WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: BROADWAY AT LYRIC

imageI took this photo with my iPhone while seated in Row X, I think one of the best rows in the House.  Of course, the curtain hadn’t gone up, I would never take photos during any performance.  But isn’t it glorious?  The detail is amazing in its gilding. But I digress…I am going to talk about seeing my most favorite Musical of all time, at this marvel of an Opera House….My Fair Lady!

If you have been following nenasnotes you may recall the post I did on Cecil Beaton when I talked about seeing My Fair Lady the first time…oh, you say, you didn’t see that post…well here is the story!!!  On my very first trip to New York (it was a graduation present from my Father and I went the year after I graduated high school and a year after I started working at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago) I saw several Broadway shows one of which was my first Broadway show on Broadway (understand that Chicago either had pre-Broadway performances and thankfully we still do, think War Paint for an example, or we had the Original Casts think Yul Brenner in The King and I, which Lyric did brilliantly last year so excellent theater wasn’t new to me or to Chicago!) that show was My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews…I mean seriously…. It has been my favorite ever since.  The Cecil Beaton costuming and staging, the marvelous music, all have remained in my memory after all these years.  You can imagine that I was overjoyed when I learned that Lyric was going to mount a production for their 2017 Broadway at Lyric season.

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My dear friends (and family!) Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel have been kind and included me for each of the past productions and once again they treated me to a wonderful afternoon of musical theater.  One should never compare people, times and most certainly not new productions of old favorites and I must say I wasn’t disappointed.  What made it special to me was that they didn’t try to copy the original in any way, except, of course, the music and the Shaw story.

imageThe Ascot Scene

imageHenry’s Library getting ready to leave for the Embassy Ball.

The cast was excellent, the set actually very austere and minimalist, done in a neutral palette with the exception of the garments in the Ascot Scene, the gowns (with the exception of Elisa’s lovely white gown) in the Ball scene, Elisa’s dress in Mrs. Higgins’ home and the flowers in Covent Garden.  It is set later in time, just before World War II the original just before World War I.  The large Lyric stage was made more intimate and the scene in Mrs. Higgins’ I loved with its drapery and “Brancusi” sculpture.

imageElisa giving her jewels back to Henry.

The story is based on the original Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw and the Gabriel Pascal movie, Pygmalion, not on the 1956 Broadway production.  Do Henry and Elisa end up together, we will never know, but I certainly hope so being the romantic I am!  Bravo Lyric for yet another superb production. If you haven’t seen it you have until Sunday, May 21st.

Can’t wait for next year’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, April 27 through May 20, 2018, be sure to mark your calendars now, you know how quickly a year goes.  It along with the 2017-2018 Lyric season information can be found at www.lyricopera.org and season tickets are already on sale…yay!!!  I am beyond excited that  Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers is on the bill, my favorite duet of all, it gives me chills just thinking about it…. conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, adore him, and the production (sets and costumes) is designed by Zandra Rhodes (I spent some time with her several years ago at a Costume Society of America Symposium in San Diego, she is an extraordinary talent)…it is a must see on my calendar it should be amazing!!!!

Other than the photo of the Lyric ceiling all photos I found on Pinterest.  Just a reminder that, as always, all the thoughts are mine.

A new site for you to become engaged with Lyric especially if you love musical theater,  the Broadway Benefactors Circle you can join at www.lyricopera.org/broadwaybenefactors

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BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: BEYOND THE LABEL

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I have read so many how to “reinvent” yourself business books over the years, beginning with The Tipping Point, that was required reading for a meeting at Saks Fifth Avenue when it was published, that I thought I really don’t want to read yet another one…but when I read a review of Beyond the Label and made note of its author I became intrigued and put it on my to be read list.  Written by someone who had really come through the ranks of the fashion world from L’Oréal, The Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and finally, as Global CEO of Chanel I thought this would be the book for me since I am in the process of reinventing myself through www.nenasnotes.com and it’s major learning curve.  I had actually put the book on the TBR list and didn’t think more about it when I received an email from a friend/business associate asking me if I would be interested in interviewing the author, Maureen Chiquet, at a program at the Union League Club in Chicago.  How could I say no?  Well, I didn’t….and I can’t wait to meet this dynamic, insanely talented person and hopefully ask her the questions you would want to have answered (I will do another post after the interview and, fingers crossed, have her answer my profile questionnaire, she would be amazing!)

