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

1.5099604311639
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5065493246009
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012279983627
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4896479787147
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4766814134261
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4427410478919
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.426760995088
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008186655751
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3544793333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3435468263065
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3347174295265
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3344245541002
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.333605888525
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3256126755355
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3166055524628
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3161983327876
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131822213126
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3102844409879
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3081013327876
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3034182099877
Dune Dior
1.2997112757539
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2875938672397
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2875288590531
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2756459492427
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2704031410834
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2701861098376
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2679806623005
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2671772574703
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2666162196753
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2658868852504
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635673327876
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2631765442762
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2504618377678
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.247886203302
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2462624426252
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2432233278756
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2405945902579
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385043327876
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2345609983627
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2340436623005
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2316994147906
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2281909886751
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2226313327876
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2211493311502
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2207096164552
Good Life Davidoff
1.2118219574294
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.208519096739
Figuier James Heeley
1.2077922196753
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2024559967253
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2017737754127
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004093327876
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1984225460499
Halle Halle Berry
1.1983966623005
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1964562114886
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1914224262519
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1909874278892
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.190748888525
Sharky S4P
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1722907688634
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1689865524628
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1684294985673
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1663732065766
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1651866573885
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1576276442898
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1573415541002
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1519243327876
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1508186655751
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1506065508255
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1503897262928
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1436756655751
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434027770501
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1429934442625
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.1427091032883
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1420466639378
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1414544246145
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1391944377132
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1387496655751
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1360681525447
Absolu Rochas
1.1349725524628
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341516655751
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1315020983763
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1309002098513
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1240786442898
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1232777721381
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1215973853186
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1201364442625
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1145315491882
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1134305524628
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1108368852504
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1107552918543
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1089460541684
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1089245426388
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1053994442625
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1042998754264
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1016966459271
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1004944409879
Ducati Ducati
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0977989721654
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0936239492427
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0922734426252
W Ted Baker
1.0895344393505
23 Michael Jordan
1.0882549869014
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0873160803657
Image Cerruti
1.0863739885387
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848338868877
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0817156557511
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0799247737754
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0778595082549
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0773323327876
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.076822052531
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0758998852504
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0721247705008
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.07112819839
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0702529967253
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0687136639378
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0664757623141
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0648126623005
Antigua Phaedon
1.0643457393915
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0641373311502
Arcus Amouage
1.0630457770501
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0614613180516
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0591690901897
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0573097705008
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0560035475508
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0544875262655
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0524559967253
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.047476096739
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0456021032883
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0430314426252
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0419848590531
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0407847475781
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0388713327876
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0259244098786
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0227275524628
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0217154377132
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0211114409879
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.0060035475508
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0010915541002
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008186655751
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0006822213126
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0006822213126
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0005457770501
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0005457770501
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0005457770501
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005457770501
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0004093327876
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.000272888525
Vitalising Vitamin AB+C Eau Fraîche Molton Brown

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