Carthusia was, until recently, a brand I had only heard of in passing. An Italian brand, Carthusia shows us that what the Italians don’t know about perfume ain’t worth knowing. The origins of Carthusia make such a lovely story that I have to share it with you.
In 1380, the Abbot of St James in Carthusia prepared the best flowers in the region in preparation for the visit of Queen Giovanna. The flowers were kept in water for three days and the Abbot was so taken with the fragrance that he sought expert help in a fellow scholar who knew a thing or two about chemistry. Fast forward to 1948 and the Abbot of St James rediscovered these ancient formulae and created the beginnings of the brand we know today.
I told you it was a lovely story! Anyway fast forward again to 2014 and I’m sitting in a rain lashed house in Wales reviewing the unforgettable Carthusia I Profumi di Capri Forget me Not. I know it’s a mouthful and sounds very obscure, but before you give up hope of ever getting hold of any, you can get it in Liberty in London and they also do mail order. In the USA you can pop down to Neiman Marcus next month and find it there.
So what’s it like? Well it reminded me of Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee and a little of Papillon Perfume Angelique. The combination makes for a top note of oranges and bergamot with a hint of mint and herby leaves. The middle phase enters fairly soon after this with unmistakable fig. It’s fig Jean Claude Ellena style though, not fig Womanity style, so its safe to come out from behind the sofa (or is that just me?). In the middle are some nice salty, bitter greens that reminded me of the plants you find on sand dunes.
The base notes remind me of Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel with a distinct tang of sea salt, and the fig and the Mediterranean orange grove vibe still going on. I musn’t miss out the hints of violets and hyacinths- two of my favourite notes. It’s easy to see that it was inspired by Capri, and in my mind’s eye I can see Taylor and Burton snogging on a yacht in the harbour in the golden age of glamour and sunglasses.
Carthusia Capri Forget Me Not lasts longer than a sunny day and comes in the cutest little coffret ever as well as nice big bottles. They will be launched next month in Neiman Marcus, or you can find them here in the UK.
I have more to say on this range and more samples to get through, so watch this space.