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

1.5088514680484
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5031218877375
Philosykos Diptyque
1.5009715025907
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5005397236615
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002158894646
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4914510967185
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4697730708117
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4631571709845
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4294345578584
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4241861692573
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4128773419689
Zara Fig Zara
1.4008635578584
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.4002158894646
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3919855889465
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3833028341969
Maschio Mahogany
1.3819183972366
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.370567044905
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3698786683938
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3531453333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3524857409326
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.349916447323
Figue en Fleur Andree Putman
1.3411162314335
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.3349521709845
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3340625544041
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3148257236615
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3132556131261
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3031335544041
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3023152867012
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3001079447323
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.3
Figue Molinard
1.2981958341969
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2962554525043
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.2896519119171
Dune Christian Dior
1.2892201416235
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2892176131261
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2859298894646
Fico d`Elba Erbario Toscano
1.2858219447323
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2831552867012
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2810048946459
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2781018341969
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2741889758204
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2731587789292
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2702457271157
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2677892918826
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2662172262522
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2595762262522
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2576198324698
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2561803108808
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2548373626943
Figuier James Heeley
1.2544528894646
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.2502158894646
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.2498920552677
Wild Fig Claudia Scattolini
1.2474822279793
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2461688393782
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2359828393782
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2343045025907
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2313087236615
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2274888894646
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2252444525043
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.225
Fig Nimere Parfums
1.2244888393782
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2236252815199
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2224378894646
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.222222
Chapter Four Frazer Parfum
1.2219101157168
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2165034006908
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2143939447323
Vers Le Sud Jacques Fath
1.2142993177893
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.2130636528497
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2120777236615
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2110769810017
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2107284991364
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2066266649396
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2038655457686
Good Life Davidoff
1.2008635578584
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2006476683938
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.1949336683938
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.1945114525043
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.1918131468048
Halle Halle Berry
1.1905839447323
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1875
Angie Franck Boclet
1.1852929447323
Anymus la Sera Triquetra
1.1823477495682
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1820509499136
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1819006735751
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1812750759931
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1792186683938
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.1763043471503
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1754050863558
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1711728946459
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.170645060449
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1695866131261
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1677321208981
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.1669908341969
Library Vartan Perfumes
1.1668828894646
Essence Axe
1.166667
Uomo Antonio Fusco
1.1649313367876
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1631675336788
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1631148341969
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1616181312608
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.16
101 Scent Bar
1.1527331761658
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1520569930915
Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
1.1481886683938
Maisìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.1470249861831
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1464576943005
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1454058998273
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1433967236615
The Girl Tommy Hilfiger
1.1433967236615
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1432887789292
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.141439373057
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1375428445596
Emelia Tocca
1.1375101899827
Absolu Rochas
1.1344119153713
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1342338946459
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1326677841105
Ducati Ducati
1.1326343678756
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1292098445596
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1268175785838
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1258635578584
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1252158894646
Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
1.1251711364421
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.125
Summer Fig Durance en Provence
1.1215185837651
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1213997789292
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.1207556131261
Sea Foam Art de Parfum
1.1193944075993
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1182946683938
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1180680915371
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.117647
A Green Cachemire Blood Concept
1.1155255889465
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.1133778393782
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1132913022453
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.1129236977547
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1123557340242
Antigua Phaedon
1.1106489982729
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1102009982729
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1089715578584
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
1.1088793920553
W Ted Baker
1.1084318341969
Sharky S4P
1.1082695837651
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1080667236615
MTV Neon Metal MTV Perfumes
1.1055551865285
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1047547892919
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1041916183074
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1027885682211
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.102576970639
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.102452357513
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1001079447323
Sacred Fig Bohdidharma

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