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

1.5090780141844
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.506524822695
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012765957447
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4894286808511
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4765224751773
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4407047375887
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4267649432624
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008510638298
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.365325141844
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3540423333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3430366950355
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.334467751773
Fig Tree Wood Durance de Provence
1.3336166879433
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3286402411348
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.323715751773
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.3166973475177
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3162145319149
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3132092198582
Royal Purpure DS & Durga
1.3095359716312
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3022542056738
Dune Dior
1.2951574184397
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2931570851064
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2917841914894
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2885116595745
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2681102553191
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.267594248227
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2668336595745
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2655693475177
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635835319149
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2622506170213
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2604763475177
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2518736808511
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2502836879433
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.247317929078
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2434646170213
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.242959787234
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2429390283688
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385205319149
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2346095957447
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2341732553191
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2302451914894
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2278874539007
Figuier James Heeley
1.2274523049645
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2232974964539
Good Life Davidoff
1.2226475319149
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2210722836879
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2078678156028
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2015602836879
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004255319149
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1985262553191
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1970805460993
Halle Halle Berry
1.1967747943262
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1916787092199
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1907596879433
Sharky S4P
1.189819858156
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1861115815603
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1690783475177
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1686991347518
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1680855390071
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1664120496454
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1593271560284
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1580368439716
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1580081205674
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1508510638298
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1502411347518
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1437080638298
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434243758865
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1426576028369
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1421276595745
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1419011489362
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1393942269504
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1384983758865
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1382248014184
Absolu Rochas
1.1350643475177
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341840638298
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1332160141844
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1321637659574
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1253215390071
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1234451631206
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1204255319149
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1202130992908
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1201418439716
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1180725319149
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1173574326241
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1161891914894
Ducati Ducati
1.1136641914894
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1109448794326
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1107879432624
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1083150141844
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1076730780142
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1054048439716
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1040254539007
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1017021276596
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.1011575248227
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1004619432624
23 Michael Jordan
1.0980138510638
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.0977911914894
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.094292106383
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0934401205674
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0923274397163
W Ted Baker
1.0896620992908
Image Cerruti
1.0886437659574
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0881974822695
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848932836879
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0800435673759
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0785925673759
Antigua Phaedon
1.0773485319149
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0773485319149
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0772348794326
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0752217163121
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0752038014184
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0721989148936
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0718545319149
Tuscan Soul Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.0703501914894
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0685109716312
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.066792893617
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0651977588652
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0640602836879
Arcus Amouage
1.062669822695
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0614893617021
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.060780141844
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0589389929078
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0571710070922
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0540802836879
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0525531914894
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0495478723404
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0476317588652
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0434917234043
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0429435957447
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0388875319149
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0262411347518
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0231025035461
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0219152269504
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.021214035461
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.0056737588652
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.001134751773
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008510638298
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0007092198582
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0005673758865
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0005673758865
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005673758865
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0005673758865
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0004255319149
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0002836879433
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0002836879433
His Aura by Night Van Gils
1.0002836879433
Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
1.0002836879433
Timeless: Cassis Pocket Watch DL & Co

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