6C698FF1-A8C6-44DC-ADDC-E30AD447BB89A week after we learned of the death of the last of the great couturiers I feel everything has been written about this extraordinary creator by those who knew him, wrote about him and treasured his memory. His creativity was unparalleled not only in the world of fashion but also in his homes and his magnificent gardens.

I wanted to briefly talk about my memories of the few times I met him.  The first time was at the launch of his first cosmetic collection in 1966. It was always a ”contest” to see which of the major stores, usually the Speciality Stores….Saks Fifth Avenue, Bonwit Teller, I. Magnin (Neiman Marcus wasn’t in Chicago yet) and, of course, Marshall Field’s, would launch the newest, hottest fragrance.  I must say Saks saw it’s share of these prestigious events. Obviously a cosmetic collection by one of the worlds most illustrious designers was beyond exciting. We had a huge fashion press in Chicago at the time and they were all vying for exclusives. I didn’t then believe in exclusives if the story doesn’t run you are ”dead in the water”. Instead, we always had a press party for visiting designers in addition to a reception for clients usually to benefit a charity. All was set, caterers in place, champagne chilled and I had the tuxedoed wait staff with their champagne ladened silver trays lined up on either side of the cosmetic aisle ready for the guest of honor, M. Givenchy, his people, the President of Saks, Corporate Cosmetic VP’s and our guests. I ran up to my office to quickly change, I am in ”mid-change” when my walkie-talkie (this is before tech thingies!) is swawking….”M. Givenchy’s car has just pulled up”!  My office was on the fourth floor, I finished pulling on my clothes torn down the stairs and made it to the door to escort the entourage into the store and the reception. Whew!!  I have worked with many, many wonderful creators through the years and I can say he was one of the most gracious, charming of all.  He made you feel like you were the only person he wanted to talk to, if only for a brief moment in time. This cosmetic line was short lived and we had the privilege of a second launch several years later. AFD15AD3-A8F0-45DC-9E8C-A92419EFF774.jpegThis photo, now in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, hung on my office wall was from the first launch.  Unfortunately, like several other designer photos, the salutation has faded into oblivion over the years.

In M. Givenchy received the Designer of Excellence Award from the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum at a sold-out black-tie gala held in the Museum in 1995 sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The front and inside cover of the evening’s invitation, the evening was planned with the direction of M. Givenchy’s dear friend, Victor Skrebneski (holding my hand) who took the photo on the invitation and is seen here with M. Givenchy and Bonnie Deutsch, the President of the Costume Council at that time.  The evening was a roaring success monetarily and prestigiously   It was the talk of the town. All the guests were given a small ivory silk pocket square with the Givenchy signature and rolled hem in grey. All three images courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.


A close up of another Skrebneski photo of one of my favorite Givenchy dresses….you by now know my love of lily of the valley…what could be more divine!!!!!  Photog found on Pinterest.

We all know of the deep friendship between Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn from the time she chose her garments for Sabrina through most of her many films, as well as her personal wardrobe.  One of my most favorite garments are in Charade, loved the film (what’s not to like) and the clothes are to die for…she seems to have a new outfit in every frame…each better than the last.


My favorite Skrebneski photograph of a Givenchy gown. Everything is perfection….the composition, the lighting the incredible staircase, the floor and of course the gown…oh my the gown!!!!  Found on Pinterest.

Of course, a few suggestions for your fashion book library….

I have very fortunate to have worked with the creme de la creme of the fashion world….lucky, lucky me!!




I know I am being irreverent posting the above image, but I couldn’t resist it! The lazy days of summer with a picnic by water as interpreted by one of my most favorite artists, James Tissot in his painting, Holiday, at London’s Tate Museum.  I want to transport myself into that scene.

“Historians agree that the English word “picnic” comes from the French term “pique-nique” which was used from the mid 1600’s on to discribe gourmands who brought their own wine when dining out…” From The History Channel website see History in a Basket It’s Picnic Time. Also check a fascinating food blog Recipe Reminiscing

Picnics and outdoor scenes have been the subjects of artists forever….particularly loved by the Impressionists….we know how they love light and shadow as well as the great outdoors.  Here are just a few of my favorites.





Another of my favorite artists, Fernando Botero, with two of his picnic pieces, charming.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts on outdoor living, particular picnics, while we enjoy the upcoming two months of fun in the sun, celebrating two Patriotic holidays, the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, so many festivals (Chicago is the home of festivals, most are free!), dancing in the Park, free movies Citywide in the twilight, Ravinia Festival Grant Park Music Festival, and on and on.  You can make your own picnic fare or pick-up (or have delivered, even better) everything you need for the most fabulous picnic ever.

Are you tailgating while day tripping, spending a lovely weekend get away in Harbor Country, the charming countryside of Wisconsin,  Camp Wandawegaon my to go to list! or a staycation in Chicago, I would suggest you stop at Randolph Street Market this weekend, June 23 and 24 from 10 to 5 where you will find all your picnic gear, not only for the picnic/outdoor living itself but what to wear, Artisian foods, games, collectible blankets, Patriotic items, even books for after your feasting…the list is never ending. Here a couple “charming” vintage photos of picnickers….(look for vintage photos at RSM).

Picnic anywhere even your own back yard and have “ gaming” equipment available…croquet anyone, or perhaps lawn tennis….don’t forget the thermos bottles (pick these up for your daily Starbucks for picnics or not, chic and sustainable!)  all, of course to be found at RSM, along with hampers, baskets and……..



Ravinia Festival

Need some menu suggestions, do you read cookbooks for the stories as well as the recipes like it do….love them.  Here some books, there are zillions out there, these caught my eye…need to add them to my cookbook library…..


