This “Dewy Fig” Perfume Is What Everyone’s Wearing Right Now

Photo: Courtesy of Phlur.
Ask anyone in the beauty industry about the most popular perfumes and they'll likely mention one brand that has really blown up over the past couple of years — Phlur. Led by OG fashion blogger Chriselle Lim, Phlur is churning out evocative scents that go viral on TikTok. 
For example, you've probably heard about Missing Person, the perfume that, according to the brand, "evokes the lingering scent of your lover's skin." It took off on PerfumeTok with wearers becoming emotional about how the smell — a blend of musk, jasmine, and sandalwood — makes them think of a certain someone in their lives. More than the virality, Phlur Missing Person became a nude and specific skin scent (akin to Glossier You) and many, many people are wearing it in its various forms — fragrance oil, travel spray, body lotion, and body wash (the best and least aggressive option, IMO). 
Since Missing Person, Phlur has had other sleeper hits, like Not Your Baby (vanilla milk and mimosa) and Tangerine Boy (amber, ginger, and tangerine). But this brand-new scent, Father Figure, is garnering Missing Person-level hype, for its story and the fragrance itself which more than one person has told me they "much prefer" to Missing Person.
Let's start with the vibe of this new fragrance. If Missing Person was emotional and forlorn, this one is light and green. Lim wanted Father Figure to represent her current role and status: divorced, head of her household and a thriving beauty business. It's giving boss.
But the perfume isn't masculine, it's commanding and intimate. In designing the scent profile, Lim worked with famous perfumer Frank Voelkl, best known for his work creating one of the most beloved perfumes on the market, Le Labo Santal 33. If you like Santal 33, you will like Father Figure; they're different but there's a similar suede and patchouli combination that offers a specific sophistication that's both subtle and unmistakable.
According to Voelkl, Father Figure smells like hidden gardens. "There is a contrast between the vivid greenness and something more skin-like," he explains. "The milky nectar of fig compliments buttery suede qualities of orris to create a naturally sensual effect." 
I'd agree that Father Figure smells a little sensual, almost surprisingly so. Someone on TikTok said she'll be wearing it as her wedding fragrance. Refinery29 Senior Affiliate Writer Karina Hoshikawa says it's become her "romantic date night" perfume. "The overall impression is warm yet invigorating," she explains. "As it wore on my skin through the day, none of the notes jumped out at me as an overwhelming scent, but rather mixed together like a symphony. It reminds me of clean skin, and isn’t overly perfume-y despite its floral notes."
Any kind of "skin" can err on the musky side. Perceptible musk was R29 Deputy Beauty Director Jacqueline Kilikita's issue with the viral Missing Person fragrance. "I know it went TikTok viral and made people cry — in a good way — but its floral notes were far too old fashioned for my liking and lent an air of grandma’s dresser," Kilikita explains. Father Figure, on the other hand, "is equal parts spicy, soapy, sweet and fresh, thanks to green fig, creamy sandalwood, suede-like orris root, and comforting vanilla," Kilikita continues. "It’s a fragrance that both me and my boyfriend can share and it seems to last much longer than the Phlur fragrances that precede it."
What impresses me about Father Figure is its complexities. On my skin, it's very light, green, and dewy — I pick up on the waterlily and jasmine. But a friend, also a huge fan, said Father Figure smelled sweet on her, which maybe is the vanilla coming out. I might actually underscore the sweet notes by layering a vanilla scent underneath this one — I really like Vanilla Woods by The 7 Virtues, which is lovely, not saccharine sweet and not too expensive.
I never thought I would love a green fig perfume so much, but this one is special. At less than $100, this stands up against the $322 Santal 33. It might not make you emotional, but you'll smell elegant and cool, like someone who's strolling into the office in a chic linen vest (or waistcoat) with tailored trousers and white trainers.
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