WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: RECIPES

I have been lax in posting recipes and I have heard from you….so here are several that I  like all year but thought they would be good for May.  I might serve the Corn Soup with either of the entrees or another dinner, I often do it as a starter to a poached salmon entree.  It is so good that it always gets rave reviews!

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NENA’S CURRIED CREAM OF CORN SOUP

1 17 ounce can cream style corn

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1-2 teaspoons curry powder (I usually do more, do to your taste!)

1 cup half and half

1/3 cup heavy cream

Fresh basil

Whirl in blender all ingredients, except basil, until combined.  Chill and serve with a leaf of basil on top.

Serves 4.

imageShawnee Corn King pottery soup tureen.  Image from Pinterest, credit unknown.

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NENA’S OVEN-FRIED LEMON CHICKEN

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 cardamom seeds crushed (open whole pods and  crush seeds with a mortar and pestle)

2 boned and skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

Lemon pepper

1/2 carton sour cream

1 cup fine bread crumbs

Lemon slices for garnish

Combine lemon juice, garlic, and cardamom seeds.  Add chicken and marinate a room temperature at least 1 hour, turning frequently.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Remove chicken from marinade.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dip each piece in sour cream and coat with bread crumbs. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.  Put on ungreased baking sheet and cover lightly with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and increase temperature to 450º.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until chicken is golden brown and tender.  Serve hot or cold, garnish with lemon slices.

It is delicious either way.  A perfect picnic food.  I served this many years ago at a press luncheon I hosted for Bill Blass and he loved it!  I would now serve with a green salad and, as usual, a lovely white wine…or champagne, always champagne!  If you wanted to continue the lemon theme, finish with the lemon bars I shared with you several weeks ago!

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BARBARA V’S CHICKEN/WILD RICE/GRAPE SALAD

2/3 cup mayonnaise (my mayonnaise is Miracle Whip, just saying!)

1/3 cup whole milk

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon tarragon (you can use fresh or dried, I prefer fresh which would be a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon)

3 cups chopped chicken (she uses all white meat)

3 cups cooked wild rice

1/3 cup finely sliced green onion (white and green parts)

1 8 ounce can water chestnuts drained

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 pound seedless green grapes halved

1 cup salted cashews

Blend mayo, milk, lemon juice, and tarragon and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, wild rice, onion, water chestnuts, stir in mayo mixture until blended.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Just before serving stir in grapes and cashews.  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread…more white wine or perhaps a lovely rosé!  It is really good and a great buffet party salad.  This recipe serves 4 generously.

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All photos from Pinterest, photo credits unknown.

COLLECTIONS: VINTAGE PORTRAITS

 

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Vintage portraits a super collectible in so many ways. You can make-up your family tree if you so desire, do fabulous wall displays, research the history of itinerant painters and naive paintings….the list goes on. What is the picture that I am opening with today, it is mine, sits on my desk purchased, (if I turn my head slightly to the right it is in my view while I am at my lapto)  a zillion years ago at RSM (Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com is Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24 from 10 to 5….it is the last outdoor Market of the season, it is, of course, year round inside Plumbers Hall!) it is an oil on wood and I have decided it is me with my. Mother, Ruthy. The frame is in disrepair but I like it that way (Tommy this one is for you!!!)

Come to Randolph Street Market this weekend and find one, two or more to add to or start a collection.  I am featuring some of my favorites as well as introducing you to Melissa Parks who will be at RSM with some of her treasures. Melissa is one of my most admired and go to vendors she has amazing taste and vision with her own collections and she gathers many, many, many items to share with you when she comes to RSM, a must visit booth….and I am absolutely mad for her Instagram posts you can follow her @megillicutti, you won’t be sorry.  l’ll try to convince her to do a Monday Profile…really want to know more about her and share her story with you…fingers crossed!  I asked her to take a couple of photos of her collection of portraits that she displays with her multitude of collectibles.

imageimageimageimageEach definitely has a story to tell.  I particularly like the gentleman who is looking directly at us…what is he saying with his very blue eyes and jaunty mustache!!!! Love all of them.  Melissa, thanks so much for sharing.

Portraits have always been with us and a way not only to capture loved ones but yourself as well.  Here are a few I found on Pinterest and have added to my favorites list.  I actually don’t collect them myself, but you know I have limited space, maybe I will start with some “smalls”!!

imageIsn’t she a charmer with the pearls and magnificent hat.

imageReally, really old but I really, really like her gaze and the primitiveness of it (is that a word!!!!)