Here are just a few of my initial observations from the book, which I found not only to be a business manual (silly sounding, I know) but also a memoir and the story of a change of one’s thought of career, as a literature major, to the broad world of fashion.  It has always been my feeling that our industry (fashion) requires a vast knowledge of the world around us with a heavy emphasis on The Arts.  Yes, one needs to have a sense of current affairs, information on the history of the industry (I am fanatical about that!) and, of course, a sound background in business (particularly business math) and most importantly what the consumer wants.  All of these principles are detailed in this well-written and engaging book.  Yes, it is a basis for how to advance your career (in any industry), how to network, (crucial to any career), how to think like your boss before you become one, how to become a listening executive, how to be mentored and therefore, how to mentor. How to know when to make the right move to the next step (probably the hardest learning point of all).  Whew, lots to cover.  Ms. Chiquet has accomplished all of this (and now has reinvented herself again as a savvy author and guide to how to reinvent yourself as well) and much much more with insight, humor, realism as well as telling us how to do all this while being female (the topics discussed have no gender!).  Sad that we still have to think that way, but it is true.  I firmly believe our gender is looked on as more equal in the fashion world…am I being naive, I don’t think so!

Our industry moves at the speed of light and one has to not only go with the trends but make them, she has done it all and I am thrilled that she has shared them with us whether a long time professional or an up and coming novice. She is a role model to everyone no matter gender or age for that matter.  Ms. Cliquet has inspired me to go with what I have always felt true, be true to yourself and the rest will follow.  She has lived this philosophy.  It is my pleasure to recommend this delightful book to you.  I will be recommending it to my students at Columbia College Chicago as assigned reading.

The Union League Club event is open to the public, I hope you can join me in welcoming Ms. Cliquet to Chicago and learn more from this fascinating woman…see below for ticket details….

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/authors-group-presents-maureen-chiquet-tickets-31830023457

The book will be available for purchase on site from The Book Stall, our independent bookseller www.thebookstall.com

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FASHION: NOW!

imageAndrew Gn

I have worked with the incredible Andrew Gn and his Fall 2017 Collection all week at a private club with individual appointments with his Chicago clientele.  It is the second time I have worked with Andrew and each time I marvel at the genius of his talent.  I wanted to share a few of the pieces that impressed me.  Stay tuned for Andrew to respond to my questionnaire in the near future…until then enjoy the beauty of his Fall Collection conceived and made in Paris.

imageThe cover of the lookbook sets the tone for the collection the inspiration for much of the collection is the art of the extraordinary Gustav Klimt.

imageGustav Klimt

imageThe inspiration

imageThe gown Vogue.com

imageAndrew’s interpretation and my photo of the gown.

imageA close up of the sequin scroll beading, my photo. a

imageA beaded detail on the front of a dress of bronze cloque

imageA bronze cloque sculptured sleeve vest with embellishment

imagePearl beaded detail on this jacket, always classic but with a 2017 twist

imageThe pearl detail my photo

imageThe front of a dress my photo

imageIsn’t this glorious….vogue.com

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Two close-up looks at the velvet appliqued flowers on the satin gowns both my photos

imageI love this montage of the black, white and gray pattern garments…silk, knit, woven, animal and abstract prints…..my photo

Just a very small sampling of this superb collection by a true creator!

You can find the Andrew Gn collection at the following stores and online…

www.matchesfashion.com

www.neopolitanonline.com   Winnetka, Illinois

www.bergdorfgoodman.com   New York, New York

www.harrods.com  London, England

COLLECTIONS: WHITE AMERCAN POTTERY

imageA rather moody photo in my white bathroom.  A distressed white antique mirror and shelf.  The shelf holding some of my white American pottery collection.  You have seen the chandelier in my post on chandeliers.

I started collecting white American pottery several years when I saw a collection that friends of mine had in their cabin in Indiana (I also have a collection of green pieces, of course, I do, you by now know it is my MOST favorite color!).  The pieces pictured above are not miniatures but mid-sized.  I have a collection of mirrors in the room (I posted that story previously) and I also have shelves anywhere I can hang or find a space for them for storage and/or display.  Many were made for me by a friend and others I have collected over the years, yes, you guessed it, at the Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com.

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Some of my white pottery collection is McCoy, some Hull, and others are marked USA, they come from potteries all over Ohio.  Many of the “big” names in pottery such as Roseville, Weller, and Rookwood are from Ohio as well.  I don’t pretend to be an expert and have purchased my pieces from many sources at many different price points because I liked them and because the larger pieces (I do have some bigger ones) took up too much space and space is at a premium in my home.  The miniatures have been collected over many years and are on a three tier vintage hanging shelf behind the door in the bathroom…a fun surprise when you peek behind the door. My two favorites and probably the most costly are the two center front on the bottom shelf….love them.  Most, as you can see are urn-shaped.  All are about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in height.

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imageI also think the two little jugs are charming.

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A comment…..I don’t collect items that I think will increase in value, rather I collect things that bring me pleasure and I find collecting, (always have), fun, entertaining and joyful.  I like my possessions but don’t feel possessed by them.  I also love looking for things for my friends that will fill their collections.  The most important thing is to collect what you like, use it, enjoy it, share it….that is the Ivon way of collecting, what is yours??!!

There are many, many books on Ohio pottery, find one that works for you if you now have pieces or you want to begin your new collection.

All photos taken by me on my iPhone.

A couple of organizations that might be of interest….

www.mccoypotterycollectorssociety.org

www.hullpotteryassociation.org

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: RUBIES

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Yesterday’s post on the book Death Among Rubies got me thinking about gems and rubies in particular.  I know more about diamonds and emeralds, my two favorite gems than I do about rubies.  Let’s investigate together, shall we!!

I found that rubies are often more valuable than diamonds and are in the same category as sapphires.   They are graded with the same four C’s as diamonds, color, cut, clarity and carat weight.  They are also valued by where there are found, the most prized are from the Far East.  They are the July birthstone and are said to be a symbol of love and passion…obviously with their depth of color. Just a teeny overview of this incredible stone.  Isn’t nature a wonder….look at what rock can produce, extraordinary!!!

imageA ruby in its natural state.

imageExamples of cut stones.

If you have not visited the Grainger Hall of Gems at the Field Museum it is a must see.

imageNatural ruby crystals in marble in the Grainger Hall of Gems at the Field Museum.

The Field Museum was (and still is) one of my most favorite museums anywhere (my other Chicago favorite is the Art Insitute but all our museums are amazing).  I remember as a child going with my parents and all areas were exciting to me but the two exhibitions I always had to visit were the butterfly collections and the Hall of Gems. Both were jewels in my mind.

imageFrom the Field Museum bookstore.

The Hall of Gems, as well as the entire Museum, has seen extensive changes since my childhood but it still features not only exquisite gems and jewelry but also gives the visitor an in-depth education of the story behind the stones using all the technology we have today.  www.fieldmuseum.org

imageNinety carats of rubies set in platinum encircled in diamonds on a diamond chain from the Grainger Hall of Gems at the Field Museum. I’m starting to love rubies!!!!

imageElizabeth Taylor’s famous Cartier ruby and diamond necklace and earrings gifts from Mike Todd in 1957, Van Cleef and Arpels ring from Richard Burton in 1968.

imageNew York City Ballet performing the Rubies Suite from George Balanchine’s ballet Jewels. I was extremely fortunate to see the premiere in New York in April 1967.  It is a stunning piece.  Along with Rubies, the other two acts are Diamonds and Emeralds.  The next time I saw it performed was at Ravinia many years ago.

imageThis is how I envision the dagger from the pages of Death Among Rubies, a horrible way to use such a magnificent piece.

What is your favorite gem?  Do share.

All images from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: DEATH AMONG RUBIES

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Death Among Rubies is the second Lady Frances Fflokes mystery (the third will be published in November).  I did a review on Death on the Sapphire two weeks ago and wanted to do the second book as soon as possible.  So here it is…..

We find Lady Frances and her lady’s maid, June Mallow traveling with two of Frannie’s friends, Gwendolyn and Tomasina to visit Gwen’s family estate, Kestrel’s Eyrie.  After dinner with assorted guests, Gwen’s father, Sir Calleford, a powerful diplomat, is stabbed to death, in his study, with his ruby encrusted dagger.  Frannie who we learned in the first mystery is quite adept at solving murders much to the dismay of Scotland Yard…is at it again!  The guests include a Turkish diplomat, an American heiress and her loving father, a French couple, a couple of impoverished widows, Gwen’s aunt and her son, Christopher who is like a brother to Gwen.  The plot isn’t terribly involved but does, indeed, have twists and turns.  Of course, the dagger has a curse associated with it, Scotland Yard Special Branch becomes involved as does Frannie’s love interest and her attorney, Hal, and her disapproving brother (of her lifestyle), Charles.  The story even gives Mallow a bit of romance.  Frannie again involves Mallow in her intrigues and Mallow, rises to each occasion and becomes more educated and a bit less uptight in the process.  I love that she is more concerned with how Lady Frances looks that Lady Frances is…adds a touch of humor to the story especially when Frannie dresses in working man’s clothing, a scandal in Mallow’s eyes! Most of the story is set in the countryside estate, not in London.  I enjoyed the stories of the staff’s views of their employers, and how they will talk to others of their station, such as Mallow and not to Frannie, although she does have a way of getting information from everyone.  The view of the peer system is a big part of the story.

