The fig note in perfumes, now fairly widespread, was an innovation of the 1990′s. Olivia Giacobetti’s Premier Figuier for L’Artisan Parfumeur dates back to 1994 and with it was born a perfect craze for figs. For a while they became the only green fragrances that were in vogue. You could smell leafy and edible at one and the same time, which I suppose was the point.
There is also the enduring connection between human sexuality and figs, and therefore the use of fig leaves. Walk through a Vatican statue gallery, and a perfect gale of marble leaves apppears to have been stripped off stone trees, blown in, and hit the nudes with unerring accuracy all in the same spot. They are the Renaissance answer to Speedos.
Maybe it’s sex, or maybe it’s simply foodiness that makes fig notes so appealing but the public has never gotten over them in twenty years. Good old Stemone (if Fragrantica is to be believed) and octalactone gamma combined with a touch of Iso Super E to give the requisite woody reference, and you have an invisible branch weighed down with figs.
I’m not sure that any of them ever enchanted me totally. I quite like Premier Figuier but never enough to wear it or the later version Diptyque’s Phyosykos. Some figs like Jovoy’s Arbre de la Connaissance struck me as being too much like Premier Figuier in the first place (catch the reference?, and as long as we are going to be Old Testamentarians, how about a little Eau du Serpent?)
Some figs I like, Delrae’s Bois de Paradise among them, and others like Parfums de Nicolai’s Fig Tea I have detested. I know other people have nearly opposite thoughts about those fragrances, but to me neither of them quite works.Fig Tea was a thoroughly chemical tea to my mind while BdP is very loud and makes me feel like a pot of jam has had a run in with a fig tree, since its notes seem to coalesce into blackberry jam and figs and wood, but I do like the wood. BdP remains what I think it is in fact, a really clever modernization of Rochas’ Femme done- not coincidentally- by Michel Roudnitka’s father with a great prune note.Bois de Paradis swaps this out for a great fig note.
I think though that if I’m going to wear figs then they have to be simple and perhaps this explains my taking to the new fig fragrance from Sage Machado Peridot.* If you’re not familiar with her work, Sage Machado is a California jeweler who often uses healing stones in her pieces and who has created a series of cult fragrance oils used by several famous clients.
Peridot has been re-released and the reconfigured perfume is a true fruity floral with a large freesia component. The perfume reminds me of Phylosykos but is simpler and has a lasting green tonality to it that I find particularly appealing-although I admit to a fondness both for fruit and for green shades in perfume. The opening which features cucumber and lime is very emerald indeed, and if you don’t like this shade in fragrance you may not like Peridot, but the heart grows even more fruity and floral, combining freesia with fig. Freesia is a fruity scent to begin with and so the combination is very sweet and sap filled. I happen to like this sort of thing, but would suggest that non fruity floral lovers will have to test this one carefully. Peridot though does a great job of evoking the parrot green of the stone ( all of Sage’s fragrances are named after stones she incorporates in her jewelry), and stays true to this tonality all through its development. I don’t smell any incongruous elements here, like the coconut that is often featured in fig fragrances.
If you love figs you are in luck, the figginess remains in the fragrance for a long time and this one is good for layering over anything woody or woody and green, and along with Onyx, is probably my favorite among the Sage Machados. Her fragrances always layer well and Peridot partners with Guerlain’s Vetiver wonderfully. It’s two shades of yellow- green, what could be better?
* My bottle courtesy Sage Machado.