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  • Justin James

A dying art?

Updated: May 29

It appears the definition of masculine fragrance has evolved in recent years. Historically, the remit for males scent primarily featured strands of woods, ambers, musks and a dash of lavender.

In recent times, this long-standing approach has been somewhat abandoned with the introduction of fruit or vanilla notes as the foundation of the majority of male fragrances. ‘

Masculine scents are noticeably resembling their feminine counterparts, while female fragrances are becoming increasingly sweeter - sometimes to a sickly extent.

The movement of fruit based masculine fragrance originates from South America - a region where heat is at a constant high with a need for airy saccharine smells amongst its people.

The times when London, Paris, and New York were the frontrunners of scent have somewhat dissipated as Brazil is now the fastest growing fragrance market in the world. Their impact on the world of scent is undeniable; with the creation of full flavoured scents, leaning dangerously close to food smells, and ‘yummy’ being the word du jour. Previously, fruitier odours were mainly reserved for summer addition flankers of major fragrances. However the last 10 years has witnessed major brands go sweeter, while their seasonal flankers have become garish renditions of the original design.


One fragrance launch I paid close attention to was 2012’s Spicebomb by Victor&Rolf [the Avant gard fashion house created by designers Victor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren]. After the success of their women's fragrance Flowerbomb in 2005 and masculine Antidote fragrance in 2006, Spicebomb was it's a long awaited follow-up which was completely justified. A solid cast assembled to bring the scent to life; Victor&Rolf collaborated with perfumer Olivier Polge [the nose behind masterpieces like Boisee by Kenzo and The Beat for Men by Burberry to create the scent while renowned designer Fabian Barron crafted its signature hand grenade flacon.

Fronted by the smouldering model Sean O’Pry, the fragrance achieved in capturing power and a blend of masculinity in its notes. Spicebomb is a study in hot and cold, described as an ‘oriental extrovert’ it invites with bergamont and grapefruit followed by a elimi and pepper in the heart, while leather, tobacco and vetiver sparkle in its base. It is the initial freshness and warmth which is key. The Bergamont is dominant in its subtle glow, which is chased closely by the added punch of pink pepper. However, it is the base of Spicebomb that particularly intrigues in how it embodies a sweet, yet primal masculinity. Its final notes rouses the image of a gorgeous man raising the blankets, letting you into a warm bed. There is no question that this is a masculine scent yet somewhere along the way this aesthetic has faded in the last decade, with Victor&Rolf’s Spicebomb being one example of a powerful and intricate scent being overlooked.

It begs the question are we blindly following the trends being sold to us?


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