I've been trying another new niche perfume line this week — Gabriella Chieffo, a collection that comes to us from Lecce, Italy (way down in the "heel" of the "boot"). Chieffo herself is "a mother and environmental engineer" who "makes her debut as a fragrance designer with the intent to recapture the colors and materials of her beloved land." She also appears to be interested in weaving tales of feminine emotional experience into the fragrances. So far, I've tried two of them: Acquasala and Camaheu.
Acquasala is a marine fragrance with top notes of neroli, seaweed, elemi, caraway, black pepper and nutmeg; heart notes of iris, incense and myrrh; base notes of patchouli, cashmeran, amber, oakmoss and musk. It was developed by perfumer Luca Maffei. As its name suggests, it evokes saltwater and the sensation of immersion in the ocean — "the ritual that includes the power and magic of regeneration through generation." (You can read more of its poetic description on the company website.)
If you're wary of most ocean-themed scents, you needn't fear Acquasala: it's a seaside fragrance with facets of spice and minerals rather than melon or suntan oil. Its black pepper and sheer incense are very much in evidence, along with a subtle vegetal note. After the aspects that remind me of driftwood and wet stone evolve, Acquasala's base is smooth and just a touch sweet. I happen to find seaside fragrances very comforting, and this one makes me want to visit the beach on a cool, cloudy day. If you like fragrances like Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt or Profumi del Forte Tirrenico, you may also enjoy this one.
Camaheu is quite unlike Acquasala: it's a floral composition that "perceives the rigidity of the world, transforming it into a precious and seductive essence...like a cammeo, whose hard consistency is tempered by sinuous and sensual lines." It features top notes of grapefruit, ivy and bergamot; heart notes of jasmine and rose; and base notes of amber, oak, vanilla and musk. I'm an amateur admirer of cameos, and this olfactory tribute to them turns out to be very "me."
Whereas Acquasala smells surprisingly "natural" (although I have no idea as to its percentage of natural vs. synthetic ingredients), Camaheu is all charm and artifice. It's a very perfume-y perfume, with a layering of floral and gourmand notes. The top note reminds me of mint as well as green ivy leaves, but it's just an introduction: Camaheu is definitely a retro scent that evokes cosmetics even more than jewelry. (As longtime readers may know, ever since my early introduction to Lorenzo Villoresi's Teint de Neige, I've been very susceptible to what I think of as "dressing-table perfumes"!)
Camaheu's roses and jasmine are definitely cut greenhouse flowers rather than the garden variety, and they're all dusted with a cozy face-powder accord and dipped in a creamy amber-vanilla base. There seems to be a subtle iris in the mix, and perhaps a little heliotrope as part of the powderiness. Camaheu's base, which is revealed very slowly, is a soapy-clean skin-musk. Overall, in fact, Camaheu reminds me not only of facial powder but of some very fancily wrapped scented soap that you'd receive as a gift and never want to open — except that it's a perfume, so you should definitely use it, and often.
I'm hoping to have time to try the remaining three Chieffo fragrances over the next week or two; stay tuned for future reviews.
Gabriella Chieffo Acquasala and Camaheu are available as 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($170) via Indigo Perfumery in the US, Bloom Perfumery in the UK, First in Fragrance in Germany, or the Gabriella Chieffo website. Samples are also available.