I found the continuation of the suffragette story an interesting one…nothing new there but Frannie was really living two lives, which she has no intention of giving up, it was fascinating to me.  On one side she is an aristocrat and on the other a free-thinking modern woman…at that time, the early 20th Century, not unusual for many young (and not so young) women, but unless one was as outspoken as our heroine I would imagine a difficult path.  Her understanding of the times, the mores of all classes, make it an interesting look at an era that was evolving very quickly.  For some unknown reason, Frannie reminds me a bit and only a bit of  Phryne Fisher and the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, (I do love the books and the television series) a later time and place but still a thoroughly independent, engaging woman who we admire and want to know more about.

Now my opinion of the book, I did enjoy it but not as much as the first of the series, Death on the Sapphire. I do like Koreto’s writing (I did find a couple of repeated phrases within a couple of pages, that should have been caught by his editor, but never mind!!!!).  Outside the main characters, I found the others to be rather stereotypical, the wealthy American heiress and her father looking for a titled husband, the Turkish diplomat who seems suspicious (is he!?), the village widows who are more than they seem (in that case they were!), etc. All in all an enjoyable read…not one that stretched my mind but then after a busy few weeks that isn’t all bad.  I am looking forward to the further adventures of Lady Frances Ffolkes and her band of characters.  Let me know your thoughts when you read it.

PROFILE: FLEUR COWLES

imageFleur Cowles, as I remember her, pictured at home.

Today’s Profile is a bit different from my other Monday posts.  The person I am profiling did not fill out my usual questionnaire but rather it will be a reflection of an artist, a unique creator whose vision took us to a wonderful world of her imagination, that incredible person was Fleur Cowles.  I had the extraordinary experience of meeting and working with her many years ago when she visited Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago’s Gift Shop to introduce her book, An Artist’s Journey.

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As usual, as with all our visits, I spent the day (or more) with her and had the opportunity to learn more about her fascinating career so these recollections will have to pull my memory back in time (this was long before the days of instant iPhone technology of photos, videos and recording conversations, more the pity!!!) Why, you might ask, am I doing this post today.  I was reading one of my favorite lifestyle magazines, The World of Interiors current issue and was literally drooling over photos of interiors when I caught my breath I wanted to see whose home it was…it was Fleur Cowles and it was perfection!

I had first become aware of Ms. Cowles many, many years before our encounter in the Store.  It all began at the beginning of the 1950’s when my Father started collecting Flair Magazine. It was a publication like no other then or now and only existed for one year.  It was so expensive to produce that her husband, who was the publisher, pulled the plug, much to the regret of all the followers of the magazine.  Each month was themed and had a cut away cover to allow you to “peek” inside.  As a young girl who as obsessed with fashion and the creative process I was fascinated with each issue, but I think my favorite was the Rose issue which Ms. Cowles insisted be scented (mind you this was long before the scent strip came into being!)  Of course, the painting was by Fleur.

imageIsn’t it glorious….the bouquet is cut away to reveal the charming portrait!

Not only was the art enticing (from Ms. Cowles but also Dali, Dubuffet, etc. etc……) but the stories were written by all the authors and critics of the day, all personal friends of the Cowles.  Not to carry this story too far, several years after my Father had passed away we had a flood, our hot water heater exploded, no one was hurt but the water damage destroyed all my yearbooks, all my childhood dolls, all manner of memorabilia and ALL of Daddy’s art magazine collections and on and on.  All the Flairs were gone!  I have since started collecting them again.  I have four of the thirteen published as well as the yearbook.  But that is the fun of collecting and why I always adore my monthly Randolph Street Market, www.randolphstreetmarket.com, visits (Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28 from 10 to 5, the first outdoor Market of the season, yay!!!!) I may come across one or two treasures that might be a Flair I don’t have!

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imageOne of my favorite covers.

Don’t always just look at book vendors at RSM, I think the Flairs I have found there have been with vendors who have multiple collections (remember the Printer’s Row Lit Fest is approaching as well as the annual Newberry Library Book Fair, you can fill in your magazine and book collections there as well!!!!)

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My copy of the Flair Annual, I have also found this at Randolph Street Market and given it to a couple of my friends who appreciate the unique!

My next experience with her was with the publication of her book Tiger Flower, which I fell in love with.  My assistant at the time was a superb artist, actually trained in the Fashion Design Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and she copied the cover for me to needlepoint.  The rendering is exactly the same as the Cowles painting and I think my needlework did it justice.  It is hidden away in storage so I couldn’t get it out to show you, you will have to take my word for it, sorry!

imageIt is a charming story and the art, amazing!

