Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
I have such a strong sentimental attachment to Annick Goutal fragrances that sometimes I cannot appraise them objectively. Annick Goutal was the first artisanal fragrance house I discovered and its unusual fragrances, evoking stories and fantasies that for me felt quite real, made me realize that it is possible to communicate in a fragrant language. For this reason, a bottle of Petite Chérie remained in my collection for years, even though I hardly ever wore it. I simply loved the idea of it—a fragrance created by a mother for her young daughter, capturing the joy and innocence of childhood.
Such ideas can be quite beguiling, but I have finally come to terms with the fact that the scent of Petite Chérie is at odds with its peach hued, sunlit image. I anticipate a silky touch of rose petals, but what I smell reminds me more of fabric softener. I fantasize about a languorous summer afternoon spent sleeping in a hammock but the fragrance jolts me back to reality with its artificial fruit flavor. When I finally get tired of the dissonance and try to wash off the perfume, it refuses to leave and the sharp green cucumber of its core haunts me for hours.
The first signs that not all is right with Petite Chérie do not take long to appear. The moment I put it on, a jarring citrusy rose competes for attention with the creamy peach skin. Set against an extremely powerful violet leaf-cucumber note, the sharpness of the rose accord becomes grating. The musk and pear, the other important elements of the composition, are soft and pretty, but the initial raw feel never fades away completely.
Another problem I have observed with Petite Chérie is that of stability. It is a very fragile composition, and it tends to turn sour within an alarmingly short time. Therefore, if you enjoy this fragrance, my advice is to purchase it in small quantities from a reputable source, making sure that you are buying the fresh stock.
Annick Goutal Petite Chérie Eau de Parfum includes notes of pear, peach, rose musk, cut grass and vanilla. Available from Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York and other retailers. $99, 50ml
Sample: my own acquisition