Dior has sparked a backlash over the launch of an exorbitantly-priced “scented water” and a series of skincare products intended for babies and children – with customers declaring it “the last thing you’d want to use.”
The French fashion house first introduced its “baby care line” in 1970 – only for it to be discontinued. When Dior Perfume Creative Director Francis Kurkdijan joined the brand in October 2022, however, “one of the projects I had in mind was revisiting Baby Dior”.
“Christian Dior evoked his childhood many times as a very happy and joyful period of his life,” Mr Kurkdijan, the esteemed perfumer behind cult fragrance Baccarat Rouge 540, told WWD.
“The scent and the baby care line were discontinued, and I was eager to bring it back to life as a tribute.”
The new line of infant skincare – described by Dior in a statement as “a poetic encounter between children’s fashion and fragrance”, is comprised of four products.
First, the piece de resistance: the $361 Bonne Étoile “scented water” – baby’s “very first step into fragrance” and an “invitation to the tenderness of childhood, the age when the senses awaken, where a child’s laughter enchants and dreams reign”.
Promising “soft notes of pear, wild rose and white musks,” the perfume is intended to spritz on your infant’s neck or waft around their nursery.
Parents are encouraged to pair the scent with the Baby Dior skincare routine, and “create precious shared memories with calming scents and formulas that have the utmost respect for delicate skin.”
The $149 La Mousse Très Fondante cleanser “is an essential part of a baby skincare routine that respects and preserves delicate skin,” according to Dior. “The easy-to-rinse texture gently lathers to envelop skin and hair in a cloud of tenderness with subtle, soothing scents of pear.”
Or, perhaps, the $149 L’Eau Très Fraîche cleanser is more your infant’s speed. The “cleansing water gently cleans, refreshes and soothes skin, while maintaining its hydration.”
Last but not least is the $180 Le Lait Très Tendre Hydrating Milk, which vows to “envelop baby’s delicate skin in a cocoon that maintains skin’s softness and suppleness, while enhancing it with calming scents of orchard pear”.
For the mathematically challenged, the entire range will set you back $839 – a price that many on social media have (fairly) declared too high.
“Can’t tell who the bigger clowns are – the makers or the buyers,” one wrote on Instagram.
“Yeah OK. The average family can barely afford essentials for their babies but let’s sell useless products for hundreds of dollars,” another commented.
“BABIES DON’T NEED THIS,” a third declared.
“Why are we obsessed with putting chemicals on infants? Leave them alone,” a fourth agreed.
Many were also baffled that parents would want to mask “the greatest thing about babies, [which] is their smell, the fact that they smell … like babies.”
“The last thing you want to use on your babies skin is fragrances,” one said.
“Why? They don’t need it! They already have perfect skin!”
According to the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, infant skin is “still developing” in the first few months of life – and is thinner, more fragile and more sensitive, making it less resistant to bacteria, irritants and allergens that may penetrate the skin and cause irritation.
Therefore, a pediatric dermatologist at Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital, Professor Deshan Sebaratnam, told news.com.au, parents should “keep [any] baby skincare bland.”
“You want to avoid unnecessary fragrances, preservatives or food products on babies’ skin. These can infrequently lead to sensitization and the development of allergies,” Professor Sebaratnam explained.
“Skincare for babies should be cheap and simple. A bland greasy moisturizer – free of preservatives, fragrances, and food products – can be helpful in babies with dry skin or eczema. A bland soap-free cleanser can be used for bath time. A barrier cream can be helpful for nappy rash. That’s really all that’s needed.”
While babies are susceptible to “lots of rashes in early life”, Prof Sebaratnam added, “most are harmless”.
“But, if you’re not sure seek the advice of a doctor – your GP or a specialist dermatologist,” he said.
“Don’t gamble with your child’s health by getting information from social media or Google.”