Tuesday, August 4, 2015

ForStrangeWomen Perfume Review

Jill McKeever's Kansas-based perfumery, For Strange Women, goes above and beyond expectations. McKeever's perfumes only include natural materials, and she's gone so far to ensure eco-conscious packaging. FSW's scents are unusual, complex, and mysterious. Every perfume I ordered had a memorable, singular story to tell. No two scents smell alike; all scents are richly complex. Due to being all-natural, FSW scents usually need re-application after 3-6 hours. Luckily, the compact locket makes re-application convenient. I don't wear my FSW scents much in the day, however. I prefer wearing my FSW as a comfortable, pre-bedtime ritual.

I ordered Violin in the Attic and three solid perfume samples. My samples included: Fireside Story, Satin Corset, and Evergreen Mountain.

M I N I   S O L I D   C O M P A C T 

My Violin in the Attic ($36 USD) arrived in a brass locket with a letter-pressed label. The box contained pretty moss-filling and a card describing the scent.

Violin in the Attic: "Violin in the Attic features a blended wood base enhanced with frankincense and myrrh to emulate the instrument's carved body sealed with resins. A warm layer of antique amber fills the heart of this blend, evoking years of rosin dust baked to the antique wood while left in the attic for generations. Subtle accents of rose and cocoa fill out the sweet and resinous overtones while the dry woods stay close to the skin."

  • i. My Opinion: Violin in the Attic has an overall resiny scent that reminds me of concert halls. The opening introduces a strong yet not overbearing wave of frankincense and myrrh. Amber pulses at the heart of this perfume's suite. I can hear the shuffling of an orchestra, the humming of woodwind instruments, and a modest, classical piece at play. Within five to ten minutes, the sweeter, rose and cocoa notes accompany the resin.

    Upon its sweeter shift, Violin in the Attic takes me beyond my memories' concert halls. The rose and cocoa notes usher in a sweeter, harmonious movement. I'm instead transported to strange yet familiar places. Suddenly, I'm in 18th century Vienna, and I can see Vivaldi's young, wide-eyed pupils pulling at their own viola bows. Within moments, I'm peering over the shoulders of other maestros' pupils from different times. Unfortunately, after two and a half hours--the musical journey disappears on my skin. At this point, only the amber heart remains.

    ii. Notes: Frankincense, myrhh, amber, rose, and cocoa.

    iii. Bottom Line: Violin in the Attic is most complex at its opening and its transition from middle to end. The amber heart excellently endures, and the woody opening is fascinating. While effective, the sweeter notes are ephemeral. Violin in the Attic is familiar to anyone with an orchestral, music background. Or anyone with a passion for polished wood, really.

    iv. Personal Rating: 9/10 

S O L I D   S A M P L E S

My solid perfume samples ($10 USD) came in individual small, translucent envelopes. The envelopes come with scent ribbons and scent description cards. The solid perfume is sealed between the ribbon. To "activate" the perfume, one warms the ribbon up by rubbing in their hands. I'd say on average you can get about 3-4 usages out of each scent ribbon.

Fireside Story: Fireside Story opens with a flash of dark smoke that fades to allow a bouquet of woods to emerge. Traces of leaves, pine cones, and dried resins crackle in this smooth, muted incense that remains close to the body. Three varieties of vanilla create a lingering finish and the perfect setting for a ghost story.

  • i. My Opinion: On my skin, Fireside Story opens with the sweetness of vanilla. There is a delicate smokiness to the opener, but it's very light for me. While this smell indeed provides warmth, the image of a fireside doesn't come to mind. Instead, I'm recalling of the comfort my mother provided me as a child. I remember cuddling up beside her, and breathing in the sweet smell of her hair, my head tucked under her chin. After five minutes, the sandlewood and pine notes quietly drift in. I can see my mother opening the window above the bed to give both of us air. The pine and sandlewood lightly fill the room, and my mother smiles and whispers to me to sleep soon. The scent of pine and fresh leaves lull me into dreaming.

    At Fireside Story's major shift, the notes are no longer distinct from each other, and instead culminate into a complex, indescribable scent. It's a scent with a thoughtful, thematic finale. On my skin, the theme to the finale is "comfort." This perfume has a longer lasting value than the rest of the FSW line I sampled.

    ii. NotesSmoke, leaves, pine, sandlewood, frankincense, and vanilla.

    iii. Bottom Line: Fireside Story is complex throughout the entire experience, with or without the supposed smokiness. While it's not a scent I'd identify with, it's still nonetheless fantastic. If you're seeking an accessible, comforting scent--Fireside Story might be for you.

    iv. Personal Rating: 10/10

Satin Corset: Satin Corset is sweet, uplifting, and seductive. A floral bouquet in a bed of vanilla bourbon interprets the scent of a line-dried ivory corset worn by a classic Victorian woman. This fragrance is very similar to oriental lilies, their sweetness grounded with an intoxicating floral musk.

