imageRock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, designed by I. M. Pei, opened in 1995.

Continuing on this week’s musical theme I wanted to share the two fashion shows I did with the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beachwood, Ohio.

I was asked by SFA Corporate to coordinate the fashion shows to benefit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the first, to my recollection, was in 2004 and we were presenting the St. John Collection, a huge resource for the store.  My head of production, Deb Gohr, and I flew to Cleveland to meet with the institution’s President and CEO, Terry Stewart and his wife, Sally to see the hotel that we were to present in as well as have a tour of the Hall itself.  I must admit to being totally ignorant about the Hall…I guess I thought it wouldn’t be an upscale place, how wrong I was…it is amazing!!!!  The building, designed by I. M. Pei, sits on the shore of Lake Erie and is in the form of a record player turntable, with a huge outdoor plaza.  Truly a glorious structure. The Stewarts graciously hosted a dinner party for us at their home and shared their own extraordinary memorabilia with us…oh my!

We only had a limited amount of time to spend and they had an exhibition of Mary Wilson’s (The Supremes!) costume and memorabilia that I really wanted to visit. Again, not a disappointment….the exhibit was on a separate floor from the main exhibits and was set up like a backstage dressing room.  Having worked with Bob Mackie (a post on him later….) it was super fun to see sets of three of his stage creations up close and personal.  They were exquisite.  Thank heaven she kept them so we could enjoy the glamour of The Supremes in their glory days. It was well worth the trip.

imageThe Bob Mackie gowns from the Mary Wilson Collection at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  Photo credit unknown.

For the actual show a few weeks later, as usual, I booked the models but in this instance (all of them were coming from Chicago) I had to book their rooms at the Hotel, their flights to and from Chicago and Cleveland, transportation from the airport and back, arrange food for them for the two days they were there (yes, models do eat!!), etc.  All was fine with a few glitches…some of the models had to cancel and new ones put into place…this meant booking new tickets, even then you had to show ID and your ticket to airport security and to board..fortunately, there weren’t many changes.  The fittings were held at the Hotel the day before the show. All went well with both the fittings and show with Kelly Gray from St. John, in attendance for the luncheon and show and an in-store meet and greet….the store sold the St. John garments in great quantities that was pretty much a given with their wearability.  Yay…


image Similar looks from another St. John show, this one in the Chicago store. The two photos courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

In 2006, the Beachwood store was once again asked to work with the RRHF and I was invited back to coordinate it.  This time we were doing a Chanel Fall 2006 ready-to-wear collection in September.  I was thrilled to be working with the Chanel merchandise since we didn’t carry the brand in the Chicago store.  What made it even more special was I had seen the samples being worked on when I was in Paris for the Couture Collections in July 2006…what a pleasure to be in the Chanel workrooms realizing that the seamstresses were fashioning the exact garments, most of which were in black and white, I would be fitting and showing later that season…wow!  I made the trip back to Cleveland to work with the RRHF staff to prepare the event.  We really wanted to do the show in the outside plaza but decided it was cost prohibited and opted to once again show in the Renaissance Plaza Hotel Ballroom.  The same logistics were put in place, booking the 22 models, flying them to Cleveland, hotel accommodations made, fittings planned. In addition, Chanel had their special representative there to do the fittings and supervise the production and we also had a Saks Fifth Avenue Corporate representative to help oversee the event. The fittings took a very long time but since the models were booked for a two and a half day gig they weren’t on the “clock”.  I usually do an hour fitting….this wasn’t an hour! When doing an all one brand/house show I always want to have the models look like the original show, hair, make-up, attitude and this is what happened with this show, just, perhaps, with a little more effort.  The event was a cocktail reception, fashion show, performance by James Hunter and dessert reception. It was a sold out festive evening.  Again, sales were brisk, the point of doing a charity fashion show is, obviously, to raise money for the cause and, of course, drive sales of what you are featuring…both goals were beautifully accomplished.

imageThe front of the evening’s program.

imageimageimageThree images from the Chanel Paris Fall 2006 Runway Show.  Photo credits unknown.

I know one of the questions that I had on my first visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was why in the world is it in Cleveland….well I got my answer (which by the way was explained in detail in the book I reviewed this week, Windy City Blues).  The term “Rock and Roll” is attributed to a DJ who started in Akron, Ohio and moved to Cleveland, Alan Freed…”he liked “race music and jazz” and had an audience of white kids who defied their parents and listened in and he started calling this music “rock n’ roll”, (a quote from the book).  Well, there you have it!  I must say if you are into music, collections of every major recording artist you can think of,  get yourself to Cleveland and visit this one of a kind museum, you won’t be disappointed.

In the meantime, you can visit the current exhibition at Navy Pier, Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones,  if it is anything like the David Bowie exhibition that was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago a couple of years ago, we are all in for a major treat.



    • nenasnotes April 14, 2017 / 1:00 pm

      Thanks so much Sally. Interesting times!!!!

  1. Karen Ryan April 14, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    Love this post!

  2. Gabrielle Goodman August 11, 2023 / 7:22 pm

    Was at that Chanel show at it was phenomenal. I might I’ll always remember!

    • nenasnotes August 11, 2023 / 7:52 pm

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed the show and remember it…seems like a lifetime ago.

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