10 Things You Didn't Know About This Cult-Favorite Fragrance

In 2005, designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren dropped a bomb on the fragrance world. Yes, the grenade-shaped bottle was, in fact, something that would make any TSA agent send your bag back through the airport scanner. But equally disruptive was the juice inside. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb — an unapologetically feminine and musky sweet floral scent — was a far cry from the unisex (CK One) and citrusy (L'Eau d'Issey) smells that dominated the '90s and early aughts. In other words, it was a pretty big risk. And the designers didn’t care. “We didn’t look to the market at all,” Horsting says. “We always go with our gut feeling.”
It turned out their gut feeling was dead-on. Flowerbomb was an instant success, and 10 years later it has its own cult following. To celebrate, Horsting tells us 10 things you may not know about the fragrance:

1. The name came before the scent. “Before anything else was the word Flowerbomb... Because there are two of us, everything we do, we put into words to explain to each other,” Horsting says. “The name just happened; it described in the best way what we were looking for — an explosion of flowers.”

2. And it was somewhat controversial. “We were, perhaps, a little bit apprehensive about the name. We thought it could be divisive, but people seem to love it,” he says. “That’s actually really inspiring. It’s such a personal creation, and there was no compromise on our part whatsoever.”

3. It took three years to create it. “When you create a fashion collection, you have a couple of months,” explains Horsting. “When you create a perfume, you have a couple of years… Having the time was a luxury, but at the same time, we worked on it for three years and then we were like, 'We’re really ready to launch.'”

There were about 499 other contenders. “It was a search. When we smelled it for the first time, we knew, 'This is right.' Then, you start smelling and fine-tuning, and smelling variations. It must have been 400 to 500 variations.”
5. It’s not as floral as its name suggests. “We loved flowery scents, but they can sometimes be a bit old-fashioned if they're too floral. We knew we were looking for this flowery feeling and something to put it on edge.”

6. The grenade-shaped bottle was banned in a European airport. While Horsting doesn’t remember the exact details, Vogue U.K. reported that the bottle was pulled from duty-free shops in Norway's Oslo Airport in 2006 because it looks like a weapon. "We call it 'the diamond grenade.' It does have, of course, the element of a grenade but it also has elements of a jewel,” he says. (Check out his original sketch below.) When asked if he was nervous about the design, Horsting says: “We were not afraid... We always say you shouldn’t create from fear; you should create from hope.”
Courtesy of Viktor & Rolf.
7. The print ad, featuring a nude woman wrapped in a sheer veil, hasn’t changed in 10 years. “It’s become quite an icon. One of the things we wanted to convey was the feeling of mystery, and that’s why the woman is veiled. The woman becomes like a flower, or sort of an explosion.”
8. There has never been a celebrity face. “We consciously wanted to stay away from using a celebrity to embody the perfume. We wanted every woman to be able to identify [with] or project herself onto this mysterious creature [in the ad]."

9. Among all the celebrity endorsements, singer Tori Amos is its biggest fan. “When we celebrated our 10-year [anniversary], Tori Amos sang," Horsting says. "Which was very nice because she also sang for us 10 years ago, the year we launched Flowerbomb. That was a really beautiful moment, celebrating loyalty.”

10. It’s still a top-rated scent in department stores today. “Success is a mystery, and we hoped for it, but we didn’t expect it,” says Horsting. “We like to think that apart from the fragrance, perhaps it’s the idea that it’s a positive weapon. It’s kind of a flower power that appeals to women... And with the ad, it’s a femininity that’s not one-dimensional. It’s, on the one hand, romantic and feminine and gorgeous. But, on the other hand, there’s a hard edge to it. It’s modern.”

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb 3.4 oz, $165, available at Nordstrom.

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