Figmania II

I´ve been working diligently, tracking down various fig-related scents (and thanks for the suggestions) after my first Figmania post. Here are some more results. My fig obsession came out of nowhere, and it hasn´t gone away…

Demeter Fig Leaf – well … it´s not bad, and the price is insanely cheap. It starts off with an additional floral component I´m not wild about. Then it dries down into a satisfying, no-frills fig for about half an hour. There´s a bit of “leafiness” – a faint, woody green note – but nothing as pronounced as, say, Philosykos. Then it goes a bit soapy on me. On its own it´s vaguely unsatisfying, but I´m going to fool around with layering it (hey, what are Demeters for?) It needs more bottom or something. I think it might smell rather fetching with Dirt. Or Wet Garden.

Diptyque Philosykos – I´m not sure I’d ever tried this – in fact, I had a heck of a time finding it in a store, which is interesting. For awhile Diptyque candles were everywhere, and they seem to have been edged out by other, fancier candles, resulting in the entire line having been dropped by a number of places. Anyway, here is a perfect example of limitations of language and individual preference – I have heard Philosykos (which definitely has its hardcore fig fans) described as very “green” – plenty of fig grove, with the leaves, trees, dirt, etc., and so I assumed it would be too green for me. It is greener and earthier than their Figuier room spray, but every bit as delightful, perhaps even more so, because it´s more complex. The “green” note is leafy and keeps it from overt sweetness, but it´s not the shrill green of galbanum or LOTV. The earthiness is a nice base without being too much, and there are no competing floral notes to detract from the figginess (at least that I can detect). Two friends who smelled it on me pronounced it delicious – definitely FBW and, barring another discovery, probably my fig Holy Grail.

Profumum Ichnusa – this was recommended by a reader after my first post. You want woody with a less dominant, less sweet fig note? You might like this. On me, Ichnusa (myrtle, fig-tree wood, cut grass) smells really, really woody – more of the leaves and twigs and less of the fruit of the fig. This smells like what I thought Philosykos would smell like. It´s a little woody for me, frankly, but that´s a personal judgment rather than a criticism of the scent. The grass note is particularly appealing – it´s sort of a sweet, young grass note, like spring grass in sunshine, instead of an intense blast of sharp green.

Slatkin Black Fig and Absinthe – they´re flogging it to the men at places like the Grooming Lounge (where they can´t even keep it in stock). There are several products (fragrance, gel, lotion, candles, I think a shave cream). It´s Fig Plus, and if you´d like your fig cut with something a little less sweet, this is an excellent option. The first time I tried it I got more fig. The next two times I got more absinthe (or whatever you want to call the rest of the smell – a tart muskiness), and anise. It´s nice, and I might buy some for the Cheese, but it´s not my HG. Last time I checked they had the complete line, including the fragrance, in stock at Bergdorf in NYC.

Pacifica Mediterranean Fig – This scent (soap, spray, candle and body butter) gets my special Gold Star Bang for the Buck award. If you want to try out a little fig and you´re not interested in spending much, you might start here. The scent is, essentially, creamy fig and a light sandalwood, making it nicely unisex and good for the household bathroom. I keep the soap in the downstairs powder room and regularly receive questions/comments from visitors regarding its fantastic smell – my sister-in-law just ran off with the spare in my closet. For something that sets me back $7 a bar and lasts a long time (it´s glycerin-based) that´s a heckuva deal. The spray is, I think, $20, and again, while it´s lacking the sophistication and lasting power of a high-end niche scent, it smells great, exactly like the soap. I´ve heard positive things about their matching candle as well.

The Ava-Luxe figs – I think there are actually five of them that are figgy. Unfortunately, she´s taken a break and I can´t order samples. Does this depress me? Yes, it does. I´m keeping my fingers crossed that she returns to perfumery, because it would be a tremendous loss.

CB I Hate Perfume Revelation – Philosykos is probably my Platonic fig ideal, and Heeley garners votes on LuckyScent as the most like a fig grove. Wearing Revelation is like falling down a hole and waking up inside some psilocybin-fueled vision of a fig grove — not that I´m complaining. You´re getting the whole grove – the wind is blowing, the leaves are rustling, there are ants on the tree bark and figs everywhere, and the buzzing of insects and the smell of the sun on your skin… hey, dude, are you tripping with me? Revelation would be my ultimate fig scent if I could wear it and doing anything other than stand stock still and sniff whatever part of my skin has this on it. No, I´m not kidding. I can´t even drive wearing this thing. It´s too distracting; who can see where you´re going with all those figs and leaves and tree trunks and dirt blowing around? You all know CB´s virtual-reality scents work wonders for me. If they don´t work for you, this probably won´t change your mind. If they do work for you, and you like fig even a little, you really need to sniff this one.

