NENA’SNOTES puts you in the picture that focuses on Nena Ivon’s lifetime experiences in the world of fashion and her varied interests in art, literature, theater, interior design, food and much more. She researches and presents lectures on fashion topics and teaches fashion at Columbia College Chicago. She also maintains the Chicago History Museum’s Costume Council archives and researches her own archives housed at Columbia College Chicago.
A native Chicagoan, Nena retired from Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago after 53 years where she was the longest-tenured employee. She began her career at Saks Fifth Avenue while still in high school. Her first assignment was a sales associate in the Contemporary Sportswear Department (called Debutante Sportswear when she started). After a year she was promoted to Assistant Fashion Director. She held the position of Special Events/Publicity/Fashion Director for 50 years and as such, produced all the fashion shows and special events for the Saks Fifth Avenue, Michigan Avenue store as well as assisting in many of the companies store openings and producing shows in other Saks Fifth Avenue markets. Ms. Ivon also handled all the publicity and public relations for the Chicago store and for many years styled the Store’s windows and interior mannequins. She has worked with over 150 of the leading fashion designers and style icons of the 20th and 21st centuries and has produced 1000’s of fashion shows and special events for many of the City’s charitable and civic organizations as well as producing shows for convention spouse programs.
Nena is and has been an active participation in many of the City’s civic and charitable organizations as well as professional groups such as The Women’s Board of the Alliance Francaise, The Women’s Board of the Lincoln Park Zoo (past President), The Women’s Association of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Apparel Industry Board and The Apparel Industry Board Foundation, The Fashion Group International of Chicago, Inc. (served as Regional Director twice and chaired several of the galas), and The Fashion Group International Foundation. She twice co-chaired the annual DIFFA gala. She has been a National Board member of the Costume Society of America and served on their Board of Trustees. She currently serves as a Past President of the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, serves as the Costume Council’s Historian and is a Trustee Emeritus of the Museum. She has served on many committees over the years as well as having chaired many galas and organization’s programs.
She has lectured to countless local and International groups and takes great pride in her teaching at Columbia College Chicago where she teaches courses in the Fashion Studies Department. She was the original Chair of the College’s Fashion Advisory Board which she also helped form and serves as its Founding Chair. Columbia College Chicago honored her with a scholarship in her name when she celebrated her 50th anniversary at Saks Fifth Avenue. Her archives are housed at Columbia.
She produced Chicago’s annual student fashion show Dress Code, part of Fashion Focus Chicago and produced Fashion Columbia the student design show at Columbia College Chicago which was produced by Fashion Studies students in a yearlong credited class
She was the Founding Partner of TalksChic!, a Lifestyle Speaker’s Bureau and ChicUnique Events, specializing in unusual programs for visitors and local organizations. She was the Fashion Director for the Randolph Street Antique Markets for six years. She is a partner in Tour du Jour the company plans vintage fashion and home furnishing tours of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods for visitors to her hometown.
Over the years, Nena has received many awards among them an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, a day named for her from the City of Chicago, a declaration from the State of Illinois, The Fashion Group Annual Gala held in her honor, numerous awards from Saks Fifth Avenue including the first Outstanding Sales Support Manager in the Company, The Apparel Industry Board (AIBI) honored her at their annual Stanley Paul/Raelene Mittleman Scholarship dinner, a Scholarship in her name at Columbia College Chicago, etc.
Nena has lived in downtown Chicago for over fifty years where she enjoys her leisure time traveling, reading, needle pointing, cooking and entertaining. Her love of Chicago is evident by her time spent visiting the City’s museums, going to the Symphony, the Opera, the Theatre (musicals are a passion) and the Ballet, touring the architectural gems in the City and its public art as well as scouting the various antique shows and flea markets for additions to her many collections. She has been an avid sports fan all her life and adores football! Now on to….writing THE book!
NENA’SNOTES, shares reminiscences about the various designers and other fashion professionals Nena has worked with when she was Fashion and Special Events Director at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago. She explores a passion for everything that reflects her and her friend’s lives and the fascinating paths they have traveled.
Join the Journey.
Photo by Terry David Drew