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

1.5097216673325
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.506392329205
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5011985617259
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4896648230124
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4758634790252
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4406715578639
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.428571
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.426939032228
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4010653882008
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3686873470502
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3533173333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3451483366627
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3345824025836
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3343983882008
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3338656941004
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.325117818085
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3165499499268
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3161885205753
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131658676255
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3103554705021
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3080915205753
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3019911785857
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3004754675722
Dune Christian Dior
1.2948069053136
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2873919786922
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2823038428552
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2712444011187
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2712305567985
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2701632146757
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2680353381276
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2665704293514
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2658214705021
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635575205753
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2631069320815
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2536262811293
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2501331735251
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2475460466107
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2463629087761
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2432583792782
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2406857893195
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2384945205753
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2345315617259
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2339651646025
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2316989786922
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2310353470502
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2276535587961
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2226215205753
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2217648820083
Figuier James Heeley
1.2211100823012
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2170222399787
Good Life Davidoff
1.2157266048742
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2077464293514
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2023971234519
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2017312558263
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2003995205753
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1993502618192
Halle Halle Berry
1.1983181646025
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1967959320815
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1908290054601
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1907423470502
Sharky S4P
1.1884411378346
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1743702791317
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1689309499268
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1682258076974
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1662941968305
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1632342702091
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1574485617259
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1573585171128
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1521891899054
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1519145205753
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1507990411506
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1505215116527
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1502663470502
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1436560411506
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1435228676255
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433896941004
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1429901735251
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.1425684615794
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1419976028765
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.140831567186
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1390734204288
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1388632146757
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1353164705021
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1343346747903
Absolu Rochas
1.1341320411506
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1314063202823
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1284308230124
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.127476799707
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1249414293514
Lothair Penhaligon`s
1.1234427263284
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1212002632841
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1201331735251
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1182970733786
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1135081234519
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1113557015581
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1109417783993
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1107714705021
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1058423614329
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1055679553869
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1053961735251
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1043241879078
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.100432296977
Ducati Ducati
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.097564896391
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0902402811293
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0894428587029
23 Michael Jordan
1.0884190143827
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.088288735251
W Ted Baker
1.086413193368
Image Cerruti
1.0847979087761
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0837921056066
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0819189320815
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0798528175523
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0795684546544
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0793201234519
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0773225205753
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0762442632841
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0758344705021
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0719939410041
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.069835599414
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0689309499268
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0670549410041
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0661977496338
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0648673381276
Antigua Phaedon
1.0642312558263
Arcus Amouage
1.063885696098
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0630326941004
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0611865761087
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0593256494873
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.054011329205
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0527152845918
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0523971234519
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0470845349581
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0446874615794
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0431319087761
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0421030609935
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0405081522173
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0388615205753
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0343887764017
Pink Sugar Luxury Extract Aquolina
1.0323911735251
Cazanova Tiziana Terenzi
1.02583566387
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0232873882008
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0226719499268
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0217275939539
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.021049296977
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.0057264615794
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein

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