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

4 thoughts on “FASHION FLASHBACK

  1. Earl Summers October 23, 2016 / 2:44 pm

    I love your blog, Nena! I might actually learn something about the wonderful fashion industry. It’s a pleasure and an honor to know you. Earl

    • nenasnotes October 23, 2016 / 7:37 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Earl. Have you subscribed to my Blog…I don’t see you on my list of subscribers. Hope you will. Enjoy your day

  2. lynnejordan October 25, 2016 / 3:54 pm

    This is just fabulous!! What a great ride this blog is! I have learned so much already! Congratulations and keep ’em coming!

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