I am most fortunate to have a fascinating group of friends and acquaintances, many I will profile on my Monday posts.  I always appreciate talent in any form whether it is a performer, a fantastic chef, an interior designer, an entrepreneur, obviously any fashion talent and, of course, artists.  As I briefly mentioned in an earlier post, my Father was an artist concentrating on watercolors (just one area of his talent…much more on Ivon in a later post). Today’s personality is a multi-talented artist, both as a watercolorist and a world-renowned creator of fiber art, Michael Olszewski.


Michael came to Columbia College Chicago in 2010 when we met and became instant friends.  His talent is limitless and his willingness to share his expertise and experiences with the students is admirable. As a Professor in the School of Fine and Performing Arts, his courses in the Fashion Studies discipline include Fabric Dying Techniques, Surface Embellishment and Fundamentals of Textiles. These courses cover a wide range of techniques such as Japanese Shibori, hand stitching, beading, applique and other Haute Couture embellishments. His mentoring of students is outstanding.

Michael has been an educator for 40 years and somehow balances his teaching and creative studio work. In a recent Columbia College Chicago article Michael is quoted as saying “My studio time is really critical to what I bring to the department at Columbia and to our students.  I’m a practicing artist and designer and this significantly informs what I bring to the classroom”.

imageRyegate 2016

Michael’s CV is extraordinary not only as an educator but as an exhibiting artist.   The Art Insitute of Chicago recently exhibited three of the four pieces which are now in their permanent collection.  It was his first exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.  His work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Montgomery Museum of Art, Museum of Art and Design, Muskegon Museum of Art and Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ireland.  Another of his works was recently on display at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia!  These are only a few locations that have found Michael’s creativity exciting and worthy of permanence in their collections.  He continues to exhibit in group shows locally such as the Members Exhibition at the Arts Club of Chicago, which is celebrating it’s Centennial this Fall.

image                            Fiber Piece                                                                     Watercolor

Michael is an extremely private man, who has a wonderful sense of humor, for example, he never misses a Max Raabe performance at Symphony Center, he introduced me to Mr. Raabe and his Palast Orchestra…amazing and very tongue in cheek!  I am honored that he has allowed me the opportunity to share a look inside his thought process along with answers to my questionnaire.

imageFiber piece with written thoughts

When was your first impression of your talent?

In grade school and pursued it in junior high school.

When did you know you had “made it”, explain.

I don’t think of “it” that way.  I’m always working toward new work, new outreach and what can help me move forward.  But, after grad school, I moved to Philadelphia and was accepted into a co-op gallery and I felt that things were underway.  Two years later I was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts award and this helped me to realize that what I was creating did speak to others and was recognized for it’s merits as art.  Then the 3 Pa council awards, the Pew grant, etc….helped to confirm

How did your original passion bring you to where you are now?

Perseverance, focus, diligence, the moral support of close friends and the assistance of fellowships and grants.

Your favorite book/movie/theater…

All have changed over the years depending on my age and what I was going through at the time:

Books/Authors: In Cold Blood, A Christmas Memory…William Trevor, Patricia Highsmith, E.M. Forster, Henry James, John McGahern, Thomas Hardy, Annie Proulx, Willa Cather. Hermann Hesse.

Movies: A Single Man, Love is the Devil, The Long Day Closes, I Am Love, Brokeback Mountain, The Great Beauty, To Kill a Mockingbird, Never Let Me Go, Bill Cunningham NEW YORK

The Arts in Order: Dance both modern and ballet, Symphony, Legitimate Theater, Opera

Ballet/Choreographer: Pina Bauch, Martha Clark, Oscar Schlemmer, Pilobolus Dance

Type of Music, very eclectic: Everything from the Blues, Classical, Folk, World Beat, Portuguese Fado (a particular favorite)  Favorite artists: BB King, George Gershwin, The Rolling Stones, Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Jo Stafford, Frank Sinatra, Cesaria Evora, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Gabrial Faure, Phillip Glass…..etc.!

What are your hobbies?

None!  My work, teaching, etc. occupies all the time.

imageWatercolor 4″ x 6″

What is your home like?