Yosh The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things – my chakras aren´t aligned well enough to fully appreciate the Yosh esthetic, and I hadn´t tried this one because I´m a soulless cynic and I thought the whole J.T. LeRoy story was crap even before s/he was unmasked as a fraud. If reincarnation exists, Laura Albert, the “real” J.T., will come back as a cockroach in Yosh´s workshop, and Yosh will mash her under a paperback copy of “A Child Called It´.” There, now that I´ve gotten that bile out of my system – I ended up applying the entire half-vial from LuckyScent to my arm, trying to get a bead on it. My notes read: gingerbread, shoe polish, buttered toast. Hmm. Maybe J.T. and I will be scuttling around on the floor together?

Hautes de Provence Fig Shower Gel (Feuille de Figuier) — The hotel division of L´Occitane. Yeah, I know – I already ragged this last time as boring. Well, I got down further in the bottle and it morphed into a nice, creamy, sandalwood-fig. I changed my mind – now I would steal the extra bottle from my hotel room. But that´s probably as far as I´d go.

Wen Fig Oil – ack. No. I think this is one of those hair-cult QVC things, and I can buy into that (hey, I did buy into that) but it smells like Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy. And I like that smell, but I don´t want to bathe in it. It´s really strong, and not especially figgy. The ingredients are jojoba oil and essential oils.

Bendel Fig Scentport scent from Bath and Body Works – no no no. This isn´t in their stores any more but it´s available in their online catalog, and it has some nice reviews. It´s horrible. It doesn´t even smell like fig. It smells like, I dunno….hell? Only “fresher.”

Heeley Figuier – This is the one touted by LuckyScent and commenters as the true fig you want if you´re not looking for a lot of extra bells and whistles in the woods department. One commenter says, this is fig! And she´s from Israel and knows the smell of wild fig trees. I have zero idea how a fig tree smells. This smells pretty darn good, but there´s a sweetish, root beer-like note (maybe sassafras?) I´m not entirely on board with. When I catch a whiff of it around me I´m quite pleased, but if I sniff it on my skin … root beer. Maybe fig groves smell like root beer, I don´t know. I also get a hint of coconut, for any of you avoiding it like the plague.

Parfumerie Generale Jardins de Kerylos – when this first came out, I thought, pretty, and that was that. Revisiting it in the height of my figmania gives me a new appreciation. To me it´s in the gray area between basic fig and a Fig Plus fragrance — it starts off a rich, creamy fig (there´s that coconut note) but the addition of musk makes it a bit less straightforward. I should disclose that some people complain this scent is too sweet, a problem I have with some of the other PGs, but not this one. I get fig (leaves, fruit, trunk), a little light musk, grass, and something vaguely breezy. Nicely done.

Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee – created by Jean Claude Ellena, notes are bergamot, orange blossom, oleander, fig tree, pink cedar. This does nothing for me as a fig scent. But it does all sorts of things for me as an herbal scent. It smells like a glass of iced tea in an herb garden. Refreshing.

Roger & Gallet Gentle Nature Fresh Fig Soap with Shea Butter – it´s big and creamy and lathers beautifully and does not smell one bit like fig. There ought to be a law…

Satellite A La Figue! – fig tree sap, fresh fig, iris, white lily of the valley, cyclamen, vanilla, cedar, white musk, patchouli. A creamy, sap-rich fig with some extra florals. Objectively, this is not a great fig fragrance, although it is primarily fig. But there´s something in this scent that makes me feel happy; I need a decant. I own lots of fragrances that I can parse for their Many Layers of Deep Meaning; I don´t own many scents that put a cheerful grin on my face just smelling them. “Fresh” alert – it goes through maybe five minutes (near the beginning) of some sort of fresh insipidity. Then it´s all good – creamy green fig, sap, a little spice courtesy of the iris and patch.

Addendum: for anyone who recommended a fig product last time that didn´t appear in this post: it´s either because: a) I couldn´t take the pain of buying another candle or soap, since I now have an oversupply; or b) in the case of a fragrance, I couldn´t get ahold of a sample. But if I try one in the future and love it, I´ll blog on it.

  • Teresa says:

    Just found your website while looking for info on fig. Have you tried Carthusia’s Io Capri? Found this while in Italy, but you can find some online companies that sell this. It’s a mix of fig, green tea and a hint of citrus. Very nice balance.

