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

1.5099198260633
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5065226253567
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012229922544
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4897187873352
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4757556874575
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4417324283191
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4267459767631
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008153281696
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3544153333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3436272577796
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.334807706346
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3344201042261
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3338765521131
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3253000718848
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3165960964805
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3161966640848
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131794401413
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.310273872537
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3080996640848
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3037205233048
Dune Dior
1.2995293395842
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2880712274766
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2874376366354
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2758984239706
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2722150838429
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2701822161979
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2693991725778
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2681032007066
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2666084323957
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2658757605653
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635656640848
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2631420577524
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2503055359424
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2476924669113
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2462568802826
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2432066408479
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2403609718712
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385026640848
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2345559922544
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2340303126784
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2316087486071
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2278166430221
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2226296640848
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2211426563392
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2205560958011
Good Life Davidoff
1.2115559105857
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2084751542329
Figuier James Heeley
1.2077844323957
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2024459845088
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2017665443674
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004076640848
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1983833126784
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.198029538796
Halle Halle Berry
1.1964233936676
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1912309147982
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1907477760565
Sharky S4P
1.1884218105721
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.172263513385
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1689770964805
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1680538740318
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1663253704308
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1651582894415
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1575592274766
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1573371042261
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1519226640848
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1508153281696
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1505920887349
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1503682000272
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1436723281696
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434005521131
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1429928880283
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.1426851852154
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.142038320424
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1411220190243
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1391738570458
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1387463281696
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1358551148254
Absolu Rochas
1.1349630964805
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341483281696
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1314631619785
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1287565633918
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.127661385922
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1235323049327
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.121416609186
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1201358880283
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1145120809893
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1134210964805
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1108257605653
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1107643584726
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1089078408751
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1088850500068
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1058801232504
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1053988880283
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1042587140916
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.100483872537
Ducati Ducati
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.097985644381
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0934687598859
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0922678802826
W Ted Baker
1.0895188647914
23 Michael Jordan
1.0882149380351
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.087357964805
Image Cerruti
1.0863389457807
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848277683109
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0816822816959
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0799125366218
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0779866634054
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0773306640848
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0767788331295
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0758887605653
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0721025211306
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0710553317027
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0702429845088
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.068705320424
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0664284824025
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0647993126784
Antigua Phaedon
1.0641306563392
Arcus Amouage
1.0640924859356
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0630435521131
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0614145943742
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0591051232504
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0572875211306
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0559790732436
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0543979725506
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0524459845088
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0472962662046
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0457140732436
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0430258802826
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0416218605789
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0406924126919
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0388696640848
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0258187253703
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0227180964805
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0216948570458
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.021100872537
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.0059790732436
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0010871042261
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008153281696
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0006794401413
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0006794401413
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0005435521131
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0005435521131
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0005435521131
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005435521131
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0004076640848
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0002717760565
Vitalising Vitamin AB+C Eau Fraîche Molton Brown

Popular brands and perfumes: