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 …

3 thoughts on “MODEL MONDAY

  1. lynnejordan October 25, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    I LOVE this! You are a wealth of information and anecdotes! I can’t wait to see more!

  2. Olivia L Montesano May 11, 2020 / 10:53 pm

    Hello! I am Eleanor’s great niece and stumbled on this blog post. I love it, thank you for sharing!

    • nenasnotes June 7, 2020 / 11:45 am

      Thank you Olivia. Eleanor was very dear to me. I send you my heartfelt condolences.

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