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imageI believe a Chagall…

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imageMy photo at RSM, frames all ready for your art!

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imageJust a few suggestions on how to display your collection.

Another vendor I always visit at RSM  is Kevin Gorsch, find him in the Ballroom of Plumbers Hall and follow his Instagram @redleopardcrocodilevintage.  Kevin and I have known each other for years and, in fact, spent many a Sunday getting treasures at the Sandwich Flea Market.  He has shared a couple of portraits with me to pass along to you and included his entrance hall wall where he houses his “family” portraits!!

imageA pastel done by an American in Paris at Le Montmartre.

imageA portrait of Kevin at 13 from a show in San Antonio, no art could be more than $10, it was called the Starving Artists Show, no wonder!

imageKevin done a couple of weeks ago at the Lakeview Festival of Art.

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All of Kevin’s pieces photographed by him.  Huge thanks to Kevin for sharing some of his unique treasures with us.

imageShe is my favorite find on Pinterest…I have become addicted to the site.  I have always be a “clipper” it is in my DNA both my Mother and Father were clippers and I am proud to carry on in the family tradition…I must admit I still pull things out of magazines and newspapers but with all the ways you can save on the Internet I am in pig heaven!

Unless otherwise noted all photos are from Pinterest credits unknown.

I just heard on the Channel 7 News that The Hungry Hound’s www.abc7chicago.com/hungryhound featured restaurant tomorrow night will be one of my new favs and one I reviewed several weeks ago…PROXI www.proxichicago.com.  Emmanuel Nony promised to give me a recipe so here it is….enjoy and do go to the restaurant and enjoy a fantastically creative menu.

PROXI Restauran Andrew Zimmerman, chef

Fried Fish Collars with Thai garlic-chili sauce

Serves four

8pc fish collars, about 6oz each, cleaned by your fishmonger

or 2 whole fish (red snapper for example) about 1.5-2 lbs each, cleaned by your fish monger or and fish fillets that you like (one per person about 5-6oz each)

½ cup white rice flour

2 tbsp tempura flour

1-2 tbsp salt

2 limes, cut into wedges

12-16 sprigs of cilantro

8 cups vegetable oil (or enough to fill a Dutch oven or wide pot to a depth of about 6 inches)

Sauce:

2 tsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp minced shallots

1.5 tbsp sambal oelek

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp sugar

¼ cup tamarind water (made from 4oz seedless tamarind and 3 cups water…warmed up…mashed and then strained)

Pre heat an oven to 200 F.

Pre heat the oil in a wide pot or dutch oven to 350 F.

Have a sheet pan lined with paper towels topped with a rack handy.

To make the sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pan.  Add the shallots, cilantro and garlic.  Cook for about two minutes until the shallots are softened.  Add the samabal, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind water.  Cook about three minutes more.

Remove from heat and keep warm.

For the fish collars,  lightly season the collars with salt and them combine the rice and tempura flours.  Completely coat the collars in the flour mix and add them in batches to the hot oil.  Fry about 4-5 minutes or until lightly golden brown and hot all the way through.  As the collars are finished remove them from the oil and put them on the rack over the paper towels to drain.  Keep warm in the oven as you cook the remaining collars.

To serve:  put some of the sauce down on four plates.  Top the sauce with the fish collars. And then some cilantro sprigs and the lime pieces.

Serve.

Nena’s note…I am suggesting a wonderful dry white wine or champagne.  It is a delicious dish, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 REVIEW PART 5 LONDON

imageGareth Pugh, the avant-garde designer joined forces with photographer, Nick Knight for a 16-minute film which features these out of the future (is the future now!!!???) metallic garments…meant to be worn, I’ll leave that to you.

imageHussein Chalayan, to my mind’s eye, is one of the most imaginative innovators out there, he never disappoints with his creativity.  Alongside very wearable pieces, he showed a group of gowns with headpieces of rectangular frames with Swarovski crystals, while the flowing gowns were almost Grecian in feeling, complete with rough sandals.

imageAnother futuristic piece from Chalayan.

imageThe opening piece in the Chalayan presentation, some of the models wore headscarves and sunglasses over their faces, the designer said this was “a nod to chic but peculiar mood”.

IMG_0632Christopher Kane, bold splashy print, it does seem that London is all about the shoes….

IMG_0633Black shine with very feminine touches of white lace…hard chic made romantic.

