Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Watercolor Florals: Institut Tres Bien Cologne Fines

Institute Tres Bien  introduced three floral cologne interpretations in 2016 to add to their original stable of more traditional style colognes. The flowers used are tuberose, rose de mai, and violet. Back in 2004 the company introduced Cologne a la Russe, followed the next year by Cologne a l'Italienne and Cologne a la Francaise. These featured the more traditional citrus and herb combinations. I first became aware of the line around 2007 and bought a bottle of the Cologne a l' Italienne for my husband. Then around 2010 they seemed to disappear. I had forgotten about the brand until they reappeared last year with these new floral colognes. I really love light fragrances when it gets super hot in Texas or Singapore, whichever one I happen to be in, so I was intrigued to try.

Like many niche perfumeries, the origination of Institut Tres Bien is a bit of a romantic tale. Founder Frederic Burtin from Lyon, France, is a trained perfumer/cosmetician and worked for many years for presitgious French brands before discovering a treasure in his own attic, a perfume handbook with a formula for a perfume his grandmother had custom made at her local Lyon hair salon, Tres Bien, in the 1930's. This was the origination of Colgone a la Russe from it's original 1906 formulation. Whether you like these stories or not, there is no denying that the Institut Tres Bien colognes all smell well made with quality ingredients.

Institut Tres Bien Cologne Fine Rose de Mai goes on with that refreshing briskness that cologne lovers expect. The rose is absolutely succulent in the initial spray, yet at the same time light and airy. This is a rose that a man would have an easy time wearing although I really like it for its bracing vigor. There is some green in this rose, as in unopened rose buds, and in fact the Institut Tres Bien copy call Rose de Mai "the delicate one."

Citrus and tomato leaf give the cologne its vibrant opening and zestiness. The rose de mai smells of quality and is nuanced, showing aspects of rose florals and green buds. Blackcurrant bud enriches the rose and gives it depth. Geranium brings out another aspect of rose scent. I always feel it makes rose fresher and veer more masculine rather than a sweet rose. Elemi is in the base and this note is traditionally used in more masculine fragrances to emphasize either tart, sour, peppery or uplifting aromatics.  The cologne softens considerably in the first thirty minutes (as colognes do) but still continues in the same vein.

Institut Tres Bien Cologne Fine Violette de Parme takes what is often thought of as an old-fashioned note, the violet, and gives it a slightly more modern interpretation. On the company website it is called "the surprising one." The violet leaf is apparent in the opening and is very rich and green. The base cologne notes: citron, lavandin, bergamot, petit grain, are more evident to me in the Violette de Parme than they were in the Rose de Mai. 

Wearing this cologne gives that "freshly showered" feel, like you've used a fine soap and its scent lingers. It makes me feel very fresh and polished. Some violets veer powdery or sweet but I find this one to be very unisex. In the beginning green notes are emphasized and as the scent winds down its more woody aspects come to the forefront.

Institute Tres Bien Cologne Fine Tubereuse Absolue was the one from the trio that I was most excited to try. I love my big tuberose perfumes but I liked the idea of a lighter tuberose that could go anywhere.  On the website this one is called "the flamboyant one" but I'm not sure I agree. I am used to tuberose taking center stage when I wear it in a fragrance so this one seems light and transparent to me.

There is quite a bit of citrus in the first spray which takes the bite out of the tuberose. After about ten minutes the creaminess of the tuberose starts to make itself known but the citrus aspects present in the cologne are still quite evident. I can imagine that non tuberose lovers would find this an easy wear as the tuberose has been quite tamed yet you still get that beautiful richness of the tuberose bloom, albeit in a very subdued fashion. Imagine diving in a clear pool with tuberose blossoms floating on top. The water has been imbued with a delicate sense of tuberose and you emerge with a slight shimmer of fragrance clinging to your skin. The tuberose continues to sparkle in a mix with the citron, bergamot, petit grain, and neroli. If you're looking for a significant blast of tuberose I think you'll be disappointed but if it's a whisper you want, look no further. Mind  you, I wear big tuberose perfumes so perhaps my meter of judgement is different from yours. Full disclosure: I liked this one enough to buy a full bottle from www.Luckyscent.com.

I have really gotten into colognes this year and enjoyed all three of these. I also enjoyed the fairly new brand of Berdoues Colognes, which I reviewed starting here about a year ago. Don't expect big sillage or great longevity on these but I could still get traces of scent after several hours wear, although it was personal and I don't think it had much projection. They give a very nice spin on the traditional citrus/herb colognes.

Beautiful painting above available at www.kaysmithbrushworks.blogspot.com. Other photos from www.TresBien.com. Samples and bottle purchased by me at www.luckyscent.com. 


Undina said...

Colognes are not my first choice - somehow they feel like "lesser" perfumes, but sometimes I do enjoy wearing something lighter.

Out of the three, Rose de Mai sounds the most appealing to me. But 100 ml?.. Even with the fleeting nature of my favorite Jo Malone perfumes, I haven't finished a single 30 ml bottle yet (though I'm close with Wild Fig & Cassis, which is unfortunate since it's discontinued).

Cynthia said...

The Jo Malone Wild Fig and Cassis is one of the rare bottles I finished, several years ago actually, before I had so many bottles! I really liked it. I tend to like the old Jo Malones better, back when she owned the company. I feel they had more presence. Now they are usually too light for me.