November 29, 2006

Carthusia - Via Camerelle

I love the story of Carthusia, that the monks created their perfume from the natural materials of the bloom heavy island of Capri, beginning in the middle ages about 1380.

The initial scent was created when they noticed that the water holding the flowers picked for a visit from a Queen held their fragrance, and the local alchemist helped make up a recipe to match the scent. Capri has always been famous for its natural environmental fragrances, the abundant crops of roses the emperors used for their hedonistic parties practically smothered the guests. There is a legend that one fellow did end up dying that way, smothered by rose petals; what a way to go...

This small perfumeworks was one of the initial motivations for my interest in perfumes of this kind, that is perfume made by hand by individuals, rather than by large conglomerates using arcane chemicals.

Since that time I have been seduced by the great perfumes which use man-made chemistry, but my first and greatest love will always be those made with the extracts of nature. The EDT Via Camerelle is very very light, but it has remarkable staying power for all that. It conveys a citrus tone with bergamot, Sicilian lemon and bitter orange blending into marjoram, water lily and jasmine, with basenotes of musk, amber and marine accords. Its sheer quality is held together with an underpinning of cedarwood, which seems to ground it and probably is the element that gives its delicacy some power.

It's a good one for use at the workplace, or for weekend wear, as a refined light unisex fragrance. I notice that if there are strong smells in the environment (I'm thinking of the train station, with it's tone of bleach and soot) you may not be able to smell it on yourself, but on getting into a quieter olfactory environment, the scent is still there, noticeably surrounding the body near the areas of application, and quietly aiding your enjoyment of the day.

It holds close to the body, which is a good thing for a workplace or certain other environments. The Via Camerelle is an elegant shopping street in Capri, and in tone this EDT matches that idea of sophistication while on a mental vacation attitude. The above photo is from their site and shows their shop entrance on that street.

The Carthusians are held to be the "highest" order of monks, meaning the strictest, basically hermetic and silent except for prayers together and twice a week at meals, following rules established in 1084. There was a recent documentary "Into Great Silence" which got very intriguing reviews, to be released soon on DVD. Their medieval perfume recipes were rediscovered in the 1940s, and the pope gave permission to have a small laboratory produce the fragrances so the monastery could share in the income and be self supporting.

11 comments:

Trendi said...

What a great history and description! I certainly want to see how this smells! You should have a visit to our website where you can post links to your blogs for others to enjoy, comment on, and vote on! Hope to see you there!

chaya ruchama said...

Thanks for the review, L.
Hope you're feeling better !

I sampled this, and confess that my favorite of this line is Aria, w/its bay leaf/floral.
Ligea, w/ the powdery opoponax line, is next.

I appreciate their taking time to formulate new fragrances instead of churning out one after another...

I'll wager that in a month or so, we'll be glad to be olfactorally transported to Capri !

Lucy said...

Thanks Chaya, I could use a trip to Capri right about now, really. I disappeared for a little while because my poor dog Rocket got very very ill about two weeks ago and died this past Saturday. Dante and I are adjusting to the new configuration at home but it's really sad. He was a very sweet and tender animal, a good and beautiful dog. People have been very kind and that helps enormously.

chaya ruchama said...

Oh, L, I am so sorry for your loss !
[I didn't know...]
Dogs are my lifeline, undiluted joy and love combined. They keep me balanced in a world full of suffering and apathy [albeit a very beautiful world, nonetheless].

I still miss all my pets who have moved on- my thoughts are with you.

Lucy said...

Thanks Chaya.

Anya said...

Lucy, when we last wrote he was very ill, and it sounded grave. My heart goes out to you and your little family. I was around three very fun dogs today at a salon and had so much fun with them, cat lady that I am, I do miss having a dog.

Don't forget to turn to favorite aromatics which can really alleviate grief. Neroli, rose, maybe some deep base notes? Your instincts will tell you.

Lucy said...

Thanks for your kind words, Anya.

perfume creed said...

Choosing the right perfume can be difficult and because it is also considered an intimate gift buying the wrong perfume

can backfire on you and get you the opposite result of that which you hoped for.

The first thing you need to do is do some homework, meaning research. Look at your lady's perfume bottles, the ones that

are nearly empty will be her favorites. If there is one there that is nearly full chances are she doesn't wear it often

or doesn't like it. Hint around and ask her what types of fragrances she likes and dislikes.

Humans are very sensory oriented and our sense of smell is no different. Certain perfumes can elicit strong reactions in

both the wearer and the person reacting to the scent. Perfumes are made not only to attract but to also relax someone. If

you aren't totally sure what kind of perfume to buy you can always play it safe and get something in the aromatherapy

line. If you go this route, bear in mind that vanilla scents are considered to relax and a peppermint or lemon scent will

be more stimulating.

Anonymous said...

I love the perfume creed too. I Just received it from www.worldSfragrances.com . Wonderful perfume!

Natacha Rachel said...

Just now I test my new parfume Carthusia - Via Camerelle.
Really I enjoy it, look like as I travel from my Siberia to Capri, exactly into the beautiful orange garden at Via Camerelle.

Lucy said...

Natacha, it is a huge trip from Siberia to Capri -- wonderful to have a perfume distillation of the trip.