Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Although the fashion for fig notes in perfumery has resulted in a diverse range of fragrances, from the green and dry Diptyque Philosykos to the sweet and candied Parfums Delrae Bois de Paradis, Premier Figuier (1994) is the composition that started the trend. Created by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti for L’Artisan Parfumeur, Premier Figuier folds the green pepperiness of galbanum around the ivy note in order to create its signature fig accord.
Giacobetti’s rendition of the green notes is quite impressive, because while conjuring the intoxicating smell of sticky green buds, her orchestration does not have a raspy, aggressive element that characterizes many verdant compositions. The milky note reminiscent of broken dandelion stems foils the arrangement, providing an interesting floral counterpoint that harmonizes the green and woody accords of Premier Figuier. …
In comparison to its more streamlined sibling Philosykos, Premier Figuier is undoubtedly richer and more complex; however its intense verdancy might nevertheless require an appreciation for green notes. And yet, I find that few fig fragrances capture better the pungent green sap of unripe figs. In a quintessential haiku style of Giacobetti’s fragrances, the end result has a subtle abstract quality that turns Premier Figuier into a much more impressionistic composition than what it appears like at first.
While Premier Figuier does not completely conceal the intense greenness of the galbanum, Premier Figuier Extrême (2003) presents a gentler version of the original. Reasonably tenacious, as one might expect from the EDP, Premier Figuier Extrême follows the development of the EDT, however by the time one experiences the lovely sandalwood base, the figs are no longer to be found on the branches. While Premier Figuier teasingly conjures a vision of green figs oozing milky sap, the floral accord overlaid with fig in Premier Figuier Extrême is amplified by the fruity notes, with the result that the green milky quality appears as more transparent. While I prefer the top and middle notes in the original, the drydown of the EDP has more depth. Yet, while Premier Figuier falls unto a disappointingly thin base, the trendsetting status of its excellent fig accord should nevertheless be recognized. While it lasts, the effect is very enjoyable.
Premier Figuier includes notes of fig, fig leaf, milk of almond, sandalwood, and coconut. Premier Figuier Extrême features gorse flower, fig leaves, peach, sandalwood, almond milk, fig, stone pine, coconut milk, dried fruit. L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances are available at Aedes, Barneys New York, Beautycafe, Bergdorf Goodman, Bluemercury, Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, and Theperfumeshoppe.