Child Perfume Oil & Its Heir

Speaking of Jasmine…well, who isn’t.

Never heard of Child Perfume Oil ($98)? Well, you’re not alone. Neither had I, until I was doing some reading on Pikake and the subtle ray of dawn this Jasmine brings when compared to others. A growing rank of niche perfumers are taking us away from the exceedingly (read: exasperating) cluttered shelves at Sephora and showing us how essential oils are done right. Susan D. Owens is one such elusive perfumer.

Strikingly suave in a sort of South of France way, Susan is the creatrix behind the cult brand of Child Perfume. And, by cult, I mean Madonna wears it; Jennifer Aniston reportedly stocked up 10 bottles at a time. And, it happens to be the #1 best selling fragrance at Beautyhabit; the jewel apothecary of Los Angeles, which stocks some pretty heavy hitting global brands such as Diptyque, Histories de Parfum, Lubin and Serge Lutens. Now do I have your attention?

How could a perfume oil outsell these iconic brands that prove to have high emotional quotients? Somehow, Child does. With its streamlined bottle, lack of obvious marketing and impish name, that’s quite an impressive feat. And, it’s interesting to note how the roll-on perfume bottle was launched in 1990 well before the current portable fragrance craze we’re seeing now. Every batch is hand blended in the Dallas-based studio and every bottle is hand poured by Susan herself. With a track record of selling out season after season, you might just encounter a waiting list at Beautyhabit. So LA, isn’t it?

Child’s brilliance is indisputable. The pure gem of a perfume oil is a luminous testament to the rarely seen and sniffed Pikake Jasmine, which isn’t of the narcotic kind. Heady yes, but in that fragile, sweet way that purportedly inspires men to come closer for a sniff. Make no mistake as there is nothing young and nubile about the fragrant frenzy found within this ode to white florals.

Lay onto skin the opening thrill of a soft Vanilla and Faint Magnolia with the eloquent bloom of a spring Lilac. As you segue into the heart rather rapidly, the aromatic niceties of Jasmine and Tuberose add degrees of floral complexities before settling into the rose-ringed musk at the base. Delightfully free from artificiality, Child’s striking effect on skin works because of Susan stays faithful to the natural symphony of the accords. Some perfumers would want to turn this into a hearty Tuberose scent, but Susan dismisses this notion and keeps the tension between the two flowers slightly ambiguous.

Immensely gratifying, Child is the recognized dream of any white floral fan. It reminds me of the gracious days of finer perfume making when quality trumped marketing and makers had gumption to go beyond the trappings of those 'on trend' ingredients, race off the commercial perfume grid and give a serious forethought to the actual art of blending. Yes, the good old days...

And, the heir to Child’s crowning reign? Heir is the successor. A spry yet clean cut chypre that is perfectly unisex, Heir is a wearable leather for ladies as well as men. Synergized with light Forest Woods and a dash of Clean Lime the scent feels well-edited. Freshly scented, it’s a classic scent where all three elements fade wonderfully into each other to produce a refined and evocative finish without the snort of any animalic punch.

While most fragrance newbies tire of the faux-celebrity roll-on knock-offs we’re seeing lately, it’s clear the classic Child still remains in the heart of most.