Fig Leaf

lat. Ficus carica (Moraceae)

Group: GREENS, HERBS AND FOUGERES

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.

Fig Leaf Perfumes

1.5087665016502
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5045476732673
Philosykos Diptyque
1.5009282178218
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5007219471947
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002062706271
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.490969620462
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Pierre Guillaume
1.4695181716172
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.463085029703
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4452690825083
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4240416138614
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4136612772277
Zara Fig Zara
1.4084748184818
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.4002062706271
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3917371023102
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3891984059406
Maschio Mahogany
1.3810039471947
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3714403465347
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3532160990099
Womanity Mugler
1.3524293333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3501777590759
Figue en Fleur Andree Putman
1.340962330033
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.3351894356436
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3303874917492
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3234060825083
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3148016765677
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3132219471947
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.303205709571
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3021661947195
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3017471023102
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.3
Figue Molinard
1.2962239240924
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.2873464059406
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2858494950495
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2858171353135
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2855613993399
Dune Christian Dior
1.2821290594059
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2819719471947
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2792476963696
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2791743828383
Creations Greenify MAC
1.2781905412541
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2757745412541
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.2747509669967
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2732426765677
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.2731938415842
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2661498943894
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2646894257426
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2607260726073
Figuier James Heeley
1.2607013630363
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2503094059406
Fico d`Elba Erbario Toscano
1.2502062706271
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.2498968646865
Wild Fig Claudia Scattolini
1.248651310231
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2472538943894
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2356397062706
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2342612178218
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2319034884488
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.2311815412541
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2274792706271
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2251097887789
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.225
Fig Nimere Parfums
1.2243878415842
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2235627590759
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2224282706271
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2223459207921
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.222222
Chapter Four Frazer Parfum
1.2218331650165
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2175578382838
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2166618283828
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2125335412541
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2120536765677
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2106724554455
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2102542211221
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2010866567657
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2008250825083
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2008147953795
Good Life Davidoff
1.2006188118812
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2001031353135
Aniu Aniu De La Baie
1.196429
Vers Le Sud Jacques Fath
1.1945830594059
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.194444
101 Scent Bar
1.192308
Blanc d`Anna Simimi
1.1905791353135
Summer Fig Durance en Provence
1.1899736138614
Halle Halle Berry
1.1874487656766
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1869261485149
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1854944059406
Anymus la Sera Triquetra
1.1839838415842
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1819595709571
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1818908547855
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1817852475248
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1811530825083
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.1769029669967
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1708595181518
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1695529471947
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1689444719472
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1675686006601
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.1672388316832
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1669764059406
Library Vartan Perfumes
1.1668732706271
Essence Axe
1.1667701353135
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.166667
Uomo Antonio Fusco
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Vesper MIKMOI
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The Girl Tommy Hilfiger
1.1631004059406
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.162791
Angie Franck Boclet
1.1587317887789
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.1577311254125
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1546170363036
Emelia Tocca
1.1525744653465
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1495792541254
Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
1.1487668118812
Maisìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
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A Green Cachemire Blood Concept
1.1442975412541
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.1439661617162
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
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Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1432695412541
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
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Just White Gold Cuarzo The Circle
1.1400660825083
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
1.1396525214521
Absolu Rochas
1.1383454851485
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1372940891089
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1365755841584
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1322786435644
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1290222772277
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1268948250825
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1258250825083
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1256906666667
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1251031353135
Obscure Oud Phuong Dang
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Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
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Ducati Ducati
1.1213407590759
Sea Foam Art de Parfum
1.1200837722772
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.1186071782178
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
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Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1162059306931
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Mugler
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Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
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Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
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34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1132768415842
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1125544059406
Sharky S4P
1.1115837887789
Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz
1.111383689769
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1107824950495
Antigua Phaedon
1.1100731782178
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1096967722772
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1088264884488
W Ted Baker
1.1086926666667
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1085583531353
MTV Neon Metal MTV Perfumes
1.1070022706271
Sleza Yurate Faberlic

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