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

1.5090001097574
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5030071649654
Philosykos Diptyque
1.5009878169246
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5005487871803
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002195148721
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4871788282296
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4697593866754
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.463184361541
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4597123912853
Zara Fig Zara
1.4294490594885
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4252171008671
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4004390297443
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.4002195148721
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3920861051476
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3831985148721
Maschio Mahogany
1.3735198466689
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.3699159559873
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3698895446164
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3534203333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3509622726375
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3497150594885
Figue en Fleur Andree Putman
1.3411742379541
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.3344515919219
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3148347871803
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3132683020525
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.310288361541
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3030732082099
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3023714805181
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3001097574361
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.3
Figue Molinard
1.299945095928
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2982012723082
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2899377733509
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2892303020525
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2858864591154
Dune Christian Dior
1.2858237574361
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2811509061574
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2781072723082
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2772672082099
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2745709672923
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2731660297443
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2714034298101
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2678781143672
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2662426041049
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2597462513445
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2596016041049
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2571982329053
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2545832287345
Figuier James Heeley
1.2502195148721
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.2501097574361
Vers Le Sud Jacques Fath
1.2498902425639
Wild Fig Claudia Scattolini
1.2462069061574
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.24515081901
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2415209061574
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2343208169246
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2318881943804
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.2313177871803
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2274925148721
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2259436635935
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2252952082099
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2236488466689
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2223317574361
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.222222
Chapter Four Frazer Parfum
1.2219391189771
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2127946539348
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2122325487872
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2120867871803
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2113071943804
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2095566811546
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2070773749314
Good Life Davidoff
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2060688831083
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2019756338492
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.2008780594885
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2006585446164
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2
Fig Nimere Parfums
1.1949445446164
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.1945622082099
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.1917877201185
Halle Halle Berry
1.1852947574361
Anymus la Sera Triquetra
1.1838925148721
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.1825199564263
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1820853912853
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1819441784656
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1814037779607
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1792295446164
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.1781315994951
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.177778
101 Scent Bar
1.1751600159148
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1716935960926
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1695993020525
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1677937528263
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.166667
Uomo Antonio Fusco
1.1649530892328
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1632698625837
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1631202723082
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1616352630886
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1546296174953
Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
1.1532665102623
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1527929953902
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1466317138624
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1460205559214
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1434057871803
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1432960297443
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1406485948853
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1357793908462
Absolu Rochas
1.1347981989902
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1343799061574
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.132939011305
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1326323774558
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1325979061574
Ducati Ducati
1.1293902974427
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1258780594885
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1253306543738
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.1252195148721
Maisìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.1252195148721
Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
1.125
Summer Fig Durance en Provence
1.1215864712984
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1195122333443
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1188620548787
Antigua Phaedon
1.1183055446164
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.117647
A Green Cachemire Blood Concept
1.1155469518165
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1147250297443
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.1136648969378
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.1135540594885
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
1.1134159061574
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1128965395676
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1118778328394
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.1115380682691
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1114489907804
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1108521097574
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1104684712984
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1101627959609
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1090090892328
W Ted Baker
1.1085470297443
Sharky S4P
1.1080757871803
MTV Neon Metal MTV Perfumes
1.1047417528263
Emelia Tocca
1.1046077825705
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1043466933377
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1028683271869
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1021931395017
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1011796635935
Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz
1.1001097574361
Sacred Fig Bohdidharma
1.0984756041049
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.0969741784656
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0967567113379
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0947139061574
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0946877825705
Island Capri Michael Kors

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