I am puzzled to see so many describe this as earthy and challenging. Philosykos seems to me be far from the sour-milk textures of Giacobetti's prior ode to fig, Premier Figuier, which does seem destined to cause bystanders to raise an eyebrow.
Philosykos more wearable, a pleasantly leafy, creamy, coconutty scent with some spicy woods adding contrast. There are some parallels to the also very good Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme.
Many reviews have come before mine, and are extremely well done. I have thoughts though and we have this lovely forum, so why not add?
This is a dreamy walk through a sultry Turkish garden on the Mediterranean Sea. Damp, warm earthy ground and splotches of sunlight streaking through shady patches under the cloak of figgy trees.
Here come the adjectives...Philosykos is all things verdant, vegetal, dusky, musty, milky, green, spicy, creamy, and finally, dry.
Olivia Giacobetti pays homage to mysterious fig groves. The entire tree is represented in this scent: branches, fruit, leaves, and cloudy sap. I've seen many reviews call it unwearable unless one desires to smell like an actual tree and surrounding dirt. It is certainly true that this scent is quite literal in interpretation. And while it turns off as many as it excites, I enjoy this scent. Scent is so unique to each wearer. The reviews are great to see different takes on the scent, but I recommend trying for yourself.
For me, the sensual fleshiness of fig fruit pulls through, creating a dichotomy of soiled dryness and hazy sweet fruit. I've also layered it with Hermès Un Jardin en Méditerranée for giggles.
I'm going to get right into this without describing Philosykos from top to bottom, as a lot of people have already done (and have done well) before me.
I get less fig from this and more fig leaf and fig tree. This smells very similar to your hands after pulling weeds. That fresh, semi-sweet, vegetal sappiness...that's what this smells like to me.
And it's recreated quite well. But that leads us to the most obvious question: do you want to smell like you just got finished pulling leaves off a fig tree? I imagine this is the aroma of the hands of a very erudite landscaper.
Impressive construction, but I can't imagine wanting to smell like this in public or private, for that matter.
let me start by saying I understand the focused nature of Philosykos (1996) as a primarily fig-based scent, and can appreciate the thematics too, but I'm not sure how wearable this is as a scent for more than maybe an hour or two, since it's so hellbent on fig that it's nearly off-putting. Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti seems to have a preference for both fig and rose compositions, and near-artisinal niche perfume making overall, as the bulk of her work is with L'Artisan Parfumeur, Iunx, Diptyque, and Honoré de Prés, plus she's never made anything for a designer house since her early days with Agnès Troublé's "Agnès B" lines. Philosykos let Giacobetti fully quench her thirst for fig it seems, and if you like that note enough to wear a fragrance built up around it, then this might be your new favorite. Diptyque describes Philosykos as: "The memory of a Greek summer at Mount Pelion. To get to the sea, there was a natural grove of wild fig trees to cross through. The sun at its zenith heated the earth, the dry wind carried the scent of the trees and their fruit. Philosykos is an ode to the entire fig tree: the green freshness of the leaves, the density of the white wood, the milky flavour of the figs." I take away from this that the scent is as much an ode to fig as L'Ombre dans L'Eau (1983) is to rose, but much more directly so. This stuff started a mini-trend in fragrance mostly leaning on the male side of the spectrum, with a gamut of designer scents featuring fig prominently or at least noticeably in the scent, until cheap body mist companies got a hold of the theme and drove it into the ground.
Philosykos opens with a challenging fig leaf and fig fruit note, being instantly musty like a bowl of the fruit left in a cool, damp basement. It's an unpleasant opening for me, but I've fallen in love with other juices that come across unpleasant at first only to develop magnificently later, so I stayed the course. Fig tree wood, coconut, and vetiver seem to comprise the middle, but this doesn't really abate the mustiness to me, and that fig tree wood is likely some modified cedar note, which is what it most closely resembles. The base seemingly just shores up the musty fig head, with Iso E super, a musk fixative, and some black pepper. I can't really say it was an enjoyable development on skin, and I like fig when it's blended in other fragrances like Avon Far Away for Men (1998) or Michael for Men by Michael Kors (2000) because it's better qualities shine through while the mildew smell of raw fig is held back by the other notes. I see this maybe working better in the cold, where my nose might be desensitized to much of the scent's intensity, and this is the eau de toilette I'm talking about here. I dare not explore the parfum if this comes across too much for me. Sillage is above the median, and longevity is plenty tenacious, as the fig lovers who wear it will also need to be.
I won't give a thumbs down for this because it is accurate in it's presentation of fig, so it's not a failure, but Diptyque seems to be a house based on olfactory accuracy in the recreation of the accords its fragrances capture, so I come to expect no less from them, and I also give kudos for keeping true to their "original meaning of niche" roots, and much like Lush or L'Artisan Parfumeur, Replica, and to an extent Le Labo, release what are mostly experiments in perfume upon the willing public, with a sort of "original hipster" vibe that I feel Lush borrowed from this house and took to the Nth degree with it's "bedroom perfumer" aesthetic. Philosykos begat less-intense (and to me more-likeable) designer fig fragrances like Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Homme (1999), which mixed in lots of vetiver and sandalwood, plus Vera Wang for Men (2004), which crossed fig with tobacco and peach, making the musty, powerful note hold hands with things I enjoy. People who love everything fig, like fig Newtons, figgy pudding, or the general Christmasy feel of the fruit might even get away with using this as a room spray, which incidentally is true to one of Diptyque's purposes as a maker of both personal and home fragrance, but I can't see a relevant time where this should be worn, neither home, office, out, or at night. Diptyque certainly aren't the most bizarre niche house, but this is one of their more bizarre creations. That's all I got. Not for me.
Firstly, this review is based on only a few wearings and now that my small sample is finished i really want to decide if i get more. At this point it's in the i don't really care if i wear this again.
The verdict is really more based on the fact that i do appear to be indifferent to the fig note because there is certainly a great representation of fig here.
The other big (and important) factor for me is that it is just a tad weak and performance is not enough for me to invest in this. I am wearing the edt and not even sure if there is an edp version, but still.
Others obviously love it and i definitely don't hate it. Just don't want it.