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

1.5091248444629
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5066362505185
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5012442969722
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4897216054196
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4812366710908
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4446498240011
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4269481461358
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008295313148
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3545443333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3440862431909
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3344390417531
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3336095104383
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3260306518734
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3256626466197
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3166363387253
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3162037656574
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131912760957
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3103188491636
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3081067656574
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3048352520393
Dune Dior
1.2951378078252
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2879641111572
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2868415845431
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2708459300429
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2707620370524
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2701987865339
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2684127651044
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2680241252592
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2670621294069
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2666415730679
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2656465939444
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635727656574
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2582844404811
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2462805521913
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.243277656574
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2428112875709
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.24229717116
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2385097656574
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2345772969722
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2340871252592
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2281410902807
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2281025313148
Vesper MIKMOI
1.2277245072584
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2276509070925
Figuier James Heeley
1.2228959091663
Good Life Davidoff
1.2226367656574
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2211710626296
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2086844660583
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2078175730679
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2023503387253
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2015208074105
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2004147656574
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1992289341905
Halle Halle Berry
1.1984401252592
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1965630579289
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1913270114752
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.190875714503
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1907525104383
Sharky S4P
1.1832307400802
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1696712911655
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1692938491636
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1666672040647
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1577121367344
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1566362505185
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1516639717959
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1508295313148
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1506536356975
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1436865313148
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434100208765
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1429952552191
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.1427869744228
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.142073828287
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1415135636665
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.139261443108
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1389072176137
Absolu Rochas
1.1387605313148
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.1350033387253
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1341625313148
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1317671205586
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1310233549011
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1233339117932
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1217711805613
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1204147656574
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1201382552191
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1145949326697
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.1135995939444
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1135066262961
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1108731043827
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1107534243053
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1095128835891
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1090531205586
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1076983757777
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1054012552191
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1019030949813
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1011530485276
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.1005288491636
Ducati Ducati
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.0981413596018
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0937144404811
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0924298074105
W Ted Baker
1.0894468909166
23 Michael Jordan
1.0886516007189
Image Cerruti
1.0883853757777
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0860733131481
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0848538074105
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0816860579289
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.079964614821
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0773869253422
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0773377656574
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0738275495645
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0721972087654
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0710889232684
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0702855939444
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0684643178487
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0666296936264
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0656178512374
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0644413596018
Antigua Phaedon
1.0641590626296
Arcus Amouage
1.0630530208765
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0617499326697
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0616134384073
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0591008397622
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0559449744228
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0545025798424
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0524885939444
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0472043966542
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0456799744228
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0436546215955
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0430495521913
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0427075798424
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0388767656574
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.025715470759
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0227583387253
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.021782443108
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0211458491636
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.0059449744228
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0011060417531
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008295313148
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0006912760957
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0006912760957
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0005530208765
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005530208765
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0005530208765
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0004147656574
Figgy Plum Soivohle
1.0004147656574
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0002765104383
Vitalising Vitamin AB+C Eau Fraîche Molton Brown

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