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

1.5102315161135
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.5090187590188
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5064935064935
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5010822510823
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5003607503608
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002405002405
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4937434636845
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4803607503608
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.4438457171717
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4297735012025
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4266845036075
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.375
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.3613530548341
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3594135127465
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3527563333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.334295000962
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.333814000481
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3336937503608
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3334532501203
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.3211313290043
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3187224603175
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3163902506013
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131012506013
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.308190002405
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2953142530063
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.2907333410293
Dune Christian Dior
1.2900252515633
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2859545002405
Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
1.2806178177008
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2775455016835
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2770162895623
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2764547537278
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.275228020683
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2749107907648
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2735747705628
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2733282506013
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.2663895016835
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2638250557961
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2635187503608
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2625252525253
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2599807599808
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2563393073593
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2502405002405
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.243125037518
Good Life Davidoff
1.242978003848
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.242405002405
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.237218001924
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2357215218855
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2344152510823
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2254687532468
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2225827503608
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2223422501203
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2222402607023
Figuier James Heeley
1.2193863381433
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2156087513228
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.2149057869168
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.213150003848
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2100655141895
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2022847522848
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2020442520443
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2006012506013
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1958435007215
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1918488326118
Halle Halle Berry
1.191489
Juli Erik Kormann
1.188943001443
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1807765079365
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1770672568543
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1758077614238
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.172382010101
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1707763771044
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1702107633478
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1688315021645
A La Figue! Satellite
1.164188005772
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1580015387205
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1522007580568
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.1521167657528
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1507215007215
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1488695007215
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.148678011063
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1477872549303
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1458632530063
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1435785007215
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.1435785007215
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.143338000481
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.143338000481
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1429772501203
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.141924001924
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.139472013949
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1387727508418
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1385952544493
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1364842501203
Sharky S4P
1.1328882650313
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1310153001443
Absolu Rochas
1.1284017599808
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1266975093795
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1241962549303
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1213787590188
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1202405002405
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1200062934103
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.113516002405
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1118395088985
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.110712004329
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1081222611833
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1059102934103
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1058202804233
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1056962573353
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.1053832501203
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1025252525253
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0980635031265
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.097226002886
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0962447522848
Ducati Ducati
1.0957192645503
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.093751001443
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.0936745103415
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.0932847696008
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0909962929293
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0887862544493
23 Michael Jordan
1.088400001443
W Ted Baker
1.0863025093795
Lothair Penhaligon`s
1.0862192554113
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0844302871573
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0839345233285
Image Cerruti
1.0814507580568
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0790875021645
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.07888400481
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.077404000481
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.075576002405
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0749065449735
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0743347686388
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0718585016835
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0712365045695
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0706635002405
3 AM Sean John
1.0681232717653
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0670277503608
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.066716002886
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.0653397604618
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0652985305435
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.06363400481
Antigua Phaedon
1.063148001924
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.062981000481
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0628607503608
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.0621692515633
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0604372659933
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0603872515633
Arcus Amouage
1.060101010101
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.058824
Collection Privee Rubis Faberlic
1.0556762501203
Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz

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