IMG_0634Add to our floral trend mood board.

imageRefreshing white with two accessories to watch…long gloves and fascinating, to say the least, shoes!

imageAs I have mentioned in past posts, designers have chosen to show their collections in cities other than their own….who could be more American than Tommy Hilfiger and here he presents his totally American collection to close out London Fashion Week!

Fresh, very young and very Hilfiger and his collaboration with Gigi Hadid whose previous collections have been sell-outs. One of the trends I am following in all collections is leather, and here we see a short sleeve motorcycle jacket complete with studs…looks new and very now when paired with a floaty print and very short shorts in denim, another continuing trend….think of it with jeans or a slim skirt if shorts aren’t right for you and they certainly aren’t right for everyone! Tommy Hilfiger RTW Spring 2018A close-up of hair and make-up as well as the detail on the jacket.imageBoho-inspired floral float with tights and shoe booties….interesting for a Spring collection.

On to Milan…..stripes, glitz, neon color along with black and white….here a preview of Gucci’s interpretation for Spring 2018!!!

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BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: FASHION IN FICTION

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Since I am in the midst of reviewing the four major fashion markets in my posts I thought it might be amusing to look at some of the novels that have fashion and/or fashion designers as their theme…when I looked at my fashion book library I found I had many…some new some not so much!  I do keep all my fashion books (or should I say it is a work in progress) on LibraryThing, www.librarything.com it is a wonderful site to catalog all your books, I have chosen just do my Fashion Book Library, I’m about halfway through listing them.  You can tag them and find them easily, (for example all my Chanel books are tagged as well as being together on shelves in my Library) that is where I researched my fictional fashion books.  I’m sure there are many more titles out there as well as more or mine…do share your favorites.

Here then is a sampling and is by no means complete and is not in any order….

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Probably my most favorite….the story of a love for Dior….it is amazing!

imageAnother favorite and one I reviewed in nenasnotes….Oscar de la Renta plays a starring role.

imageimageI enjoyed both of these about Mlle. Chanel.

imageAnother take on Mademoiselle.

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Showing the not so nice side of fashion, in the author’s opinions, over the years…yes, even Judith Krantz and Danielle Steele have written about fashion! Probably the only Steele I have read…I must confess to having read all of Krantz back in the day!

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imageBoth about stores…. James Patterson has also done a book called The Store which was published in August….haven’t read it as yet….comments if you have!

imageimageBoth new on my TBR list reviews forthcoming.

imageOne I can’t wait to read, to be published October 24th, the fictionalized story of the Sutherland sisters who became the incredible designer, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, and the infamous author, Elinor Glyn.  I will, most certainly, do a review on it as soon as it is published!

 

FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 REVIEW PART 4 LONDON FASHION WEEK

As I mentioned in my last post, we look to London for innovation and cutting-edge trends….well look no further, the London shows are on target for being advanced, and the week has just started, like them or not….here they come!

Peter Pilotto a design team, Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, met while studying at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, their label was founded in 2007.  Known for their vibrant prints and body-hugging silhouettes. Chrome yellow, stripes, strong tropical prints have crossed the Pond!

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Alice Temperley, like most renowned English designers, studied at Central Saint Martins in London and launched her line in 2000. Do look for her book, True British, writren to celebrate her 10th anniversary.  I have chosen some of the trends that I saw in the New York shows, stripes, bold color, pastel pink (all shades of pink!), silver sequins, and, of course, black.  Note the shoes….

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Does the name Burberry sound familiar to you…of course it does!  Christopher Bailey has reinstated the Burberry plaid logo throughout the Spring 2018 collection which was shown at a former East London court, Old Sessions House. Loved everything about it…I must say I even tended to like the socks with the sandals…but am very afraid of what that trend will look like when worn by those who don’t know “style” if you get my drift! No offense meant!

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imageimageLooks like Kaia Gerber crossed the Pond as well…

imageAnother well-established name is Giorgio Armani who showed his Emporio Armani collection in London…it is interesting to see which International fashion stars are showing in cities and countries other than their home base. American brands Rodarte, Monique Lhuillier, and Proenza Schouler showed Spring 2018 just before the Paris Couture Collection in July.

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Mary Katrantzou also studied at Central Saint Martins and started her house in 2009.  Known for her combination of color and prints her Spring 2018 collection doesn’t disappoint.

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It seems to me that shoes are taking the place of handbags for the excitement in accessories…but then we have seen interesting handbags as well, I wonder, both on our must have lists…why not!

 

 

FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 REVIEW PART 3 NEW YORK FASHION WEEK

imageI’ve become enamored with fashion quotes and adore this one….it says it all, don’t you agree!

We have come to the end of New York Fashion Weeks and are now on to London, which I will review on Monday.  London has become quite cutting edge (but remember London has given us Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Vivianne Westwood, not to mention Mary Quant, Ossie Clark and, of course, the Father of Haute Couture Charles Frederick Worth and one of the first women Couturiers, Lucile Duff Gordon…..and the list goes one….so it really has been cutting edge forever!

Let’s look at three more of the stalwart New York designers…Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs (he always closes the week) and Marchesa.

imageMichael Kors finale….a bit too tropical for my taste but great color and silhouette.  I like to suggest you add print to your already established wardrobe, the prints change so much season to season.

imageI do like print combinations and am very pleased that we aren’t seeing mix-matched patterns and colors for Spring 2018…I much prefer mixing the same tones…here we see a palm print with one of my trends….stripes.  Note the shoes, we will discuss a bit later in this post.

imageSo very Kors….the casual look of the shirt with ombré sequin pants and in blue, another color we have seen on many runways.

imageI believe this is first time we have seen a grey garment in the Spring 2018 collections, it is a stunner and combined with luggage tan. perfection.  Note the grey wood planks for the runway…new, fresh, clean and a bit beachy!

imageHad to feature a LBD, this one I’m mad for….of course, I would need the top longer or the waist of the skirt higher, probably will ship that way.  Flip flops with sequins…why but then again why not.  I’m not a fan of them but they make an interesting statement here!  Kors was another of the many designers who used diverse sizes in his presentation.

imageAll three of the designers I am featuring today have fragrances, actually each has more than one to keep their brand available to those who can’t afford the ready-to-wear.  I chose these from Kors because I think they represent the Spring 2018 line perfectly, Sport, Sexy, Glam!

imageMarc Jacobs has always pushed the buttons from his days at Perry Ellis (that is when I worked with him) to Paris Couture…he is still doing that.  Here three examples of his interpretation for Spring 2018…bold neon colors, splashy dotted prints, oversize coats, jackets and dresses and fascinating accessories.  Love the gloves and creative shoes.

imageColor combinations and layering.  Head wraps throughout the collection.

imageMore color, I haven’t featured much pink in my reviews, but pink, in all shades, it most certainly a trend.  One bag is good, two even better.  I do like the full pant, perhaps pulled in a bit!

imageA stunner, I would have either put the sash lower or cinch the waist, but then I’m not Marc Jacobs.  I’ve shown you Chrome yellow in all my reviews and like it paired with black, brown or navy….I think a thong shoe here….

imageJust a few from Marc’s fragrance collection….many, many more!

imageThe finale and the end of week two of New York Fashion Spring 2018….don’t go away I’m going to show you a few pieces from Marchesa along with a special event invitation.

imageThe Marchesa fragrance.  The name Marchesa honors the eccentric Marchesa Casati, if you haven’t read the biography on her, Infinite Variety, please do so, her life was beyond belief, a super read!

imageGlamour personified!

imageAdore the floral bodice, the skirt not so much.

imageBeautiful and in a magnificent green crepe combined with petal pink…the entire gown looks like a flower…stunning.

imageWe have seen black and white in most collections, always refreshing in any season.

imageIf I get to choose…this would be the gown, perhaps a bit less décolleté, absolutely adore it!

And now for the exciting invitation.  The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum is hosting a private event with Georgiana Chapman and Keren Craig the Cofounders of Marchesa.  If you are interested in attending please contact ijohnson@chicagohistory.org.

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FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 REVIEW PART 2 NEW YORK FASHION WEEK

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In my last post, I began the month long journey into the Spring 2018 fashion shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris.  In Part 2 today I show you some of the new cutting edge designers along with four of the “established” creators.  I’m highlighting only a few from the vast assortment of creativity that is shown for two weeks.  You can go to Vogue.com for each collection and see the entire work by each extraordinary designer.  Not only have we seen many, many desingers showing a variety of looks with plenty of trends to keep us going but unusual venues from basketball courts to garages….such is the exciting, changing, dramatic world we call FASHIONB!

