Carthusia is an Italian fragrance house based on the dreamy island of glamorous Capri. Rumour has it that Jackie O was a fan in her island hopping days and its easy to see why. I have tried several Carthusias now and one thing they all have in common is great quality, a sense of heritage and good longevity.
Today I am reviewing Via Camerelle having worn it all day and I can tell you now that it’s pretty good stuff. Created in 2006, and inspired by the air on Capri ( Via Camerelle is the famous shopping street), the fragrance aims to capture both the tang of sea and the refreshing earthiness of the island’s lemon groves. So far, so poetic, but what does it actually smell like in Wales on a chilly Autumn day?
Well, it was difficult to pretend I was on Capri, but I did get lemons and limes and spices (although none are listed). The Marjoram comes through strongly, giving a nice Mediterranean garden vibe, and the citruses are appropriately zingy. There are some flowers in there ( lily and jasmine mainly) but this could easily pass for unisex, or even masculine since the spice and herbs and lemons dominate. That tang of salt coupled with the herbal notes makes Via Camerelle smell like a high end unisex cologne but with extra staying power.
I enjoyed wearing Via Camerelle today. The amber and salt gave me the mildly masculine vibe I wanted in the not quite-but-nearly-frosty air of South Wales, all golden and Autumnal, looking nothing like Capri, but still gorgeous.
You can buy Carthusia scents from Liberty in the UK as well as Rouiller White. In the USA, you can try Lucky Scent. You can of course, also buy Via Camerelle direct from the Carthusia website, which also sells cute soaps, solid perfumes and diffusers.
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.