Fig Leaf

lat. Ficus carica (Moraceae)

Group: GREENS, HERBS AND FOUGERES

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.

Fig Leaf Perfumes

1.5089120747745
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5017729067493
Philosykos Diptyque
1.5009781545484
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5005434191936
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002173676774
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4917741566134
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4698122434518
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4631682575807
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4294404707097
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4272664121291
Zara Fig Zara
1.4237237380719
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4006521030323
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.4002173676774
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3918539576133
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3833050515161
Maschio Mahogany
1.3741579929356
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.3698831030323
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3697965890664
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3531153333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3524623683295
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3497064707097
Figue en Fleur Andree Putman
1.3411398828388
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.3346114012607
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3158976838387
Vers Le Sud Jacques Fath
1.3148294191936
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.313260786871
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3102722575807
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3035228263232
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3023381990001
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3001086838387
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.3
Figue Molinard
1.2981980515161
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.296276147484
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.289222786871
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2872071598739
Dune Christian Dior
1.2858226838387
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2855844353875
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2829608313227
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.281128360613
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2781040515161
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2733615911314
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2731617353549
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.270586219324
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2678255080969
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.266227573742
Kadota Michael Storer
1.259586573742
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2595191233562
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2567679708727
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2546953838713
Figuier James Heeley
1.2502173676774
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.2498913161613
Wild Fig Claudia Scattolini
1.246184360613
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2450329738072
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.235998360613
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2343111545484
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2313124191936
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2309863676774
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.2274903676774
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2259200444517
Vertine Friedemodin
1.225265147484
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.224121215194
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.2236348899033
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2224393676774
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.222222
Chapter Four Frazer Parfum
1.2219219414194
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2136771607434
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2129126991631
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2120814191936
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2111881881317
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2111708475166
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2066561940007
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2044517627432
Good Life Davidoff
1.2008694707097
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2006521030323
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2
Fig Nimere Parfums
1.1949381030323
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.194532147484
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.1922283709379
Halle Halle Berry
1.1905846838387
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1852936838387
Anymus la Sera Triquetra
1.1824179646778
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1820649929356
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1819184121291
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1813275525486
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1792231030323
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.1785158757744
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1778537353549
The Girl Tommy Hilfiger
1.1752668030649
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1711876767743
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.1709099882621
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.169591786871
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1677572505162
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.166667
Uomo Antonio Fusco
1.1649402060646
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1632540091294
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1631170515161
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1616698687099
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.16
101 Scent Bar
1.1534508657755
Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
1.1534463020324
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1527575666775
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1465286485165
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1458681050973
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1434004191936
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1432917353549
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1377466688403
Absolu Rochas
1.1344799131616
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.134357360613
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.132793002065
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1327230606456
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.132575360613
Ducati Ducati
1.1293473535485
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1268767070971
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1258694707097
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1253260515161
Maisìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.1252361778068
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.1252173676774
Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
1.125
Summer Fig Durance en Provence
1.123069934355
Emelia Tocca
1.1214823323552
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1195454798391
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1194424495164
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1182991030323
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.117647
A Green Cachemire Blood Concept
1.1153939576133
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.1152990373872
Antigua Phaedon
1.1147207353549
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.1138160809695
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1135454707097
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
1.113393360613
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1133541262906
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.1107124910336
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1104730161939
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1101558071949
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1093585010325
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1089962060646
W Ted Baker
1.1085427353549
Sharky S4P
1.1080704191936
MTV Neon Metal MTV Perfumes
1.1047843535485
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1042100959678
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1028210889034
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1025144424519
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1024268616455
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1011560444517
Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz
1.1001086838387
Sacred Fig Bohdidharma
1.0986779414194
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.0969484121291
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0968017698076
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.094691360613
Hameau de la Reine Historiae

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