Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Annick Goutal Petite Chérie: More than Precious

September 3, 2012:

There was a time when I thought the perfume house of Annick Goutal was not for me, and now it turns out that I’m utterly smitten with several Goutal fragrances, my latest love being Petite Chérie. I came under its innocent enchantment last spring, when Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels sent me a petite powder puff that left, not talcum powder, but an iridescent shimmer of what looked like pixie dust on the skin, scented very delicately with Petite Chérie. Using that powder puff made me feel like I was seven years old again—in the best possible way—which is why when another perfume blogger recently opened up her collection to me, asking what she could send me decants of, I smiled wide in delight when I saw that she had Petite Chérie eau de parfum. Carol, aka Bloody Frida, is a petite chérie herself (don’t let her blogging name fool you), and she sent me a neat package of pretties, but this is the one that I’m wearing before all others, until every drop of it is gone—which may be soon. This fragrance is like a butterfly kiss or fairy wings or the peal of laughter from the cutest little girl you’ve ever seen: pure, light refreshment and much too fine a thing to be pinned down. Its fizzy top notes smell like an irresistible spritzer of one’s imagining—pear nectar and a splash of rose water added to a glass of Perrier—and are so gently effervescent that it is no surprise that what follows is a skin scent so quiet, you might assume it has floated off into the stratosphere. Press your nose to your perfumed shoulder, however, and you will know that it is hovering there with firefly lightness and Tinkerbell magic.

With notes of pear, peach, musky rose, fresh cut grass and vanilla, Petite Chérie is a beautiful thing to wear on bare arms and shoulders in the waning days of summer. The aforementioned opening stage of the fragrance is a light-hearted pick-me-up, while the more quiet and amorphous scent that follows has a way of making one feel creamy-skinned and lovely. Peach skin lightly tickled with a heliotrope-like bit of almond is how I would describe the fragrance from this stage forward, and though I don’t find it all that vanillic, it has a demure creaminess to it that makes me think of a dewy complexion. It is indeed “reminiscent of a young girl’s cheek that you want to lovingly kiss,” which is how the late Annick Goutal once described Petite Chérie, which she created in 1998 (or ’96, depending on the source) as a gift for her daughter Camille. If what I’ve read is true, it became a best-seller for Goutal not long after it launched, and thinking about this makes me wonder how it struck just the right chord with women—and why, in fact, it strikes such a chord with me. Generally, I prefer perfumes that are much more perfumey: the kind of creations that are intensely feminine or voluptuous or animalic and sensual, so what is it about dainty and innocent Petite Chérie that captivates me so?

On one hand, I have to acknowledge that it appeals to my maternal side, which is a large part of my nature even though I have no children of my own. Smelling Petite Chérie instantly connects me to the time in my life when my nieces were young and my sister asked me to take them to their swimming lessons ... those moments when I would be sitting in the bleachers of the high school natatorium, watching them bob and float in their little pink suits, flashing the thumbs up when they managed to paddle across the short end of the pool and back the first time (for they would always look up, excited looks on their faces every time they accomplished something new). Petite Chérie’s bubbly combo of pear and sheerest rose speaks of such delights.  It reminds me of kiddy cocktails—the Shirley Temples I fixed for them at beach vacations as they got a bit older and wanted to feel like they were part of the evening ritual in which the adults ate shrimp and sipped their favorite drinks before supper

And of course, the peach-skin and almond creaminess of it reminds me of how all little kids smell (those that are regularly bathed, anyway).  I think of the new little boy in my neighborhood who has made a habit of (literally) stopping me in my tracks this summer.  He sees me returning from my morning run and comes riding his tricycle up behind me, usually to point out something very obvious. “Hey, did you see that dead chipmunk?” he’ll call up to me, having already watched me dodge the unfortunate road kill as I made my way down the street.  “It’s really dead!” he squeaks with a happy smile. I have an urge to scoop him up in my arms, spin him around until he giggles, and breathe in the scent of his toddler skin—an impulse I have so far resisted, but which surprises me in how compelling it is, considering he is of no kith or kin to me. This alone makes me realize why Petite Chérie was a bestseller and continues to have many fans: any fragrance that offers a whiff of what a child’s skin smells like is going to have universal appeal. I’m guessing that most women, regardless of age or whether they’ve ever had a petite chérie of their own or not, are instinctually drawn to this smell.

So, certainly, there is the maternal appeal, but there is more to it than that. As mentioned at the start of this review, I like wearing Petite Chérie with bare-shouldered summer dresses and tank tops in these end-of-summer days. Its lighthearted prettiness is well suited for casual occasions where I want to feel special at home, or at a Labor Day picnic, when there is no call or need to make a big statement with my perfume. In the way it dries down and smells like delicate and radiant skin, it makes me feel free and happy in my own skin—and tipsy like the bees that buzz in the grass where the pears have fallen.

Annick Goutal Petite Chérie eau de parfum can be purchased from a number of online boutiques, including the Annick Goutal website, as well as, where a 100-ml bottle is $165. Please note that my review is for the edp concentration (not the edt, which is rumored to be quite fleeting); and as mentioned, my decant was gifted to me by lovely Carol, who blogs under the name Bloody Frida.

Credits: Photo of model Natalia Vodianova with her daughter Neva was snapped by Mario Testino for Vogue magazine; I'm not sure what issue it appeared in, but the photo can be found at multiple places on the Internet.  Image of Annick Goutal Petite Cherie bottle is from

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