I am obsessed with anything from Lee Bailey, he was always so gracious and entertaining when he made personal appearances at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago to introduce one of his books….part memoir, part entertaining and always the best recipes.

Doesn’t this look delicious….I think perfect for your picnic basket or any summer menu.  We are so lucky to have as many farmer’s markets all over Chicago and suburbs as we do….I actually have one a block from home, yay! I am most certainly going to make this…I don’t usually post recipes that I or my friends haven’t tried, but how could this be bad!!!!!  This was on my New York Times Cooking post, do subscribe if you don’t already you can also easily save all the recipes that interest you on blog posts and your own favs!!! It is one of my food go to blogs.


Poached Apricots With Pistachio and Amaretto Mascarpone



Yield: 4 servings

Time: About 35 minutes


For the Apricots:

Scant 1/2 cup Sauternes (or other sweet dessert wine)

1/2 lime

1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

6 medium ripe apricots (about 2/3 pound) halved and pitted

For the Pistachio and Amaretto Mascarpone:

3/4 cup raw unsalted pistachios, toasted and finely chopped

2.8 ounces hard amaretti cookies, such as Lazzaroni brand, roughly crumbled (you’ll need two 2.3-ounce packages)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

8 ounces mascarpone, at room temperture

1/2 cup heavy cream (or double cream) lightly whipped to soft praks

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (Nena’s note, optional)

1 teaspoon lime zest


Step 1

Poach the apricots: Add Sauternes, lime half, vanilla, sugar and 3 tablespoons/40 milliliters water to a saucepan just big enough to hold the apricot halves in one layer. Place the pan over high heat and cook until the sugar has melted and the liquid boils.

Step 2

Remove the pan from the heat and place the apricots in the hot liquid, cut sides down. Leave them to poach in the residual heat until they are soft but still hold their shape (20 to 40 minutes, depending on how ripe they are) flipping them every 10 minutes. Set the apricots aside to cool slightly. (If not serving immediately, transfer the apricots to a covered container and refrigerate until needed.) Squeeze the lime into the syrup and then discard it; return the saucepan with the syrup to medium-high heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup/70 milliliters, 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside at room temperature until needed.

Step 3

Prepare the mascarpone mixture: Combine pistachios, amaretti cookies and sugar. Add three-quarters of this mixture to a bowl with the mascarpone and mix it all together until combined, then fold in the cream.

Step 4

To serve, divide the apricots and the amaretti cream between four bowls. Pour the syrup over the apricots and sprinkle the remaining amaretti and pistachio crumble over the cream. Finish with orange blossom water and lime zest and serve.


66FF2E0B-87D4-4C95-B713-DB0F14801BB2Happy summer and enjoy all your outdoor activities (you can, indeed, enjoy an in-door picnic as well)….I’m not great with a lot of outdoor activities, pity since I adore hot weather…..bugs bring their family and friends to feast on me!!!!! Not too much fun and I haven’t as yet, found a repellent that works for me!  Oh well…you enjoy your picnic outside I can always sit in the tarted up Air Stream trailer and chat through the door!


All photos found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.








18A73FF8-4061-4705-8C45-1CA1180C42CFOne of my go to authors, Laurie King, never disappoints and she hasn’t with her new book Island of the Mad the lastest in her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes adventures. This is the fourteenth in the series beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I was given the opportunity, by NetGallery, to preview the book, thanks to them I throughly enjoyed this story which primarily takes place in Venice. I have read most of the series, and as usual, if you are new to Russell and Holmes, I would suggest you begin at the beginning, after that you don’t need to read them in order, but not a bad idea…I do love a good series, don’t you!!!

Mary Russell takes center stage in this story, of course Sherlock is very much in the picture but it is pretty much Russell’s tale to tell and she does it really, really well. The story involves a friend of Mary’s missing aunt who has spent most of her adult life in asylums.  She seems to be improving but has disappeared from an outing with her nurse.  Russell and, the reluctant, Holmes trace them to Venice and so the real intrigue begins.

It is a tightly woven mystery, involving family fortunes (not new in English mysteries, but handled interestingly here), escaping family secrets in dramatic fashion (asylums to be exact!). A mystery, absolutely, but also a look at Venice after WWI (almost a sightseeing guide, loved that!), the beginning of the rise of fascism, the fascination of the followers of Benito Mussolini, International celebrities such as Cole Porter and his socialite wife, Linda, Elsa Maxwell, entertaining everyone around the Lido cabarets (I must read her biography by Sam Staggs Inventing Elsa Maxwell: How an Irrepressible Nobody Conquered High Society, Hollywood, the Press, and the World as well as the many Maxwell wrote herself!). I found that LGBTQ was openingly discussed at that time period a not expected story line that King, in my opinion, handled perfectly. An appropriate tone for Pride Month.  Of course, I loved the in-depth descriptions of all the interiors and clothing of the period, as well as the romantic pull of Venice, it’s citizens and the celebrities who intensified the glamour of this mysterious city.

Definitely a good read, as is the series….hope you enjoy it, do let me know your thoughts

You know I always recommend using your Independent Bookseller, FYI I am partnering with The Book Stallfor nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club.


33A06E6A-8F85-42A9-9052-591FB077485AMichael Vollbracht at the beginning of his career when we first met, late 1970’s. Inscribed photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

When the news reached me last week that Michael Vollbracht had died, after total disbelief, I immediately wanted to do a post on my wonderful times with him. I didn’t want to do an obit, His dear friend, Jeffrey Banks, did one so eloquently for the CFDA and it was followed by an brilliant piece in the New York Times and Woman’s Wear Daily. All detailed the life of a unique, brilliant talent. But rather, I wanted to honor him with personal reflections.