A mix of Mid-Century Modern, Chinese Antiques and the style of the Weiner Werkstatte.

What is your favorite vacation spot and where do you want to visit?

Ballycastle, Ireland, the area continues to be an enormous inspiration on my work;  Coastal Maine, the landscape; Kyoto, Japan, the culture, art, and design; Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, the architecture, art and atmosphere; and London, England, culture.  On the list to visit: Scandinavia (I haven’t been there), back to Scotland, England and Japan.

How would you like to be remembered?

As an artist who was a kind and generous man who recognized life is a gift and sought to be loyal to family, friends. and students.


“Handwriting is like drawing.  It has a meditative quality that’s akin to the repetitive mark making that exists in stitching and embroidery.  Color, texture and stitching are all used to create an atmosphere and sensibility that is evocative of a particular situation.”

Michael Olszewski ( Columbia College Chicago Interview by Jan-Henry Gray, May 10, 2016)


For more on Michael go to his website:

And his YouTube video: Michael Olszewski Fiber Artist/Painter-YouTube


Yet another obsession…Fashion/Costume exhibitions, adore them.  I have had the privilege of seeing exhibitions all over the world from the exceptional presentations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum at FIT, to the V & A in London and the Fashion Museum in Bath, to the Palais Galliera, Fashion Museum in Paris to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg as well as many museums in the States…love them and learn from each of them. The exhibitions we have had over the years at the Chicago History Museum, in many cases, have equaled those.  Let us now discuss the current Costume Collection exhibition at the Chicago History Museum Making Mainbocher The First American Couturier.


Is it the biggest exhibition, no…is it the most well-known designer….no.  What it is is an extraordinary example of examining a superbly curated show of work by a master craftsman who began his career as an illustrator and editor and, without formal training, became a master couturier in Paris and in New York and. in my opinion,  a marketing genius.

Let’s take a look at the way the exhibition has been laid out.  It is divided into sections highlighting the various phases of Main Bocher (the man) and Mainbocher’s (the brand) work. A native Chicagoan (born in 1890) he formed a work ethic in the Midwest and was not understood by his teachers…how many artistic talents are when they want to express themselves in an untraditional manner, thank heaven that we live today and artists are given space to be the creators they are meant to be!  After settling in Paris he did illustrations for Harper’s Bazaar in France and then became an editor at Vogue Paris rising to become editor in chief of the magazine. There are wonderful examples of his art in the exhibit…they have the look of Erte and Bakst but most certainly are all Main Bocher. A highlight is an oil on canvas painting he did of Thomas Rector and Hazel Allen and their “Hawaiian Waltz” in 1917.  You can see his stylized signature in the left-hand corner of the painting.  It is the first time it has been exhibited, quite a coup for the Museum.


He then turned his love for fashion to Haute Couture (1921-1939) and the rest, as they say, is history.  I am a firm believer that things happen in their proper time and Mainbocher, the designer, happened at the right time.  He came to New York and 57th Street in 1940-1971 where he continued his understated elegance for his best-dressed clientele.  When given editorial credit in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar he demanded facing pages, unheard of in the industry.  Having cut his teeth in publishing he knew how to maneuver the press to his advantage.

imageThe couture workrooms and the iconic image of the corset shot in the workrooms by the incredible Horst B. Horst as the Nazis were marching into Paris.

There are three pieces in the exhibition that the designer gave to the Collection the brown suit you see in the photo below is one of these garments.  Next to it the lovely peach gown with attached jeweled bib is my favorite of the Collection.


The three pieces you experience as you enter the exhibition, seen below, across from this grouping is a video that shows Mainbocher at work.


You will find a wall devoted to Mainbocher’s theater costuming which I discussed in the post I did on the catalog in my book review on Tuesday.

Next to that wall is the interaction area which leads us to the platform with the uniforms he did for the WAVES and the Girl Scouts of America and the Passavant school of nursing.