Let’s begin with a fairly new name on the fashion scene, Brandon Maxwell, who came to my attention when he made a personal appearance at Neiman Marcus Chicago several months ago.  I think you will agree this is one to watch.

imageOne of the colors of the Spring 2018 season….chrome yellow.  What we are also seeing is a play of contrasting colors in the accessories….a trend in many of the collections.

imageGreat tailored jacket in a pastel pink styled with a bold red top and bag and worn with a slim denim, another trend, jean.

imageLove the cut of this top it makes the arm appear longer and is very flattering.  Of course, the color combination is refreshing.

imageBrandon ended his show with a bride….truly a work of art for that special day.

imageFenty x Puma by Rihanna.  Obviously a sporty collection with lots and lots of color, interesting shoes (I’m a Puma gal!) and bags.  The staging is fascinating done in the round with mounds of pink sand!!??

imageRihanna closes the show as she rides in on a motorcycle, blowing kisses to the audience.  Reminiscent of Donna Karan riding into the Barney’s New York opening in Chicago many years ago.  The celebrity designer phenomenon just keeps growing.  Let’s watch this trend and see where it takes us.  Some collections feature super things some not so much.

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Jonathan Saunders Creative Director for Diane Von Furstenberg….not your little wrap dress anymore but still lots of prints, that DVF is known for, denim, along with uptrend accessories, lots and lots of color and new takes on textiles.  Your thoughts!!??

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Prabal Gurung, another name to put on your radar…not brand new but new enough to keep your eye on.  The color sense is perfection along with the tailoring of the structured jackets (look at silhouette, not short shorts….please!)  I end this group with yet another striking black gown, always a classic for your wardrobe.  In addition, lots of new fabrics to watch for in many of the collections.

imageOne of the looks I liked best in the Derek Lam collection.  I always find leather to be a year round “fabric” and would like to see more of it in Spring collections.

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imageIn my opinion one of the best Creatures of the Wind collections.  Having started in Chicago and being discovered and mentored by Ikram (no better endorsement than that!!!) Shane Gabier and Chris Peters have gone on to become talents to reckon with.

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imageMonse presentation on a private basketball court.  Three trends…stripes, red and denim.  The designers, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, also are the creators behind the Oscar de la Renta label.  Here a couple of looks from the Oscar collection.

imageThe designer’s ode to Oscar with his signature logo used on many print garments,  here on a coat with paint splashed denim crop and pant.  The models made their entrances and exits on an escalator.  I have done this technique in a couple of shows…a bit tricky when you get to full ball gowns, but fun to do!

imageCombining the script with a print in this easy chemise.

imageOur friend chrome yellow with a sequin dress.  It reminds me of Bill Blass combining fabrics…one of my favorite looks.

imageStripes in an oversize jacket teamed with a sheer net dress…the juxtaposition of casual with formal….I like this trend!

imageOf course, lots of ball gowns what would an Oscar de la Renta show be without them!!!!  I think just another show…….

imageimageOne of our all time favorite designers, Carolina Herrera, chose the Museum of Modern Art for her show.  Bold color and stripes for two exquisite gowns that she does so well.

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Ralph Lauren invited a small group of guests to visit his garage of vintage cars and staged yet another of his always updated classic collections.  Complete with menswear fabrics and glorious ballgowns.  I’m mad for the motorcycle jacket with the chrome yellow tulle skirt, I want it!!!!!

 

 

 

FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 REVIEW PART 1 NEW YORK FASHION WEEK

imageMad for this quote….how true….fashion is everywhere and fashion weeks are popping up all over the world.  We still look at the four, what we consider, at least at the moment, major markets….New York, London, Milan, and Paris.  New York began last week and we end in Paris early October.  From what I have seen thus far we are in for a very exciting Spring 2018 season.  What I will be reviewing, probably a couple of times a week, will be the trends that I see happening along with a few of my favorite designers.  Take note that my seeing news and excitement doesn’t necessarily say I “like the garments” I am reporting the excitement of the upcoming season.  And, please, oh please, let’s not discuss age or body image, if you like a look it can be adjusted to your time in life and your figure!

Let’s look at some of my finds….

How convenient that Zac Posen presented his Spring 2018 collection at the same time his documentary, House of Z,  is available.  If you missed my review please check my archives, I posted it on Friday, September 8th.  Zac chose not to do a formal show, actually a show at all, instead he has produced a look book filled with amazing styles.  I have chosen a couple to highlight here.  You can see the amazing embroidery, the incredible detail (the first is an ode to his inspiration designer, Charles James).  The entire collection is timeless and seasonless.  The last piece, a remarkable ball gown is, in my opinion, a masterwork!

