Fig perfumes – for me – are very easy to love. They have everything I crave in a summer perfume. Fresh, green, a little fruity, woody, leafy-grassy, complex but instantly recognizable, a fig scent makes me happy.
One of them is Un Jardin en Mediterranée by Hermès, but it has a sadness to it, that is not always what I want. But in my collection are three others (one full bottle from time immemorial and two samples) that work as happy, but by no means brainless, fig perfumes. They are similar, but have distinct traits of their own. Let us compare them all in one post.
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Prémier Figuier was, as the name suggests, the first fig perfume on the market (according to Florian), it was created in 1994 by Olivia Giacobetti. Notes include fig, fig leaf, milk of almond, sandalwood, and coconut.
Prémier Figuier is a wonderfully natural and complete rendition of a fig tree. I love how it olfactorily depicts the tree from top to bottom, everything is in there. The wood and bark of the trunk, the fresh green leaves, the flower buds, the fresh fruit itself, when I smell Prémier Figuier I cannot but see a tree before my inner eye. A tree complete with the shadow it provides, inviting me to sit and take a moment to breathe and enjoy. I feel the fresh, green grass beneath me, I feel the bark pressing into my back, and I feel calm what ever I am doing at the moment, no matter how distraught, one breath can center me again. No wonder a small vial always is with me in my bag! I use like a smelling salt, a little spritz on the back of my hand is enough to do the trick.
Philosykos by Diptyque is certainly the most famous fig perfume there is. Also an Olivia Giacobetti creation from 1996, it is cleaner, more spare and streamlined than Prémier Figuier. This was my first fig perfume, I believe I bought it not long after if came out and it is one of the few who made it over from the time of olfactory innocence into hard-core Perfumista-dom. Notes listed are fig tree leaves, wood and white cedar.
I like the opening of Prémier Figuier more, but when it comes to the drydown, I prefer Philosykos hands down. It starts fresh, figgy and wet. There is a kind of wet woods feeling to it, that is incredibly refreshing in summer. I get transported into the forest, sunlight only twinkling through the trees, but where I am it is cool and damp, so deep inside the woods, it gets never really dry. Wearing it is like standing in my own little grove of fig trees, protected from the heat and sun. (I still use SPF 50 though. ;) )
The third one for today is not solely a fig perfume, but includes a whole garden, a specific one on the Cote d’Azure actually, the garden of Villa Kerylos, a villa built in the style of ancient Greek mansions. In my mind fig is very prominent in Parfumerie Génerale N°16 Jardins de Kerylos though. Notes include fig, sycomore and musk, it was created by Pierre Guillaume in 2006.
The sharp opening of N°16 is unexpected every time I apply it. I should know by now, but I am surprised anew every time. Jardins de Kerylos is very different from the first two and also my least favorite, but it has something intriguing and appealing in its oddness. I think it is odd, because it unites the more predictable green and woody notes one would expect with a sharp salty note that is very pronounced on my skin. On paper it is smoother and sweeter, on skin I get salt, salt, salt. The ocean cannot be far from this tree…
Prémier Figuier is great in its function as a calming agent, the small vial will certainly stay in my handbag.