Fig Leaf

lat. Ficus carica (Moraceae)

Group: Grass and Green Components

Fig Leaf Ficus carica (Moraceae)
Fig Leaf Ficus carica (Moraceae)
Fig Leaf Ficus carica (Moraceae)
Odor profile: green, bitterish and unique scent that brings to mind earth dust, shadow and foliage

 

Figs and fig trees have an illustrious history behind them and, if the wood carvings dating from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance are any indication, they formed part of the Garden of Eden,  their wide leaves serving as the first within reach for a medium of modesty after the Lapse from Heaven.

The philosopher Plato was more interested in their mental-stirring qualities rather than practical ones, claiming that figs stimulate intelligence, and alongside him all the ancient Mediterranean civilizations prized figs for their hearty flesh, their nectarous quality, the health benefits they imparted and the precious advantage of being able to be dried for consuming during wintertime.

Dried, candied figs are still sold throughout the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean as a delicacy that harkens back to those times. Such was the importance placed on them that in classical Athens (a significant trade center) the term sycophant/συκοφάντης (literally “revealer of figs”) was coined for those who snitched on the poachers of figs.

As the practice of stealing the fruit was both illegal and highly frowned upon—fig groves being sacred as well as a trade vantage point for city-state Athens—the practice soon took on a more sinister nuance: If someone had a vendetta against their neighbor they often resorted to blaming them of fig poaching! Thus the word “sycophant” earned a negative and more generalized meaning, that of lying snitch, a meaning it still retains in Greek! Centuries later the word acquired a different meaning in English (that of lowly flatterer), but its etymology story is reminding us that the natural world surrounding us is not without importance even in such prosaic things as words.

The scent of figs is amazing and unique. But apart from the quality of the fruit, the ambience of the whole tree, the crisp verdancy, the nubile bitter stems, the bark and the resinous freshness of the sap, its shade and all, is a major constituent to its charms.

Now that the autumnal passage is making us melancholic and yearning for those warmer days, fig scents remind us with their green, dusty and lightly milky aroma that the pleasures will wait as anew next summer and lull us into an easier transition to winter.

Folk medicine insists that the unripe “milk” from the still light green, still firm nuggets is irritating to the skin and lips and young children are warned not to be fooled by the lactones of the sticky sap (milky-like notes emitted) that entice them into thinking they’re edible before their prime.


The recreation of the smell of fig trees in perfumery is possible thanks to two crucial ingredients: stemone and octalactone gamma. 

Stemone (Givaudan tradename) imparts a green, fresh tonality like mint that combined with octalactone gamma (prune-like) evokes the earthy, sticky green of fig leaves (a smell of dry earth, scorched by the sun of a hot place with a hint of bitterness) and the milky sap of the young fruit. The always handy Hedione (a fresh jasmine note, Firmenich tradename) and Iso-E Super (a dynamic and shape-shifting woody synthetic, IFF tradename) are often utilized to bring “lift” to the genre.

The best fig-centered fragrances balance the warmer and cooler tonalities and recreate the ambience of sitting under the shady branches while breaking open the naughtily-shaped fruit: likened to male genitalia when whole and female ones when cut into halves, figs are an evocative fruit in more sensual ways than one.



The first soli-fig fragrance was Premier Figuier (meaning “first fig tree”) stating its innovation at hello, launched by L’Artisan Parfumeur and composed by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti. Still one of the very best out there, it conjures a vivid image of late August days spent in the Greek countryside when cicadas are loudly singing around at the scorching hour of noon and people hot and weary from a sea dip are sitting beneath the shade of the fig tree to enjoy their Spartan meal of fresh fruit and cool still water. The coconut curls note is rounding the foliage with just the right sweetness and provides a euphoric touch.



Olivia Giacobetti went on to create another emblematic and still highly regarded fig scent for Diptyque: Philosykos. This time the homage to Greece which is characteristic in the Diptyque line anyway (the founders being fond of vacationing at their house in mount Pelion and trekking through the Athos peninsula in search of herbs) is evident in the name. Philosykos is “the friend of figs” (much like Phillip is the friend of horses). And one wouldn’t be hard-pressed to see how anyone who likes the fig tree and its connotations would fall madly in love with this gem of a scent. Supported by the more robust cedar wood note, the green note of leaves is nicely mellowed.



Giacobetti in an unstoppable strain of fig-producing mode went on to create an Eau de Parfum version to the best-selling Premier Figuier, baptized Premier Figuier Extreme, highlighting the rounder elements and extending its stay.

Both lines have matching and faithful home fragrances in the form of sprays and scented candles which recreate a paradisial, calming atmosphere at home for when you want to bring back those lazy summer days of skulking aimlessly and relax.

Another great approximation to the scent of the fig tree and its ambience is A la Figue by Satellite. A study (fugue) on fig, it’s delectable, piquantly bittersweet and dustily green just like the imposing trees themselves are. So is Carthusia’s unisex Io, an aromatic composition with tea leaves inspired by the majestic villa the Emperor Tiberius built on Capri.



Nevertheless, much as realism is admired in perfumery when recreating a certain smell, one could not leave out impressionism. And herein enters one of the most individual and unique renditions of figs in recent perfumery, the one which Jean Claude Ellena proposed for Hermes with his first Jardin offer, Un Jardin en Mediterranee. Inspired by a plate of fresh figs, offered by a young woman, hot (so to speak) off the branch in a garden in Tunisia, the scent presents the bitter, sharp and yet imposing qualities that the inspiration behind it must have conjured in its creator’s mind like taking in the serene paysage and the introspective, philosophical thoughts the latter surely triggered. The fragrance’s coolness and vegetal feel, comparable to tomato leaf, is truly imaginative.

