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

1.5091415830546
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5010033444816
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5005574136009
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002229654404
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4987449230769
Philosykos Diptyque
1.486156477146
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4697376187291
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4632102408027
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4294628617614
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4220252664437
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4062339643255
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4002229654404
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3922845128205
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3818438617614
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.3697236008919
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3605574136009
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3535513333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.34752606466
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3337074202899
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3160697235229
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3148434136009
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3132803790412
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3119669643255
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.303121516165
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3001114827202
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.2982064481605
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2954524414716
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2892423790412
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2867763132664
Dune Christian Dior
1.2858254827202
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2853503411371
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2811871371237
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2781124481605
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2766466198439
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2738217681159
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2731729308807
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2731317781494
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2662667580825
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2629463656633
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2596257580825
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2565693946488
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2543063756968
Figuier James Heeley
1.2502229654404
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.2462431371237
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2451461716834
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2429158885173
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2421931705686
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.238095
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2347889264214
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.2343363444816
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2313264136009
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2259816198439
Vertine Friedemodin
1.225343516165
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2248244481605
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2223334827202
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2219667235229
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2161453054627
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2142152753623
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2121655663322
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2118949364548
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2095493991081
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2070326767001
Good Life Davidoff
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2067242341137
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2027870680045
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.2008918617614
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2006688963211
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.1949548963211
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.1921734559643
Halle Halle Berry
1.1862998272018
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.1837844827202
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.1825723756968
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1821181716834
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1819855852843
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.181749238573
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1810636878484
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1792398963211
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.1747803065775
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1697750602007
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1694998963211
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1676294470457
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.1663373768116
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1649737926421
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1634699955407
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1631254481605
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1606559297659
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.154835090301
Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
1.1474611672241
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1435258963211
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1434144136009
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433029308807
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1393536176143
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1358511895206
Absolu Rochas
1.1347374102564
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1344161371237
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1332851326644
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1330909297659
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1329474437012
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1326341371237
Ducati Ducati
1.1324303756968
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1259543088071
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1252595139353
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
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Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
1.1199628238573
Samsara Shine Guerlain
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Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
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Antigua Phaedon
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Panorama Olfactive Studio
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Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
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Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
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Tonka Franck Boclet
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34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1121533768116
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1120423400223
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1107706176143
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1103687580825
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1090935507246
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.108918309922
W Ted Baker
1.1083309654404
Sharky S4P
1.1076926410256
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1074055719064
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1044503779264
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1034068238573
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
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Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
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Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
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Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
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Au Lac Eau D`Italie
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Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
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Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
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23 Michael Jordan
1.0948331716834
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
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Island Capri Michael Kors
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Billie Koto Parfums
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Image Cerruti
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Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0911320958751
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
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Un Jour a Bayonne Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.0887611371237
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.0884993790412
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.0881349654404
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0879833389075
Lothair Penhaligon`s
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By Night Black Profumi del Forte
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Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
1.0855979620959
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0835888272018
3 AM Sean John
1.0806891025641
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0794549241918
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
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Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
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D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
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Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman

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