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Jason Wu’s youthful but ageless collection featured stripes which showed up in several collections….let’s keep our eyes open for that as a trend.  imageimageI am so excited to share the news that the Jason Wu fragrance is exclusive at Saks Fifth Avenue and I was given a bottle to add to the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.  The bottle is based on his iconic handbag…see image below of both the bag and the fragrance….that is my fragrance and it’s box in my photo.  Not only sleek stunning packaging and bottle but a delicious scent!

imageimage From the sublime to the whimsical….an around the world fashion adventure with the creativity of Desigual.  Reminds me a bit of the Kenzo of years ago.  Lots of color, pattern and ethnic touches.  A case in point, that Fashion doesn’t need to be classic all the time!

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Speaking of whimsey….there is always Jeremy Scott who is celebrating 20 years in fashion, his collection is always tongue in cheek and this one continues that tradition with a new twist on his old favorites.  He is the darling of Katy Perry, Madonna, Riannah and other celebrities.

imageWatch for very bright almost neon colors in many of the collections.  Love the Doc Martens with this look.

imageWill denim always be with us….yes, yes and yes, in one form or another.  Before you go crazy, you don’t have to do a mini skirt the look can be adapted.

imagePhilipp Plein began his show with a performance by Dita Von Teese, the stage had “strippers” gyrating throughout the presentation….interesting to say the least. He showed both women’s and men’s garments some including leather as details.  These two pictures are showing two of the trends in the early collections, pastels, and denim.image

At the same time this show was going on Alexander Wang was doing not one but two shows with his models on as party bus they first appeared on a street in Manhatten then in Brooklyn, the shows were all over the place.

imageDoes she look famiiar….it is Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford’s daughter…she opened the show.  Her first catwalk was in Raf Simons Calvin Klein show.

imageNo need to introduce this young lady to you.  A fabulous little black dress.

A big surprise for me was the Calvin Klein collection by Raf Simons….the two photos below are very against what we think of as the Brand….but I feel very refreshing and very new….lots and lots of color and interesting silhouettes. Love the color combinations of the gloves, shoes, and bags….thoughts of how to update your established wardrobe.

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Tom Ford back in the game as the sexy designer guru….a dynamite collection.  Before you come after me….lose the shorts and look at the sensational hot pink power jacket and the color combination…perfection!

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Two of his evening pieces with beaded sleeves one in neon yellow and the other in pastel dusty pink…the way to look at any special black tie event.

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And, of course, the color he is known for, black, this, to me, is the essence of the little black dress.  One of my favorite looks so far.

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Victoria Beckham just gets better each season (when I worked with her she couldn’t have been more professional nor delightful, a total joy!) A bright red statement.

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imageShades of lilac but with depth in the color.

imageGreat layering and color combining.

imageAnd another LBD, fabulous with lilac pumps.  By the way, she has gone back into the jean scene.  Her first foray was when I worked with her.

The king of the special occasion dress and one of the first designers to use all size models in his shows, Christian Siarino….can we all remember him and his “fierce” attitude on Project Runway….he is an extraordinarily talented young man and I adore his high-end garments always shown with his Payless shoe collection.  Really the way women dress, combining high and low and old and new….imageContinuing my theory of stripes as a trend.

And four of my favorites from the collection….with pastels, brights, black and prints… all part of his progression.  Just gets better and better.

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Can’t wait to see what the next week brings…..stay tuned!

 

FASHION NOW: HOUSE OF Z

Before I talk about the House of Z, there are a couple of things I wanted to mention, of course, the hurricanes both Harvey and now Irma that are devasting vast areas not only in the States but the Caribbean and now the earthquake in Mexico.  Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in their paths.  Another sad note, Pierre Bergé died at the age of 86.  The person who made Yves Saint Laurent a household name and gave us unprecedented art and antiques and the new Yves Saint Laurent museums in Paris and Marrakech.  We must thank him for giving us beauty in so many forms, RIP.

On a happy note, New York Fashion Week is in full swing and the Collection that caught my eye is Calvin Klein, designer Raf Simons has turned the Brand around and Spring 2018 is chocked full of color!  More on NYFW in upcoming posts.

Now for this post….my first “movie” review.

imageI had the pleasure of being invited by Brooks Brothers Chicago (Zac is the creative director of Brook Brothers) to attend a reception at the Michigan Avenue store and a screening of the House of Z a documentary on Zac Posen.  The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews. You can watch the film on www.vogue.com/houseofz

The film traces the designer’s life, from childhood to 2014, and his beginnings with his mother and sister at 20, in 2001, at which time his premiere collection was met with great enthusiasm from the press and stores.  It goes through the major ups and the major downs when no one wanted to know him…ego does get in the way of many creative people.  It doesn’t hold back on anything, the details are not glossed over, which I found refreshing and at times very sad.  It is the story of triumph, failure, and triumph once again…only in America, which I believe is true.