WAVES uniforms

imageGirl Scout uniforms

The day after the wonderful opening gala celebration at a sit-down dinner, silent auction and dancing, members of the Museum were treated to an amazing lecture by Arnaud de Lummen the Managing Director of LUVANIS S.A. the lead corporate sponsor of the exhibition.  Oh my, what an insightful and fascinating presentation.  His knowledge and expertise in resurrecting, in his words, “Sleeping Beauties”  the “lost” designer names that those of us who are interested in the history of fashion and the study of the fashion designer know but are not generally known to the public was remarkable.  His hour-long presentation featured an in-depth look at Main Bocher the man and Mainbocher the brand.  I am delighted to tell you that M. Lummen will return to us in the Spring of 2017 for yet another lecture…I will, of course, keep you updated.

imagePetra Slinkard, Curator of the Exhibition with M. Lummen

As you leave the exhibition you look down and find a medallion…it is a replica of the plaque placed in the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue in New York on the Fashion Walk of Fame in 2002 (much like the stars on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles).  A lasting tribute to an American genius who is now getting the long over due recognition in a superbly thought out exhibition and a one of a kind monograph.  Kudos to CHM, Petra Slinkard, Jessica Pushor, Rosemary Adams and the incredible CHM staff and volunteers who have given Mainbocher his place in the fashion sun!


In closing, I don’t plan on featuring photos of myself but thought you might enjoy a picture taken at the opening night party, you can see my pleasure in this wonderful accomplishment…that is the look of a thrilled long term member of the Costume Council! I hope you will have the same expression when you tour the presentation which you can enjoy through August 22, 2017!.


All photos with the exception of the one of me (I don’t do selfies!!!!) are from my handy iPhone.

For further information go to

Also go to


I adore collections of anything, books, objects, jewelry, art, friends….you name it.  Because I live in such a small space I have had to limit my collecting (not books, of course!) and started collecting Victorian jewelry, particularly earrings, several years ago.  This post is coming at exactly the right moment to discuss one of my favorite collecting places, The Randolph Street Market which happens to be this weekend, October 29th and 30th.  RSM has everything a collector is looking for whether it is one of a kind jewelry, vintage clothing (a must for those into recycling and fashionistas alike), accessories, linens, hand crafted food, around the world artifacts and so much more…anything your heart desires or didn’t know it wanted, it is there!  Open from 10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday, RSM is a monthly destination, located at 1340 West Randolph Street, Chicago. I do hope you will join me this weekend for your personal treasure hunt and the fully loaded Bloody Marys aren’t bad either! Street Market in action

I have been going to the market since it’s dynamo creator, Sally Schwartz,  started it and did, for a time, when I first retired, work with the vendors and clients.  Not a “job” at all just a fun weekend meeting wonderful people and doing a “bit” of shopping as well as shopping with clients!!!!   Sally is friends with everyone she meets and runs fantastic events.  She will be a subject on my Monday Personalities posting in the near future.  She has a fascinating story to tell…but more on that later.

Sally Schwartz at home

I often wonder why people collect what they collect…there is no answer to that and when you see the variety of objects available to us via antique and vintage markets, antique shops, auctions and on line the possibilities are endless…thank Heaven! I haunt library book sales, the wonderful annual Printer’s Row Lit Fest and, of course, The Newberry Library’s annual book sale.  I definitely “break” for a book sale or book booth in an antique mall.  I’ve found many a treasure rummaging the shelves, tables, and boxes.

imageA curated collection on an antique secretary on an upstair landing in a friend’s home,   photo taken with my iPhone

Many more collectibles in upcoming posts.


For more information and to purchase tickets go to

Printer’s Row Lit Fest

Newberry Library


I want Wednesday’s to be pretty free form…so today’s posting will be exactly that.  I have had lovely comments on last week’s recipe so will include one today as well as a very tasty cocktail.  I have really gone full out the last two days and will do so again this Friday so I won’t keep you too long today,

Chicago’s fall foliage is taking its time showing its face…I have hunted all around me and not much happening as yet…stay tuned!

Since I am a Fall Baby I do love the season but am not terribly fond of what follows, but no matter…we can hold off on the future no need to  dwell on what will come. As I write this our Cubbies are beginning their quest for the World Series title…amazing, something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, what an exceptional time! Go Cubs….

