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

1.5090845562544
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5010482180294
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5003494060098
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002329373399
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.496935412765
Philosykos Diptyque
1.48606914512
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4699919021663
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4295027493594
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4187971595621
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4118285914279
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4002329373399
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3835031476823
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3815343433496
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.3697499916143
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3604658746797
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3544603333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.345167728628
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3313648509201
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3302214987188
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.3148683433496
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3133152806895
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3118885914279
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3030281854181
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3013976240391
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3002329373399
Déjeuner sous le figuier Heloise de V.
1.2950408369439
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2945050172374
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2891608120196
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2877054060098
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2861709359422
Dune Christian Dior
1.2859469373399
Samba Rock & Roll Woman Perfumer`s Workshop
1.2858304686699
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2833684060098
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2787958138831
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2754413107384
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2738265753552
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2731928746797
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2730764060098
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.267364561379
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.266336561379
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2659868164454
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2593618593058
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2548509615653
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2537227742837
Figuier James Heeley
1.2522129047286
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2462313733986
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.238095
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2380066866993
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.2379849047286
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2359959622642
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.2343812180294
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2313513433496
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2304426464011
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2300107467971
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2258583733986
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2252501854181
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2247229373399
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2223384686699
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2220464987188
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2194707665968
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2153378036338
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2142800927091
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2129046277661
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2089402851153
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2088711297461
Good Life Davidoff
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2025623107384
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.2006988120196
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2005823433496
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1922653822502
Halle Halle Berry
1.1851435863033
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1821052480783
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1820964360587
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1818802755649
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1812980274866
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1770533433496
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.1746608176101
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1737945863033
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1695298120196
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1680646240391
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1677889974377
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.1650531201957
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1631404060098
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1615359347775
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1600558343816
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1574710044258
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1524957717214
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.147998122758
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1435558120196
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1433228746797
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433228746797
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1351961176334
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1347288017703
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1345208420685
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1344586834382
Absolu Rochas
1.1339708343816
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1313509673888
Ducati Ducati
1.1305514686699
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.1296980549732
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.126270215467
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1212767467971
Antigua Phaedon
1.120394245516
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1187704060098
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.1183710249243
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.1183458120196
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1153385236431
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1148726240391
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1137427090613
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1136077493594
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
1.1128374705334
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1124987141859
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.1119277442348
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.1114105562544
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1089731553692
W Ted Baker
1.1068999373399
Sharky S4P
1.106440899604
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1063089622642
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1060425331936
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1039875914279
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1037914360587
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.1031636214768
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1031052173305
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1024306866993
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0990213056138
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.0973836489634
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.0971352480783
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0956992026555
Image Cerruti
1.095690505707
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0940994060098
Billie Koto Parfums
1.0925707467971
23 Michael Jordan
1.0916350300489
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.090909
Un Jour a Bayonne Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.0903239347775
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.0900118094573
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0886329047286
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.0886108120196
3 AM Sean John
1.0885342806895
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.0874228746797
Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
1.0872887116236
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.086288921966
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0855656464011
Lothair Penhaligon`s
1.0816279373399
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0813253931982
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0812811553692
Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz
1.0804542499418
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0787864987188
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0785408842301
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.0778547493594
Vanille Gourmande Florame

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