  • Als1626 says:

    I’m a longtime Fig lover, and just tried CB Revelation – it is totally incredible. I’ve tried all the Ava Luxe figs at some point, but it was a while ago and I don’t remember which were my favorites. I’ll have to go see if I still have them floating around somewhere.

    Have you tried BPAL’s Strangler Fig, by any chance? That is by far my favorite figgy scent – it is a very green fig, without being woody. I generally layer it with a BPAL coconutty scent (Obatala) and I love that mixture, but it is very summery to my nose. I think Revelation is a bit more wintery, probably because of the addition of the wood.

    So funny to see discussion of Rodman’s – I’m on my way there later today!

    • March says:

      Lurve Rodman’s. Was just there yesterday! My family from out of town doesn’t have access to that kind of grocery, they picked up a bunch of stuff (cookies, fancypants beer etc.)

      I have not tried the BPAL, will check it out. And given that a lot of the figs already smell a little coconutty, I can see how your layering would work well.:)>-

  • tracyellen1619 says:

    I love the CB Revelation too…it does make you feel like you’re in a fig grove, although how I know that when I’ve never been in one.

    • March says:

      Well, there you go. We both like that fig grove smell, even if we don’t know what it smells like.;)

  • Gina says:

    Great post. I adore Philosykos, one of my first full bottles. It’s so lovely. I also LOVE the Pacifica soap. I’m SO glad you know about that, March. It’s great and not a fortune, it makes me happy. I have Revelation, it’s lovely but I don’t wear it much, I can relate to it being a distraction.

    • March says:

      That Pacifica soap is just gorgeous. I have literally had three bars just walk out of my house in the hands of visitors who said, what is that fabulous soap?!?! It makes the whole bathroom smell nice, which I appreciate. It’s about the perfect combo of sandalwood and fig. i really should try the body butter.

      • Gina says:

        There was also a product I had for a while, a body lotion called Black Fig by Diana B. There’s a scrub too. I got it at Luckyscent. It’s pretty yummy. But yeah, that soap is crazy good.

  • tmp00 says:

    I liked the Satellite one as well- it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever smelled, bit it was a happy, summery little thing..

    • March says:

      Happy, summery little thing, exactly. At some point I think I’m going to have to add some more of that to my wardrobe.>:d<

  • Robin says:

    Philosykos is vindicated. Ha.

  • Vasily says:

    I believe five Ava Luxe fig frags were/are (from my trial notes):

    Fig Leaf – semiripe figs with a dash of greenery

    Fig Wood – semiripe figs with a dash of woods

    Fig – fully ripe figs, not overly sweet, clean

    Wild Black Fig – fully ripe figs, fruity and sweet

    Johri – peppered figs with wood, complex & warm

    • March says:

      Vasily — yep, there they are! How were they? Did you have a favorite?

      Tell me they were terrible so I can move on and stop thinking about them.;)

    • Vasily says:

      My top favorites of the five are Fig Leaf and Fig Wood, with Johri close behind. Fig and Wild Black Fig are more essence of pure fig, so I’m not as interested in them. Since you asked, here are further thoughts on them. They are *all* high quality, choosing one (should Serena return to perfumery) is more a matter of personal taste.

      Fig Leaf – This for me is a great warm weather fig, with just enough greenery to make it refreshing. You don’t feel you’re wallowing in crushed greenery or mushy fig pulp with this one. It’s on my favorites list for spring and summer.

      Fig Wood – A subtle blend of fig and woods, works well in either warm or cool weather for me. It’s also on my favorites list.

      Fig – Just fig. An authentic, luscious and refreshing fig that isn’t too sweet or cloying. More of a gourmand scent. If you like fruity, gourmand frags, give this one a try (if it’s ever available again, that is)

      Wild Black Fig – Very gourmand, ripe and fruity. You’ve got to really like ripe figs for this one. A bit too sweet for me.

      Johri – Peppery and woody and complex, this one will warm your heart. It’s a frag with a lot of personality, and I love this one for the cold weather. It’s very nearly on my favorites list.

      • March says:

        *killing me*

        you are KILLING ME :((

        Thanks for the additional info. I think, yeah, Johri and Fig Wood sound like they would be my favorites.

