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

1.5095536647261
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5092728092253
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.5070159725332
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5010449320794
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4826277338409
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4495334520078
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4243370722496
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008956560681
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3541083333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3479432528736
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3358177614569
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3336315520227
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3320526314375
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3237752080908
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.316236828034
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3132463800567
Royal Purpure DS & Durga
1.3123052080908
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3099550809076
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.3061722297358
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3014401444992
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2982365881475
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2956502267503
Dune Dior
1.2809001991342
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2698467224959
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2676915202269
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2669451401702
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2662364320048
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2656956921929
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.263605828034
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2606026921929
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2606024841021
Vertine Friedemodin
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2494400201523
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2456516805493
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2443942572026
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2433097283177
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2398468987909
Good Life Davidoff
1.2346764841021
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2343516242723
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2318190447828
Figuier James Heeley
1.2317254378265
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.231216828034
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2311453106434
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2302130361248
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2265723755784
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.222669828034
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2081211401702
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.200447828034
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.198962434841
Halle Halle Berry
1.1980266242723
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1978103887147
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1907745520227
Sharky S4P
1.1899159768622
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.182265828034
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1776461170324
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1770074334975
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1704193336319
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1692046921929
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1656854248395
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1580442760113
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1570194869383
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1561512933274
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1508956560681
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1437526560681
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434541040454
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1426209002836
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1424052572026
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1423652124198
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1419405881475
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1393706603971
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1379887441409
Absolu Rochas
1.1348539074489
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1342286560681
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1322205968055
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1292986921929
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1290623887147
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1276367283177
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1244960722496
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1236755563517
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1218787413047
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1204487326467
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.120447828034
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1201492760113
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1136619074489
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1136486921929
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1122419537244
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.1112427962382
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1084921127034
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.105576176295
23 Michael Jordan
1.1054122760113
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1043584291685
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1009856502463
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.0993116921929
Ducati Ducati
1.0984083843857
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.0973278641588
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0956804869383
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0945664566353
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.091991008658
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0898083337812
Image Cerruti
1.0888803207941
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0849750361248
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0846764841021
W Ted Baker
1.0815199753695
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0802070722496
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0784575202269
Antigua Phaedon
1.0775201040454
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0775201040454
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.0774155693387
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.077370828034
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0768814464845
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0723394884311
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0707573121361
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.067417184953
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0647857283177
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0642913121361
Arcus Amouage
1.0629383164651
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0622406329303
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0611957008509
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0579561256904
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0568902442156
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0533449811912
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0528902658606
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0525376921929
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0486721170324
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0429044017017
Oh La La Azzaro
1.038909828034
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0321456560681
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0267204060308
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0262776603971
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0233706921929
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0218916603971
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0212059682042
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.0056724884311
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0011942080908
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008956560681
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0007463800567
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0007463800567
Fig Tree Wood Durance de Provence
1.0005971040454
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005971040454
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0005971040454
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0005971040454
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.000447828034
Tuscan Soul Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.000447828034
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0002985520227
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.0002985520227
Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
1.0002985520227
His Aura by Night Van Gils
1.0002985520227
Timeless: Cassis Pocket Watch DL & Co
1.0001492760113
Figgy Plum Soivohle

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