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

1.5091031692515
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
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Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5005619240279
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002247696111
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.5002247696111
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.4972500669813
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4860634120027
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4697836250843
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4632237720836
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4294700784446
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4184917630928
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4061495441672
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4002247696111
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3920510982243
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.381738693639
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.3703122508429
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3605619240279
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3535373333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3467657433131
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3312615967633
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3160841568892
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3148479240279
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.313286693639
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3119949289728
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3030343897505
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3001123848056
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.2982091544167
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2958261105866
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2912319413351
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.289248693639
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2865943861542
Dune Christian Dior
1.2858263848056
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2812060809171
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2788827653405
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2781151544167
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2780504657226
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2731765392223
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2728141995954
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.266279387278
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2618882971454
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.257983387278
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2544640939537
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2542622699483
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2541664021128
Figuier James Heeley
1.2462620809171
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2451633113059
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2383930982243
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.238095
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2343444632502
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2313309240279
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2269421618341
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2260014657226
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2253687745561
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2247147696111
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2223343848056
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2219811568892
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2168098480557
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.2162598703079
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2142270024725
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2125689889863
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2125195596763
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2097330717015
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.207224294673
Good Life Davidoff
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2065575738368
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2028096201394
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.200786693639
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2006743088334
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.1949603088334
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.1898318246797
Halle Halle Berry
1.182657171724
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
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A La Figue! Satellite
1.1820072353338
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1818150908069
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.181106085862
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1792453088334
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.1747563261407
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1706023670488
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1695053088334
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1676583137784
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.1667793848056
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.1649846176669
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1631281544167
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1619206275568
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1613970833895
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1595780222522
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1556072187008
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1472457943358
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1435313088334
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1433065392223
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433065392223
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.134854547314
Absolu Rochas
1.1348204021128
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1345187183637
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1344350809171
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1337920222522
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1330083137784
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1326530809171
Ducati Ducati
1.129314171724
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.125990392223
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
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Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
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Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
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Panorama Olfactive Studio
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Samsara Shine Guerlain
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Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
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Tonka Franck Boclet
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Antigua Phaedon
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Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
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Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
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Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1124098579456
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1106180148348
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1105850080917
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1091170049449
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
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W Ted Baker
1.1083327696111
Sharky S4P
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Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
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Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1061019388627
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1044828530007
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
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Hameau de la Reine Historiae
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Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
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Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
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Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
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Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0986860932794
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
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Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
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Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
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Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0947876226118
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
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Un Jour a Bayonne Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
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Bambou Roger & Gallet
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23 Michael Jordan
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Lothair Penhaligon`s
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Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.0874908505282
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
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Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
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Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
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Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0834854632502
3 AM Sean John
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Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz
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Sleza Yurate Faberlic
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Stile Sergio Tacchini
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Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
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Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
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Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman

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