  • Gail S says:

    :::sigh::: Fig is my last big holdout. I just don’t get it I’m afraid. I don’t mind Nicolai Fig Tea, but I don’t think it’s really all that figgy so I’m not sure it counts. That Yosh was a verrrry interesting scent, but “too much” to actually wear. Didn’t notice much in the way of figs there either 🙂 Philosykos was the very first fig that someone sent me to try and I’m afraid it turned me off fig forever. It smells just like working out in the yard on a hot, dry day when I’m trimming shrubs. Not that that’s a terribly bad smell in the right context (which would be outside with hedge clippers :&#100;) but I definitely don’t want to smell like that when going to work, out to eat, lazing around the house or whatever.

    • March says:

      Well, that is fascinating. I wonder, were you beaten with twigs as a small child?;):-” No, seriously, though — your point is a good one, even smells we can recognize as *liking* in the right place/time, sometimes are totally offputting in fragrance. I wonder why fig does that for you? Maybe you’d like one of the sunnier fig plus deals, like the Satellite. Or not.:)>-

  • marina says:

    Revelation forevah! 🙂 Un Jardin en Mediterranee is good too. But none is quite what I want in a fig scent. :-w

    • March says:

      See, I didn’t have any preconceptions … I can totally see Revelation working for you, though. But I would think you would want … something more grown up? Edgier? All of the things I smelled were varying degrees of nice and/or interesting, but (unlike, say, leather) there aren’t a ton of edgy figs;) . I can see you with something more Dior-like — a ton of LOTV and/or a chypre base…

  • sara levy says:

    Have you tried Cristobal? I’m not a big fan of fig scents but I do like that one. So funny that I’m listening to a CD called Fegmania as I read today’s entry. Cheers!

    • March says:

      Whoops — how did I miss you yesterday? Sorry! I have *not* tried Cristobal, although I believe I have a sample upstairs. So I can remedy that.

  • Christine says:

    I still need to visit the CB store in Brooklyn. I don’t live so far that I have any excuses. Revelation sounds amazing. Plus, we used to grow figs so I know the smell of a fig tree. (Not like rootbeer at all.) 😉

    Maybe you should pick up a tree, they’re tempermental…but oh how I love fresh figs.

    • March says:

      Oh, a visit to the store is so much fun! He has stuff he doesn’t sell online, and the day Patty and I dropped by he hung out and played with us, he’s a riot. The fact that I really like his product doesn’t hurt, of course.<):)

  • Divalano says:

    I’m a fig fan. In fact one of my first bottles of Real perfume was L’A Figuere Extreme. I got it because I was leery of green notes (they can make me sneezy) but now it’s too-too floral girly somethingsomething & maybe I should swap it. I dunno. I’ve been thinking I should give a second glance to the greener/woodier ones like Diptyque or even the regular L’A Figuere come spring.

    Meantime, I’m taking notes on your list, I’ll def try some of them. I will say that I hated scrubbed ran from the CB, didn’t get any fig, not sure what it was but it horrified me. I have samps of both Satellite & the PG, both are easy to wear warm weather scents for me, not love, not hate, fine for work.

    Excuse me now, must go sit in the corner & cry, final exam tonight in evil vile tech class, there are 1’s & 0’s bouncing around my head making it hurt. I want it to be 14 hours from now in the worst way possible.

    • March says:

      Don’t cry, it’ll give you a massive headache. Tech class sounds like my idea of hell (along with gym class) so best of luck to you. I wonder if there’s an appropriate fragrance?


      That CB is very intense, I can see it being a freaky scrubber (and very difficult to remove)

      Maybe you could layer the PF with something a little woodier, if you want to deepen it — or some musk? Or, yeah, swap it away for something new and different, part of the fun…

  • sariah says:

    Ya, my Chakras are all messed up too.:d

    Nice to see the Bang for Buck award to the Pacifica, I will definitely seek out the soap at least it sounds wonderful and I love to hear about something that isn’t Luxery priced.

    • March says:

      You can buy it online, and there’s also a place here in Chevy Chase that sells it (upper NW D.C., actually, the Rodman’s at Wisconsin Avenue, maybe 5 blocks south of where we had the sniffa.)

      I wonder if you’ve moved yet?

      • sariah says:

        We’re moving next week, so much work!

        • March says:

          Gah, I hate moving. After our last move into our house four years ago, I said that was it. We moved a lot. The good thing about that is it helps keep your stuff to a minimum. But those days are over.:)>-

  • Elle says:

    I’m not a real fig lover yet, but given my track record, I expect that at any moment I may fall down the rabbit hole into fig wonderland and when I do, these posts of yours will be my gold standard reference source. Thanks in advance! 🙂 I should mention that even w/out feeling much love for fig, I do love CB’s Revelation and that Yosh, which is less about fig on my skin and more about some sort of dark, bizarre deliciousness.