I first encountered Michael’s talent when Saks Fifth Avenue bought his collection and I featured his extraordinary garments, all of which were amazingly beautiful prints that he had created, in many of the charity fashion shows we did at the time.


They were great hits so much so that SFA Chicago invited him to bring his collection to the store and do a formal fashion at The Hilton Chicago, the first of several formal shows with him, (home to many, many of our shows!) In those days, I met all the designers (and often their representatives if the designers weren’t making a personal appearance) at the airport, actually at their gate, we could do that until 9/11, and escorted them to their hotel. This allowed us to get to know each other and, in my opinion, set the stage for a comfortable, successful event. In addition, I was on the selling floor throughout their visit and usually was included in the dinners we hosted for the designers.




We got to The Hilton on the day of the show, it was a luncheon in the Grand Ballroom, a magnificent room to this day, I can’t remember a time when I checked the room before I would arrive at any venue. Of course, I would do a walk through of the space prior to any event.  The charity usually did the decor, centerpieces, etc. We opened the doors to the room and were met with at least 20 American flags on flag poles placed on the balcony hanging over the stage (they had been there for some political event and left!)  I love my flag but it was a bit much, to say the least, for a fashion show.  There was nothing to be done but work with them. Michael’s reaction, “How charming, a salute to a born and bred American designer….love it!”  This gives you an idea of his sense of humor, his ability to adjust to the situation and deal with it.


The twinkle in his eyes…..

Michael had a special relationship with Bill Blass (Michael later designed the Blass collection, I thought the perfect fit!) who asked him to design his retrospective exhibition at Indiana University the fall of 2002.  The opening night was attended by many of Bill’s New York designer pals such as Adolfo and Carolyne Roehm as well as the ladies Blass dressed all of whom, after viewing the exhibition, sat down to Bill’s famous meatloaf.  The only thing missing was Bill who had died shortly before the opening.


Talking about Bill Blass

Michael asked to describe the exhibition said it would “be a mixture of museum and theatrics.”  The exhibit had dramatic lighting, the walls were what Michael called “cafe latte”, music of another Indiana native, Blass was from Indiana, Cole Porter, was piped throughout the space.  I was devasted not to be able to attend this once in a lifetime event, work prevented it  I did however go to see it at the invitation of Kate Rowland, curator of the University’s Sage Historical Costume Collection.  I was able to see it several times the day I was there…fortunately the first visit was early in the morning when I walked through it by myself…fortunately I say because I burst into tears at the first thing I encountered, Bill’s office, totally reassembled, again the only thing missing was Bill!  Bravo Michael…you totally did it and Bill would have totally approved.  I adore fashion exhibitions and this was done to perfection in a very small space, luckily we have a book co-authored by Michael, Kate, and my first SFA boss/mentor/supporter, the incredible, Helen O’Hagan.


I wanted to share some of the portraits Michael did of his designer friends, they are fabulous and capture the personalities perfectly.

9C4D8C18-42A4-4BE5-8C3F-8A8B30CED252                                                                      Bill Blass


Love this of Pauline Trigere, it captures her perfectly


James Galanos, exquisite



Donald Brooks (sorry for the poor quality, the only copy I could find)


Diane Von Furstenberg, gorgeous


Norman Norell, another designer who passed away prior to the opening of their exhibition from the Nena Ivon Archives of Columbia College Chicago.


Two illustrations from the divine monograph NORELL by the brilliant Jeffrey Banks….if you don’t already have it purchased it immediately, it is glorious and a MUST have for your library along with the Blass book


Lucky me, I worked with all the designers, above, who were captured by the insightful eye of Michael Vollbracht.


The famous Bloomingdale’s shopping bag, Michael’s Book, and…….no words needed!

My last in person encounter with Michael was at a Costume Society of America Symposium in Kansas City, (Michael was a hometown guy!) in 2010 when he was the Keynote Speaker.  A bit of background, at the 2009 CSA Symposium I was seated with the cochairs of the Kansas City event and they were discussing how excited and a bit intimated that Michael Vollbracht was coming for their event, I spoke up and said, “what a coup, he is the Renaissance Man and you will love him.”  Their response, and I think in unison, “do you know him!”  “Yes, yes, I do” I said….well needless to say I became golden and was asked to be his host…yes, please.


I set up the room before his presentation with pieces he had sent and put them on dress forms.  I introduced him and he began by talking about me much to my embarrassment, but I was nonetheless thrilled.  He got a standing ovation, not easy from the group…he was perfect, of course he was!  There is always a Patron Dinner for the keynote and those who wanted to be up close and personal with the guest…again he charmed the group with his “unfiltered” stories.  He and I went to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the Edward Steichen photography exhibition, who better to go with and spent another evening with Dennis Brozynski, my Columbia College Chicago Fashion Studies colleague and long term CSA supporter (the other member of our group, my dear friend and CSA roomie, Dianne Erpenbach, also a CCC Fashion Studies colleague, was tied up with CSA meetings and couldn’t join us) getting Kansas City barbecue….Michael knew all THE joints to go too.  We roamed around, stuffed full of some of the best barbecue ever.  Ah memories…all good ones


My little black dress sketch, hangs on one of the shelves of my fashion library.  It is visible from the foot of my bed, so we can say I wake up with Michael every day! Photo taken by me

So much has been said of his talent, his art, his fashion, his newly found voice on Facebook with wonderful in-depth stories of his career, his relationship with mega stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor, his frustration with the fashion industry, to say his death is a huge loss is a major understatement.  Rest In Peace Michael Vollbracht, your art lives on.

