According to their web site, Institut Tres Bien's Cologne a l'Italienne is "an intense accord of fresh head notes — lemon, citron, bigarade orange, bergamot, and sweet lime — giving way to an aromatic, herbaceous heart — Petitgrain, orange blossom, lavender, rosemary, verbena, and maté — with a discrete amber drydown — iris and benzoin."
On me it is a dry orange cologne, as their a la Francaise was based on lemon. Italienne is a drier cologne than the sunnier Francaise, perfectly decent, but nothing special.
Since my review of Francaise, when I mentioned that their three colognes were out of production since 2009, there has been a change on their website. The three scents are back, named "Cologne" but sold in "EDP" strength. Go figure! At 90 euros the bottle, I'm going to stick with much less expensive citrus-based colognes, which abound by the dozens.
It's not the rocket science formula of perfume history and it's hard to get any variation on this formula "wrong," though I have come across a few that try valiantly to do just that.
If you have money to burn, Institut Tres Bien may be just what you are looking for.
This is what my hands smelled like after passing out lemonheads on Halloween for two hours--the box too. I don't think there is any kind of complexity here at all. I prefer a more traditional cologne such as Guerlain. Hopefully, the French one is better...
Jemimagold and Asha have given extremely accurate detailed descriptions of this cheerful cologne. The only point I wish to add is regarding the iris note...it is presented with a light hand, which adds just a hint of powder to this blend, I find it quite clever. Bourdon has turned out an excellent composition!
Institut Tres Bien Cologne a L'Italienne
This Eau de Cologne is light and refreshing. It starts with a burst of sweet orange fruit and aromatic bergamot. The fragrance develops quickly, and this was expected considering it is very much rooted in the traditional cologne genre. The juicy orange note is the first to fade, and the bergamot carries on into the mid notes, joined by petitgrain and soapy neroli. I don't smell much in the way of herbal components such as rosemary or lavender, although these notes tend to meld with petitgrain's woodyness. The soapyness of the neroli gives this composition a very clean feel. I much prefer a more floral neroli, and thankfully I do smell the floral aspect along with the soapyness. The drydown is a lovely soft and slightly powdery vanilla amber. Despite that this fragrance seems to be extremely straightforward, hitting all the traditional cologne benchmarks as it develops, I find it to be very satisfying. As is expected with colognes, it is short lived with low sillage. This seems much more unisex than other cologne-type fragrances I have tried. Any herbal content it may have does not overwhelm, become "sweaty" or overly masculine. The sweet amber base is not cloying or overly feminine. As Goldilocks said of baby-bear's porridge, it is Just Right.
Institut Très Bien’s Cologne à L'Italienne is a wonderfully executed eau de cologne that comes in nearer the masculine end of the cologne spectrum. I am not sure if the petitgrain note was playing tricks on me but I could almost swear that I got a coffee note from it, in fact, the kind of the scent you get in Italy when your espresso comes with a peel of fresh lemon rind. Whatever it is, L'Italienne is unquestionably glamorous and conjured up thoughts of having my first cup of espresso at a cafe in Rome seated next to a well groomed, handsome Italian man. More seriously, if you like Parfums de Nicolai's Balle de Match or Patou’s Eau de Patou, you would like Italienne very much. As point of comparison, its sister Cologne à la Francaise is much more subtle and feminine.
Here are the notes courtesy of The Perfumed Court: lemon, bitter orange, citron, orange flowers, rosemary, neroli, iris, petitgrain and benzoin.