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

1.5092879256966
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5063209494324
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5011609907121
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.488905878225
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4763764282766
Philosykos Diptyque
1.461666998968
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.4401703023736
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4298609896801
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4266889711042
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.375
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.3527525882353
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3523443333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3497389071207
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3357839803922
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3343649917441
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.333848995872
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.319488379773
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.316304995872
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.316175996904
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.31314499484
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3105299772962
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3019373632611
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2972172579979
Dune Christian Dior
1.2929358482972
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.292053996904
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2869528255934
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2805744674923
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2805206842105
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2703919907121
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2679309742002
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2678375469556
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2665119855521
Kadota Michael Storer
1.263544996904
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2628439349845
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2492376996904
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2463169886481
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2439615376677
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2431289680083
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2425799793602
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2385348833849
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2350089803922
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2344939907121
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.231284995872
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2301128235294
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2297409133127
Figuier James Heeley
1.2275412796698
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.222608996904
Billie Koto Parfums
1.222350998968
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2201587027864
Good Life Davidoff
1.2131719690402
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.209462745098
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2060929876161
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2023219814241
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2016769865841
Vertine Friedemodin
1.200386996904
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1966619339525
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1961539917441
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1961453044376
Halle Halle Berry
1.190733997936
Sharky S4P
1.1901148968008
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1888549009288
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1845959298246
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.181946998968
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.176986995872
Juli Erik Kormann
1.1688599824561
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1660729453044
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1660559927761
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1631249071207
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1609909752322
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1563886883385
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1517388658411
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.150773993808
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.150515995872
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1504129731682
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.143630993808
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.14350199484
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.143372995872
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1426469535604
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1419349845201
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1403848895769
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1389189618163
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1388339927761
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.134106993808
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1326109917441
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1311099267286
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1290615892673
Absolu Rochas
1.128058875129
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1275799267286
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1266029783282
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1233049659443
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1211126491228
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.120257997936
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1167869545924
Lothair Penhaligon`s
1.1138199783282
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1110269628483
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1106879793602
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.110476753354
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1087746511868
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.105391998968
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.105345879257
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1046519164087
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0997429184727
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0987758390093
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0964109803922
Ducati Ducati
1.0955449153767
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.0910729380805
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.091037998968
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.0894549700722
23 Michael Jordan
1.0882469896801
W Ted Baker
1.0874846955624
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0867188121775
Image Cerruti
1.0844096811146
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0824699556244
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0817849339525
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0800189752322
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0792449814241
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.077309996904
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0757509793602
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0754966460268
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0715689607843
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0714379690402
Antigua Phaedon
1.0695998534572
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0682149876161
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0658429122807
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0641769865841
Arcus Amouage
1.063015995872
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0620249886481
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0613677595459
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.060867872033
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0608359133127
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.058824
Collection Privee Rubis Faberlic
1.0540689484004
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0528088255934
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0523219814241
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0513599793602
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0498069597523
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0496898008256
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.048134995872
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0475708245614
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0461049143447
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0446369545924
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.038848996904
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.029927995872
Cazanova Tiziana Terenzi
1.0252219721362
Pink Sugar Luxury Extract Aquolina
1.0232539917441
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0229879793602
Stile Sergio Tacchini

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