7CBE6DFC-024A-486C-9B24-EDE5A8B7016AAll photos and illustrations unless otherwise noted are from Pinterest credits unknown.


This post is underwritten by an anonymous sponsor

D0CDC04F-EACC-496E-BD4A-8D630A1EA560Appropriate title for this week’s book review, why you might ask…..I’m doing a post later this week on angels!  I really didn’t plan this and it is only the title, a true coincidence….I’ll leave that up to you!

I have been an avid reader of Barbara Cleverly wonderful series of books (13 so far) featuring Joe Sandilands so needless to say when I read about the first in her series with Detective Inspector John Redfyre I had it on my to be read list.

As you know by now, I don’t review books I don’t like…in fact I don’t read books I don’t enjoy right from the get go….too many to enjoy, too little time to read all of them.  How do I choose, certainly an author I think might have something to say, who engages me emotionally, intellectually, stretches me, and once in awhile gives me a giggle (where are the Patrick Dennis’ with their Auntie Mames!!!!!). Authors I have read such as Louise Penny, Cara Black, Charles Finch, Rhys Bowen, etc. do just that and I am always looking forward to their next adventure.  And yes, a cozy fits into the mix, I think of them like a meal Intermezzo….a mind cleanser, if yout please.

Okay Nena, let’s get to the book. First off I liked our new protagonist Dectective Inspector John Redfyre, he is smart, kind, very good at what he does and, of course, good looking!  Set in Cambridge (a change from most English stories set in University towns…Oxford being the place of choice).  Perhaps not as highbrow (that is how it is depicted, not a criticism on my part), but, of course, still with the English standards of higher education and their rules and regulations. It is filled with mystery starting in the first chapter with a female trumpeter (unheard of then and I can’t think of many now!) who is in performance with a male organist.  She has an accident which brings our hero to her aid and so the story begins. We learn other females are murdered….none of them seem to be connected socially, but the method is the same. We, of course, learn about what the commonality is…I’m not going to spoil it for you. I will, however, say I didn’t guess the murderer until revealed, I liked that, it kept the mystery going, perhaps I missed the right clues!

Set in 1923, I found Cleverly has written a ode to the suffragists and those who followed them working toward more inclusion….not much different from today…equal pay, more opportunities in the hierarchy (hence the title), voting (although women had the right to vote in England they had to be 35!), and on and on. Well done Barbara. I also liked that she mentioned “brands” such as Liberty of London, fashion designers such Captain Edward Molyneux, adding a bit of panache especially when referenced by our sophisticated Redfyre.

Should you read it, yes, will there be another with our clever Detective Inspector John Redfyre, I would say definitely….at least I hope so.


Paintings found at the May Randolph Street Market be sure to check their website for a fabulous piece on collector extraordinaire, Melissa Parks, and while you are at it check out Melissa’s Instagram account @megillicutti, you won’t be disappointed.  Melissa has a fantastic eye, a wonderful aesthetic and unique knack for finding the most unusual items you immediately want to add to your collections. These paintings gave me the genesis for this post.

Its Summer that means lots of activities centered on our incredible Lake Michigan or shall I say our amazing the “Michigan Ocean”….it certainly acts like one. How lucky we are to have such a vibrant body of water in Chicago as well our surrounding States, especially Indiana and Michigan where I spend lovely weekends as a houseguest, lucky Nena.  All things considered, I’m thinking nautical. Once again I’m posting lots of photos mostly mine taken on my IPhone7.

Our Lake Michigan images found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.

i usually take the South Shore when I travel to Harbor Country….love the vintage posters…wish they had parlor and dining cars now….how quaint that sounds…I’d be happy with a quiet car!!58720543-391D-4133-81C9-12252BE04B0B


Several books if you planning a day trip or weekend get away to the Indisna Dunes.

I was visiting my long time friend, Barbara Varro, a couple of weeks ago (I’ve posted some of her treasures in the past as well as a couple of recipes, she gave me some that I will share with you in future posts) and we visited other friends in their charming home in Michiana, had a delightful lunch and long overdue chat and another day we visited one of Barbara’s close friends, Rosie Krueger, and I took lots of photos of some of her art all of which were done by local artists. I took other photos of her collections watch for them in upcoming weeks. The following are her paintings and textiles.

DD122196-B2FC-47DD-B699-2C4699D9DC4ELove this study of the Dunes painted by Jo Ergstrom.

B8CBE763-99D0-4C13-B6C4-C835F08D7279A painting of Rosie’s grandchildren by Rosale.

42117E73-5D3C-4590-AE8D-D5FA2FD7975FDunes and Lake Michigan waves by M.F. Meyers9A458C2C-6660-4C00-9487-19E853F0CEBDOf course there must be a lighthouse another charming Lake Michigan scene this by J. Cornell

Can you believe these are art quilted pictures about 8” x 6” by quilting artist Marlene Goodfield.

B4C34429-9B57-4D4E-92B8-7E7ED91B1AF0A Monet print of sailboats that remind me of all the incredible boats getting ready for the Annual Race to Mackinac July 21st this year. The best place to watch is at Navy Pier unless, of course, you are sailing!  Check Michigan Avenue’s Ashore Thing for all the details on this annual event. All above paintings and art quilt pieces photos taken by me on my iPhone7.


Sailboats on our beautiful Lake….photo from Pinterest credit unknown.

By now you know I love antique shopping, particularly at the monthly Randolph Street Market, and when I can get to South Bend, Indiana I hurry to Council Oak Antiques The photos were taken by Pat Smith at my request for some nautical items…aren’t they wonderful!