Now let’s talk a little about Fall.  The image below is a wonderful fall table setting at  a friend’s home (actually in honor of my Birthday last year), I think it is beautiful and it is set in the atrium looking out into the garden and pool.

imageCustom-made tablecloth by the Master of the House photo taken by me on my iPhone

imageA closeup of the centerpiece, the last of the hydrangeas and zinnias, love it!  Casual but romantic and elegant picking up the color and theme of the cloth.  Move over Carolyne Roehm!  By the way, I think she is amazing and has the most exquisite taste…I had the honor of working with her on a fantastic fashion show, awesome clothes!  Also, I took this photo on my iPhone.

imageI am a major Anglophile….can’t help myself…guess it goes back to my heritage on my Mother’s side…English.  Love it.  I have no idea who to credit with this photo but do know I want to live there!  You are welcome to visit.

Now for the recipe and it’s background.  My Aunt Midge was a lovely cook but nothing fancy.  She excelled in classic basic food.  No one could beat her fudge (wish I had that recipe, but unfortunately don’t!)  What I do have is her Stew for a Crowd which I am sharing below.  I don’t have a crock pot, nor did she, so the recipe cooks the old fashion way, in the oven, what a concept,  I’m sure you can figure out how to cook in a slow cooker if you prefer that method. It is the best stew I have ever had and I thought a perfect way to celebrate the chill of the season.  I serve with as baguette to sop up the juice, a simple salad with a lovely vinaigrette and some yummy dessert. As Ina would say, what could be bad!!!!

Aunt Midge’s Stew for a Crowd

4 pounds beef stew

3 medium onions sliced

1 to 2 stalks celery cut diagonally

4-5 carrots in chunks

2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup tapioca

1 cup V-8 Juice

2 cans little potatoes


Place meat in the bottom of a Dutch oven, layer vegetables.  Mix salt, sugar, tapioca  and juice and spread over meat.  Cover TIGHTLY with foil and bake at 250 degrees for 5 hours. 1 hour before serving add cans of little potatoes, recover and cook for last hour.  Be sure the foil is tight and do not uncover until time for potatoes.  I occasionally add fresh whole small button mushrooms to the vegetable mix. Yum, Yum.  Serves 4 with leftovers…reheats and also freezes well.

Let’s have a cocktail  or two while waiting those 5 hours, this one is from Marshall Field’s in the Old Orchard Shopping Center when it first opened in the late 1950’s.  Delicious.  Nothing like a good cocktail!

Apricot Cobbler

1 1/2 ounce apricot brandy

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

3/4 ounce fresh orange juice

1 level teaspoon powdered sugar

Put in blender with ice, strain into coup,  makes one delicious cocktail

imageUntil tomorrow….


Today’s subject on my favorite topic, books, is the catalog/monograph of the current Costume exhibition at the Chicago History Museum, Making Mainboucher The First American Couturier by Petra Slinkard.


Cover of catalog

Visually it is stunning. The photography is done by Joseph Aaron Campell and Stephen Jensen.  It  depicts close-up details of the garments as well as full-length shots…beautifully done.  Of course, each garment has its donor’s name, and the date the garment was made and date it was given to the Museum, several pieces are from the designer’s own Collection. The Costume Collection at CHM is primarily devoted to garments worn by Chicago and Illinois residents. I’m sure given the stature of Mainbocher they would have accepted his garments but, fortunately, that decision didn’t have to be made…you see Main Rousseau Bocher was a native Chicagoan!  Perhaps more importantly, the Mainbocher story is told in a fascinating, exciting manner giving the reader insight into a designer who might be called and was called by the sponsor’s, LUVANIS.S.A., Managing Director, Arnaud de Lummen, a “Sleeping Beauty”…a designer waiting to be rediscovered!  After reading this wonderful in-depth volume he has been given long overdue recognition.  I am hopeful that everyone will see the exhibition in person, it will be up until August 20, 2017, but just in case this monograph is a must for your library!

imageShot on my iPhone opening day of exhibition

What will you learn, probably more than just how to pronounce his name Main Bocher, the man and Mainbocher, the brand.  You will find he started as a sketch artist, then a fashion editor for French Vogue in 1923, (M. Lumme told us that it was just revealed*, by Vogue Magazine, that Main Bocher was the artist that did the iconic Chanel black dress sketch) he became editor in chief of the magazine in 1927.