Miller Harris with her Figue Amere is proposing another fig off the beaten path. The salty, slightly bitter impression of the composition is perhaps a nod to the usual accompaniment of figs in the countries where they’re consumed by the gallon: salty cheese. Salt at once cuts down on bitterness and rounds out flavors, providing the perfect backdrop for such a central idea as unripe figs. Complimentary notes of ambery fir balsam, shady violet leaves, bitter angelica and citric hesperidia demand an inquisitive and adventurous soul to carry it off with panache.

Jo Malone in the line’s usual luminous, diaphanous style presents Wild Fig and Cassis, marrying the sourness of cassis with their ammoniac note with the sweeter aspects of the fig fruit in a simple game of a contrasting duet.

Guerlain on the other hand opted for the delicate and earthy-powdery anchor of iris along with the house’s characteristic sweet vanilla note in their playful fruity-accented Figue Iris.

The fragrance forms part of their Aqua Allegoria line, a collection of refreshing simple colognes that partake of beloved materials in simple compositions.

More tropical nuances reminiscent of beach vacations and sunscreen lotion are explored in Coco Figue by Comptoir Sud Pacifique, a French line in aluminum cans fit for travelling and inspired by exotic locales, as well as by Fresh in their Fig Apricot where two summery fruits conspire to give a delectable treat that tempts to be eaten rather than dabbed.



Even more mainstream brands have embraced the fig fad in their portfolio, starting with Marc Jacobs Men, Island Capri by Michael Kors, and Versace Versence, all the way down to Bath & Body Works Brown Sugar & Fig, proving niche brands map out emerging markets.


Dusty or glossy, bitter or sweetish and hazy or succulent, the varied universe of fig scents is winking at us to impart of the joys of the here and now before more sinister thoughts detach us from sensual pleasures.



Please use Fragrantica Search by Notes for a full list of fragrances with fig
 

Images: Guerlain, Miller Harris, taomancer, lepiaf.geo, mulmatsherm, sevi8mobi

 


Author: Elena Vosnaki is a historian & perfume writer from Greece and a Writer to Fragrantica. She is the founder and editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume containing fragrance reviews, industry interviews, essays on raw materials and perfume history, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests. Her writing was recognised at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and she has been contributing to publications around the world.

Perfumes and Colognes With Fig Leaf

1.5092976504586
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5064078401809
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.501130795326
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5002512878502
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4893894906395
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4833681054153
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4738096439251
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.4421326044729
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4298274392512
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4265950299033
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.375
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.3634128168112
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3521333333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3490790924739
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3343381514009
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3338355757005
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3337099317753
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3218309606735
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3162915757005
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3161659317753
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131282196256
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3104561663526
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3057141736399
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3003743531851
Dune Christian Dior
1.2971242345772
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2893576738284
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2869704392512
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2862132326925
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2841804672698
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2795091242618
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2763402803116
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.275556768187
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2666769709763
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2664650149516
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2635349317753
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2626385224274
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2559984990577
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2503769317753
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.248392629853
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2462800831763
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2431506056037
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2425128785023
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2381557635381
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2371786588767
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.234463795326
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2312715757005
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.22966475512
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2295847336349
Figuier James Heeley
1.2244274746827
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2235599579093
Good Life Davidoff
1.2225989317753
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2223476439251
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2130713177535
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2037579962307
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2022615906521
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2018846588767
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2003769317753
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1963215672823
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1961271514009
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1935236494534
Halle Halle Berry
1.1916146439251
Juli Erik Kormann
1.1882815289609
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1781814158814
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1690446205553
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.168802946727
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1672664990577
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1660072129665
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1645819682121
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1626973093353
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.161161742053
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.1586592607111
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1513027102651
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1507538635507
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.150325742053
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1436108635507
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434852196256
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433595757005
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.142135946727
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1401515439126
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1388105074758
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1387948252293
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1386698252293
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1383712261591
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1364896439251
Sharky S4P
1.1340868635507
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1325841514009
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1309507896721
Absolu Rochas
1.1307460747581
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1298325588642
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1266581663526
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1246826504586
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1222171514009
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1209770859404
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1202512878502
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1138751663526
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1110318252293
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1106208785023
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1096748981028
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1081187980902
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1053886439251
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1047020513884
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1043023476567
Lothair Penhaligon`s
1.1008373093353
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0982524523181
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0963472345772
Ducati Ducati
1.0953954457846
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.090909
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.0883390831763
W Ted Baker
1.0866838896846
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0862209233572
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0862126056037
23 Michael Jordan
1.0856613438874
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0816958551326
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0815920579218
Image Cerruti
1.0799384542028
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0796436205553
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0791845906521
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0772999317753
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0757279494911
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0754325906521
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.073607013067
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0719655373791
Antigua Phaedon
1.0714414691544
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.06568337756
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0649170149516
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0641333710265
Arcus Amouage
1.0630025757005
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0629200831763
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0623450495037
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0619880831763
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0605540897098
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0601494906395
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.058824
Collection Privee Rubis Faberlic
1.0556587570046
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0522615906521
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0515441663526
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0506390429702
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0497570046488
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0486912625958
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0486241514009
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0479959317753
Bitter End Roads
1.0470981962558
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0458264457846
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0444893327051
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0388389317753
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.036218795326
Cazanova Tiziana Terenzi
1.0230465224274
Stile Sergio Tacchini

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