Last week I was at a event at the brand new Space519 for a preview of the Christie’s auction of the Kenneth Jay Lang estate, extraordinary pieces, and found Stuart Mesires presenting (and selling!) her charming vintage pieces from her Ladybug Vintage Collection. You can also find her on her 1st Dibs page under dealers/ladybug-vintage. Again I asked if she would send me some photos to fit today’s theme…here they are….75C7C0B5-E52E-4C36-9155-74BF0BB023EA1950’s Miriam Haskell shell necklace

Kenneth Jay Lane Necklaces

Yves Saint Laurent fish brooch.                                 1970’s Trifari fish pendant



I haven’t done a model profile post for awhile and I have been “pestering” my girls forever, being the persistent gal I am I haven’t given up hope.  I must admit I’ve had D’Arry’s reminiscences for awhile, but as you know my laptop died and I have been in a learning curve with my iPad…..I think I have conquered it…..yay!

I was (and am) very lucky to have worked with exceptionally professional models through the years, you have had the pleasure of meeting many of them through nenasnotes (hopefully there will be more!).  When I started in the Fashion Office at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago we used 8, maybe 10, models in our shows most of which were commentated and an hour long. I used the same group for each show. Of course, as they left and shows changed I used more, but did like the consistency of the Saks models, I always knew what they could wear and most of the designers, in many cases, allowed me to eliminate fittings (it saved my budget!)  D’Arry was always the consummate pro…always show ready, on time (I do have a thing about promptness, I admit it!) I loved her look and, of course her red hair….

When I retired from Saks the models, organized by Elsa Tullos, (I did Elsa’s profile as one of my first model profiles) had the best party ever and D’Arry did the perfect drawings of the models…then and now, as my gift…I’m sharing it with you, they are now housed in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

They are definitely an inside joke but I think you can enjoy them

Now let’s hear from D’Arry and how she started her modeling career and where that took her and her fascinating life today.


“i was 19 when I started to model, a career fallen into by circumstance. I was training horses and restoring vintage Corvettes by day, and going to school at night to study criminology. My goal was to join the police force, but I still had two years before I was old enough to take the test…a boyfriend suggested modeling as a way to make extra money; and my career was born! I started doing print work, and my first job was a 5 hour shoot with Victor Skrebneski for Head and Shoulders shampoo. I had no idea who he was, and I remember my father being mortified; “He shoots NUDES!” he told me. I calmed him down with the latest issue of Vogue magazine and showed him all the fashion shots attributed to Mr. Skrebneski…to this day I feel Victor started me on my print career, and I am thankful.


Victor Skrebneski Marshall Fields ad, one of  D’Arry’s first print jobs

I was lucky enough to work the world, spending time in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Zurich, New York…probably not what would have been in the plans for me had I ever taken that police exam!


F7958600-A824-4654-9D90-150279230100Some of my favourite designers to work with were Gianni Versace, Georgio Armani, Luciano Soprani, and Karl Lagerfeld…On a sidenote: one of my favourite illustration jobs post-modelling was an award winning calendar featuring Jack Russell Terriers. One day I received a call from the publisher, she said she just gotten off the phone from a new customer in Paris. This woman had seen the calendar hanging on the showroom wall at the Maison de Givenchy, and had inquired about buying it. Monsieur Givenchy graciously gave her the phone number of the publisher and told her she could get her own. I’m certain he never knew the illustrator was someone he had offered the job of House model to 15 years earlier! (I declined because I could not, at that time, move to Paris for the year required.) When worlds collide.  


After I cut my teeth on printwork, I added runway…a new learning curve to master! In those days we didn’t go to “modeling school”, we learned from each other and our agents; and the runway girls were a pretty closed group to get to know (I’m glad I persevered, as I’m still great friends with most of them now. A bevy of Nena’s beauties even came to cheer me on my first time competing at the Westminster Dog Show in New York a couple of years ago-a memory that is dear to my heart.).

B86CD00C-B7BF-4F0E-A998-BA6DC61E5C76D’Arry with her model pals at Westminster, Maureen Mueller, Jeanouche Wopinski, Karen Ryan, D’Arry, Shelley MacArthur Farley, all have been profiled in past nenasnotes posts.  Photo from the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.


Working with Nena Ivon was, I think, about the best training you could get to make it in the modeling world. You could not buy that knowledge, and Nena was extremely selective on whom she chose to work with. She also demanded professionalism, and made NO exceptions when her expectations were not met. I remember I had a booking for a Bill Blass show, and the day before I burned my leg on the exhaust pipe of a friend’s motorcycle. I had a circle burn the size of a tennis ball on my calf, a really bad melted-skin burn. I told my agent so she could call Nena and replace me, but to my surprise, Nena kept me in the show. I walked the runway with a 4 inch square of white gauze on my leg…and afterwards Nena cancelled me out of the entire rest of the show season. Devastating for me; although I did end up getting an out of town print booking for one of the days I was originally scheduled for a Nena show, so it turned out okay (you could NEVER cancel a Nena show for another job!).


It took several years, a new short haircut and a completely new “look” to get re-hired for Saks shows. I apparently learned my lesson, as I was a regular in her group of girls after that! And I worked for her right up to the time that I “retired” and moved to a farm down in Southern Illinois. And as far as favourite designers for Nena’s shows-hands down for Adolfo! He always asked for me, and I simply adored him.

It’s now twenty (*ahem*) years later, and I make my living as an artist and a breeder of dogs. In addition to illustration work, I sculpt horses and dogs; I have done design work for the Breyer Molding Company in New Jersey, and design and sculpt for the Peter Stone Company in Indiana. I basically play with toys and puppies! And I get to play Vanna White for all the big model horse auctions…sometimes holding up my own artwork!

