Viktor & Rolf Antidote (2006) is really another case of YouTuber/Influencer Stockholm Syndrome on "FragBros" in the online community, as it has such a ridiculous high price since discontinuation and is almost unanimously praised for being a lost masterpiece et al. The truth of the fragrance reads quite differently, as it is just another sweet 2000's "woodyamber" masculine with a green twist giving it a few kudos. Antidote is a well-made scent, with both Peter Wargnye of Drakkar Noir (1984) fame and future niche starling Aliénor Massenet (Memo, Hermetica, Floraiku) teaming up to deliver a Guerlaineque traffic jam of notes in the composition, but most of them fall away into that ambery base. When Viktor & Rolf launched this as their debut masculine perfume it fell mostly on deaf ears since it was a case of "nothing new under the sun" even for 2006, but enough shakers and movers on social media and YouTube began singing the gospel of it, and before long all that swag in discounters vanished only to find its way into the hoards of panic buyers and eBay flippers looking to turn a dime on the hype. Same old song and dance in the fear-of-missing-out and peer pressure-induced clout seeking department for guys snapping this up at $300+, same old disappointing result when smelled for free (or pennies) from a sample and worn to compare the reality to the hysteria. Even the bottle is rather plain and unispiring, although I do like the metal nameplate and what looks like drops of "antidote" dripping down the top front of the bottle.
The opening of Viktor & Rolf Antidote is very sweet, with grapefruit, mandarin, and a rich cardamom swirling around with a cool spearmint. This opening phase really reminds me of a lot of things from the late 90's, like you put Gucci Envy for Men (1998) and Chanel Allure Homme (1999) in a blender then added a dash of fruity sweetness seen in contemporaries like Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme (2006). Maybe it's this bit of callback to the also-worshipped Envy that makes sycophants go nuts over Antidote? Who knows? The heart is really nothing doing by comparison, just lavender, geranium, and cinnamon to establish a fougère-adjacent accord but then sweetened up to match the top by adding some neroli. A lot of people called this too mature for the time but with all this sweetness, I beg to differ. Finally, that massive fuzzy wall of woody amber rears up in the base. The last stages of this remind of a lot of things Avon was doing with amber in the 2000's as well, sitting somewhere between them and designer treatments of amber at the time like Gucci pour Homme (2002) and McGraw by Tim McGraw (2008). There's a little dab of denatured patchouli "thickness" here, some musk, loads of tonka sweetness, and guiac wood too, but the amber ends up being the dominating force after the first few hours. I guess this makes better evening wear than day wear because of the sweetness but the amber makes Antidote best for cooler weather. Performance is the saving grace at 10+ hours of decent projection, and the layers revealed on the way down do remind me that designers used to be complex like luxury offerings claim to be, but there still is nothing here worth putting on a pedestal.
Bottom line is Antidote by Viktor & Rolf was an also-ran released at a time before the house had wide distribution, was mostly ignored for bringing nothing really new to the table, and discontinued after Spicebomb (2012) proved to be more worthwhile. I think the slight resemblence to two other very-worshipped "unicorns" in the commmunity (both Gucci Envy for Men and Gucci pour Homme) is the root cause for the veneration, and like Carven Homme (1999), Antidote was latched onto as a "second best" for guys that wanted a slice of that validation. I never wear fragrance for chest-bumps and ass-pats though so I couldn't care less about what Fragmaniac666 on Instagram thinks, so the way I see it, a sweet woody amber with a slightly novel green twist is still just a sweet woody amber with a slightly novel green twist no matter who says it's godhead. Nothing worth climbing Mt. Sinai and speaking to a burning bush over, and nothing worth paying huge money on because there is still tons of stuff that could slide right into the same slot Antidote inhabits with just a wee bit of looking around. On that same token, I understand that it's easy to fall in love with a fragrance, which may explain my fascination with wearing Avon Black Suede (1980) all year round. So, for guys who went gaga for this in 2006 and are now staring down the barrel of a shotgun waiting to blast $300+ dollars of their hard-earned money into the sun just to resupply their favorite fragrance, I can sympathize. Outside of that, Viktor & Rolf Antidote is a well-constructed but conventional men's designer "woodyamber" fragrance from the 2000's that would be a miracle at $30, but strains credulity as it is. Neutral.
I thought I'd never smelled Viktor & Rolf Antidote but upon obtaining a decant of an older batch just recently, I've remembered that this is something I do recall from a decade ago, and it's phenomenal, mysterious, and signature scent worthy. Perhaps some nostalgia, even from a decade ago, makes me want to keep smelling it over and over again, but it's likely the combination of notes that hits a few areas just right.
The note listing is immense, so I'd mainly hone in a few accords: the freshness of the lavender, soft woodiness of the cedar, and sharpness of the mint that adds a little bit of an edge to an otherwise smooth and unassuming mixture. I
Antidote is classic, vaguely in the barbershop fougere sort of way, a little closer to Chanel Pour Monsieur EDT than some of the other kin, but still in separate territory, a composition somehow unlike those yet reminiscent of the same type of gentleman that might wear it.
Performance is quite stellar for an EDT, with quite strong projection and longevity.
Really a superb blend, an instant favorite and one that I hope to acquire.
So many notes, but what stands out to me is the mint and cedar in the opening and then incense later. I can smell the florals under those. The whole thing smells like a mixed drink but I can't place which one.
Very light and airy with performance to match. This skin scent does last, sprayed it in the morning and it was still there when I got home and changed shirts.