In 1929 he established his couture salon and continued until 1939, his cinched waist full skirted look foretold Dior’s New Look in 1947.

imageAnother Ivon iPhone photo

His New York salon, which opened in 1940 was on 57th Street where he dressed most of the names on the Best Dresses List. Known for understatement in his garments each collection produced over 100 pieces. No doubt best known for designing Wallis Simpson’s wedding dress in a color Mainbocher coined Wallis Blue.  He continued to design for her throughout his career. garment is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Collection, obviously, the color photo is enhanced but it gives an idea of what Wallis Blue looked like.

Mainbocher’s devoted client, Josephine Forrestal, the wife of Admiral James V. Forrestal was instrumental in having the designer create uniforms for the WAVES .  He also created new uniforms for the Girl Scouts and their leaders, I actually wore that uniform while a Girl Scout, who knew!  In addition, he did the uniforms for the student nurses at James Ward Thorne School of Nursing at Passivant Memorial Hospital (now Northwestern).

Another interesting twist to this intriguing journey was Mainbocher’s contribution to theatrical costuming.  He designed for several Broadway productions notably a Lunt and Fontaine play, The Great Sebastians, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award as well as for Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam and Mary Martin in The Sound of Music. Ms. Martin wore a Mainbocher gray tulle gown to accept her 1960 Tony Award.

You will also get to know this creative genius as being very controlling, extremely dedicated to his clients and them to him, always demanding perfection….in other words a true creative genius.

A must read if you have ANY interest in the history of fashion and why French Haute Couture and American made to order garments are the foundation and laboratory for all of fashion.  Bravo Petra and CHM staff for a perfect tribute to a one of a kind designer.  I give it 5 stars!!

You can obtain your copy at

*Vogue article on the Exhibition


In my introductory post I outlined my plan for my daily notes, Monday being personality interviews and model reminiscences, today is the first of my model profiles.

Eleanor Monte Sano Pappas was almost at the beginning of my career at Saks Fifth Avenue (my story will be told in a later post). Eleanor was first class and, as with all the model girls, (yes, we called them girls!) a true professional.  I have asked my models to write their own view of their time in the fashion spotlight and beyond.  Here then are Eleanor’s words, thoughts in parentheses are mine….


“I decided when my first child,  (one of Eleanor has 5 children), was 8 or 9, to save my sanity, I would try part-time modeling.  I auditioned at Marshall Field’s and was hired and then I walked into Nena’s office.  You and Kay (Kay Walsh Dobson, my boss at the time) were lovely to me.


Nena and Kay Dobson at Nena’s desk, early 1960’s.  Kay probably reading a script for a fashion show that I wrote. Notice mood wall, in progress…was I ever that young!!

By the time I got home, you called me with a booking.  Part-time didn’t last long , I got a good woman for the kids and to take care of the house.  She was with us for 18 years!  You were so great to me and generous, I felt like family at Saks, most people thought I was not free-lance but a full-time house model (we had when, I began at the Store, 5 house models, they were on staff not free-lance).  I also did a lot of live TV and TV commercials, as well as some photo work, but runway and designer shows were what I enjoyed most of all.


Eleanor with Bonnie Smith Malito, one of my house models at a Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago fashion show

imageMarianne Ryan and Eleanor in a local fashion editorial

When Dr. Aldo Gucci hired me to put together a fashion show for the pre-opening of their Chicago boutique (it was located in the then Allerton Hotel), I asked you to commentate. I had to ask Howard (Hal) J. Clyne, the manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago  for permission to use you since it would be a conflict of interest.  He readily agreed.  (My payment, a pair of Gucci loafers, at the time THE shoe to own, very exciting!)  When Dr. Gucci was opening that first Chicago Gucci store he called me and hired me to work for him. I loved retail and buying so after 5 years I took an offer from I Magnin.  I retired at age 65 while buying for Henri Bendel.