I am thankful for the experiences I’ve had in the modeling/acting world, it has helped me tremendously in showing my dogs-a passion of mine. Since most of my competing dogs are out of my own breeding programs, showing them off in the ring as flawlessly as I can is of the upmost importance. Even new dogs to my kennel are brought in as puppies, and I’ve trained them to be the show dogs they become. Since working with an animal can have challenges all on its own, the fact that I am comfortable walking and performing (necessary to showcase your dog in the ring) without getting nervous or flustered, well, that’s just another aspect of showmanship…not much different than walking the catwalk!

I am currently campaigning BrokenRoad Marco Polo of Prestige (Portuguese Podengo Pequeno), Prestige Gothom City Glitch (French Bulldog), And Prestige Exes and Ohs (Border Terrier) in the Owner Handler division of the AKC show circuit, and am proud to say that all three were ranked in the top 5 of their breeds; I am the first person to achieve this. (Final standings for 2017 were Griffy the Border and Marco the Pod #2 in their breeds, and Glitch the Frenchie was #5). This meant an invitation to compete in the National Owner Handler Finals in Orlando, Florida at the prestigious Royal Canin National Show. Very exciting! Marco Polo is currently ranked #3 in the breed of Podengos, if I can hang on to #5 or better, he and I will be invited to compete at Westminster in N.Y. again…

What a life!”5A70D502-A14E-474E-846B-9D7356821728

A reunion show at Wilmette Theater, Karen, Lelar, D’Arry, Gayle, Jeanouche, Nena, Shelley, Lou May, Terri, Dori and Camille. I do love orange on Ms. D’Arry.  Group photo from the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.  D’Arry photo courtesy of Ms. Frank.

D08E7825-AB3F-42DF-89DC-2BD45C5E4797 At the Misericordia Fashion Show on May 11, 2018 at the Chicago Hilton.  Karen always takes two tables and invites the models and me to join her. Pictured standing Dori Wilson, Isabell Bernard, Debra Balchen, Karen Ryan, Elsa Tullos, Diane Narcisse, Shelley MacArthur Farley, seated Loretta Wilger, Eleanor Simon and D’Arry.  I think time for another reunion show!!!!  Photo taken with my iPhone7.

D’Arry, I can tell you it was worth the wait to share your story with my readers.  I’m so pleased we had good times on the “catwalk” together and so very proud of you in your transformation with your precious dogs and your exquisite art.  Thank you so much for joining my blogging adventure….we have both reinvented ourselves.

All photos, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of D’Arry Jone Frank.



One of my favorites and it isn’t filtered, all photos were taken with my iPhone7

What could be nicer than a weekend in the country, well it could be sunny and warm rather than drizzle and cold!!!!  But hey, it was a weekend in the country with lazy days. I, of course, took a book with me to read and post and guess what, I didn’t like it at all, my deal with books…if I don’t like it I don’t read it, too many that interest me to waste time on ones that don’t appeal to me and I don’t do negative reviews.  I believe I’ve mentioned that before (I have been told I repeat things, sorry!) internet was difficult at best, did I mention I was in the country!  Couldn’t pull up my Kindle books…lots there on my TBR list, so I decided to walk around, between raindrops and wearing a borrowed sweater, and take photos for you. I’m posting them without comments. Rather between blooming, daffodils done, redbud trees turning to their wonderful heart shaped leaves, fruit trees getting ready to bear fruit, roses getting ready for their June blooms. And the hard part I was just a few days short of a glorious bed of Lily of the Valley, drat! What I love at this time of year is all the spectacular shades of green (my favorite color). Be sure to go to the end, I have my method for cooking fresh asparagus which we served to our Saturday evening dinner guests. Easy, easy, easy and really good.



72907F74-D23D-4168-BB7C-D5DB2432C44D0A56AAA5-E27F-4958-B7DF-161B5216EAF2Three varieties of asparagus freshly picked from the vegetable patch….what to do with them….lots of things but here is my quick preparation…


Break the stalk where it wants to break, of course wash them,  Peel the stalks if necessary. In a sauce pan, that will hold your bounty, melt a generous amount of butter when melted add asparagus, cover pan and vigorously shake until fork can easily pierce the stalks.  Obviously time varies with size of stalks. To finish sprinkle with sea salt and a generous grind of pepper.  Serve immediately or cool to room temperature.  Great as is or with a hollandaise.  Enjoy!EA38FA7C-2F3C-4856-94D9-AEBFEE99B278I’d buy this for the cover….lots of cookbooks on asparagus, if you do Kindle check Amazon Prime they have several that are free, at least when I Googled asparagus cookbooks.


This is a repost, the first repost I have done, the original appeared in May 2017 (I have changed the dates of RSM to this year everything else remains the same!) and since we are talking vintage….why not do a year old post…not very vintage but you get the idea.  What I didn’t talk about in last year’s post was how the bicycle (and the motor car) totally changed fashion, you can’t ride a bicycle with a bustle.  Let’s look at a couple of the fashions of Victorian times….and then read ALL sbout it in a charming blog, The Victorian Cyclist.



Check The Victorian Cyclist

A vintage card (you can find lots at Randolph Street Market) with an old fashion bicycle.


