I recently came to the realization that I didn’t know much about fig scents. In my few years of perfume exploration, I had left this area of perfume sadly overlooked. Not anymore! And what better place to start in my fig education than with Diptyque’s venerable Philosykos. Created by Olivia Giacobetti, this fragrance was originally released as an Eau de Toilette in 1996, which makes it almost twenty years old. Philosykos has withstood the test of time, and Diptyque now offers it in both EdT and EdP formats (my sample is the EdP).
Philosykos opens with a startlingly realistic blast of green leaves. The fragrance makes it clear from the start that this experience is not only about the fruit, but about the fig tree and the fig grove as whole, and this opening serves to place the wearer right in the middle of a fig grove. The effect here is perhaps not quite as photo-realistic as the garden in Giacobetti’s En Passant, but it’s pretty close. The fig leaves feel tangible. It’s as though I could reach out and brush a branch of bright green leaves out of my face.
The fig fruit appears gradually. It starts out a little bit tart and becomes sweeter as the fragrance develops, which gives the sense of fruit ripening before our eyes (or nose). Just a hint of milkiness comes through, but it’s nothing heavy, nor does it give off a creamy texture like you might find in a vanilla-based scent. The greenness of the opening is still present to preserve a balance so that, even as the composition takes on a lush sweetness, it never becomes overbearing.
The woody base notes are here to add depth and to round out the full picture of a fig tree. I’m a fan of cedar, and it’s delicious here, as hints of the sharp green leaves from the opening circle back to mingle with the deep, rich wood of the base. And, again, this really serves to balance out the delicate sweetness of the just-ripened fig note. I find this dry down to be quite sensual. Even though it doesn’t include typically warm or sensual notes such as amber, this dry down is appealing in its own way.
Even though my sample is the EdP, my skin seems to drink up this fragrance. By the third hour, Philosykos is already a skin scent on me, and the woody dry down is in full effect. From reading comments and reviews, this seems to be a fluke of body chemistry. I need to sample the EdT to compare and see if, by some chance, it actually has more longevity for me. I would absolutely consider a full bottle of this if I could squeeze a little more wear time out of it.
As I’ve mentioned, Philosykos paints a realistic picture of a fig tree. If you’re in the mood for something more romantic, or a more impressionistic version of fig, you should look elsewhere. But if you’re in the mood to be transported to a seemingly tangible Greek fig grove, then Philosykos is the answer. You could hardly do better, both in terms of fig scents and in regard to stunning realism.
as a note: please let me know of any fig scent recommendations! (Premier Figuier is definitely on the list)
Samples and full bottles of Diptyque fragrances are available from Luckyscent, which is where I got my sample.
Image and info on notes are also from Luckyscent.