The Abbey of Nový Dvůr, about an hour outside of Prague near Plzeň, was abandoned during the communist era, rescued by a silent French order in 1990, and got a smart makeover by British architect John Pawson in 2006 that landed it on the pages of Vanity Fair magazine.
Today the Trappist monks’ claim to fame is its role in the manufacture of Créme Ancienne a luxury moisturizer produced by cosmetics company Fresh that is slated to become part of an exapnding line of serums, eye creams, and toners, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The brand, which is owned by LVMH, parent company of Dior and Givenchy, sought to revive an ancient Roman recipe for one of the world’s first recorded cosmetic creams (dating to A.D. 160), and invited a number of monasteries across the world to assist in its production.
The Czech cloister was one of the few to respond and, since 2003, has taken part in the artisanal process of heating and cooling waxes and oils and spooning the mixture into jars. The $280-a-jar skin cream has become a bestseller in 10 countries.
While the production process remains shrouded in secrecy and closed to the public, the idyllic Bohemian abbey is open to visitors and also houses a gift shop selling its lesser-known artisanal delicacy, mustard.