Fig Leaf

lat. Ficus carica (Moraceae)

Group: GREENS, HERBS AND FOUGERES

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.

Fig Leaf Perfumes

1.5089676959136
Fig Leaf Demeter Fragrance
1.5047955839193
Philosykos Diptyque
1.5009171507184
Esencia Tierra Mar de ibiza
1.5007133394477
Crushed Fig Leaf CB I Hate Perfume
1.5002038112708
Fig Leaves Cote Bastide
1.4907913171303
PG16 Jardins de Kerylos Pierre Guillaume
1.4694529986752
Fleur de Figuier Molinard
1.4630665845307
Fig Tree Wood Durance en Provence
1.4452592450831
Riviere de Janvier Des Filles a la Vanille
1.4267295092225
Un Jardin En Mediterranee Hermes
1.4087276592276
Noble Fig Ferrari
1.4007133394477
Fleur de Figuier Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.4002038112708
Eau de Sicile Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.3911855818812
Aromatic Blends: Fig Leaf & Sage Kiehl`s
1.3891947169061
Maschio Mahogany
1.3712107023336
Premier Figuier L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3703499803322
Fleur de Figuer Molinard
1.3618693197799
Zara Fig Zara
1.3525963333333
Pink Sugar Aquolina
1.3522298723122
Womanity Mugler
1.35016177326
Figue en Fleur Andree Putman
1.3343520563538
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3296529237746
Ninfeo Mio Annick Goutal
1.3146936225415
Fighissimo Hilde Soliani
1.3132133394477
Royal Purpure D.S. & Durga
1.3042915988994
Aqua Allegoria Figue - Iris Guerlain
1.3021280746968
Puro Fico Officina delle Essenze
1.3
Figue Molinard
1.2994346762458
Ichnusa Profumum Roma
1.2961882634261
Figue de Vigne Eau Fraiche Caudalie
1.2873427169061
Figue Eleii Maison Incens
1.2858159056354
Fico Verde Antica Farmacista
1.2857904704983
Fico D'India Ortigia Sicilia
1.2848509239784
Vendemmia Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2846531098543
Dune Christian Dior
1.2830728859676
Lilt Rouge Bunny Rouge
1.2819633394477
Vert d'Eau Chabaud Maison de Parfum
1.2801819250994
Kokorico Jean Paul Gaultier
1.2791436408845
Creations Greenify MAC
1.2781856225415
Revelation CB I Hate Perfume
1.2757696225415
Fico Pesca Luciano Soprani
1.2748206119433
Premier Figuier Extreme L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.2732365281769
Déjeuner sous le Figuier Héloïse de V.
1.273168018343
Verveine Figuier Phaedon
1.2661326788953
Kadota Michael Storer
1.2640729867523
Marc Jacobs Men Marc Jacobs
1.2623434612249
Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme Salvatore Ferragamo
1.2609039029858
Figuier James Heeley
1.2505095281769
Fico d`Elba Erbario Toscano
1.2503057169061
Figuer Ava Luxe
1.2498980943646
Wild Fig Claudia Scattolini
1.2484777679609
Fleur de Figuier Roger & Gallet
1.2422646788953
Fulgor Cale Fragranze d’Autore
1.2415285845307
Moroccan Fig Malin+Goetz
1.2356151127076
Folie de Figue Esteban
1.2342501507184
Sula Lovebirds Tropical Susanne Lang
1.2311766225415
DKNY Energy for Men Donna Karan
1.2274768112708
Juli Erik Kormann
1.2250753577907
Fig Leaf and Cassis Thymes
1.225
Fig Nimere Parfums
1.224362018343
Vertine Friedemodin
1.22354677326
Ex Libris Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.222998742994
Rosabotanica Balenciaga
1.2227581467441
Figuier Ardent Atelier Cologne
1.2224258112708
Venus & Cupid (Siena) DSH Perfumes
1.222222
Chapter Four Frazer Parfum
1.222222
Vers Le Sud Jacques Fath
1.2218134901661
Higo Campos de Ibiza
1.2162980614491
Cristobal Balenciaga
1.2125286225415
Ellie Nuit Ellie Perfume
1.2120475281769
Seoul ICN The Scent of Departure
1.2105138269642
Fig Apricot Fresh
1.2096393575869
Ralph Hot Ralph Lauren
1.206897