I am so excited to share the information on this season’s first outside/inside Randolph Street Market that will occur on Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27 from 10 to 5 and I thought it was the perfect time to think about all the wonderful picnics we can have this summer and what better way to get to them or travel around when we find the perfect location than on a restored Schwinn bicycle!  Well, lucky us we have just the thing at RSM (of course, we do!!!!) Mike’s Bikes returns for the 12th season.

imageLooks like a perfect day for a picnic.  Not only can you find the right bicycle but you can find all the “fixings” for your picnic as well at RSM.  All you need is a beautiful setting, some yummy food (yes, you can also get some goodies at the Market!) and good friends.  Chicago and all the suburbs have wonderful spots to picnic, or go to Ravinia for one of the fabulous concerts, Harbor Country or neighboring Wisconsin for all their summer events…you can picnic every weekend through October.

Basically, the first thing you see when you arrive at the Randolph Street entrance to RSM is Mike’s Bikes.  Mike is an encyclopedia on the history of Schwinn bicycles, by the way, the company was founded in Chicago in 1895.  He only restores vintage Schwinn and each is totally unique and Mike wants to pair his bikes with the perfect person and lovingly takes the time to talk to each client and explains every detail of each bicycle. I have seen many a happy smile on the new owner’s faces when they leave with a treasure, either to relive their youth and/or form new memories for themselves or their families, it is wonderful to experience their pure joy!


Michael Mitchell has shared his passion with me and I now share it with you in his words.


“I have been selling vintage Chicago manufactured Schwinn bicycles at Randolph (May-Sept.) for ten years and I have enjoyed every moment. Along the way, I have met so many interesting people who share the love for these bikes. The bikes make their eyes light up and they begin by reminiscing and sharing childhood experiences of riding bikes with family and friends.
The complete process of reconditioning the average vintage lightweight Schwinn takes approximately ten hours. The process of reconditioning a bike begins with:
1. All bearings cleaned and greased.
2. Worn parts are replaced ( brake pads, brake and gear cables, and ball bearings.
3. Replacement of tires and inner tubes ( if needed)
4. Paint cleaned, polished and waxed.
5. All chrome polished.
At the end of the reconditioning process, the bike is like brand new. If needed, the spokes are replaced and the wheels are trued. And to top it off, all replacement of parts are made with original Schwinn parts.
I recondition 1960’s – 70’s Schwinns as well as vintage Raleighs (manufactured in Nottingham, England).
As a result of the reconditioning process, each bike is priced individually because many of them require more parts and labor.
I retired from teaching school ten years ago, but prior to that, I was reconditioning the bikes for fifteen years. I was always fascinated with the Schwinn brand since childhood. Schwinns by far were at the top of the list when it came to quality and price. As a child, my family could not afford to purchase Schwinn bicycles, but whenever I saw one, I could see the quality of the bike in its paint, chrome, constructed welds, and overall styling. At the age of fourteen, I had saved up enough money to purchase a 10-speed Schwinn Varsity; I’ve been loyal to the brand since.
The 1960’s-70’s vintage Schwinn bikes that I sell are steel framed bikes that were manufactured in Chicago. These are comfort styled vintage bicycles that were designed to provide the rider with comfort seats and upright handlebars. The popular Schwinn models being sold are the Breeze, Racer, Speedster, Collegiate and Suburban bikes. Each bike is reasonably priced and ready to ride without any expensive repairs.”


Looks like heaven to me…you can find similar goodies like everything in these photos, maybe not the flowers, at RSM!  The settings are up to you.
How about a couple of recipes for your picnic….one from me and the other from Tom Mantel’s recipe box….
8 oz mushrooms sliced
10 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup Swiss cheese
1/2 cup fontina cheese
4 eggs
2 cups half and half
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 pastry crust
Sauté onions and mushrooms until tender.
Add spinach and a couple tsp of water and cover.
Cook stirring frequently until spinach is wilted, let cool a little.
Place pastry crust (can be homemade or store bought) in Quiche plate or a deep dish pie plate.
Distribute cheese over pastry.
Distribute mushroom onion mix over cheese.
Beat eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper until blended but not frothy.
Pour egg mixture over the spinach cheese mixture.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.
Let cooL before cutting
Can be served warm or room temperature.
Nena’s note, I have had this and it is amazingly delicious!
This is just a what I put in my deviled eggs and it’s really not a recipe…you have to do it to taste…sorry!
Remove the yolks from the hard boiled eggs mash with Durkee’s Dressing (a little goes a long way, you can find it with mustards in your grocery store), Miracle Whip (my mayo), salt, freshly ground pepper and a dash of sugar until smooth (no lumps allowed!) either spoon into whites or if you want to be fancy, use a pastry bag with a fine tip and pipe into whites.  You can add a herb sprig to the top or if it is a very special picnic a dollop of red caviar, why not!  Obviously, the amounts depend upon how many eggs you are doing.  They go like hot cakes so be sure to make enough.
All images from Pinterest photo credits not available.
Mike’s contact information:



1C911491-9A13-4097-8DCF-919DB9F20ED4I’ve shown you my needlepoint footstools in past posts, now let’s look at some of the pieces I have done in years gone by. I’m going to concentrate on the pillows I own (I have done a zillion more as gifts and commissions over the years) and I must admit I have an abundance of pillows….an obsession, probably!  I’ve mentioned I prefer to work from charts and I think all but one I’m featuring today, which is tramme, are from charts.  The piece above is a combination of several charts that I made into a charming “picture”..I love baskets, roses and bows….all work together here, the tassels were purchased, not hand fashioned and are silk, used to tie this small pillow to the back of a vintage chair. It along with a matching green vintage secretary were the first pieces I choose and purchased for my bedroom while in high school, needless to say, they have been with me forever.  The chair now resides in my “library”.  A good time to mention the May Randolph Street Market  is Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27 from 10 to 5.  It’s the first outside market of the season, and the classic Plumbers Hall continues to have three floors of treasures year round.  I’ve found patchwork quilts, remnants of textiles and lots of needlework there over the years.  If you look you will definitely find a textile that will interest you or a treasure or two or three or………

