PROFILE: JEANOUCHE WOPINSKI

imageJeanouche when I first knew her.

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Jeanouche today, still the glamour gal!

It’s Model Monday….and I am featuring one of the models that probably did more shows at the time than any of my other models, Jeanouche Wopinski.  She was totally divine on the runway as well as working trunk shows and engaging and enticing the Saks Fifth Avenue clients to love the clothes she was wearing.  She was always a true professional (and a trooper, as you will see by her own admission later in this post!) I have featured several of my models…more to come, in previous weeks, all of whom were standouts, each with their own personality (something lacking today, I’m sorry to say) while not taking away from the garments they were showing.  Is that nostalgia or fact…I can’t really say…instead let’s learn Jeanouche’s reminiscences in her words….

“It all started for me at the age of 14 when I would take the bus downtown every Saturday morning to attend “charm school”. The department stores all offered it and I attend them all. I never told any of my friends I was doing this but I loved it. One week we would learn to walk with a book on our heads another we would learn how to navigate a table of place settings. I was hooked and I knew I was going places.

imageJeanouche’s first composite.

I started modeling in Milan, Italy, then returned to Chicago only to go on to Barcelona Spain.

imageHer Spanish composite.

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imageAbove photos from Jeanouche’s Spanish modeling days. She did lots of editorial work for European Vogue at that time.

The most interesting time was in Spain when agents would take me and my roommate Candace Collins (now Candace Jordan) to Cadaques to have dinner at the home of Salvador Dali and his wife Gala. Candace then went to the Canary Islands to film a commercial and I was a guest a couple more times at the Dali home.  That was fascinating.
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Candace and Jeanouche at the recent Misericordia Heart of Mercy Fashion Show, still friends after all these years and both looking totally amazing!  Photo taken by Nena with iPhone.

imageJeanouche with Salvador Dali in Spain.

Upon returning to Chicago I had a great career doing editorial for both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. I also did many catalogs. I was also in editorials in Mademoiselle and Seventeen and for companies like Bobbie Brooks.  I also did jean ads for Gloria Vanderbilt and Bill Blass.

imageIn a Chicago newspaper editorial.

imageIn an ad for Bill Blass jeans at Chas. A. Stevens

imageAn editorial piece in Woman’s Wear Daily’s Chicago section.

In the late 70’s I did a Carson’s ad with a photographer named Owen Deutsch, there were two other models there. As I was just starting my career here in Chicago, after working in Milan and Barcelona, they suggested I do runway to fill in between photo jobs. After doing research I found that I should meet Dorothy Fuller with the Apparel Mart and Nena Ivon with Saks Fifth Avenue.  I met with both of these women and my life changed forever.

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I started working regularly for both the Apparel Mart and Saks which then led into every account in the city.  I loved it and loved the people I worked with. To this day my close friends are my runway friends.

imageOn the runway at an Apparel Mart show.

In the 80’s runway was key in Chicago we had Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Fields, I.Magnin, Bonwit Teller, Wiebolts, Goldblatts, Stanley Korshak, Kanes and many more. Every major store and boutique did shows.

I was privledged to work for SFA very often. I do remember doing informal modeling at a trunk show for Christian Lacroix.  Everyone in the industry came to see the collection. It was so much much fun to be the only model featured in the first collection. I learned so much from being a house model at Saks, I did informal modeling and all of the formal runway designer shows.

imageA Saks evening gown show Jeanouche showing her glamorous persona.

I also loved doing the Thursday Working Women Seminars. It was a small group of girls, usually the same four, and we became very close friends. To this day we are still friends.

imageIn a Saks Working Women Seminar show.

I do have to admit that when I get together with all my runway friends we laugh, just like the old days, no one laughs harder than we do.

imageWith a bunch of the models at an Apparel Mart show.

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With Terri D’

My first favorite designer was Albert Nipon. I remember that being one of my first jobs, I think it was for A.M. Chicago. He had only one model “me”. I was picked up in front of my building in a limo and Mr. Nipon was already in it. Oh. I thought all modeling jobs would be like this, I was treated like a queen.

When I think of my favorite show I can’t imagine narrowing it down to one. I just loved to work so I guess they were all my favorite.

imageJeanouche and Lelar on the runway at a show at Navy Pier.

After modeling, I stayed home to raise my wonderful son. I did it all, every sporting event and even was a cub scout den mother uniform and all. I did work at a local pre-school for a while and then went on to do volunteer work.  I now spend most of my time taking care of my 90 year-old mother.

Everyone asks me what did you learn from all your years of modeling. My answer is— accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!

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One time I broke a toe on my right foot and reported to work anyway…Nena’s belief was the show must go on and asked it I could do the show, Nena had all of my right shoes lined up at the start of the runway. Before I went out she would put my shoe on my foot, I would plaster a smile on my face and go out to do my run.  When I would return she would remove my shoe I would then run back to change into my next outfit. We did it 4 times, thank god only 4 changes that show. After the finale, Nena handed me a tissue because by that point I had tears in my eyes, she said to me- “you did it girl – you’re a trooper”.  For some unknown reason I have always remembered that. To this day when I overcome a hardship I say to myself out loud “you did it girl- you’re a trooper! (Nena’s note I sound like a ghoul!!!! I would never ask a model to do anything that they were uncomfortable with…yes, the show must go on but not to anyone’s pain! When I asked J about this and said I was horrified, she said she thought it was funny…)

I always talk about the time I had to call Nena to cancel the Oscar de la Renta show, I was pregnant, I was so nervous. Not to my surprise, she was very excited. That was 23 years ago and we are no longer employer and employee, we are good friends.  I have continued to model in all of Nena’s “reunion shows”, way too much fun!

Nena was a wonderful part of my life and continues to be (Nena’s note…ditto to that Jeanouche!).”

Nena’s note…we seem to have the same theme with all the model postings I have done…the models fondly recall their modeling days and most have stayed friends through the years, I also remember the times over many, many years with different sets of models that the shows were all memorable and were great times…time will tell with our new crop, hopefully, they will have fun memories as well. We need to do another reunion show, I know the crew is ready and very willing and, in my opinion, the audiences would eat it up!!!!

All photographs courtesy of Jeanouche except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “PROFILE: JEANOUCHE WOPINSKI

  1. Lesley Brewster May 15, 2017 / 10:36 am

    What a delightful way to start the morning! This brought back wonderful memories, and yes laughter. I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day Jeanouche. God Bless.

    Like

    • nenasnotes May 15, 2017 / 11:52 am

      I know J always brought laughter. I hope you had a superb Mother’s Day Leslie. N

      Like

  2. Elsa May 15, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Nena,

    I enjoy your weekly profiles, and especially the amazing stories of the Saks models, each subject has been unique, accomplished and stunning in their own way.

    Jeanouche’s story is particularly moving and inspiring.

    Jeanouche,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful journey with us. You always kept us laughing and to this day, no one has the dramatic timing and wit quite like you. I love the laughs and the glamour that you bring. Keep it coming “Jaybird.”

    Elsa

    Like

    • nenasnotes May 15, 2017 / 2:52 pm

      Thanks so much Elsa. I deeply and dearly appreciate your comments and support of nenasnotes. Let’s get more of our model friends involved. Yes, Jeanouche has an inspiring story to tell and I’m so pleased she agreed to share some of her journey.

      Like

  3. Shauna Montgomery May 15, 2017 / 3:25 pm

    Great article of my dearest friend Jeanouche!!

    Like

  4. Karen Ryan May 15, 2017 / 3:58 pm

    Ditto Shauna! Along with Jeanouche, one of my besties! I have a hilarious pic of Jeanouche and me at an Art Institute show … we look like we belong on Star Trek. Will share with you! xoxox

    Like

    • nenasnotes May 15, 2017 / 4:03 pm

      You have shared the photo with me which I will post when I do your profile, Miss Karen!! We did have lots of laughs.

      Like

  5. Amy May 15, 2017 / 4:31 pm

    Jeanouche is my Aunt. She brought me along to work a few times and once I even met Oprah! Such amazing memories. I’ll never forget. She’s is a truely beautiful person!

    Like

    • nenasnotes May 15, 2017 / 5:00 pm

      Thanks so much Amy. Aren’t you the lucky one to have Jeanouche as your Aunt. She is a very special person.

      Like

  6. Sandy Barkans May 15, 2017 / 10:04 pm

    Nena
    Loved reading about good old days at SFA!!
    Always enjoyed our lunches&laughs at SFA!!
    You were Ms. Saks Fifth Ave!!!
    Hope to see you soon!!
    Hugs Sandy

    Like

    • nenasnotes May 15, 2017 / 10:27 pm

      Thanks so much Sandy for your lovely words and our fond SFA memories. Yes, lots of fun and laughter. We MUST get together soon much too long between visits. I hope you are both well. Hugs back…N

      Like

  7. Shelley Farley May 16, 2017 / 5:43 am

    Great photos J!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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