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

1.5088624752372
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.50365067824
Philosykos Diptyque
1.500938379731
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5005213220728
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002085288291
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4911333401105
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4695780139714
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4631019662183
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4452781153164
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4242418611198
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4134967833385
Zara Fig Zara
1.4064488409968
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.4002085288291
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3918714653321
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3892017932437
Maschio Mahogany
1.3810118509019
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.370962451882
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3527923333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3502745547909
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3500881729747
Figue en Fleur Andree Putman
1.3409984612658
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.3350012306329
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3303891856949
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3148073220728
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3132298509019
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3109705864873
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3102085288291
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.3028642387655
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3022011968512
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3004004076739
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.3003127932437
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.3
Figue Molinard
1.2962566680221
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.2860543627359
Dune Christian Dior
1.2858182644146
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2838661630695
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2819798509019
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2810951968512
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2781950576582
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2770277919925
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2757790576582
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.2732175527057
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2718147896987
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2661657018038
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2616467023251
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2600671455531
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2544619702846
Figuier James Heeley
1.2503127932437
Fico d`Elba Erbario Toscano
1.2502085288291
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.2499434373892
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2498957355854
Wild Fig Claudia Scattolini
1.2485914356167
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2463000815348
Creations Greenify MAC
1.2356622882911
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.234271379731
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2319159085601
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.2311860576582
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2274815288291
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2251414036075
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.225
Fig Nimere Parfums
1.2244115527057
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2235774373892
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2224305288291
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.222222
Chapter Four Frazer Parfum
1.2218512306329
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2184377198415
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.2164588991763
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2163104577208
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2147030576582
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2120593220728
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2108181094776
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2106192433531
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.207547
Vers Le Sud Jacques Fath
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2048799248254
Good Life Davidoff
1.2011005608383
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2008341153164
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2006255864873
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.1944084036075
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.1907797919925
Halle Halle Berry
1.1905802644146
Summer Fig Durance en Provence
1.1874009563132
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1854977932437
Anymus la Sera Triquetra
1.1840075527057
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1819981193828
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1819810238766
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1818123459493
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1811621153164
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.177204037848
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1768276720884
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.176614379731
The Girl Tommy Hilfiger
1.171875
101 Scent Bar
1.1716621722448
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1695608509019
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1676069900949
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.1669797932437
Library Vartan Perfumes
1.1669797932437
Essence Axe
1.1667712644146
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.166667
Uomo Antonio Fusco
1.1655599801898
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1648871729747
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1647686103639
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.1631037932437
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.162736936503
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.162162
Angie Franck Boclet
1.1578406482119
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1544672207278
Emelia Tocca
1.1526117256803
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1500794536545
Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
1.1487735864873
Maisìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.1483565288291
A Green Cachemire Blood Concept
1.1456831054113
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1438216045251
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1435868509019
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1432740576582
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.142857
Just White Gold Cuarzo The Circle
1.1405725468669
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1401206207903
Absolu Rochas
1.1400751153164
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
1.1366805905536
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1326260518194
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1324825527057
Ducati Ducati
1.1322000576582
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.1290663121677
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1269851531644
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1258341153164
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1251042644146
Obscure Oud Phuong Dang
1.1224497058701
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.120938379731
Sea Foam Art de Parfum
1.1196551869461
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1188130617245
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.1184811153164
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1169290518194
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.114832316234
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.1143340040663
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.1134243220728
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.1133005527057
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1130762311542
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1125577932437
Sharky S4P
1.1114068747784
Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz
1.1110903860911
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1106281630695
Antigua Phaedon
1.1100953860911
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1091281531644
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1088389085601
W Ted Baker
1.1085696441456
MTV Neon Metal MTV Perfumes
1.1079217058701
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1070045288291
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.1047118409968
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1043390617245
Au Lac Eau D`Italie

Advertisement

Advertisement

Popular brands and perfumes: