Shelley today Shelley in her modeling days
I am profiling another of my models who along with her sister, Shauna Montgomery (whose story you will see in a later post), were with my stable of models for many years…I call those the “glamor years”. Retrospect is always best, isn’t it!! Shelley was, along with many of my other “girls”, very active in the Mannequin Guild and their exquisite annual galas were among the several must go to events each year. For many years she has been very active in Chicago’s social scene.
Here are Shelley’s thoughts on her modeling days….
“I was so fortunate in my modeling career to be surrounded by people who were passionate about and gifted in the industry. One of those people was Nena Ivon who I met when she was the fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue; a position she held for decades. Working for Nena was an experience that helped to shape the trajectory of my career. Thanks in part to my connecting with Nena, I had the opportunity to work for some of the greatest designers on the planet; people like Geoffrey Beene, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Galanos, Adolfo – and the list goes on. It was an exciting and exhilarating way to live and offered the kind of life style that little girls dream about.
Nena knew that not only did I love the energy and panache of the modeling life, but that I was also a singer. When Saks Fifth Avenue had its opening night at Chicago Place on Michigan Avenue, there was entertainment on every floor. There was the Stanley Paul Orchestra, there was Michael Laird, there was the renowned jazz pianist Dorothy Donegan, and thanks to Nena hiring me, there was me! I did three different sets with the Ivy League Quartet and I feel it’s safe to say that thanks to the vibe of the beat and my dress slit up to there, I was hot! The audience went nuts and I was hooked on the adrenaline and applause, not to mention the music.
Shortly afterward, I made my debut appearance as a jazz singer at the illustrious Gold Star Sardine Bar in Chicago’s Gold Coast; a club created by Bill Allen and whose ownership included the one and only Bobby Short.
To complete the picture, Nena had dressed me for the evening from head to toe in none other than Bob Mackie – which you know means feathers and beads and, well, everything. Neither Carol Burnett nor Cher had anything on me! I was surrounded by such luminaries as movie critic Roger Ebert and famed photographer Victor Skrebneski, who created a portrait of me that is a treasured timeless signature I still use today. (Nena’s note, I was in attendance, with Victor, at Shelley’s opening night, it was indeed magical!!). All these years later, it still captures the magic of the time. It was the late 1980’s…it was over the top, and it was fabulous.
Top photo: Shelley today in performance backed by her orchestra. Two lower photos: Shelley in Bob Mackie for her first performance at the Gold Sardine Bar (wish is was still around it was as enthralling as is Shelley singing jazz!!!)
All l that I absorbed from those exciting, fun-packed, slightly neurotic and adrenaline-charged years is still with me today. These days I spend less time on the runway and more time on stages around the country, singing not only jazz but my soul’s passion, classical music. Though Puccini’s tragic heroine Tosca was probably not dressed at Saks, I enjoy portraying her as if she was. It seems to serve us both equally well”.
Shelley has been in all my “reunion” shows, which are some of my favorites and I think the models enjoy them as well. I’ll do a future post just on those shows, they are always a huge hit with the audiences and the models look amazing, as always, I would expect nothing less.
In addition to her singing engagements she and Shauna host a podcast http://www.the-girlfriends.com/
Great fun reminiscing with Shauna and Shelley on their very conversational podcast, loved being with them for girl talk!!!
That is sensational Nena! So much fun!!! >
Thanks Shelley. I hope you will post on your Facebook page. I’ll look forward to seeing you soon.
Shelley is the epitome of what it is TO BE A WOMAN in progress…she is a true Godessa I just love her 💜
What a fabulous article – everything was Just as I remember it!
Thanks Shirley. I hope ALL is good with you.