When the nightclub and restaurant opened on the lower lever of the Astor Towers, Marshall Field’s did a Christian Dior fashion presentation with a personal appearance by the then designer, Marc Bohan. Field’s hired 12 models each wearing one garment. We did one show a night for 7 nights.  Each gown had a woman’s name and that was the only word spoken as we entered the main dining room (an exact replica of Maxim’s in Paris!)  My gown was “Isabella”.  It was green velvet with a heavy jewel encrusted hem and was very narrow.  In the audience was the French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont.  Every night benefited a different Chicago charity.  We walked between the tables at a slow pace then out.  It was a  very exciting week.  I ripped a pair of panty hose every night on the heavily beaded hem.  It was great fun.

imageEleanor with Marc Bohan

imageThe 12 models in Christian Dior at Maxim’s

Favorite designers I worked with:

  1. Bill Blass, very friendly
  2. Adolfo, a sweet dear very creative
  3. Oscar de la Renta, amazing
  4. Aldo Gucci, strong personality.  I went to Florence twice a year to buy new collections, he was a great host!

Favorite fashion ladies, in order, in Chicago for their talent, kindness, and friendship

  1. Nena Ivon, Saks Fifth Avenue
  2. Ardelle Tuma, Carson Pirie Scott and Company
  3. Dorothy Fuller, Dorothy Fuller Productions (they first met when Dorothy  was with Marshall Field’s)
  4. Dori Bell, Chas. A. Stevens

I now spend my time with my 10 grandchildren, 7 girls and 3 boys.  One granddaughter was married this summer, the first one, and another will be getting married next year.”

As you can see Eleanor was and is a glamourous lady who worked in a glamourous world and is still the gracious lovely lady I have known my entire career.  She has been in some of my reunion shows (yet another story).  Here’s to many more years of friendship.

Thank you. Eleanor, for letting us enjoy some of your amazing fashion memories and sharing your modeling life through some extraordinary photos a perfect beginning to Model Mondays …



I am beyond excited to share the news that the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum’s new costume exhibition Making Mainbocher The First American Couturier opens Saturday, October 22, 2016.  The image above is the cover of the catalog of the exhibition, the first monograph on the designer. Main Rousseau Bocher (1890-1976), a Chicagoan, is probably best known, to the general public, for designing the Duchess of Windsor’s wedding dress in 1937 and the iconic corset photographed by Horst and immortalized by Madonna in her Vogue video. Known for understatement his refined  garments were perfect for his Chicago clientele  Everything in the exhibition is from these elegant ladies.  I will be doing a review on the book on Tuesday and the exhibition next Friday..

I was fortunate to visit the Costume Collection wth Hamish Bowles several years ago when he was in Chicago to do a presentation for the Costume Council.  Hamish is a devotee of Mainbocher and asked to see some of his pieces in our Collection. What we saw was amazing and I took some very candid photos.  You will see some of these pieces in the Collection (I’ll feature them unveiled next Friday).  I took some shots of the insides of the garments and the labels as well as some of the sketches that accompany our extensive holdings and that will also be shown in this exceptional exhibition.

imageNena with Hamish Bowles

imageSketch of gown featured in exhibition

I love seeing the inside construction of garments it is always a fascinating way to look at clothing.


True couture detail of the gown in the sketch


Gown displayed for examination (also same as in the sketch)

imageSketch for hand beaded butterfly chiffon gown

imageBeaded detail

imageNotice the hand stitchingimageAnother hand beaded gown on silk faille


The handcrafted lining of the garment


Interactive section of exhibition (we love to include interaction with our exhibitions we are after all in a technological age but thankfully Haute Couture still exists where craftsmanship prevails much as it did in Mainbochers time!)

imageAccessories and wig waiting for their close up

imageExhibition under wrapsimageJoin us for the unveiled mannequins and experience this truly one of a kind exhibition.


All photos taken by Nena Ivon on an iPhone

For more information on this and other exhibitions at the Chicago History Museum, the Costume Collection and The Costume Council visit

Cover image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum 

Catalog available from the Chicago History Museum Store


I love to do vignettes of collections in my home and am quite fond of taking photos of collections in friends homes and, of course, Pinterest has become a mood board and one can make files and not have to house stacks of clippings…oh wait I still do that!  This will be the first in a series of groupings of interesting items. Thursdays are, after all, looking at unusual homes and gardens.


