The best figgy perfumes
I’ve just had new cupboards built and, as I moved over my perfume collection a fortnight ago, I chanced upon Diptyque’s Philosykos and thought for a moment about why I ever abandoned such an extraordinarily beautiful and clever scent. In the early 2000s, this cult classic (£75 for 50ml), all figgy and vernal, was my go-to perfume, and attracted more compliments than practically any other has managed. Few could identify it in the beginning, but Philosykos’s distinctive beauty and devout following soon inspired a raft of mass-market copycat fig perfumes that tested my tolerance to migraine point. Missing the point of the original entirely, they were too sweet, too sticky – less ripening fig grove, more Glade plug-in. Essentially, my nose shut down on fig altogether, but now, having reconciled with my former love, I’ve decided to reopen to seek out some worthy tributes.
I’m delighted I did, as some growing up has been done and many of the syrupy fig scents have fallen, rightly, by the wayside. It’s rare that I rave about a perfume under £30, but I will do precisely this about Roger & Gallet’s marvellous Fleur de Figuier (£16.90 for 100ml), created for the house by celebrated perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, whose eponymous projects can cost you 10 times as much. Fleur de Figuier is a joy – translucent, summery, fruity, citrusy and a little fizzy. Like a fig plopped in a jug of Pimm’s, in fact. It’s exceptional value for something so bright, unsticky and heavenly smelling.
Quite literally fresh from retirement is Jo Loves’ Red Truffle 21 (£75 for 50ml), a somewhat unlikely but extremely well-executed tribute to figs and truffles. Like Philosykos, it is perfectly balanced between sharp and sweet, and wraps sunny figs in acres of greenery for freshness. But it has a much stronger woody note and the slightly spiky addition of juniper berry, making Red Truffle especially gender-versatile and smart enough for the office, should you ever find yourself back there.
If budget is of little consequence, try Debaser by Brooklyn perfumery DS & Durga. At £148 for 50ml, it’s at the upper end of the olfactory hierarchy, but it captures precisely the beauty of figs, blending them with creamy coconut, warm tonka bean and a dash of mucky moss. It’s complex, interesting and boozy, and, well, the Pixies reference is the cherry atop the fig tree. That said, I’m wearing Philosykos right now and vow never again to forsake it.