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

1.5090899013413
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5023565335329
Philosykos Diptyque
1.5009976720984
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5005542622769
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002217049108
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4859536060304
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4697054752245
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4632007868307
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4463284917415
Zara Fig Zara
1.4294578196431
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4260269596497
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4062144261168
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4002217049108
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3922120323689
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3733123770092
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.3699095390755
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3638577049108
Maschio Mahogany
1.3532423333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3498346720984
Figue en Fleur Andree Putman
1.3496371241548
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3393751147323
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3361832268041
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3160596392861
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3148402622769
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3132759671877
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3031038687507
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3024054261168
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3007614419687
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3001108524554
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.2982045573661
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2892379671877
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2865572756901
Dune Christian Dior
1.2858248524554
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.282492950449
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.281173901563
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2781105573661
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2770761638399
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2731704098215
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2727829156413
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2722231625097
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2679317703137
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2662579343753
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2596169343753
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
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Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2565880801463
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
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Figuier James Heeley
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Figuer Ava Luxe
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Wild Fig Claudia Scattolini
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Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
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Folie de Figue Esteban
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Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
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Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
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Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
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DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
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Juli Erik Kormann
1.2259677540184
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2253258687507
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2248225573661
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
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Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2223328524554
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.222222
Chapter Four Frazer Parfum
1.2219566392861
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2151023915309
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2116401611795
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2114462618335
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2099014247866
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2075962446514
Good Life Davidoff
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.206272556701
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2027713113845
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.2018844917415
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.2008868196431
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
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Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2
Fig Nimere Parfums
1.1949511147323
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
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Halle Halle Berry
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Anymus la Sera Triquetra
1.1837838524554
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.1826239832613
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1821061966523
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1819704589292
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1815923767875
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
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Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.1781830654029
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.177778
101 Scent Bar
1.1750510979936
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1713856187784
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1696069671877
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1676092785722
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.166667
Figue Molinard
1.166667
Uomo Antonio Fusco
1.1649662294646
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1633968848243
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1631235573661
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1617108194214
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
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Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
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Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1528291310276
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
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Cordovan Banana Republic
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Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
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Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
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Esprit for my Delight Esprit
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Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
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Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
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Absolu Rochas
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Republic of Men Banana Republic
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Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
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Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
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Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
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Ducati Ducati
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OP Juice Ocean Pacific
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Maisìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
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Svetlana Jardin de France
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Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
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Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
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Summer Fig Durance en Provence
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Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.119017803126
Antigua Phaedon
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Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1183121147323
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.117647
A Green Cachemire Blood Concept
1.1156871142889
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
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Tonka Franck Boclet
1.113981868529
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
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Panorama Olfactive Studio
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Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
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Bambou Roger & Gallet
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34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
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Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
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Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
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Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
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B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
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W Ted Baker
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Sharky S4P
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MTV Neon Metal MTV Perfumes
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Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
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Emelia Tocca
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Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
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Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
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Au Lac Eau D`Italie
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Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
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Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
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Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz
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Sacred Fig Bohdidharma
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Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.0970004589292
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0967799004545
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.094736901563
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
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Island Capri Michael Kors

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