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

1.5099767664343
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5065600656007
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012300123001
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4896741599016
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4764462302856
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4425454721881
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4267670369004
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008200082001
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3545493333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3441817993713
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3344263442668
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3336063360667
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.325738434741
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3193411107011
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3166093565669
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3161990041
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131833401667
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3102886926336
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3081020041
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3030232544759
Dune Dior
1.2988254229876
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2876204959683
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2875655574689
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2759817173705
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2701876762334
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2679860328003
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2674949346727
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2672705699057
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2666193524669
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2658913606669
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635680041
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2631904180675
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2502513813038
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2462646803335
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2432300410004
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2426478074347
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2406885740057
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385050041
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2345630123001
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2340490328003
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2278855533689
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2267945864425
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2226320041
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2211520164002
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2202247050704
Good Life Davidoff
1.2118743198032
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2085367746344
Figuier James Heeley
1.2077953524669
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2023233565669
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2017766844335
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004100041
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1984342380757
Halle Halle Berry
1.1984020328003
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1964694139675
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1914448033347
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1910077910346
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1907493360667
Sharky S4P
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1689903565669
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1686362628126
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1663924508678
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1638330697007
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.161058733634
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1576551681017
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1573433442668
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1519250041
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1508200082001
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.150612368867
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1503163854039
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1436770082001
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434036721334
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1429936680333
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.1427187254339
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1420500205002
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1414788156348
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1392027172338
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1387510082001
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1360171887386
Absolu Rochas
1.1348396885336
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341530082001
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1316544303676
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1309154262676
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1241061681017
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1232847090338
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1216701108378
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1201366680333
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1145393811671
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1134343565669
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1108413606669
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1108063116031
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1092137664343
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1090160944376
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1053996680333
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1043164344677
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1017221558016
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1004986926336
Ducati Ducati
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0978332091021
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0936863813038
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0922756803335
W Ted Baker
1.0895407049337
23 Michael Jordan
1.0888028935356
Image Cerruti
1.088271098401
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0863880861009
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848363483668
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0817290820008
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0799296967336
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0777810206369
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0773330041
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0768941067377
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0761776967336
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0721337213339
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0711575123685
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0702570246002
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0687170205002
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0664947828345
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0648180328003
Antigua Phaedon
1.0643929550362
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0641400164002
Arcus Amouage
1.0630466721334
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0613434467678
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
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Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0573187213339
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0561500615006
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0545235533689
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0524600246002
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0472204385677
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0456117254339
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0430336803335
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0420215574689
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0410952296023
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0388720041
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0259669263359
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0227313565669
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0217237172338
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0211156926336
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.0058767254339
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0010933442668
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008200082001
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
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Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0006833401667
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0005466721334
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0005466721334
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0005466721334
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0004100041
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0004100041
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0002733360667
Vitalising Vitamin AB+C Eau Fraîche Molton Brown

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