leather-jeans-and-no-Y-fronts’ if you prefer. But still it sells – by the bucket load.
In a crowded, increasingly competitive, market bottle design really matters (witness Marc Jacobs’ novel Bang flacon) so it’s no surprise that a stand-out bottle was top of mind when creating Viktor & Rolf’s new fragrance for men, Spicebomb.
Designed to resemble a hand grenade (it even has its own pin) it’s certainly eye-catching, though I’d have liked to have seen it a little heavier myself, since a weighty bottle always says quality to me.
And, so, what about the fragrance itself? Well, it’s quite different to the design duo’s first men’s fragrance, Antidote. The brief here was clearly to create something sexy, wearable and very ‘now’ and in this respect it succeeds admirably.
Spicebomb hits you like…well, a bomb really, with one big olfactory wallop. There’s chilli, saffron and pink pepper along with fresh bergamot and grapefruit notes and leather, tobacco and vetiver ones. It’s a more conventional blend than the press bumpf would have you believe and to me it has a headiness akin to fragrances like Mugler’s A*Men and a faint gourmand quality (the cinnamon maybe?).
It doesn’t feel quite as sophisticated, daring or as complex as Antidote, nor as quirky, but because of this it should be able to reach way beyond the former’s narrow customer base. Who knows? It may even go off like a….No, I’ll resist that one.
Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb is available exclusively from Harrods now and nationwide from 7th March priced £45 for 50ml eau de toilette.
Thierry Mugler’s A*Men fragrance is one of those classic polarising scents. You either love it or run screaming like you’ve been the victim of a gas attack. Personally, I’ve always been somewhat in the latter camp. It’s way too sweet and sickly for me but I know loads of people who love it and do you know what? At least it’s distinctive – a rare and underestimated quality for men’s fragrances these days (check out Hugo’s rather ironically named Just Different if you want proof).
Anyway, fans of A*Men might want to check out Mugler’s new limited edition version A*Men The Taste of Fragrance – a version ‘magnified’ with the addition of a hot chili pepper note. The lavish press kit is full of nonsense about the foody inspiration behind it but all you really need to know is that the familiar, sweet, vanillary fragrance is still there but has been pimped up with the peppers.
I have to say this works remarkably well, adding a spicy and earthy edge to things, giving it a slightly more masculine feel in the process. Fear not, if you like your scents strong it’s still powerful enough to be classed as a WDM, but is far less likely to scare old ladies and children. And what more can I say other than Amen for that?
The Limited Edition A*Men is priced £50 for 100 ml non-refillable EDT