FDC07921-2B0C-440F-A465-5B384EAC1322A close up of the basket (needs a good steaming…sorry!)

i started doing needlepoint while commuting from Evanston to Chicago for the first 12 years of working…I’ve sewn since I was very young with my Mother who was a superb seamstress, she particularly loved doing French smocking, Battenberg lace and both silk and wool embroidery embellishments on my clothes and my dolls clothes.  When I was old enough she gave me a beautiful sterling silver and cloisonné thimble (where is it?????).  Much to her chagrin, I couldn’t use it, I can’t stand hearing and feeling the metal needle on the metal thimble, pity!!!  We made our drapery, slipcover furnpniture as well as doing upholstery, bed spreads, you name it we sewed it!!!!  Mom finished all my needlework pieces, did most of the tassels, I did some, and silk ones were purchased.  She was so good at it she started doing friends pieces and from word of mouth it turned into a small business for her, it was called “The Little Pillowmaker”. But is was more than pillows she finished most of my other work and the work of others…glasscases, belts, rugs, Christmas stockings, etc. complicated pieces such as golf club covers, slippers, etc. we took to our local needlepoint shop

76A204C7-0828-46E5-97F8-50981AC322DESome of my collection resides on my built-in window seat that is covered in a pastel Asian pattern cotton toile.  The four small pieces in front (from a collection thoughout my home) are made from fragments of vintage Aubusson carpets that I purchased, over the years, from a fabulous dealer from the UK who exhibited at the Chicago Antiques Show that will be at the Merchandise Mart this week, May 17-20, an always extraordinary show.

62EF4C1E-796F-441A-A69D-617A965A0A95A set of three floral pieces my first assistant, Lucye, created for me to work. In return  she received a long vest that I did in a multI-color flame stitch, for Christmas that year, I created the pattern and even covered the seams with stitches, it was held together with black silk frog closings.  It was very boho (hippy in that era!) when I find a photo of her wearing it I’ll share it with you.   ABFC89D8-2AD0-4039-8267-4EA77A182123Obviously I need to get out the steamer yet again, my apologies for the poor shot….its been a few days of gloom here.  Here you can see some of the lily of the valley pieces i have done, I shared my lily of the valley rug in a previous post.  All the fringe is hand done, by me!!  Tedious but very rewarding. You can see a glimpse of the pastel Asian inspired toile.  I use the window seat as an extra bed when I have an over night guest (the cushion is down filled and very comfortable, I sleep on it when company visits).

4D34A8C1-E278-44C4-9955-730E997C1770Here is a close-up of one of the tapestry pieces in front of one of my larger pillows, this one a French tramme piece from a kit I actually got on my first trip to London in the late ‘80’s.  I enjoyed working in tramme, in which the pattern is worked in long yarn stitches on canvas rather than being painted and you cover the horizontal stitches with traditional tent stitches.

Another large piece that anchors the other pillows, I love to do borders and am mad for boxing pieces, doing endless plain background (especially all black backgrounds) not so much!

Back to my needlepoint beginnings, in addition to travel time I also had lots of time before fashion shows after I had set up the show to do busy work  I read a lot, always have, and found that wasn’t going to work when I was with other people and we all wanted to chat.  I could easy stitch (knitting makes me very uptight) so needlepoint it was.

I have a huge collection of needlepoint and other needlework books (I’ve done quite a bit of crewel as well, mostly as gifts) was and am particularly fond of those by Maggie Lane.  I would presume they are out of print but if you can find them do add them to your library, the stories she tells of China as well as her extraordinarily exquisite work are worth the read even if you don’t do any needlework.  The cover below is from her first volume.  The pictures below the book cover are just some of the many, many pieces I did from her charts. 


These are just a small selection showing you what I did, each of these as gifts for friends, some got many others one or two, all from graphed charts from the Maggie books.  All, of course, done in colors to coordinate with the recipient ‘s individual decor. And I always asked if they would like a piece before beginning the process, I work quickly but don’t want to spend my time on something the recipient thinks is “homemade” and not “heartmade”, an Ivonism, by the way!!!! The photos above are from Pinterest credit unknown.E10B5D96-A69D-4C92-B4C0-C530A1936821One of the most ambitious of any of my work, other than the rug, was done for my first boss, Kay Walsh Dobson, for her Pompano Beach, Florida home.  One of twenty, or more, pillows I did for her along with a set of six Chippendale chair slip seats and a backgammon board (yet another post) all in various shades of yellow (probably my least favorite color palette to work with!) and black and white.  I would say this piece finished was approximately 30” wide x 24” deep plus the box border. If I never do another black background again……  I must admit the finished piece was spectacular! Again, when I locate photos of all her pieces I promise to share them with you.

As as you know I follow a million blogs and my interests are quite varied, I follow food sites, book bloggers, home and garden pieces and on and on. As luck would have it one blog I follow and look forward to, always so well done is The French Tangerine  which had a perfect post, for me to share, this week. I quickly send an email and Jan Vrana, the creator of The French  Tangerine, not only answered immediately but has given me permission to link you to her May 10 story on the Lauritzen Gardens and some of the most exquisite Elizabeth Bradley needlepoint pieces I’ve seen, they are always special but the way they have been finished they are even more gorgeous. Thank you so much Jan, for sharing your fabulous post with my readers, they can’t help but fall in love with The French Tangerine and follow you

Now, dear friends that you have been properly introduced, I hope you enjoyed getting to know some of my pillows. Have to go find that thimble and think about stitching something new, interested in a special piece…..let me know!!!!