All posts by Nava Brahe

Sarah Jessica Parker Channels Donna Karan With Stash

Image result for Images of SJP StashFor about a decade, serious perfume aficionados had to endure bombardment with celebrity scents that were churned out by the dozens. Most of them were insipid fruity- florals with no imagination that were meant to appeal to teeny-boppers, and anyone into smelling like a combination of fruit cocktail and cotton candy. “Celebuscents” are still out there, but they now seem to be relegated to the shelves of WalMart and Target, and on discount e-tailer websites.

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Ruminations on What I’ve Missed, and a Review of Valentino Donna

During my absence from the world of fragrance, a few shifts took place that I wasn’t fully aware of until recently. First, more attention was bestowed upon the niche sector of the industry, exposing some genuine masterpieces, and more than a few pretenders in the bunch. Second, bottle prices have skyrocketed over the past decade. Just yesterday, I was perusing Creed’s much anticipated feminine version of its masculine Aventus scent, only to see that a 75 mL (2.5 fluid ounce) bottle is priced at a whopping $405. I almost fell out of my chair. I was enamored of quite a few Creed scents years ago, but now, sadly, they are out of my current rage of affordability. Even scents sold in mid-level department stores, as well as in Sephora and Ulta, are rarely under $100. Despite this, my penchant for buying full bottles has endured; You can’t really blame me for wanting to replace what was taken from me, can you?

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WEN By Chaz Dean Summer Honey Peach and Summer Mango Coconut

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and learned that I would need to undergo chemotherapy and radiation after my mastectomy, there was a moment when I realized I would eventually be bald. At that point in my life, my hair wasn’t in particularly great shape. I had stopped coloring it, and wasn’t getting regular haircuts, partly because I couldn’t afford them.

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La Collection Privée Christian Dior La Colle Noir and Mitzah

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that a very special friend has been instrumental in the rehabbing of my nose. This friend has supplied me with some generous decants of fragrances from her vast collection, and I want to show my appreciation by reviewing two of them. They helped me recognize my newfound appreciation for scents I would have, in a former life, probably scoffed at.

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Packaging vs. Juice: What Attracts You to Fragrance?

Wearing fragrance is open to interpretation. I like to compare it to genres of literature. For example, I love reading historical fiction, memoirs, and literary fiction. I dislike mass market paperbacks, romance novels, and science fiction. That’s just me. I don’t begrudge anyone the enjoyment of reading those books, nor do I begrudge someone wearing a particular fragrance just because it comes packaged in an attractive bottle.

The debate about packaging versus what’s inside has long been raging in the world of scent. Some fall on the side of juice first; packaging second. That mindset can be reversed depending on who you’re talking to. Personally, I think the quality of the juice has caught up to the flamboyant packaging, but again, it depends on which scents you enjoy wearing.

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The Nose Roars Back

Have you ever had something stuck in your craw for so long you never thought it would go away? That’s been the relationship I’ve had with fragrance for the past six years. If you check out the last two blogs I posted, you’ll see that I was off scent for a long time, due to circumstances beyond my control. That is what’s been sticking in my craw for so long (What is a “craw” anyway? I keep envisioning that piece of popcorn that gets stuck in your teeth which takes yards of dental floss to extricate from your mouth.) Then, cancer treatment shattered my sense of smell so completely, I was convinced it was forever fucked. Forgive the strong language; if you’ve been down that road, you know what I’m talking about.

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$7,319.68

These words were originally published on October 13, 2011 on the site PerfumePosse.com.

The number above – that’s the tax deduction 30 Serges (Exports and Exclusives), plus about 100 more miscellaneous fragrances and other items will get you if you donate them to charity.

How do I know this? I found out about 2 weeks ago, finally, what my wonderful aunt did with my perfume collection and some other items I was forbidden to retrieve from her house. Now, I guess you can say I have “closure” of the situation since she threw me out over a year ago.

I’m usually not one to air dirty laundry, but since I’ve been through so much over the past few years, I thought, what the hell. I’ve lost everything so I literally have nothing left to lose.

The problem is, finding out that my treasured collection is gone forever has put me off fragrance. This is worse than going off meds or having a run of bad luck. Right now, I just don’t care what I smell like or what anything smells like. I even pitched what  few bottles that did manage to make it out of her house; I just couldn’t stand looking at them anymore.

