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

1.5093786635404
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5062524423603
Les Fleurs: Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.5011723329426
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4893151059007
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Parfumerie Generale
1.4759318237593
Philosykos Diptyque
1.4616682592158
Fig Flower Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.4394670414224
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4296130737267
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4267242580435
Les Fleurs de Provance: Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.375
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.3528303333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3524140941774
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3495918109939
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3355474066693
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.3343750737267
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.3338540368634
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.3252567149928
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3163100368634
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3161797776475
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.3131512960792
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3105577027485
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.2983096727888
Womanity Thierry Mugler
1.2976560432461
Dune Christian Dior
1.2970822902175
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2919275184317
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2871658074769
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.2855850239677
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2733020894881
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2704033329426
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2680927396118
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.2665671667318
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2665296290218
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2657631843168
Creations Greenify M∙A∙C
1.2635487776475
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2630535898137
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2501302592158
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.25
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.2463308513742
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2462466910251
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2434840549694
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.243168035691
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.2384857776475
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2380259953107
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2345053329426
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2338952211801
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.2312900368634
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2296770298294
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2285057372672
Figuier James Heeley
1.2263791550085
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.2226127776475
Billie Koto Parfums
1.2210751105901
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2197400988667
Good Life Davidoff
1.214680989449
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2082266658851
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2023446658851
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2016933698059
Vertine Friedemodin
1.2003907776475
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.1985087396118
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.1966123305979
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1965667114758
Halle Halle Berry
1.1960338145109
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.1907365184317
Sharky S4P
1.1889758847206
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1884306255048
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.181818
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.1741808490296
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1688814066693
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1669763656376
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.1662699976553
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1631080702097
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.157895
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.1573879204116
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.153345505536
Paris Hilton for Man Paris Hilton
1.150781555295
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1505210368634
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1504457396118
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.143638555295
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1435082960792
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1433780368634
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1429872592158
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.1425734054969
Rosa Flamenca Les Parfums de Rosine
1.1419538882376
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.1405197360948
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1389655909861
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1388428145109
Daala Al Banat Amani Rasasi
1.134114555295
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1326210737267
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1316419086883
Absolu Rochas
1.1311994043246
Rykiel Homme Sonia Rykiel
1.1282113651166
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1277354435326
B.U. Fancy Cinderella Sarantis
1.1272786266771
Au Lac Eau D`Italie
1.1233465541227
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1212806149538
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.12
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1137161843168
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1108118133385
Absolu Intense Simply Red Rochas
1.110747541227
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1107131843168
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1103871749381
D&G Masculine Dolce&Gabbana
1.1053932592158
Glamstone Agate Dzintars
1.1053630690374
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1046237372672
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1
Mon Jardin Bottega Profumiera
1.099321441188
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.0988421784551
Emporio Armani Red Pour Elle (White) Giorgio Armani
1.096434925101
Ducati Ducati
1.0959087741305
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.0956145172593
Lothair Penhaligon`s
1.0915393305979
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.0893612580435
23 Michael Jordan
1.0892762094568
Les Belles de Ricci Liberty Fizz Nina Ricci
1.0882595921584
W Ted Baker
1.0861666219878
Image Cerruti
1.0847658513742
MAC Creations Hue: Violetrix M∙A∙C
1.0825241462811
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Thierry Mugler
1.0817353305979
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.0800492211801
Forever Lily GoodTrueBeautiful
1.0800240239677
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.0792676658851
Six Scents 3 Cosmic Wonder: Spirit of Wood Six Scents
1.0773137776475
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.0760591702488
Delicious Cotton Candy Gale Hayman
1.0757761843168
By Night Black Profumi del Forte
1.0718773686336
Island Capri Michael Kors
1.0709547396118
Antigua Phaedon
1.0698300310017
Bamboo Harmony By Kilian
1.069141925101
Banana Republic M Banana Republic
1.0682301105901
Hameau de la Reine Historiae
1.0659500333464
Patrick Dempsey 2 Avon
1.0641933698059
Arcus Amouage
1.0632926196431
Gianfranco Ferre for Man Gianfranco Ferre
1.0630210368634
Vanille Gourmande Florame
1.0609417741305
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.0608078466849
Dazzling Gold Estée Lauder
1.058824
Collection Privee Rubis Faberlic
1.054131960792
Omniscent 0.96 Yosh
1.0527612890452
Les Belles de Ricci Liberte Acidulee Nina Ricci
1.0523446658851
Modern Quartz Men Molyneux
1.0480353259086
Oh La La Azzaro
1.0471177372672
Spark for Men Liz Claiborne
1.0445621462811
Toni Gard Woman Toni Gard
1.0427537325778
Ambre & Santal L`Occitane en Provence
1.0388527776475
Les Lions D'Arthes Men Jeanne Arthes
1.032777925101
Pink Sugar Luxury Extract Aquolina
1.0323882592158
Cazanova Tiziana Terenzi
1.0232640737267
Toni Gard Toni Gard
1.0230131843168
Stile Sergio Tacchini
1.0223208431679
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.0216168502019
OP Juice Ocean Pacific

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