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December 02, 2005

Fragrance Review: Victor & Rolf Flowerbomb and Flowerbomb Extreme


In contrast to their avant-garde clothing, with Flowerbomb, the Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf opted for a fragrance with wide appeal. The most controversial aspect of Flowerbomb is its bottle designed as a grenade.  Based on the commercial gourmand patchouli accord first introduced by Angel (1993), Flowerbomb (2005) is a mélange of creamy florals resting on a warm base of patchouli and vanilla. Created by Olivier Polge, Carlos Benaïm and Domitille Bertier, Flowerbomb is a smooth composition, polished to remove the hard edges of patchouli with its facets rounded by sweetness. It does not explode as the name would lead one to expect; it flows like spilled honey.

The composition is constructed to allow the accords to undulate gently, revealing one delicate floral note after another. Sheer freesia is folded into the sweetness of jasmine, touched by the subtle anisic notes and layered with creamy vanilla. ...

On the scent strip, the spicy green notes provide an interesting counterpoint to the creamy sweetness, however on the skin, they immediately vanish into the gourmand richness. The woody amber in the base enveloped by musk hides the soft streak of patchouli.

Out of all gourmand patchouli compositions that became popular in the last decade, Flowerbomb is likely to be the most wearable, as the earthy pungency of patchouli is reduced to a minimum. The loud patchouli of either Angel or Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, another fragrance in this genre, is not to be found in this composition. The warm fruity sweetness that fills the body of the composition makes Flowerbomb reminiscent of Lolita Lempicka (1997), although the tobacco and licorice facet that darkened Lolita Lempicka is entirely missing in Flowerbomb. In fact, everything about it is cashmere and pearls—poised, sweet and pretty.

This very quality might be disappointing to those wishing for an edgy fragrance like Angel, as Flowerbomb does not attempt to compete with it. Whether its tame aspect can be deemed to be a positive or negative feature might depend on the effect one is seeking. Above all, it would be a good option to consider for those who find Angel and other fragrances of similar genre to be too brash and loud. The soft sweetness of Flowerbomb does not require effort to wear and is not likely to elicit the same polarized reactions as Angel.

Vrextreme107 Flowerbomb Extrême, released as a limited edition for the holidays, is an even softer and creamier fragrance. Its sweetness is amplified by the rich warmth of the vanilla and fruity notes, recalling a red pudding of stewed berries and whipped cream. If the patchouli was subtly rendered in the original, in the Extrême version it is merely an accent.  If I found the original to be too sweet for my tastes, the Extrême borders on cloying, however the fact that it stays closer to the skin makes this version wearable nevertheless.

Notes include bergamot, tea, bergamot, jasmine sambac, orange blossom, orchid, freesia, rose, amber, musk, and patchouli. The notes for Flowerbomb Extrême include osmanthus as well. Both fragrances can be found at Saks 5th Avenue.



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