    • March says:

      That Yosh was so weird. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not — gingerbread and shoe polish not being a diss.:) And who knows why we latch onto particular scents? I mean, if you’d told me I would be doing a vanilla post I’d have laughed in your face.:”>

  • Abigail says:

    I do love the A la figue! for exactly the reasons you said – it just makes me feel happy. The way getting warmed up sun skin without getting burned or a tan makes me happy.

    Sadly, my husband seems to have a visceral reaction to fig-smell, so I’ve learned not to waft it under his nose. He makes a face and jumps away, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, he’ll curl up in a little ball and pretend to be traumatized for ever.

    I still love it, though.

    • March says:

      Wow, really — he hates fig?!? It seems so innocuous to me, particularly compared to some other options. And yes, that Satellite has some sort of extra note of cheerfulness, doesn’t it?<:-p

      • Abigail says:

        He also dislikes violet.

        Luckily for me they ARE pretty innocuous, so as long as I don’t stick any limbs into his face he usually doesn’t have any extreme reactions.


        He blames his extremely sensitive sense of taste, and figs taste terribly bitter and overwhelming to him. But that doesn’t explain the violet thing.

        • March says:

          Violet? VIOlet?!?!


          Who can hate a sweet, defenseless violet? Violets are our cheerful, smiley-faced friends.

          I wonder if he’s a supertaster, whether his sense of smell is unusually sensitive? Maybe he’s almost literally tasting your fragrance. The smell/taste relationship is so interesting …. well, as you say, as long as you don’t stick any limbs in his face (I have the same problem over here, although generally with much, much nastier smells.)

  • rosarita says:

    I’m still leery of the fig thing – Philosykos does nothing for me – but you’ve intrigued me on the soap idea. I’m switching to soap from bodywashes and am happily twittering hours away on soapy websites. I wanted to try AL’s figs as well as many others, too; had just started sampling the line when it went away. Then I read on MUA that the very gifted AL owner is only in her mid twenties and does everything herself, so it’s easy to understand burnout. Success can be as overwhelming as failure sometimes.

    • March says:

      I know! I was amazed when I heard how young she is, and I knew she was very hands-on. Too much, but I am hoping she will be back again.

      I like bar soap because it lasts longer around here and I have this idea (maybe wrongly) that it’s better for the environment, although I’m one of those people who refilled my liquid soap dispensers. Now I just keep liquid soap in the powder room (so nobody’s got to touch our soap) and at the kitchen sink, and bars everywhere else. And yeah it’s a fun way to check out new soaps. My primary issue tends to be size — a lot of the bars are huge!

  • Louise says:

    Lordy, March, I am so taken by the range of fig scents-I had no idea! But what really impressed was your detective abilities. If I ever need a P.I….

    I’m sticking with my Slatkin for winter, De Nicolai Fig Tea for summer. And a slather of BBW’s sweet Brown Sugar/Fig stuff for candy days. I do enjoy the CB, and am now inspired to try the Satellite. Happy is very good!

    • March says:

      That Slatkin smells amazing on you. Remember, you were there at the very beginning of the figgy love, with that Slatkin… I’m going to dig out my gas mask :-” and go buy some of that BBW lotion, I’ve tried it several times breezing past the store, and I have to say it’s really nice.

  • Lee says:

    Welcome to Philosykos love. It’s the only fig I own, and a summer staple. I’ll have to try Revelation now, I think.

  • Maria says:

    I should try Philosykos someday. In winter I like my fig notes in a rich, sweet concoction like…perhaps….Arabie? Bwahahaha! >:)

  • Erin / Tigs says:

    Maybe I really am going to have to retry Philosykos again. The magic has eluded me every time so far, I’m afraid. I do admire the other O.G. fig, Premier Figuer. Hmmmm. Revelation, on the other hand, I *get*.

    • March says:

      PF Extreme was more my cup of tea, but neither was fab on me … probably the most fun part of preparing the lengthy fig posts was realizing all the subtle differences among the scents. And that Revelelation is … well, a revelation!

  • Leah says:

    I fell in love with Le Labo Figue 15, one of their roomsprays. It has black currant in it and to me smells like the fig tree in my grandparents’ yard in Israel back when I was a child. The lasting power is not great but it does work as a perfume on me.

    • March says:

      See, there’s another one to try! The fig choices are endless, and it’s nice to hear from someone who’s actually smelled a fig tree. Thanks. (BTW I like many others wear room spray as fragrance and nothing’s dropped off yet…)