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

1.5086435243273
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5064129374042
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012547051443
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.489437520145
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.481656359961
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4429541095776
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4269805271156
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008364700962
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3650008762024
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3546953333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3432620319253
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3344482934616
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3336118233654
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3244203086575
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3166559986059
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3162072350481
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131970584135
Royal Purpure DS & Durga
1.3100619986059
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3026347105813
Dune Dior
1.294744819183
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2936809969329
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2915368692318
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2903278734142
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2702215534644
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2680518803848
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2666577635578
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2656674102886
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2637834380315
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2636845075979
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2635762350481
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2602955869232
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2508626842325
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2504182350481
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.246292116827
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2430698150007
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2430335271156
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2424994366374
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385132350481
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2345877051443
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2341148803848
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2298584575491
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2286144157256
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2281094700962
Vesper MIKMOI
1.2273228762024
Figuier James Heeley
1.223068742646
Good Life Davidoff
1.2226402350481
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2211849401924
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2078337635578
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2060932753381
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2015335285097
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004182350481
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1984678803848
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1966312892792
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1960014769274
Halle Halle Berry
1.1914403449045
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1907548233654
Sharky S4P
1.1906998163948
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1690369986059
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1688368789907
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1670147494772
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1664889930294
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1598373490869
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1580344116827
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1577138136066
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1518506828384
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1508364700962
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1436934700962
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434146467308
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1425578789907
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1420911752405
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1417778734142
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1393042322599
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1390643810121
Absolu Rochas
1.1387674700962
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1350229986059
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341694700962
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1319886411543
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1306837593754
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1233697621637
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1222829735118
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1204182350481
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1201522920675
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1201394116827
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1137848136066
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1136204102886
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.110896233654
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1104570333194
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1085775827408
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1076422294716
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1054024116827
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1043389818765
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.101895520145
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1014693991356
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.1005508219713
Ducati Ducati
1.0981656453367
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0979335855291
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.0941534659138
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0936153893768
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0924425285097
W Ted Baker
1.0894781154329
23 Michael Jordan
1.0891189276453
Image Cerruti
1.0884686411543
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0861427009619
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848665285097
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0799900570194
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0773412350481
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0773412350481
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0769852683675
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.074573273944
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0726118720201
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0724048817789
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.072243467308
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0720330570194
Antigua Phaedon
1.0703064102886
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0684793518751
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0667279930294
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0653042183187
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0641729401924
Arcus Amouage
1.061571169664
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0590921084623
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0573719972118
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0567358789907
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0541288108183
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0525094102886
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0498137524049
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0478132906734
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0472922878851
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0432371042799
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0429217051443
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0388802350481
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.025930572982
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0226385869232
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0218252322599
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0211678219713
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.005576467308
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0011152934616
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008364700962
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0006970584135
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0006970584135
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0005576467308
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0005576467308
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005576467308
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0004182350481
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0004182350481
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0002788233654
His Aura by Night Van Gils
1.0002788233654
Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
1.0002788233654
Timeless: Cassis Pocket Watch DL & Co

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