When I was retiring from Saks Fifth Avenue, seven years ago, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with all my paperwork, memorabilia, awards, etc.  Who would want them and how would they house them?  I did want them to be accessible for study.  I didn’t have to think long…Heidi Marshall, Head of Archives & Special Collections at Columbia College Chicago, contacted me to see if I would be interested in giving everything to the College.  Not only was I interested I was extremely honored.  Heidi came to my office and started her search through my things, and believe me when I tell you, my office was filled.  Every wall had either autographed photographs of many of the designers I had worked with but also photographs from events I had done, a wall dedicated to Victor Skebneski’s photographs, some of me, and various other materials.  Press clippings, invitations, programs from shows, events, as well as events I had chaired or worked on, lots of fashion show files and photographs, and, of course, some books (those I kept!) she wanted everything and indeed, took it all!  We photographed the office before dismantling it.  Hope to find those photos.

imageThe boxes on the table and on the cart are part of the Collection.  The caricature is from 1966, I have the original, which is in color.  I happen to love the whimsy of it.  I guess the artist thought I had very large teeth!  Everyone wore a hat in the fashion business at that time so here I am with my jaunty beret and, of course, my black and pearls!

imageMore boxes and photos that we are working on.  Some of these particular boxes hold awards. I am in the process of finding photos from past shows and events to share in future blogs.  A lot of years to go through and really a fun trip down memory lane.


A shadow box (the batting was placed behind the bottles by the archivists) filled with miniature perfume bottles from various fragrance launches.  The box was created by one of my assistants as a gift for me, I find it quite charming and almost naive.  The archives also contain full-size bottles of some of the launches, many signed. The College had some of this part of the Collection on display in the school’s library.

imageBob Mackie and Nena photographed at an American Cancer Society fashion show at the Hilton Hotel. I did many shows with Bob and he also was my date for a DIFFA gala I co-chaired also at the Hilton…more on that later.

I will be referring to the Nena Ivon Collection in the Columbia College Archives many times and I thought I would share a bit of insight of how the Collection came to be.


  1. Joan Hammel November 18, 2016 / 12:47 pm

    I just love that you shared your collection with others. The students at Columbia will benefit greatly for your life experience and generosity. You are the best! A life well lived and a legacy to many.

    • nenasnotes November 18, 2016 / 12:54 pm

      Thank you so much Joan. I really appreciate your support.

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