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

1.5089893100097
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5065597667638
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5010932944606
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5002429543246
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4893545539359
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4885034703596
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4738054771623
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.4420012827988
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4297857716229
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4267213148688
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.375
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.3636201933916
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.35603904276
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3526433333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3343048172983
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3338189086492
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3336974314869
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3228598153547
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3163963858115
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3139494246842
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3131073858115
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.2982030204082
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2951019747328
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.2916033945578
Dune Christian Dior
1.2889938833819
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2858354771623
Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
1.2789383002915
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2764436219631
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2755605490768
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2746015549077
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2733343858115
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.2724122031098
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.27222303207
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2667637259475
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2664066802721
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2650740631681
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2635224314869
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2626724975705
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2595966958212
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2545253576288
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2502429543246
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2430172691934
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2424295432459
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2402970116618
Good Life Davidoff
1.2369946802721
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2344262944606
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2296769348882
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2256149455782
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2225864314869
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2223434771623
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2221065131195
Figuier James Heeley
1.2204419426628
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2130677920311
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.209967350826
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2023080660836
Vertine Friedemodin
1.202065111759
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2003644314869
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1994340612245
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1957293858115
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1929893333333
Halle Halle Berry
1.1916104771623
Juli Erik Kormann
1.1888362487852
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1878898532556
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1798607414966
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1797757210884
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1770783858115
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.1703469650146
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1692679543246
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.168732111759
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1642469037901
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1623264674441
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1610534062196
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.157789260447
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.152520462585
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.152028335277
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.1507288629738
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1488768629738
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1475946093294
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1460154062196
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1435858629738
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1435858629738
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.1434643858115
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433429086492
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1429784771623
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.1419436345967
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1401874421769
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1387813401361
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1386406550049
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1384106501458
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1364854771623
Sharky S4P
1.1329201681244
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1308188328474
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1291247278912
Absolu Rochas
1.1202429543246
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1200848241011
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1171377414966
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1136620204082
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1131906550049
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1125259290573
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1119303100097
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.1112324771623
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.1107561778426
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1105375432459
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1077033926142
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1053844771623
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1047845189504
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1018067366375
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.100064898931
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0985742546161
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0969102691934
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.0962680660836
Ducati Ducati
1.0937800359572
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.0937657259475
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.0901413556851
Lothair Penhaligon's
1.0896167123421
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0885887006803
23 Michael Jordan
1.0885362031098
W Ted Baker
1.0864816151603
Image Cerruti
1.0857395344995
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0812900155491
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.079838451895
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0791095889213
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0789330864917
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0771659543246
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0770444771623
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.0766259494655
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0753575889213
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0752430971817
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0742582555879
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.071429
3 AM Sean John
1.0712831321672
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0676693362488
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0669099543246
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.0653491778426
Antigua Phaedon
1.0653250359572
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0648586802721
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0640792031098
Arcus Amouage
1.0629957259475
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0629859086492
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0619422487852
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0602040816327
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0599930767736
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.058824
Collection Privee Rubis Faberlic
1.0521865889213
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0506428892128
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0496165442177
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0486742750243
Oh La La Azzaro

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