My most recent acquisition was given to me last Christmas by a dear friend….who knows my love for flowers and for Fleur Cowles (mad for her artwork)…a perfect present!

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Now for the story of our meeting….I had just gotten back from a trip to London, by now you know I am a major Anglophile, and Ms. Cowles was intrigued by my love of England.  We were discussing the places I had visited, I adore all Museums so that became our main topic.  She told me that the BBC had asked her to be filmed for a series they were doing on British notables favorite places (as I recall in London) and she chose The British Museum.  The hairs went up on the back of my neck and I told her my story of my first visit to the museum.  I have long been an admirer of Egyptology, Chicago, as you know, has a long history with Egypt excavations and has many artifacts at The Field Museum as well as one of my favorite museums, The Oriental Institute.  I have visited them countless times and also was fortunate to see the Tutankhamun Exhibit when it visited Chicago, exquisite! Now back to the British Museum….on my visit I took myself directly to the Egypt wing and went from room to room, when I entered one of the very large galleries that housed many mummies, I sensed something very uncomfortable, I really couldn’t then nor now explain the feeling but it was one of extreme sadness, a feeling of trespass, if you will.  I immediately left the room and the Museum and it took me many years to return on one of my visits to the UK.  So what you say…well as I was relating this to Ms. Cowles, she looked at me in a very strange way and told me that was wing she wanted to be filmed in and when they got to that exact room, she felt the same sensation I had had.  She asked the guards if there was anything strange about that gallery and they said they felt it as well and the guard dogs would never cross the threshold!  I guess I do believe in the problem of disturbed spirits at least I did in that room and actually felt a bit better knowing I wasn’t alone!

Ms. Cowles lived a very long life, she died at 101 years of age, after creating beauty that we can treasure to this day…lucky us and very lucky me that I had the opportunity to visit with one of my Father’s and my idols.

imageFleur Cowles in her Studio.

imageAnother view of the Studio now that is what inspiration should look like!  All photos from Pinterest, photo credits unknown.

www.randolphsteetmarket.com

www.printersrowlitfest.org

www.newberry.org/newberry-book-fair

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: RECIPES

I have been lax in posting recipes and I have heard from you….so here are several that I  like all year but thought they would be good for May.  I might serve the Corn Soup with either of the entrees or another dinner, I often do it as a starter to a poached salmon entree.  It is so good that it always gets rave reviews!

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NENA’S CURRIED CREAM OF CORN SOUP

1 17 ounce can cream style corn

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1-2 teaspoons curry powder (I usually do more, do to your taste!)

1 cup half and half

1/3 cup heavy cream

Fresh basil

Whirl in blender all ingredients, except basil, until combined.  Chill and serve with a leaf of basil on top.

Serves 4.

imageShawnee Corn King pottery soup tureen.  Image from Pinterest, credit unknown.

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NENA’S OVEN-FRIED LEMON CHICKEN

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 cardamom seeds crushed (open whole pods and  crush seeds with a mortar and pestle)

2 boned and skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

Lemon pepper

1/2 carton sour cream

1 cup fine bread crumbs

Lemon slices for garnish

Combine lemon juice, garlic, and cardamom seeds.  Add chicken and marinate a room temperature at least 1 hour, turning frequently.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Remove chicken from marinade.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dip each piece in sour cream and coat with bread crumbs. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.  Put on ungreased baking sheet and cover lightly with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and increase temperature to 450º.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until chicken is golden brown and tender.  Serve hot or cold, garnish with lemon slices.

It is delicious either way.  A perfect picnic food.  I served this many years ago at a press luncheon I hosted for Bill Blass and he loved it!  I would now serve with a green salad and, as usual, a lovely white wine…or champagne, always champagne!  If you wanted to continue the lemon theme, finish with the lemon bars I shared with you several weeks ago!

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BARBARA V’S CHICKEN/WILD RICE/GRAPE SALAD

2/3 cup mayonnaise (my mayonnaise is Miracle Whip, just saying!)

1/3 cup whole milk

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon tarragon (you can use fresh or dried, I prefer fresh which would be a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon)

3 cups chopped chicken (she uses all white meat)

3 cups cooked wild rice

1/3 cup finely sliced green onion (white and green parts)

1 8 ounce can water chestnuts drained

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 pound seedless green grapes halved

1 cup salted cashews

Blend mayo, milk, lemon juice, and tarragon and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, wild rice, onion, water chestnuts, stir in mayo mixture until blended.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Just before serving stir in grapes and cashews.  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread…more white wine or perhaps a lovely rosé!  It is really good and a great buffet party salad.  This recipe serves 4 generously.

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All photos from Pinterest, photo credits unknown.