My opinion of Zac Posen has always been a positive one, he is extraordinarily talented and I feel his early success was too much too soon.  Not unusual in our industry but in many cases if a desinger goes into a decline they often don’t come back.  Fortunately for all of us Zac most certainly has come back and with a bang.  He, of course, kept in the public eye and became even visible with his participation on Project Runway. Always the darling of celelebrities walking the red carpet and once again with the press. The Collection that is featured as the “comeback” show is his Fall 2014 Collection and is presented in his atelier, it is an ode to Charles James who he feels has always been his inspirational designer.  Watching THE blue dress come to life and how many hands and hours it takes is fascinating, charming and nail biting. The only other fashion designer documentary that I have seen that resembles this is Isaac Mizrahi and Unzipped, which I thought was so sad…and look at Isaac now into so many things, including one man shows…he will be at the City Winery www.citywinery.com/chicago on September 29th!!  I found House of Z to be gritty, honest, with major doses of what goes on behind the scenes of not only creating clothes but into the heart, and yes, the soul of the designer.  Bravo!

imageIsn’t this amazing….

Did I work with Zac, yes, I did.  Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago hosted him at a benefit for Steppenwolf Theater www.steppenwolf.org at a show at the Murphy Auditorium www.the-murphy.com an absolutely gorgeous venue.  My production team from Ravenswood Studios headed by Deb Gohr built a runway out from the stage and painted it to look exactly like the wood on the stage everyone thought it was part of the room. Backstage was right next to the audience and very, very tight quarters…trying to keep 20+ models quiet is always a challenge but all went off without a hitch and was quite a stunning show.  We featured the Fall 2008 collection that spring, I always liked to do the collections as close to the actual time they are shown during market weeks rather than in season when everyone has seen them especially true now with most of the designers either live streaming and everyone in the audience immediately posting their photos and/or videos on Instagram.

imageTwo of the looks from the Zac Posen Fall 2008  Collection.

 

 

COLLECTIONS: SMALL BOXES

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I have always been a fan of boxes, large and small.  Since I live in a tiny apartment and love to collect, I have to think small (as you know most of my space is devoted to my fashion book collection along with other books!).  Many of my pieces, which I will share in a future post, are very small and many of them reside together on the top on one of my chests.  All of them are memories of where I got them or who gave them to me.  You will find treasures at the monthly Randolph Street Market, www.randolphstreetmarket.com  who is one of the sponsors of nenasnotes and has been from the beginning of the blog, (the last of the seasonal outdoor markets will be on Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24, the indoor Market is year round!)  I took the above photo at the last market and placed my selection of boxes on a vintage carpet all are from Greg Johnson’s booth in the Ballroom on the Second Floor of Plumbers Hall. Greg’s selections of fabulous items are always a joy to see and his knowledge is amazing.  I love talking with him.  For some unknown reason, I didn’t take close up photos of the round Mille Fleur box nor the hand painted porcelain Sampson Paris rectangular box.  Let’s look at the other individual pieces.

imageI am mad for Asian pieces and this one is a gem….a rectangular Cinnabar box from the 19th Century with black lacquer inside.  The carving is, in my opinion, and I’m, most certainly not an expert, exquisite.  From Webster’s Dictionary:

  • Cinnabar red sulphide of mercury, occurring in brilliant red crystals, and also in red or brown amorphous masses. It is used in medicine

  • Cinnabar the artificial red sulphide of mercury used as a pigment; vermilion

 

imageThe top of the 1920’s Chinese enamel stamp box…does anyone use stamps anymore, hopefully, on lovely handwritten notes, I always love that personal touch, don’t you!

imageA beautifully carved Mother of Pearl box in different shades of the shell.  Stunning piece.

imageimage I didn’t take notes on this but it is obviously an old hand painted tile set into a carved wooden box.  It is shaped and gives me the idea that the tile was originally on a foot stool or a neck rest!  But then again, I don’t profess to be an expert,  just like what I like.  On that subject, do make the acquaintance of each dealer, you will learn so much and they truly love to talk about their treasures. Keep in mind your friends tastes and what they collect and stock up on gifts when at RSM and ALWAYS buy it when you see it and like it…it may well be gone in the minutes you walk away to make up your mind!!!  Haven’t we all done that……

imageWhen I was visiting my friend Barbara (I have shared some of her other collections with you as well as a couple of her recipes in past posts) I mentioned that I was doing a piece on small collectible boxes.  We got busy and gathered hers together on her marble coffee table.  Barbara is a world traveler and always brings back treasures for her collections and as gifts (over the years I have been the lucky recipient of many objects).  Let’s explore their stories….

