Fig Tree (Sonoma Scent Studio)

Lately I've felt reluctant to try perfumes that are unfamiliar to me. I keep reaching for those that have already earned my trust and in which I know I can find complete security. I never reckoned I might stumble upon an approximation of this feeling in unexplored territory, but Laurie Erickson's perfumes lend me confidence. I may be wary of many of my sample vials, but not of hers.

Capturing the scent of real figs is a standard exercise among perfumers, who use oximes and lactones to construct their facsimiles. The scent of fresh figs blends reliably well with a fixed menu of other, mostly gourmand elements (tea, blackcurrant, peach, apricot, coconut, cedar, sandalwood, musk) but the perfumer is by no means limited to these. Fig is paired with fresh aquatic and saline notes in many masculines and at least one feminine-- Thierry Mugler's Womanity, in which the fruit finds itself shipwrecked on a desert island in the company of caviar and vetiver.

But what's simplest is best with Ficus carica-- and Erickson knows it. Her Fig Tree is a minimalist masterpiece: bitter greenery, milky sap, syrupy fruit, fragrant wood. No whistles and bells, no buffet tables full of extraneous ingredients. It is exactly what it says it is -- a fig tree -- and in the setting sun, its fruit-laden branches seem dipped in liquid gold.

Scent Elements: Green fig, vanilla, cedar, patchouli, tonka, musk