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

1.5088087248322
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5064317673378
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012583892617
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4894837762864
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4808687158837
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4418808903803
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4269919888143
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008389261745
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3650315771812
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3546983333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3432564765101
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3344515682327
Fig Tree Wood Durance de Provence
1.3336126420582
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3253635346756
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3166629574944
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3162084630872
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131991051454
Royal Purpure DS & Durga
1.3100689574944
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3029048791946
Dune Dior
1.2949063355705
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2937445548098
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2916023646532
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2900928501119
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2699756532438
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.268061704698
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2666634944072
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2655349574944
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635774630872
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2635137516779
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2619181275168
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2603021364653
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2526222885906
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2504194630872
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2462962102908
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2431123870246
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2430449888143
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2428087270694
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385144630872
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2345913892617
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.234124704698
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2299235436242
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2288882684564
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2281119261745
Vesper MIKMOI
1.2237617561521
Figuier James Heeley
1.2231788568233
Good Life Davidoff
1.2226414630872
Billie Koto Parfums
1.221189852349
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2078394944072
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2015380313199
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004194630872
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.198477704698
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1966554407159
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.196263458613
Halle Halle Berry
1.1939756577181
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1914804608501
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1907556420582
Sharky S4P
1.1907354295302
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1690439574944
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1688536621924
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1671047472036
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.166383966443
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1598565883669
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1580348210291
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.157763344519
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1518258881432
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1508389261745
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1436959261745
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434162841163
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1425746621924
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1420973154362
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.14182249217
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1393193780761
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.139217885906
Absolu Rochas
1.1387699261745
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1350299574944
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341719261745
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.132018114094
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1307103668904
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1233824519016
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1221355503356
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1204194630872
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1201625257271
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1201398210291
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.113834344519
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1136277785235
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1109044205817
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1105843400447
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1083253668904
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1076712930649
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1054028210291
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1041498053691
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1018019552573
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1015324384787
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.1004187785235
Ducati Ducati
1.0981742416107
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0979470939597
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.0945443467562
23 Michael Jordan
1.0941767986577
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0935873199105
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0923072102908
W Ted Baker
1.0891864697987
Image Cerruti
1.088498114094
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.086167261745
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848710313199
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0799990626398
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0773424630872
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0773424630872
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.077113803132
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0746790917226
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0746739731544
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0724077472036
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.0722598411633
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0720420626398
Antigua Phaedon
1.0703137785235
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0684846733781
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.066622966443
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.064177852349
Arcus Amouage
1.0630932058166
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0616051454139
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0591379552573
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0573859149888
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0567526621924
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0540524384787
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0525167785235
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0498751543624
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0475508411633
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0473233982103
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0433038277405
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0429253892617
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0388814630872
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0260067114094
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0226451364653
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0218403780761
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0211755995526
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.0055928411633
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0011185682327
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008389261745
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0006991051454
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0006991051454
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0005592841163
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0005592841163
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005592841163
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0004194630872
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0004194630872
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0002796420582
His Aura by Night Van Gils
1.0002796420582
Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
1.0002796420582
Timeless: Cassis Pocket Watch DL & Co

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