When, few months ago, I was informed that Institut Tres Bien (website here) had resumed production, and that I could buy again their three Cologne, the day immediately changed for the better.
I have long owned the Cologne à la Francaise and that à l'Italienne which I used to splash with pure bliss. Also the Cologne à la Russe used to exist but I had purchased the Très Russe, instead which was not a Cologne, and thus was even more intense and leathery.
On Très Russe they are still working, but all three Cologne are available now.
They share the basic Cologne standards: sparkling citrus (bergamot, lemon, lime and cedar, plus neroli) and aromatic notes (lavender, rosemary, verbena).
But the base notes are not exactly Cologne-like, because they feature an iris + benjoin accord making them soft, velvety and slightly longer living than a standard Cologne: iris and benzoin are in fact used also like "fixatives" of other notes, allowing the scent to live a little longer; this characteristic would lack in a common Cologne and is therefore much appreciated when there.
Then, each one of the three has its own character: the Francaise features a sophisticated heart of magnolia, while the Italienne is green/citrus, crispy, very outdoors-y thanks to a citrus bouquet (petit grain, sweet and bitter orange) and a note of maté, while à la Russe features ambrette seeds giving it a musky, slightly leathery character.
They are so collectively and individually beautiful that I challenge you to go, try them and choose only one.
I did not succeeded: they are so bright, vibrant, sophisticated in their apparent simplicity, that one after another have followed me home.
Not to mention the bottle and graphics, to which I would not be sensitive a priori but which, when linear, refined and consistent with the bottle content literally win me over.
This is the niche I like:
- quality of raw materials,
- lots of creativity (although Colognes, these are different from all the others),
- graphics taken care of but not the focus,
- very good value for money (90euro about 100ml).
If you think that Colognes are stale-smelling, boring stuff, please promise to go and smell these. Then if you want to re-think the whole question...