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

1.5088719898606
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5046888795944
Philosykos Diptyque
1.5009505703422
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5005280946346
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002112378538
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4914353633291
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4696498031263
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4631222839037
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4452889514153
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4248460228137
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.413230043515
Zara Fig Zara
1.4002112378538
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3925856624419
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.3919270333756
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3832958567807
Maschio Mahogany
1.3810213324884
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.369845504436
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3530393333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3508760430925
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3501044271229
Figue en Fleur Andree Putman
1.3410418056612
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.3350229028306
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3314715251373
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3197992378538
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.3189213324884
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3148140946346
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3132393324884
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3031215961132
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3022431867343
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3001056189269
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.3
Figue Molinard
1.2962959488804
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.2952083198141
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2858196189269
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2852947528517
Dune Christian Dior
1.2841397084918
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2824151867343
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2819893324884
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2811696163921
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2782004757076
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2752282002535
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2731494757076
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2709918546684
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2661846649768
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2621357473595
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2608657139839
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2546594757076
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.254600130545
Figuier James Heeley
1.2503168567807
Fico d`Elba Erbario Toscano
1.2502112378538
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.2498943810731
Wild Fig Claudia Scattolini
1.2485739260668
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.246331235319
Creations Greenify MAC
1.2425490460499
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.23913
Vers Le Sud Jacques Fath
1.2356893785382
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2351883810731
Summer Fig Durance en Provence
1.2342835703422
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2311914757076
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2274842378538
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2251793299535
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.225
Fig Nimere Parfums
1.2244399974651
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2235950460499
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2224332378538
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.222222
Chapter Four Frazer Parfum
1.2218729028306
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2184350768906
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.2170609514153
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.2167013764259
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2146083151669
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2120660946346
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2111429062104
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2108872226447
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2028905758344
Good Life Davidoff
1.201047833967
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2008449514153
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2006337135615
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.1951309514153
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.1944463299535
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.1909174381073
Halle Halle Berry
1.1875
Angie Franck Boclet
1.1872560895648
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1855018567807
Anymus la Sera Triquetra
1.1821267980566
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1820067596113
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1818448542459
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1812155627376
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1803661892691
The Girl Tommy Hilfiger
1.1794935576679
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.171875
101 Scent Bar
1.1713376163921
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.1713189501479
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1695703324884
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.167653043515
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.1669838567807
Library Vartan Perfumes
1.1668782378538
Essence Axe
1.1667726189269
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.166667
Uomo Antonio Fusco
1.16652308703
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1649034271229
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1631078567807
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1628954144487
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1526564245881
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1511094326151
Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
1.1483592378538
A Green Cachemire Blood Concept
1.1463400359104
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1458131254753
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1455617135615
Maisìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.1455287570765
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1435963324884
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1432794757076
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1415408876215
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1405611309675
Absolu Rochas
1.1400859514153
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
1.137564851711
Emelia Tocca
1.1341979412759
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1341873785382
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1325109974651
Ducati Ducati
1.1324608901563
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1322054757076
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.1293303760034
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1271991330798
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1258449514153
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1251056189269
Obscure Oud Phuong Dang
1.1224808926912
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1209505703422
Sea Foam Art de Parfum
1.118936322349
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.1188018491762
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1184919514153
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1172039847909
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1146861280101
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.1135578466413
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.1134310946346
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.1133289974651
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1130011770173
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1125618567807
Sharky S4P
1.1104792327841
Antigua Phaedon
1.1098856679341
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.108853808196
W Ted Baker
1.1085831892691
MTV Neon Metal MTV Perfumes
1.1084638926912
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1083786679341
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1081860384453
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1070072378538
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.1054742378538
Ambergreen Oliver & Co.
1.1047673760034
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.104462322349
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1026862327841
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine

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