Diptyque‘s Philosykos needs no introduction to those of you who have a smidgen of interest in the world of perfume. It holds the unofficial title of “best fig perfume” on fragrance forums and is held to be the gold standard in its genre. It opens with green, leafy notes that complement the creamy coconut that unfolds throughout the entire development of the fragrance. There is no tartness here, no hint of biting citrus, just smooth, relaxing fruit bathed in milk. It’s extremely photorealistic, too. Way back when I hadn’t been into perfume, I used to go jogging along a trail in MacRitchie reservoir in Singapore. Running through the ‘forest’, I would catch whiffs of an amazing smell that refreshed me and kept me going.
All of these memories and smells came rushing back to me when I first smelt Philosykos. I dare say it was one of those moments where a fragrance perfectly captured the experience I’d had, and I don’t mean it in some abstract, hazy memory kind of way, but rather in a literal “this is exactly it” manner.
I recently came across a Gas Chromatography done on Philosykos, and wasn’t surprised to recognise some of the fragrance ingredients used, such as cis-3-hexenol (freshly-cut grass) and linalool (woody-lemon). I was surprised, though, to find out that the composition of Philosykos was predominantly Iso-E Super, upward of 30%! I mean, I knew it was there, but just hadn’t expected it to be used to such an extent. This really got me thinking – perfumes that reportedly use lots of Iso-E Super must really use lots and lots of it, such as Geza Schoen’s creations for Ormonde Jayne. I also found out from over at The Perfume Shrine that the main ingredients that give Philosykos its distinctive fig smell are two molecules called stemone and octalactone-gamma. I’m no chemistry geek, but now I’m curious to see if these molecules can be paired with other notes to create some novel scents – a spicy fig oriental or a powdery, earthy iris fig, anybody? That would be quite an interesting experiment indeed.
What are your thoughts on Philosykos or Iso-E Super? Have there ever been scents that realistically recreated a scent experience that you’d had before?
~ The Smelly Vagabond