  • i. My Opinion: Satin Corset reveals complexity right upon its opening. Its introduction feels expensive, feminine, and commanding. On my skin, I get powdery floral notes mixed with hypnotic vanilla. This isn't the powdery sweetness that I get from most feminine perfumes. This is a classic, aristocratic sweetness akin to idealized women. I feel like I've suddenly been transported into the life of an Edwardian, high-society lady.

    Satin Corset's individual notes culminate and combine early on. While the lily notes noticeably follow, they're so carefully and gradually introduced that you don't realize they're there until much later. While Satin Corset is a dramatic, elegant scent--its transitions are careful and poised. Additionally, there's a pleasant, underlying muskiness that permeates throughout the scent from start to finish. As a lighter perfume, it requires constant re-application. On my skin, it started fading a little after an hour.

    ii. Notes: Powdery floral, hypnotic, llilies, and vanilla.

    iii. Bottom Line: Of all the FSW scents I've sampled, Satin Corset is by far the most feminine. Its remarkably unique take on powdery floral is more than enough to make up for its less dramatic transitions. If you aren't looking for a feminine scent--this perfume is definitely not what you want. But if you want to feel like a John Singer Sargent painting--this is exactly what you want.

    iv. Personal Rating: 10/10

Evergreen Mountain: Evergreen Mountain was created to capture the scent of a vast landscape of coniferous trees, blanketing the sides of a mountain. Fresh air mixed with woods, balsams, and evergreen needles combine to transport the wearer to the Black Forest. Try not to get lost in this dark, dense, deep green aroma.
  • i. My Opinion: Evergreen Mountain indeed opens with vastness. There were so many well-arranged notes for me to intake that I was certainly a little lost (in the best ways). I can smell crisp, cold air mingled with a variety of trees. The woodiness of woods, balsams and pines are masterfully arranged into a sensory bouquet. What's wonderful about this perfume is how fantastically complex and long-lived its middle is. The balsam doesn't quite reveal itself until the spruce and fir have quietly parted their branches--but even towards its final reveal--Evergreen Mountain still feels mysterious, romantic, and infinite.

    ii. Notes: Clean air, spruce, fir, balsam, vetiver (extrapolated from scent description).

    iii. Bottom Line: Evergreen Mountain is nature without its harsh indifference. There's nothing torrential about this scent. Everything about this perfume is peaceful, romantic, and meditative. What I like most about Evergreen Mountain is that it has a very specific vision of nature, and commits to it. If anything, Evergreen Mountain more or less Thoreau's Walden in perfume form. If you're a transcendentalist or a simple nature-lover, this might be for you.

    iv. Personal Rating: 9.5/10


My rating on the brand overall...
  1. Performance: 10/10. Complex and unforgettable. 
  2. Scent Complexity: 10/10. I can tell McKeever spends a lot of time developing these scents' personalities.
  3. Packaging: 10/10. My products arrived in a padded bubble envelope. The brand packaging itself is victorian-inspired, eco-conscious, and gift-giving ready. 
  4. Product Quality: 10/10. Ethically and consciously produced. Hypoallergenic ingredients are also always a plus!
  5. Staying Power: 5/10. The low staying power doesn't detract from the product's overall score. I admire FSW's artistic, sustainable decisions from start to finish.
  6. Value: $$ (A little pricey, but for the amount and ingredients--reasonable.)
  7. Customer Service: 10/10. I've never had problems asking Jill for scent recommendations and making changes to my orders. She's always been nothing short of wonderful.

i. Violin in the Attic ♛
ii. Satin Corset
iii. Evergreen Mountain


If you wanted to go for something unique and evocative, For Strange Women has something for you. I, personally, will return for more. 

You can find For Strange Women and check out/order their products at their website and their etsy

Have you tried out For Strange Women yet? What do you think? 

DISCLAIMER: My thoughts and judgements are my own. I am not an affiliate to the seller in any way. All shown FSW products were purchased by me for my own personal collection. I review products for the sole purpose of recommending products I enjoyed.

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