Diptyque is a high-quality, old-school perfume house started by three fabric designers, Christiane Gautrot, Desmond Knox-Leet, and Yves Coueslant. They started making candles in 1963 and expanded into fragrances in 1968. I like going into their store on Mott Street and smelling every candle I see. Philosykos stands out as both a candle and a fragrance.
The main note here is fig. I’ve wanted to like fig fragrances ever since I read this quote in Margot Berwin’s Scent of Darkness:
“He has the scent of someone who gives it their all but does not succeed. It bursts into bloom with all its vigor, and it tries so hard to hang on, but it dies as soon as it leaves the vine. He’ll try to hang on but he won’t make it. A rush, maybe of insight, and then a swift death. One of the sweetest scents on earth, the fig.”
Such a true statement about the feelings perfume and art are supposed to evoke in general, and dear God I hope that isn’t me. In reality though, I usually can’t get over that oppressive sweetness of fig perfumes. I feel the same about figs as food: they smell good but there’s something off-putting about that dry shriveled texture that becomes incongruently slimy when you open them up.
Philosykos avoids this by replicating the scent of the entire tree. As the copy on the website says, “Philosykos, which in Greek means ‘friend of the fig tree,’ is an ode to the entire tree: the green, pungent freshness of the leaves, the wood warmed in the sun, the milky flavor of the fruit.”
Fig wasn’t the first thing I thought of when I smelled Philosykos though. It’s sharp, herbal, and unusual. I’d go so far as to call it metallic. The fig is a little more abstract. Everything a fig should be, Philosykos is: both overripe and dry with woody accents and a little bit of powderiness. But this fragrance is more about the whole than its parts.
The opening smells a bit citrusy, like bergamot, in the beginning although Lucky Scent’s note list only names fig tree leaves, wood, and white cedar. Towards the heart it starts to flesh out. I swear I can smell a bit of carnation or some other kind of spicy wildflower. There is something really cool about this fragrance, for lack of a more specific word. The sharp plus plush effect would appeal to every Fluevog-wearing hipster in Soho.
Olivia Giacobetti’s work can pack a distinct punch while remaining technically subtle (see Dzing! and Sexy Angelic). This is one of her stronger scents, but it still doesn’t go for the jugular like, say, Carnal Flower. She evidently likes figs, since she did L’Artisan’s Premier Figuier too. PF is well-blended and pretty, but it’s too technical for me. Philosykos is the meaning of the fig. So you get a unique fragrance and a side of zen-esque philosophy to boot.
(Fig tree from www.woollygreen.com)
Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti
Price Range: Moderately Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Casual
Release Year: Any
My Rating: 8