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

1.5092967461389
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5091953844654
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.5070475333633
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5010496326286
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4823973397811
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4475893682711
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4243518454041
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.4008996851102
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.3541233333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.347845011396
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3348387038537
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3336328950367
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3277852030289
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3237805801469
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.3162388425551
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3132497375918
Royal Purpure DS & Durga
1.3123105801469
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.3111658539511
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.3062749703104
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3014696908082
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2982453177388
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2960497734293
Dune Dior
1.2811641994302
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2698445065227
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2677049503674
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2669552127755
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2666234215025
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2657071078123
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2636078425551
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2606141078123
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2606085276653
Vertine Friedemodin
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2487861066127
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2460709023842
Cristobal Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2433285305143
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2400120895187
Good Life Davidoff
1.2346825276653
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2345295419103
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2343677404408
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2318653787674
Figuier James Heeley
1.2315336554206
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2313017717799
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2312188425551
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2302204227021
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2265710997151
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2226718425551
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2081312127755
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2004498425551
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1990674585395
Halle Halle Berry
1.1980427404408
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1978526936572
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1909258425551
Sharky S4P
1.189967011396
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1822678425551
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1777072241715
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1705396005398
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1694853348328
Rosabotanica Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1692161078123
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1654352213225
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1580449475184
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1573554072575
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.1562298596491
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1508996851102
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1437566851102
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1434567900735
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1424764369471
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1423900581796
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1423377929225
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1419493177388
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1393941631429
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1382338442045
Absolu Rochas
1.135058045584
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1342326851102
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1322682738042
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1293101078123
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1291046936572
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1273556354776
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1253519646124
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1245108454041
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1236963730694
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.120487008547
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1204498425551
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1201499475184
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1136601078123
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1135661505473
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.112344022792
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.1112568978857
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1085337461389
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.1054129475184
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1045775419103
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.101118608637
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.0993231078123
Ducati Ducati
1.0987215122207
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0984312156245
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.0973372652572
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0943041659919
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0920299560654
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0899137603839
Image Cerruti
1.0889273262858
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0849824227021
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0846825276653
W Ted Baker
1.0817194129555
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0802218454041
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0775227900735
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.0775227900735
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0773728425551
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0773448596491
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.0770285065227
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.072365005698
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0707653702204
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.067473591543
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0648045305143
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0642993702204
Arcus Amouage
1.0642229503674
Antigua Phaedon
1.0629658482531
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0622956965062
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0612460638776
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0580561802369
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0574696354776
23 Michael Jordan
1.056903002849
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0532655419103
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.0530003930124
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0525491078123
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0482833816164
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0430051277553
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0389118425551
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.0321496851102
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.026840605788
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0263011631429
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0233821078123
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0219151631429
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.0212180553306
Aqua Nautilus Nautilus
1.005698005698
Eternity Summer 2006 Calvin Klein
1.0011995801469
Narziß (Narziss) Dorissima
1.0008996851102
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac
1.0007497375918
Pop Heart For Him Enrico Coveri
1.0007497375918
Fig Tree Wood Durance de Provence
1.0005997900735
B. Green Brooksfield
1.0005997900735
Pink Morgane le Fay
1.0005997900735
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.0005997900735
Lunar Boadicea the Victorious
1.0004498425551
A Shot of Muguet & Cedar Jo Loves
1.0004498425551
Tuscan Soul Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.0002998950367
Centaure Diamant Noir Pierre Cardin
1.0002998950367
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.0002998950367
His Aura by Night Van Gils
1.0002998950367
Timeless: Cassis Pocket Watch DL & Co
1.0001499475184
Figgy Plum Soivohle

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