Majestic Lily Judith Williams
1.2011501270763
Dream Angels Halo Victoria`s Secret
1.2008152450831
Republic of Men Essence Banana Republic
1.2006114338123
Moonflower 120 Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.2004166132681
Good Life Davidoff
1.2001019056354
Aniu Aniu De La Baie
1.1947499803322
Figuier & Osmanthus L`Occitane en Provence
1.1943420943646
101 Scent Bar
1.1905779056354
Summer Fig Durance en Provence
1.1891975292979
Halle Halle Berry
1.1889872450831
Mystique Forest Victorinox Swiss Army
1.1873872817691
Fig Tree Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1868339226536
Trussardi Jeans Men Trussardi
1.1854907169061
Anymus la Sera Triquetra
1.183958018343
Vanilla Coconut Susanne Lang
1.1819362070723
A La Figue! Satellite
1.1818759409966
Kiss Her Kiss Cosmetics
1.1805277352492
Figues et Garçons Nez a Nez
1.1773742634261
Immortelle Tribal Givenchy
1.1768597706104
Kokorico by Night Jean Paul Gaultier
1.1717095085091
Fig & Cherry Berkeley Square
1.1711953944767
Deja Le Printemps Oriza L. Legrand
1.1703177047794
John Varvatos John Varvatos
1.170213
Angie Franck Boclet
1.1695443394477
I Ragazzi Compagnia Delle Indie Uomo Compagnia Delle Indie
1.1670949593397
Pi Neo Tropical Paradise Givenchy
1.1669727169061
Library Vartan Perfumes
1.1668708112708
Essence Axe
1.1667689056354
That`s Amore! Gai Mattiolo Exotic Paradise LUI Hawaiian Water Gai Mattiolo
1.166667
Uomo Antonio Fusco
1.16496077326
Vesper MIKMOI
1.1630967169061
Cactus Shot Everlast
1.1613919056354
Blanc d`Anna Simimi
1.157611846632
Cordovan Banana Republic
1.15649677326
The Girl Tommy Hilfiger
1.1541923944767
Emelia Tocca
1.152635791603
Sous Le Figuier M. Micallef
1.1492335569143
Paris Hilton for Men Paris Hilton
1.1486575281769
Maisìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.1483518112708
A Green Cachemire Blood Concept
1.1442924678488
Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations
1.1435703394477
Barber Cologne Elixir Red C.O.Bigelow
1.1432646225415
Esprit for my Delight Esprit
1.1432646225415
Tonka Franck Boclet
1.142857
Just White Gold Cuarzo The Circle
1.1401521571385
Absolu Rochas
1.1400562450831
Lady Mac Steed Turquoise John Mac Steed
1.138168411495
Herrera Aqua Carolina Herrera
1.1375444704983
Fleur de Figuier Eau de Parfum Roger & Gallet
1.1365631297259
Republic of Men Banana Republic
1.1324331100581
Cast A Spell Lulu Guinness
1.1293819423214
OP Juice Ocean Pacific
1.1274592070723
Hyde Park Hugh Parsons
1.1267964508305
Eternity Summer Calvin Klein
1.1258152450831
Svetlana Jardin de France
1.1251019056354
Obscure Oud Phuong Dang
1.123352018343
Ducati Ducati
1.1228722804443
Samsara Shine Guerlain
1.1212228676246
Sea Foam Art de Parfum
1.1187003184551
Adventure Quasar Jesus Del Pozo
1.1184622450831
Insense Ultramarine Blue Sky Givenchy
1.1183224128197
Aqua Mat Homme Masaki Matsushima
1.1158722987873
Coco Figue Comptoir Sud Pacifique
1.1155541664119
Eternity for Men Summer 2015 Calvin Klein
1.1152887719352
Womanity Liqueurs de Parfum Mugler
1.1141810431061
34 boulevard Saint Germain Diptyque
1.1136488846428
Panorama Olfactive Studio
1.1134122804443
Annayake Pour Elle Annayake
1.113251018343
Bambou Roger & Gallet
1.1125507169061
Sharky S4P
1.1116512634261
Addictive Oriental by Alberto Morillas Mercedes-Benz
1.1107234704983
Antigua Phaedon
1.1096918203404
Brown Sugar & Fig Bath and Body Works
1.1088129619892
W Ted Baker
1.1084120090696
Emporio Armani White For Her Giorgio Armani
1.1069998112708
Sleza Yurate Faberlic
1.1053649056354
Bitter End Roads

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