So, for now, I bid you all adieu. I have no desire to smell anything and I don’t know when I will again. I know my attitude sounds defeatist and it’s allowing evil to triumph over good, but I am too exhausted, emotionally and physically, to keep fighting. The only thing I can hope for is that my aunt will receive some sort of karmic retribution for all the crap she’s pulled on me over the past couple of years. You know the saying: what goes around, comes around. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

I hope to see you all again before too long.

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In Memoriam

This essay was originally published on November 4, 2010, on the site PerfumePosse.com.

How many of us have loved and lost? I’m not just talking about perfume: friends, family members, spouses, pets…we mourn for different things in different ways, and no two are ever alike.

Three years ago, my life as I knew it changed forever. The details of this transformation don’t matter, but in coping with all the upheaval, I decided, who better to help get me through it than family? Turns out, this was the worst decision I could have made.

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Reflections On the 4th

I’ve been tossing around one of my lists in my head, and since I haven’t posted in a while, I thought it was the perfect time to share my thoughts.

The Fourth of July in America is mainly about barbecues, fireworks, and enjoying the summertime weather. When you live in the Pacific Northwest, especially during an El Niño year, it’s more like a random day in November. The weather notwithstanding, I’m happy to be an American today, just as I was happy to be a Canadian on Canada Day (July 1).

Now, here’s what’s rolling around in my head:

Two Years Ago Today…

Two years ago today, I came home from the hospital after having a double mastectomy. Breast cancer changed my life in so many ways, and the one, rather, two things I miss the least about my pre-breast cancer self are the parts I no longer have. Seriously, I don’t miss the “girls”. I might look slightly strange to some people, but I don’t care. Take me as I am; if you don’t, it’s your loss.

This Is the First Thing I’ve Written In Two Months

Before I started working full-time, I thought all I ever wanted to do was write. It turns out that I was in serious denial about needing a break. I was so exhausted from the constant hustle that I hated what I wrote, and hated the act of writing even more. I’ll always need to write – what I won’t likely do for the foreseeable future is try to make a living at it. Being a writer today is exponentially more difficult now than it was pre-World-Wide-Web. My hat is off to those of you who can endure the hustle, but my hustling days might very well be behind me. I gave it my best shot. There are more enjoyable ways to make money, and I’m going to explore those for now.

My Nose Is Back!

Many of you remember me as a pretty major “frag hag”, and I am happy to report that my nose is once again fully functional. In fact, I’ve been bingeing on fragrance with utter abandon lately, and it feels great. It’s the most incredible feeling knowing that sociopathic relatives and vile medical treatments were unsuccessful at trying to kill my love of scent. Rebuilding my collection is reinvigorating my spirit to the point where I’m seeing pink unicorns and rainbows every night in my dreams. Well, not really, but there are many of you out there who get what I’m saying.

Ignorant People Have Me Shitting Bricks

I’ve been trying my best to ignore the contentious political climate that has overtaken most of the developed world, but I find that lately, I’m lapsing back into my addiction to politics. I had other things on my mind for so long that I didn’t realize how badly ignorance now plagues our lives. Sure, I’ve read tons of crap on social media about Hillary, Trump, and Brexit, but what really gets me is how easily we can be coerced into forming opinions. A great many of us have no idea what’s behind the way we think, nor are we the least bit concerned about repeating our mistakes. We simply want to follow the herd instead of delving deeper into what we read, see and hear. There has always been an underlying hatred of the intelligentsia, and now it is so far out in the open that many smart people find themselves afflicted with delusional thoughts and paranoia. Please pay attention, folks – there will not be anywhere to hide if you don’t.

And finally…

Life Is Good. Here’s Hoping It Stays That Way.

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When Full-Time Freelance Writing Is No Longer Viable

I’ve worked as a full-time freelance writer since September, 2009. Over the past seven years, I’ve experienced some pretty euphoric highs, a few bouts of blinding anger, particularly when one client pulled a $6,000 job out from under me for a very minor spelling error (I believe it was actually because they decided they didn’t want to pay me that much after all), and some near-suicidal lows. Those three phases can be somewhat typical for a person who freelances at anything – not just writing.

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