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

1.5090365279369
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5062364770269
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5011454753723
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5002545500827
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4888297299224
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4806331154385
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4616652750414
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.4410525194094
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4298437504136
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4266407011582
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.375
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.3521383333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3499655788469
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3461698671249
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3461007504136
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3358785008273
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3343512003309
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3338421001655
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3203244254805
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3162981001655
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3161708251241
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131363752068
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3103647758687
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3037399167621
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2991412301133
Dune Christian Dior
1.2920488251241
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2891504261168
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2862049811633
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2803134376989
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2788043967163
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2761431626575
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2748424819906
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2664878505791
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2657031930762
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2635398251241
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.262735327606
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2572281256205
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2502545500827
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2486273186967
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.246298025455
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2432028013237
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2425455008273
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2383400796742
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2349762257859
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2344784753723
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2312781001655
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2298180320733
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2293415533919
Figuier James Heeley
1.2257406291205
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2237865871198
Good Life Davidoff
1.2226038251241
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2223492750414
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2197665500827
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2131202512409
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2063088605066
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2022909507446
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2016545755377
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2003818251241
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1965516026473
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1961402003309
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1937333778796
Halle Halle Berry
1.1884348538883
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1835867791778
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1745028522337
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.17242115273
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1688306757032
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1660821160748
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1628424786814
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1609496009927
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1573667127402
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1515147553774
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1507636502482
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1507636502482
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1503681510755
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1436206502482
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434933752068
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433661001655
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.14244210182
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1419091256205
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.140200429426
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1388551765305
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1388219252896
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1386029014891
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1384984532264
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1364912750414
Sharky S4P
1.1340966502482
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1325972003309
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1323825666285
Absolu Rochas
1.1307329778541
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1305978300878
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1274575279369
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.12669405091
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1210356142293
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1202545500827
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.11391105091
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1110921765305
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1106535008273
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1098101848034
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1081740641466
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1077984770269
Lothair Penhaligon`s
1.1053902750414
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1048896297569
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1014782036401
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0985069064528
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0963782257859
Ducati Ducati
1.0955308284332
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.0910362750414
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.0895322512409
23 Michael Jordan
1.0882297504136
W Ted Baker
1.0867881372025
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0864050575283
Image Cerruti
1.0861947775232
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.086059288278
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0816746026473
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0799776009927
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.07946410182
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0792139507446
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0773048251241
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0754619507446
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0754144393534
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0716408013237
Antigua Phaedon
1.0715034515718
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0696096059565
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0684488505791
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0658236535573
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0641545755377
Arcus Amouage
1.0630091001655
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.062006025455
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0617297348861
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0606911034746
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0603533801705
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.058824
Collection Privee Rubis Faberlic
1.0562364770269
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0559785517373
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0522909507446
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.05158005091
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0506683071147
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0499177332315
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0485311322388
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0483826502482
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0478735500827
Bitter End Roads
1.0459618284332
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.04456110182
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0388438251241
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0359789252896
Cazanova Tiziana Terenzi
1.0234947504136
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0228262257859
Stile Sergio Tacchini

Popular brands and perfumes: