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

1.5091054509659
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5065214716378
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5011074197121
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5002460932693
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4890648293343
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.485790672696
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4738070466347
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.441438817891
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4298014663467
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4267683990402
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.375
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.3637787101021
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.353520773102
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3525353333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3343173730774
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3338251865387
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.333702139904
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.3226727529224
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3164042331734
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.316158139904
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3131152331734
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3108669731758
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.3044170725975
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3035549793282
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2924814630245
Dune Christian Dior
1.2890362591362
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2839625129814
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2831483216439
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2754361562692
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2750999697305
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2745608562815
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2740529745293
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2721865129814
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2691428456995
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2664286528854
Kadota Michael Storer
1.263527139904
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2627070259628
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2587363110619
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.254641498585
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.250369139904
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2430674923096
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2424609326935
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2370166528854
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2344404197121
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2294641144334
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.228360897133
Good Life Davidoff
1.2232650572167
Figuier James Heeley
1.222591139904
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2223450466347
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.2220444370616
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2182196846315
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2131164456749
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2101494096222
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2020917927895
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2020917927895
Vertine Friedemodin
1.200369139904
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1995329379845
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1959833264427
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1921396183093
Halle Halle Berry
1.1916120466347
Juli Erik Kormann
1.1888535129814
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1880373836594
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1798636115418
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1701520365449
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.168925145195
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1687587927895
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1681343808293
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1674642177925
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.162466150486
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1610942125015
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1569547831918
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.151211155777
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.150738279808
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1476558187523
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1460562125015
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.143595279808
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.143595279808
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434722331734
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433491865387
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1420917927895
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1401171298142
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1387923264427
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.138698725483
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1381686375046
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.1364870466347
Sharky S4P
1.134071279808
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1308103576966
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1296388870432
Absolu Rochas
1.1295156894303
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1242443576966
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1224424663467
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1202460932693
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1201545086748
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1136949793282
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1124421192322
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1108126788483
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1105689326935
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1060592755014
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1057580524179
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1053860466347
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1013814096222
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0985855548173
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.0979872903901
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.0962978860588
Ducati Ducati
1.095179870678
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.090909
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.0889214360773
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0884335596161
W Ted Baker
1.0873141711579
Lothair Penhaligon`s
1.0863755855789
23 Michael Jordan
1.0860598913498
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0858490836717
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0820192177925
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0815959538575
Image Cerruti
1.0798761192322
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0791378394241
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0771690932693
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.076698145195
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0753858394241
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0745925086748
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0733508552972
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0717515855789
Antigua Phaedon
1.0713427721176
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.065460010582
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0648806528854
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0640996062508
Arcus Amouage
1.0629921865387
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0627684663467
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0619595129814
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0617035187646
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0603359173127
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0601939692383
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.058824
Collection Privee Rubis Faberlic
1.055554865387
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0522148394241
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0508023476067
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0493087000123
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0490876740495
Oh La La Azzaro
1.048357279808
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0482850725975
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.047988139904
Bitter End Roads
1.0473074250031
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0458569639473
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0443750519257
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.038831139904
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0361954197121
Cazanova Tiziana Terenzi
1.0231150259628
Stile Sergio Tacchini

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