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Carthusia: Capri in a Bottle

MILAN — Capri’s charms have held visitors captive ever since the mythical days of the Sirens, whose seductive songs often lured passing sailors to a watery death. And the island’s fragrance, Carthusia, is no exception: For centuries,...

MILAN — Capri’s charms have held visitors captive ever since the mythical days of the Sirens, whose seductive songs often lured passing sailors to a watery death. And the island’s fragrance, Carthusia, is no exception: For centuries, women and men alike have been caught under its spell and have had to return to the island to purchase it — until now.

Carthusia will soon be for sale worldwide through an extremely selective distribution and, according to worldwide distributor Herbarium, it represents the first time in history a Capri product will be sold off-island. As selling points, the company is banking on the fragrance’s super-exclusivity and the intensity of Capri’s natural floral perfumes. Celso Fadelli, president of Padova-based Herbarium, said he expects to sell about 1,000 pieces in the first year.

“Capri wakes up passion and emotion,” said Fadelli. “When you go, the memory of the island’s natural perfumes remain, and everyone wants to bring back a memory of Capri. The [island] perfumes are some of the strongest in the world.”

Carthusia, which Fadelli says is for a man or a woman but not specifically created as unisex, has four configurations. Fiori di Capri is meant to be refined and marked by florals such as lily of the valley and carnation, joined with amber, sandal and ylang-ylang. Mediterraneo is a fresh fragrance with notes of lemon leaves and green tea. Ligea “La Sirena” was formulated by Tonatto to be “classical but spirited” with notes of Ciprian opoponax and mandarin. And Io Capri is a young fragrance with wild fig and tea leaf notes. All four formulas of Carthusia are available in 50 ml. edp ($68.66), 50 ml. edt ($49.04) and 100 ml. edt ($58.85). All figures were converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

Carthusia is still produced on-island in what is said to be the “world’s smallest perfume laboratory” and using the same traditions as the Carthusian monks.

The fragrance’s legendary recipe, now reconfigured by Turin-based nose Laura Tonatto, will be on shelves Nov. 1 in Italy and, for starters, in New York’s Takashimaya department store.

This story first appeared in the October 25, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Fadelli said the rollout is still undetermined since he is gauging interest before selecting retail outlets. “It will be the highest level of select distribution,” he said. “Not outside of the large cities, and in no more than one or two doors in each city.” He has already piqued the interest of retailers in cities like London, Berlin, Amsterdam, as well as Barney’s in New York and Tokyo.