imageThe first is a Russian Palekh hand painted black enamel box she got on a trip to Russia.  I love the primitive look of the painting,

imageimageThis beauty, we named it “Mother of the Pearl” major giggles all around…..is Limoges and my mother, Ruth, got it at Field’s AFar, many, many years ago it was a house gift from us.  In my opinion, it is an unusual piece and the interior is in an iridescent white totally resembling a shell.  Love it.

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imageTwo hand painted Herend Porcelain pieces from one of her trips to Hungary.

imageAnd Barbara’s Cinnabar box from her trip to Hong Kong.

All photos taken by me with my iPhone 7

From Barbara’s Recipe Box

SHRIMP AND VEGETABLE SALAD

1 large avocado

2 cups pea pods

1 pound cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp, sliced lengthwise

8 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

Romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2 inch slices

Dressing:

1 cup oil, including 2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 Tablespoons minced parsley

1 1/2 Tablespoons minced chives

1 Tablespoon minced shallots or green onions

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel avocado and cut into bite-size pieces.  Simmer pea pods 2 minutes, then rinse in cold water.  In food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients.  Process until blended.  Marinate shrimp, artichoke hearts, avocado and pea pods in dressing.  Refrigerate 3 hours, turning occasionally.  Blend in lettuce in desired quantity just before serving.  Nena’s note…it is a delicious recipe and can be served year round.  You know me, you will serve with a lovely white wine and crusty French bread.  Enjoy!

 

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: THE ADDRESS

imageI have been waiting for this book to come out for months, having enjoyed Fiona Davis’ first book The Dollhouse and anticipated a good read, I wasn’t disappointed!  I usually don’t like plots that go from one time to another, this one begins in 1884 and then travels to 1985, this is done in different chapters.  In this case, it works extremely well and brings the story to contemporary times.

We begin at a luxury hotel in England where our protagonist, Sara Smythe, is head housekeeper and sees a little girl balancing on a window ledge, rushes to save her (which she does), the father of the little girl, Theodore Camden, is so grateful he offers Sara a position at the soon to be opened Dakota, in New York where he is one of the architects and project manager.  She thinks the offer is not sincere but because she saved his daughter.  Shortly after Camden, his wife and children return to New York, Sara receives a ticket and travel expenses to join them.  Without much hesitation, she boards her ship and sails for New York and her new life….by the way, all this is in the first few pages of the book!

When she arrives at the Dakota she is stunned by the size, the beauty of the structure and the location, in the middle of nowhere, remember this is 1884.  Sara finds herself as managerette (don’t you love this title!) and totally in charge of basically everything.  She is very much up to the task and the new apartment dwelling opens beautifully.  Naturally, she lives in the building as does Theo and his family.

We then meet our other protagonist, Bailey Camden, a modern young woman who is an interior decorator and has just been released from rehab where she was treated for alcoholism and drug addiction.  Her boss has taken care of her rehab expenses and promptly fires her.  Her “cousin” (are they really cousins!!!!???) and friend Melinda, is rehabbing an apartment in the Dakota with the idea of making it very modern much to Bailey’s chagrin.  As part of their agreement, Melinda allows Bailey to live in the apartment during the renovation along with the promise of her fee when Melinda turns 30 in a few weeks and receives her substantial inheritance. If you have ever been in the building you know it is tradition personified and still considered a prestigious building, it is a stunner.

Both stories have lives of their own but, of course, mesh together as well. We meet many characters along the way, learn about New York as it begins to become the City we all know and love by learning about its architecture, go inside an insane asylum (not my favorite part of the story, I felt it was a bit long), the glamour of the Gilded Age and the excess of the 1980’s New York scene.  My take away was how talented women, in any age, with the drive, the know how, skills and willingness to succeed do so.  A feminist story, perhaps, but more one of human nature, self-worth and lots and lots of intrigue along the way, romance, yes that too!.  Did I like the book, yes, indeed I did!

From the last paragraph on the fly leaf of the book….”A century apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted and struggled against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the nightlife’s free-flowing drinks and cocaine—and take refuge in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress.”