Love’s Baby Soft Was Just the Beginning

Posted November 5, 2018 2:58 p.m. EST

First came mini-me designer clothing and handbags. Then the wee fancy jewelry (Van Cleef Sweet Alhambra, anyone?). Now you can buy a bottle of high-end perfume marketed especially to little girls, and maybe to some nonconforming boys (remember Jenna Lyons painting her son’s toenails pink?).

Storied perfumers including Frederic Malle, Creed and Guerlain are among those seeing opportunity in children as young as 3.

The little ones are most likely introduced to the fragrances from their parents who wear the same brand, according to Alison Gaither, the beauty and personal care analyst for Mintel, a research firm. “Perfume for kids is a very niche market, but it’s even more niche when the prices are so astronomical,” Gaither said.

That these scents even exist is surprising, she said, because Mintel’s research shows that the fragrance market in the United States, which it currently estimates to be $3.7 billion a year, has declined 1.8 percent a year for the last several years. “The market has struggled a bit because perfume is aspirational,” Gaither said.

Polly Blitzer, the founder of Beauty Blitz Creative Agency in Los Angeles, said that “a $235 perfume marketed to young kids seems a bit excessive. I know that girls look up to their moms and like playing dress-up, but where do you draw the line between Mommy and me, and too far?”

But, Blitzer added, “if there’s a demand for prestige kid’s beauty that doesn’t harm or sexualize children in inappropriate ways, why not?”

Below, some of the new offerings:

Frederic Malle’s Sale Gosse by Fanny Bal, $280

Fanny Bal has been a fan of Frederic Malle’s scents ever since she was a young girl growing up in Paris. Now in her 20s, she is behind his first one for children. Malle said that his mother used to regularly dab a soft eau de toilette on his brother and him when they were young boys and that he has always wanted to have a children’s fragrance in his line.

Translated as “spoiled brat,” Sale Gosse is a bit citrusy and has notes of cucumber and bubble gum. “It’s meant to be fun and smart,” Malle said. He also said that his youngest daughter, Jeanne, who is 17, is much too old for it. “It’s ideal for kids, but women can wear it in the summer when they want a light scent,” he said.

Petit Guerlain, $130

Guerlain debuted a children’s fragrance more than two decades ago, but it was discontinued. This latest iteration is unisex and is the handiwork of Thierry Wasser, the fifth-generation perfumer for the house of Guerlain. It’s (surprise) sweet smelling with notes of oranges and honey, and there are touches of floral in there, too. The glass bottle comes in a soft pink or powder blue and is adorned with the bee emblem the brand has used since 1853.

Creed for Kids, $235

With distinct opening notes of apples, plums and lemons and a finish of oranges, it’s safe to say that this is a fruit salad of a scent. Indeed, it smells so edibly sweet that I wish that I could convince my two tomboy daughters, ages 5 and 10, to spray it on.

Olivier Creed, a sixth-generation perfumer for the company, took inspiration from French children’s books when he was creating it, wanting a fragrance that was playful and fresh. Unlike Creed’s other scents, this one is alcohol free. It comes in a frosted bottle adorned with multicolored birds.

Bvlgari Petits et Mamans, $65

Reminiscent of a soft talc, this powdery fragrance captures hints of mandarin, peaches and vanilla. It’s part of a line of products that includes body lotion and animal-shaped soaps and can be had at a slightly gentler price.

Bonpoint Eau Intense, $130

The popular French children’s fashion brand already has three perfumes for children as part of its body care line. This latest formula, out in Europe in December and the United States a month later, is the first designed with preteenagers and teenagers — and the adults they’ll grow up to be — in mind. A bolder version of the company’s Eau, it chicly mingles orange blossoms, tangerine and amber.