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

1.5091135045568
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.506628003314
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012427506214
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4897016746755
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.483353094449
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4442959400718
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4269433352665
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008285004143
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3546393333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3429644393814
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.334437667219
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3336091668048
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3260174219829
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3237189547086
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3166334178404
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3162032502071
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131904170119
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3103155846451
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3081062502071
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.304858046396
Dune Dior
1.2939944363436
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2917385945871
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2903211742613
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2707525871306
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2698569356531
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2688234460094
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.268020001657
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2666391676333
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2661635277548
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2656435012428
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635722502071
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.260274334438
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2574085186413
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2462788340238
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2432725020713
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.242931673847
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.242225695388
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385092502071
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2345757506214
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.234083001657
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2296472609776
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2281015004143
Vesper MIKMOI
1.2277471297984
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2276375053853
Figuier James Heeley
1.2229876020436
Good Life Davidoff
1.2226362502071
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2211690008285
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2078151676333
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2025034327534
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2015189174261
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004142502071
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.198436001657
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1969464617509
Halle Halle Berry
1.1965529207401
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1913101734328
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1908604228114
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1907521668048
Sharky S4P
1.1829466697045
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1690144178404
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1664733131732
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1660999223971
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.159913003314
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1575530916874
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1514774360674
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1508285004143
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1436855004143
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434093336095
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1427795863021
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1420712510356
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1414950074565
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1392550858879
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1387595004143
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1385662758906
Absolu Rochas
1.1350004178404
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341615004143
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.131893004971
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1305974211544
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1233285854736
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1217158555648
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1204142502071
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1201380834024
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1201190850594
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1145889190831
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1135965012428
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.113486008285
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1108696680475
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.110576682132
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.109321021541
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1090409215686
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.107686004971
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1054010834024
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1017454244684
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1011267605634
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.1005255846451
Ducati Ducati
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0981377514499
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0936670190555
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0924279174261
W Ted Baker
1.0894422518641
23 Michael Jordan
1.0888997613919
Image Cerruti
1.088373004971
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0860630041425
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848519174261
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0816759207401
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0799608348523
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0773372502071
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0773317721624
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0739457671914
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.072720675504
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0723955838166
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.072190336095
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0720038348523
Antigua Phaedon
1.0702825012428
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0684620842309
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0666150892019
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0653054310964
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0641570008285
Arcus Amouage
1.0630523336095
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0617439190831
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0615990057995
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0590814244684
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0559375863021
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0541990941729
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0524855012428
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0471913385805
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0466155028998
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0436259281966
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0433638439658
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0430478340238
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0388762502071
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0256835128418
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0227554178404
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0217760858879
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0211425846451
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.005523336095
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.001104667219
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008285004143
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0006904170119
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0006904170119
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0005523336095
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0005523336095
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005523336095
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0004142502071
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0004142502071
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0002761668048
Vitalising Vitamin AB+C Eau Fraîche Molton Brown
1.0002761668048
His Aura by Night Van Gils

Popular brands and perfumes: