FASHION REMEMBRANCE: HUBERT DE GIVENCHY

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.

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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.

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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!!

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COLLECTIONS: RANDOLPH STREET MARKET — BICYCLES AND PICNICS

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.

 

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Check The Victorian Cyclist

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

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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!

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

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“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.
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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.”

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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….
FROM TOM MANTEL’S RECIPE BOX
SPINACH/MUSHROOM QUICHE
Ingredients:
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
Method:
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!
FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX
DEVILED EGGS
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.
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All images from Pinterest photo credits not available.
Mike’s contact information:

 

MY NEEDLEPOINT OBSESSION

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. 

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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!!!!

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: RITZ & ESCOFFIER

TODAY’S POST IS UNDERWRITTEN BY AN ANONYMOUS SPONSOR

 

868F2B3E-5259-4876-AD6E-29933FF56059You know I love a great historical novel, probably my favorite genre, and here we have real history that reads like the plot of a novel. And if that isn’t reason enough to grab this fascinating tale then just look at the cover (in this case, you can definitely tell the book by its cover), putting on the Ritz or Ritzy come to mind, both in todays vernacular. 

13B00D37-B0FC-4765-BEF8-3A04D86E809DCesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier

The innovations these genius’s brought to the hospitality industry set the standard, in the late 19th Century, that are followed by today’s Grand Hotels and fine restaurants world-wide.  They weren’t afraid of doing whatever it took to give their esteemed clientele the best and newest of everything in food, service, accommodations, and, of course, the best staffs in each property.  Ritz was known for  only wanting the best and had no problem spending money to achieve his high standards often to the chagrin of his partners and shareholders.  Think bathrooms in each guest room and suite, electricity throughout the properties, elevators, special meals for unaccompanied ladies to be in the hotels restaurants without male escorts and on and on.

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I remember my first trip to London going to The Savoy for cocktails before the theater, I don’t remember what we saw that night, but do remember a feeling of nostalgia for a time long ago when I got out of the car and saw that amazing SAVOY  sign….wow!

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Cesar Ritz came to The Savoy in London at the request of the owner, Richard D’Oyly Carte (think Gilbert and Sullivan, that D’Oyly Carte!).  He already had made a name for himself managing several properties on The Continent where he made each prosperous and unique.  He turned The Savoy into THE place to go with the partnering of Auguste Escoffier, who had already established himself in the world of haute cuisine as an ingenious creator as well as his streamlined working ofvhiskitchens. Both gentlemen knew how to “work the room” and charmed their ever growing clientele, which included all of high society from around the world and, of course, had the blessing and attendance of the Prince of Wales, at the eleborate meals Escoffier invented and prepared in his perfectly orchestrated kitchen. All went beyond expectations until scandal breaks out (no spoilers from me!) and forces the men to Paris and The Ritz…..

6A185713-EB35-42D5-BFCD-B89BF6C199D3The Ritz, Paris

1639B5D4-3038-4794-9CAF-A2243DE9376AGabrielle Chanel in her apartment at The Ritz, Paris

I can go on and on about how much I enjoyed this book, the history of the hospitality and food industry and the men and women (their wives, who wore gowns from the Couture Houses of Charles Frederick Worth and Jacques Doucet, played a huge part in the story as do the celebrities of the day, Nellie Melba…think Peach Melba and Melba Toast, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde….all came to The Savoy). I not only learned so much but did so in a most entertaining way, Luke Barr has written a book (get it you will truly enjoy the story on so many levels) that I will refer to often and wish, yet again, that I could transport myself back into that creative time of the Belle Époque, of course with all the modern amenities we have now, in addition, of course, to those Ritz provided, elevators, bathrooms, individual service, exquisite food…..well maybe I don’t need to be that modern and can be extremely comfortable without today’s tech devices!!!!!  And you………..

Two more for your library, they are going into mine.

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One of my favorite Escoffier recipes, there are so many i couldn’t possibly mention them all including Melba toast…love making it from my French Brioche loaf, is  Baked Alaska, which he called “eggs and ice” and served to great acclaim. I have always loved this photo from the original Betty Crocker (yes, even Betty Crocker bows at the Escoffier throne!) cookbook I gave my mother when it was first published (I still have the book and use it all the time, its spine is held together with masking tape!). I have never made it but isn’t it the most fabulous photo ever….the styling, even back then, is perfection. Maybe, just maybe this summer with homemade raspberry ice cream…..just saying….

PROFILE: JAY AND DEEPA LAKHANI TRADITION MADE MODERN

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It isn’t often that you meet people and instantly know you will be forever friends  I had that wonderful occurrence when I met Jay and Deepa Lakhani  Deepa Gurnaniat a reception at Neiman Marcus, Chicago, for, another new friend, Kobi Halperin , and his Erte inspired collection with embellishment by these extraordinary creators.  At a fabulously delicious dinner at Margaux Brasserieorchestrated by our hostess, Shelley Rosen, Founder of Luxe Bloom, I was seated between the couple and I’m afraid I monopolized them for the entire evening, they are amazing.  Here is their story.

I AM OBSESSED WITH YOUR PARTNERSHIP TELL ME HOW YOU COLLABORATE AND, OF COURSE, THE STORY OF HOW YOU MET AND MARRIED…IT IS A WONDERFULLY ROMANTIC STORY THAT I WANT TO SHARE WITH MY READERS YOU CAN BOTH ANSWER PLEASE PUT YOUR INITIALS IN FRONT OF YOUR ANSWERS

Jay Lakhani: It is funny that Deepa and I didn’t meet until much later in our lives even though our families have known each other for generations – we have been family friends since our great grandparents. The younger kids lost touch with each other because we were not living in India. I met Deepa in New York while her sister and I were roommates in College. We hit it off instantly because we were both in fashion school at the time – she at Central Saint Martins, London and I in the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.

Deepa Lakhani: We fell in love and decided to get married pretty soon after that. From the beginning we understood that we also wanted to merge our fashion lines together. We felt that it was possible because we were in sync creatively and on the same page about our design philosophy.

The Wedding

WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST JOBS

JL: I am a Jewelry Designer by profession, but also passionate about sales and marketing. My first job in the industry was in 2001 with Andin International, wholesale Jewelry manufacturers supplying to department stores and retailers in the United States. Here I received training in design as well as sales and marketing.

DL: You can say I have been a designer-entrepreneur from the get go. I worked as an assistant buyer for Browns in London for a short while and that gave me an insight into fashion retail and the everyday needs of a girl. I always wanted to start my own embroidery factory and I did that in India in 2002.

Some of my, Nena’s, favorite earrings, examples of  Deepa’s creativity

BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION

JL: We are both designers by education and occupation. At our company I handle all of sales, marketing and PR while Deepa handles all of logistics, accounting, and production. We only meet when we design.

Jay working one-on-one with one of their artisans in their factory in Mumbai, India

WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

JL: As far as I can recall I have always had an interest in fashion, focused on clothing, silhouette and style. I would always diligently follow runway shows of my favorite designers and had a strong point of view since the beginning.

DL: I think we both always knew this is what we wanted to do. Fashion school is what helped me further discover my talent and gave me the confidence to pursue my love for design.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

DL: When we launched on 5th Avenue in New York City at the store Henri Bendel in November 2006. We made it at the ‘open see’ that has about 500 designers showcasing, and only 15 out of those finally make it. It was our first store launch and things really took off from there.

Below photos from The Accessories Council Excellence Awards, August 2017

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Jay and Deepa with New York team at the Awards dinner

At same dinner with Anthropologie buyers and Betsey Johnson and Eva Longoria

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

JL: My parents are Jewelers by trade. I have always had a keen interest in fashion and an eye for Jewelry. We saw a need in the market for handmade products and the necessity of preserving traditional arts and crafts. That is true luxury to us. We feel strongly about this and that is why we started this initiative and have taken it on for years to come.

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

JL: Nothing but fashion for me.

DL: It was either fashion or medical school for me. My father understood my passion for design and nudged me in that direction.

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Deepa’s April 2018 Birthday lunch

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, LIST THE FOLLOWING,IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE…THEATER (LEGIT, MUSICALS), BALLET, TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO, LOCAL RESTAURANT

Book: Devil Wears Prada

Theatre: Kinky Boots

Music: Spiritual and meditational music, Buddha Bar

Local Restaurants:  Mr. Chow and Bareburger in NYC, Pali Village Café and Bastian in Mumbai,

HOBBIES….

JL: I love to dance. I am a trained Bollywood dancer and used to teach classes in New York.

DL: I enjoy sketching and cooking in my free time. Both of us love yoga, traveling and watching movies together.

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC DESCRIBE

JL: Our home can be described as minimal, modern, and our zen, cozy refuge at the end of a hectic day

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD AND BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOURSELF!) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE (10-12 GUESTS)

JL and DL: Anna Wintour, Oprah Winfrey, Anne Hathaway, Gautam Buddha, Dalai Lama, Karl Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel, Erte, Beyonce & Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

JL: We would serve a full Indian spread because I love Indian food. A traditional Indian Thali would be so much fun. It would of course be organic, nutritious and mostly vegetarian because that’s how Deepa likes it.

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST (HERE IS A CHANCE TO TALK ABOUT WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO IN INDIA!)

JL:  We are in love with Bali and could go there again and again. Greece is a place on our list that we haven’t been to yet. Hopefully Summer 2018!

DL: We also go to India often, especially to Mumbai and love it there. Otherwise the most beautiful, colorful side to India is in Rajasthan with its beautiful forts, luxuriouspalace hotels, rich textile heritage and fantastic food.

FAVORITE WORK OF ART

JL: Mona Lisa

DL: I love Leon Bakst and Erte’s portraits of Marchesa Luisa Casati

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

JL: We would like to be remembered for our humanitarian contributions to society.  We believe in giving back and building up people around us who are in need.

 A FAVORITE, OR TWO, RECIPE

Both Deepa and I hail from the Sindhi community in India, and our favorite Sunday indulgence is Koki, a whole wheat, spiced pancake. You could eat that with some chilled yoghurt or mango pickle or some Dum Aloo (potato dish) famously from the region of Kashmir. I follow British-Indian chef and author Maunika Gowardhan @cookinacurry and these recipes are from her blog.

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Sindhi Koki

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

150gms whole wheat flour

1 medium red onion finely chopped

2 green chillies (or less if you prefer it mild)

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp pomegranate powder

80gms coriander leaves finely chopped

1 tbsp softened butter

Salt to taste

125mls water

Vegetable oil for frying

Method

In a bowl mix the flour, chopped onions, chillies, cumin seeds, pomegranate powder and coriander leaves. Add the softened butter and salt. Mix well and add the water little at a time to make a soft and slightly sticky dough. Knead well and divide into equal portions.

The koki should be still thick so roll the dough out to no more 8cm in diameter. Heat the pan. Add the koki to the warm pan. Cook for 5-7 seconds over medium heat and turn over to cook the underside. Add a tsp of oil on the top side and flip over again. Cook for a further minute on each side as it begins to change colour and has a few brown speckles on the bread. Keep warm wrapped in a cloth or foil while you make the rest. Serve warm with a pickle & some yoghurt or a curry.

Kashmiri Dum Aloo

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

60gms cashew nuts

18-20 small new potatoes peeled

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium white onion finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1” piece of ginger finely chopped

200gms greek yoghurt lightly whisked

1 ½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or mild paprika)

1 tsp fennel powder

½ tsp cumin powder

2 tbsp tomato puree

150mls water

½ tsp ground cardamom powder

Salt to taste

1 tsp crushed dried fenugreek leaves (optional)

1 tbsp coriander leaves for garnish

Slivers of ginger for garnish

Method

Soak the cashew nuts in warm water for 20 mins. Prick the new potatoes with a fork lightly (this helps them cook all the way through). Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok or kadhai. Add the potatoes and fry for 3-4 minutes until they turn crisp and golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper & set aside.

Whisk the yoghurt and mix in the chilli powder, fennel powder and cumin powder. Stir the spiced yoghurt and set aside.

Drain most of the water from the cashew nuts; blend the cashew nuts to a fine puree. Set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the kadhai. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they begin to soften for 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and fry for a couple of minutes as it cooks. Turn the heat to a low setting and add the spiced yoghurt. Stir well for a minute and add the cashew nut paste. Stir for 2-3 mins. Tip in the tomato puree and stir for a further 2 minutes.

As the curry starts to leave oil from the sides of the pan add the fried potatoes, water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 mins stirring ever so often until the potatoes have soaked in the flavours and cooked all the way through. Add the cardamom powder, crushed methi/fenugreek leaves if using, fresh coriander and ginger. Stir and serve warm.

BLOGS/ INSTAGRAM/ WEBSITES YOU FOLLOW

WWD, Business of Fashion, Vogue India, Man Repeller, Chiara Ferragni, Alessandro Michele, Priyanka Chopra, Deliciously Ella and many more

 All photos courtesy of Jay and Deepa Lakhani.

THURSDAY MUSINGS: ALLIANCE FRANCAISE DE CHICAGO 2018 SYMPOSIUM ON THE ARTS OF FRANCE

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A room in the Wrightsman Galleries at the Met, i have spend many, many hours here they are beyond perfection. The subject of the June 6th program. Photo from Pinterest credit unknown

Spring always brings one of Chicago’s most anticipated events the Alliance Francaise de Chicago’s Symposium on the Arts of France. I was fortunate to attend the first in the series of three last week. The lecture was bittersweet, it was to be presented by the incredible, Jean Goldman, who recently passed away. Jean had long been a major supporter of the Alliance in so very many, many ways and her knowledge was unparalleled, her presentations were always perfection, you learned something new each time…her expertise, humor and joie de vivre keep you riveted to her every word.  I was honored to call her friend…we had many long lunches, four hours was not unheard of, at the charming Ikram Cafe, chatting about anything and everything. Fortunately, for the attendees of the symposium she had prepared her illustrated lecture and it was delivered, perfectly, I might add, by Lisa Wainwright, currently Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The title was ”Stately Mansions and the not quite so Stately Life Therein: A Peek Behind the Closed Doors: Pomp, Intrigue and Les Liaisons Dangereuses”.  After the superb presentation, we had a delicious lunch from Jewell Events Catering, one would expect nothing less from the renowned caterer admired the always glorious blooms from Green.  A perfect afternoon, the one element missing, Jean Goldman, but everyone felt her smiling at us.

You have a chance to attend the next two presentations by registering for the 11:30 presentations, which are in English, (the individual lecture tickets are $45.00, The Patron luncheons are sold-out well in advance), by visiting Alliance Francaise de ChicagoEC8BE9BA-3DE7-4360-956C-1DFB08B0400A

Be sure to be put on the list for the 2019 Symposium. While you are at it request to be put on the Alliance’s mailing and email list for programs, classes and all manner of year-round celebrations. It is worthwhile exploring all they have to offer.  It is a wonderful organization.

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: A NECESSARY EVIL

17126C6B-5355-4A14-A66E-3357186082A7I had read about this book on many of the book blogs I follow and was eager to put it on my TBR list. I hadn’t read Abir Mukherjee’s first book in the series, A Rising Man, but found it wasn’t necessary (I will, however, put it on my list), his main characters, our protagonist, Captain Sam Wyndham and his Sergeant ’Surrender-Not’ Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force are clearly drawn in this installment

From the flyleaf ”India, 1920, Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee….investigate the assassination of a Maharajah’s son…..As they desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules….”  Why wouldn’t you want to read this book!!  It certainly got me.

The murder of the heir takes place in Calcutta in front of Wyndham and Banerjee at the beginning of our story.  We then follow them to the wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore (Sambalpur), the wealth is diamonds and coal.  See the map of India below for the ”real” location of our story.

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Here we learn of the Maharajah’s three wives, the middle wife, the mother of the two adult sons has died, the first a contemporary of the aging Maharajah and the third a young beauty with a young prince. The intrigue of Palace politics is explained when we meet members of the inner circle both Indian and English as well as the ”harem” guarded by eunuchs.  We are taken into the world of opium, Indian religious traditions, and ceremonies. We go on glamorous trains (better than the Orient Express), attend formal dinner parties (everyone, of course, dresses for dinner, but then they dress for every occasion! Why can’t we still do that?!) we even learn how to hunt on top of elephants. The Raj is still in effect but times are changing and the power (read money) is the main focus of the time and the novel. Times are changing…wealth and influence are changing as well, while human nature and traditions remain the same.

F8992C77-E53F-4555-B2AD-5136B7B1DAD6An image of a Maharajah with rows and rows of diamonds and other precious stones. Iris….eat your heart out!  Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.

Our story takes many twists and turns. We have a love interest (no sex here my friends, implied, perhaps!), a bit of violence and lots and lots of intrigue and information on a time I was eager to learn more about. I must admit I was taken by surprise by the reveal of the assassin (no spoilers here), you have to read almost to the very end to find out ”who did it”!  I thoroughly enjoyed Mukherjee’s writing, his detail of the time was informational and makes me want to further explore this subject while I wait for the next adventures of Captain Wyndham and Sargeant Banerjee.

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The author, Abir Mukherjee, photo by Nick Tucker.

Would I recommend the novel, absolutely and you know I always recommend patronizing your local Independent Bookseller.

Mukherjee recommends Ann Morrow’s HIGHNESS The Maharajahs of India for further research….on my list for sure.

9EFAE5C6-6702-4783-AC34-4499C04EC42622E8FD27-111E-44BF-ADB6-2D3CB2C64516I am recommending The Great Courses, A History of India, also on my list

IT’S MAY!!!!!

DB331CCA-ABA2-4FC2-8F46-A2924C2BF3E6A short post on this the first of May. By now you know my Lily of the Valley obsession….it doesn’t stop with objects, oh no it doesn’t…it continues to art, much of which I have shared with you, and for purposes for this report…..needlepoint, lots of needlepoint. More on that in a future nenasnotes. The above photo is a close up of the center of a small rug 2’ x 3’ that I designed and worked from a chart. I prefer working from charts rather than painted pieces, just my preference. I have done both, having created hundreds of pieces over the yesrs. This particular work was done in 1974 (it is signed and dated) and has been a wall hanging, a small area rug and now rests on the back of one of my loveseats. I think i have shown a glimpse in other photos of my home.

It is tradition to hang a May basket on your front door as well as your neighbors and other friends. I say let’s bring back that tradition….it is charming!!!!  Happy May!

COLLECTIONS: ENGLISH IRONSTONE

E8A9FA8C-B041-4D64-8492-A0B752BD9189I’ve been anticipating doing this post forever…..if you are like me, I think of Ironstone as white….well silly me.  The stunning platters are just the beginning of  a connoisseurs major collections. Photo by me on my iPhone. This is my favorite pattern from the several groups in this treasure trove of Vintage Ironstone. Foolishly I didn’t match the makers stamp to the patterns but many of the items in this collection are Mason, the father of English Ironstone. You knew I would find a book or two for your reference!

The company was started by Miles Mason in 1796 and continued to 1856 by his sons most notably his third son, Charles who was married to Sarah Spode the granddaughter of Josiah Spode the founder of the famous potting dynasty. For a concise history of Mason I recommend you to go to Janice Paull

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The shelving on the right is in an antique store, notice the platter on the top shelf in the middle it is the same pattern (Pinterest) the image on the right is a display in a private collection, bottom photo a close up of one of the serving platters with dinner plates on either side. Both those photos were taken by me.

If you are looking for Ironstone to add to your collection or to start one remember this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29, from 10 to 5 each day, is the not to be missed monthly Randolph Street Market

Some examples I found on Pinterest that interested me, no other reason. Photo credits unknown.

Makers marks….I photographed them and at the time knew which went with each of the many patterns in this connoisseur’s carefully curated collections I didn’t take notes bad move on my part….sorry!  But here they are, quite impressive.

Another set….

And more….

All photos taken on my iPhone unless otherwise noted.

The excitement of the hunt can be one piece or an entire collection….what is it all about, well I’ll tell you, when you see it buy it….don’t walk away and have regret. Make friends with the dealers, learn from their expertise, read books, catalogs, go to websites enjoy the pursuit of your treasures and no better place to do exactly that than Randolph Street Market

MONDAY MUSINGS: WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT??!!

914DD8BA-0E7A-4835-937B-0AF625C6A4D6A question I have been asking myself, sorry for the lack of posts….lots of reasons, primarily a dead computer….a learning curve of doing nenasnotes on my iPad, let’s just call it frustration, confusion and loss of clear focus…let’s talk about it, shall we.

Perhaps it’s the lack of spring blooms, yes, they will come (I took the above photo last year in Harbor Country…I’ve referenced the grounds in many other posts), but then we rarely have spring until later, if at all. So I guess that’s not it.  I made a decision when I began my blog, a year and a half ago, that I wouldn’t do negative posts and I have stuck to that philosophy….so please let me vent this one time.  I decided to ask a consultant to help me toward my path to monetize nenanotes. I found the perfect person and we “clicked” immediately as friends.  During our delightful meetings over a period of time and lots of glasses of wine, I was advised to do lots of selfies, makeovers, talk about product, etc.  None of which is my style at all.  I’m not a pretty young thing who will have followers to buy what I  wear or droll over tutorials on how I apply my makeup …who cares!!! It has nothing to do with age but rather a preference of what my “mission/goal is”.  I think it is best to leave that to those who do it well. Guess what, I decided not to follow that advice (and it was excellent advice just not for me!) but continue on the path of my original plan to share my experiences in the world of fashion, do book reviews, explore collections, interiors (mine and others) share profiles of interesting people, my travels, in general talk about what interests me.  I do, however, have (suggested at my meetings) a smashingly glorious Media Kit produced by my dear friend, the extraordinarily talented, Christine Hawley, who also worked with me to produce my exceptional logo. I will use it for potential sponsors for nenasnotes. I’ll be happy to share the MK with any of you who are interested.

Okay, rant over. What do I have planned going forward, actually lots!!!  High on my list is to kick off my nenasnotes Fashion Book Club with Loulou & Yves by Christopher Petkanas. I will do a review, Christopher has asked me if I would post my review on the actual date of publication which is Tuesday, April 17th, I’m excited to do so.  It will be the first in my monthly Fashion Book Club choices and Christopher is interested in joining the discussion via Skype, too exciting for words! I will be announcing that May date soon along with the rest of the year’s exciting selections and surprises. Stay tuned!!!!!97B4DD29-93F9-46AC-AA9A-49F169C68071

I’ve been lax in sharing recipes with you lately…..sorry, I’ll correct that shortly. I love to make brownies and think mine are THE best (don’t we all!!!!!), I’ve made them forever.  For some unknown reason I had purchased a box of brownie mix as well as a can of fudge frosting and thought why not give them a try….I added pecans and vanilla to the brownies (sorry Tommy I was naughty and changed yet another recipe!!!) They were absolutely delicious and I think they are my new best!!!!!57807917-295B-4FE7-849E-EE9CDE411161

I am obsessed with looking at other peoples homes and gardens so you can bet you will see more of those, what did we do before Pinterest, I have zillions of clippings from magazines through the years as well as complete issues of some of my favorites, that is what we did. The photo below is a corner of my home (it was taken by Christine Hawley, I told you she is talented in so many ways!)…I’ve already done a post on paisley, there will be several on my needlepoint (some of which you can see on my built-in daybed) textiles, my lily of the valley collection in the breakfront and all over my home.  You can also see how I house some of my obsessive book collections, the two vintage bamboo shelves are mostly fiction and the tall slim bookcase (made for me by Harold Hawley, whom I profiled in my post on page-tuners) holds my collection of needlework books. You can also see lots of art on all surfaces. 3A576191-CDE5-4A95-9A76-C3124C09E84D

Gardens, of course….here is my favorite tree, in spring bloom, in Blue Island at the Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel home.  It is spectacular each season 9BB99CCF-DDB1-49FB-ABD5-3B44A670EAB8

As for my Profiles, I have a couple coming up that I know you will enjoy, waiting for photos on several and transcriptions on others. They are really, really outstanding and worth waiting for.  And always profiles of designers I have had the pleasure of working with.  Below I’m with Bob Mackie who has just launched his exquisite fine jewelry collection and is busy at work on the costumes for The Cher Show which will open in Chicago pre-Broadway in June…all too exciting for mere words!!D3B0A1F7-B99B-47B7-88BA-02BE1144DB92

Collections, of course, mine, and others and those found, like the assemblage below, at my favorite go-to monthly event Randolph Street Market

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From a magnificent private collection of English Ironstone.

Of course, I’ll continue to share fashion shows past and present such as the benefit for RefuSHE on Thursday, April 12th at The Cultural Center. The photo below is from last years show with a gown incorporating fabric produced by the members of the RefuSHE ccommunity in Africa and created by one our talented Chicsgo based designers. 1E65F7B4-9A5E-479F-A96C-806C2A046734I think I’ll cross out the makeup and keep wine…well maybe keep both on the top of my list…..your thoughts my friends!!0589C2AE-6CB4-4D43-B87E-3937333C121C

To sum up, in addition to the aforementioned topics, I’ve been asked to redo my Fashion Show Production class at Columbia College Chicago which i am very excited to do as well as a couple of other CCC projects, we shall see how they develop.

If there are topics you want to explore with me let me know.  Until Spting arrives…..0B5F6705-23E6-4917-B449-380810FA655D                      Photo from Pinterest credit unknown