How perfect is this arrangement….all blending in a grey blue tone and topping a radiator cover, simple but elegant, perfect scale and drawing your attention to the space. Notice the gold switch plate simple touches like that make all the difference in a finished room setting. Antique vessals along with a wonderful beautifully framed Pochoir, a French illustraton.  I collect Pochoir illustrations and have many in my home.  This piece was a gift from me to the stylist owners of the rest of this collection featured in their Master bedroom.  It was a treasure that I purchased several years ago at the always fascinating Randolph Street Market (mark your calendars the next Market is on Saturday and Sunday, October 29 and 30


A charming book was published by Thames & Hudson in 2015 on the art of Pochoir, it is a mesmerizing read. (ISBN 978-0-500-23939-1)

I’ll share my Pochoir collection with you as we go through the upcoming weeks.









As we are all indulging ourselves with pumpkin spice some things and get ready to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with our Peanuts friends this evening, let’s conjure up a magnificent tablescape for the fall season that can take us through Thanksgiving.


Photo Courtesy of Linda Heister

Love the tiny ghost pumpkins and look the Giant Pumpkin left exquisite gilded and silvered pumpkins from the patch and added perfect dried hydrangeas in a sterling bowl… all this wonder placed to reflect on a mirrored table. No one asked me but I say the way to do a tabletop!!!



3 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup  whole milk

1/2 teaspoon each…salt, powdered ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon

2 teaspoons gelatin softened in

1/4 cup water

3 egg whites

Baked pie shell, can be your favorite pastry shell or graham cracker shell (I use a prepared graham cracker shell)

1/2 cup heavy cream

Beat egg yokes with 1/2 cup sugar, add pumpkin, milk, and seasonings.  Cook and stir in double boiler until thick. Add gelatin stir until gelatin is dissolved. Cool. When beginning to thicken, fold in egg whites that have been beaten with remaining sugar until stiff. Pour into pie shell. Chill.  Garnish with whipped cream.  Makes a 9-inch pie.  Enjoy!


In my Introductory post, I mentioned my book obsession…that is particularly true of books on fashion.  They can be monographs, anthologies, novels, history of fashion you get the picture.  In addition, I like to collect DVD’s of fashion personalities, whether they be biographies, documentaries or docudramas (whatever that means!) in other words if the subject is fashion I want it!  I try very hard to put like subjects together for research. For example, all my books on Hollywood costume designers are together.  If there are many books about one designer, let’s say Chanel, they are together some take up more than one shelf.  I think you understand my method.  While I will, of course, talk about my fashion library I will not just focus on that one topic. I follow many book blogs and will give you lists as we go along, please share with me as well.


I know I put this image on my introductory post but wanted to include it again for a couple of reasons.  I did not mention that the lovely pink lady is a watercolor that my Father did in the 1930’s.  He was a watercolorist and also worked in other mediums  (I’ll share my thoughts on my exceptional Father in another post)  I particularly love her and she fits my fashion book shelf theme.

Now why have I chosen to readdress the Chanel shelves…simply because there are over 100 books written about her and this isn’t even touching on Karl Lagerfeld!  I don’t have all of them but it is a very good start….by the way, these two shelves are only the tip of my Chanel collection, I have to rearrange so they are in the same area.

Finally what I wanted to mention is a new Chanel book that I am very excited about and wanted to share with you.

This a marvelous book featuring all manner of previously unpublished work such as letters, photos, memories and is presented in a truly exquisite format. The color photos and archival materials are superb. I am a very fast reader but believe me, this is not a book I want to end  I really wanted to share pages, as well as the cover, but do know that is a no no without permission from the publisher! Anyone interested in Chanel, the history of fashion, fragrance, personal correspondence, and more this is THE book for you. The book is CHANEL The Enigma by Isabelle Fiemeyer published by Flammarion, the ISBN number is 978-2-08-020223-9.  I did get my copy through Amazon  but I am a huge advocate of Independent Book Sellers. My friends tease me that I can’t go pass a book store and not go in and, of course, find something to take home, it doesn’t matter where I am, small town or big city in the States or abroad. That list will come as well.  I do love all the Independent’s blogs.

And so the story of the Nena book obsession begins……