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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Perfume Review: Institut Très Bien Cologne a La Russe, Cologne a La Francaise and Cologne a l'Italienne


Institut Très Bien is a new fragrance line based in Lyon, France. Their site is under construction, so I cannot provide you with more details on their history and philosophy, however I can tell you that in 2004 they received first prize at the Beauty Challenger Awards, held during the Cosmeeting exhibition in Paris. The awards is given for innovation and best practices in the niche sector. Rather predictably, I was mainly drawn to this new line of colognes because one of the fragrances was called Cologne a La Russe.

Cologne a La Russe, said to be a “faithful reconstruction of a 1906 formula”, is a lovely, bright, juicy citrus scent. Hard as I try, I cannot discern anything particularly Russian in this fragrance (now, having vodka as one of the ingredients could help…). The base notes (ambrette seeds, benzoin and iris) are significantly “darker” than the dazzling yellow top and fresh, herbal green middle notes; the base is a little powdery and because of that ambery-powdery quality the drydown has a vaguely Guerlainesque feel to it, thus making Cologne a La Russe smell classically French rather than Russian. This is a lovely scent; I enjoyed its initial citrus explosion (lemon, bergamot, lime), its attractive and elegant middle stage of lavender, rosemary and orange blossom, and the chic and warm, ambery drydown. Of the three colognes, A La Russe had the best (though not spectacular) staying power and generally felt most “substantial”.

I also liked Cologne a La Francaise with its appealing combination of magnolia and citrus. The citrus accord (grapefruit and lemon) was more apparent in the beginning and rather overwhelmed the floral notes, but as the scent progressed, the lovely flowers became evident, making Cologne a La Francaise a charming, airy composition. The scent was very pretty, very wearable but, true to its cologne nature, had almost no lasting power whatsoever.

Cologne a L'Italienne disappeared even faster; ten minutes after the application it was completely gone. The lack of staying power aside, I generally liked this cologne the least. The beginning was as juicy-citrusy as in the other two scents, but while Cologne a La Russe went through a pleasant, subtly herbal stage and had an unexpected, interesting drydown, and Cologne a La Francaise has paired the citruses and flowers in quite a delightful manner, there was nothing particulraly remarkable about Cologne a L'Italienne. After the first citrusy blast it appeared undecided as to what direction it should take, seemed to chose to remain citrusy, smelling faintly of lemons and bitter oranges, and then disappeared quietly and without a trace.

All in all, the Institut Tres Bien colognes were very well done, very pleasant…but I did not find them “different” enough from other colognes on the market to warrant a full bottle (and an expensive bottle at that!) purchase.

Cologne a la Francaise is available at Blissworld.com, $90.00 for 100ml. Bliss used to carry the other two fragrances as well, but at the moment it seems to be out of stock.

11 Comments:

Blogger Jenny said...

When I read the review of Cologne a La Francaise I was thinking of my own problems with a perfume I'm making based on a Magnolia scent. It's a lovely perfume with citrus notes together with Magnolia and Vanilla but it has no staying power. I worked on it for four years now and I still don't know what to add to give it staying power. But one thing....I don't give up!

8:41 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Jenny,
Please don;t give up! Citrus, magnolia and vanilla is such a pretty combination. I hope you find a way to make it last longer!

9:19 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

It will be no surprise to you that we liked them in reverse order: my favorite was the l'Italienne. All 3 are nice, but for simple variations on a cologne theme I prefer the Comme des Garcons Cologne series. Still want that coffret set though -- it is so cute!

9:30 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

These sound very pretty, but probably not different enough to be worth the $$$. Can I tell you how much I love their name, though? I find it hilarious but not sure why. Like calling it the Everything's Great Institute. (no, don't speak French)

10:29 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

R,
LOL, no surprise here :-)I wish they started selling the coffret here. I definitely would have bought it. Why can't the US Sephora has the same stuff the French on has :-(

10:36 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
The name is very...cheerful, isn't it? And yes, I can't imagine spending this much on them, not even on the "Russian" one :-)

10:37 AM EST  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

The only reason I was interested in these was the coffret. It is adorable. Citrus and magnolia combination sounds wonderful. Thank you for reviewing these, esp. Cologne a la Russe. Of course, I was very curious about it.

10:50 AM EST  
Blogger Christina H. said...

Hi!
Sounds like some of them seem pleasant enough to sample when I run out of all the others at the top of my list!I've been so curious aboute these and now I am happy to feel that there is no great need to try these.I wonder,just out of curiousity,what impact all the perfume blogs make in sales after certain reviews?I've
jumped on the Le Labo bandwagon just after reading the scent descriptions, and now these have been put on the back burner.You and your compatriots(other perfume bloggers) have more influence than most people suspect!

11:44 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

V,
Cologne a La Francaise is realy very pretty. At first the citrus seems to be taking over but in a while magnolia does start to be evident too. I really liked it.

2:06 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Christina,
Hehehe, the power of bloggers! :-)

As for these colognes, they are not extraordinary, but they are lovely, so I would recommend at leats trying. They would be great in summer.

2:09 PM EST  
Blogger Janice said...

please does anyone know where I can get more Cologne a La Francaise?! I am out and cannot locate it anywhere!!?? Please send info if you can! Thanks, JanSeverance@gmail.com

8:29 PM EDT  

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