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

1.5090318938752
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5064916737228
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012701100762
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4896309376235
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4772154676828
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4400141360429
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4267462068868
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008467400508
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3649881272933
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3540063333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3429500993508
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3344619867344
Fig Tree Wood Durance de Provence
1.3336152466836
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3295327411798
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3166850968106
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3162123700254
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.313205616709
Royal Purpure DS & Durga
1.3095266034434
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3023531721705
Dune Dior
1.295117783799
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2933658275473
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2916696113463
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2905847355349
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2680929602032
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2674363101891
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.266822850127
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2655570968106
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635813700254
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2604640968106
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2540308354502
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.251550958792
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2504233700254
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2477461033023
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.246309233418
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2433889508891
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2430814535704
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2426435701383
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385183700254
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2346031100762
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2341559602032
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2301306113463
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2278341272933
Figuier James Heeley
1.2272510090319
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.223105808919
Good Life Davidoff
1.2226453700254
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2210643567598
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2078577267852
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2015523567598
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004233700254
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1985089602032
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1967322771662
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1964847053345
Halle Halle Berry
1.1916080874965
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1908842718036
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1907582466836
Sharky S4P
1.1860496073949
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1690660968106
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1683425636466
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1681988975445
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1663522373695
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1589835357042
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1580361233418
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1579209243579
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1508467400508
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1502094270392
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1437037400508
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434214933672
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1426280570138
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.142116850127
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1419644442563
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1393675636466
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1384954933672
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1379560064917
Absolu Rochas
1.1350520968106
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341797400508
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1321118806097
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.130795017217
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1250930993508
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1234228235958
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1204233700254
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.120195083545
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1201411233418
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1180703700254
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1175539243579
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1136512201524
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.110930466836
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1107071126164
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1082688938752
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1074815105843
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1054041233418
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1041527651708
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1017329946373
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.1009356909399
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1004432068868
23 Michael Jordan
1.1004422201524
Ducati Ducati
1.0979900702794
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.0977782201524
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0942510304826
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0928125622354
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.092320233418
W Ted Baker
1.0895424747389
Image Cerruti
1.0885918806097
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0863865238498
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848853567598
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0800277135196
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0785767135196
Antigua Phaedon
1.0773463700254
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0773463700254
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0772994959074
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0751280344341
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0749892320068
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0721708103302
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0718523700254
Tuscan Soul Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.0703372201524
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0685016034434
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0667323607113
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0640523567598
Arcus Amouage
1.0628173116003
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0619660570138
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0614309906859
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0607253739769
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0590015675981
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0571479469376
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0542529946373
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0525402201524
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0488505278013
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.047602933672
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0433749813717
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0429371100762
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0388853700254
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0261078182331
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0230909734688
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0218885636466
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0212003434942
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.005644933672
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0011289867344
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008467400508
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.000705616709
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0005644933672
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0005644933672
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005644933672
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0005644933672
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0004233700254
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0002822466836
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0002822466836
His Aura by Night Van Gils
1.0002822466836
Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
1.0002822466836
Timeless: Cassis Pocket Watch DL & Co

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