FASHION NOW: HOUSE OF Z

Before I talk about the House of Z, there are a couple of things I wanted to mention, of course, the hurricanes both Harvey and now Irma that are devasting vast areas not only in the States but the Caribbean and now the earthquake in Mexico.  Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in their paths.  Another sad note, Pierre Bergé died at the age of 86.  The person who made Yves Saint Laurent a household name and gave us unprecedented art and antiques and the new Yves Saint Laurent museums in Paris and Marrakech.  We must thank him for giving us beauty in so many forms, RIP.

On a happy note, New York Fashion Week is in full swing and the Collection that caught my eye is Calvin Klein, designer Raf Simons has turned the Brand around and Spring 2018 is chocked full of color!  More on NYFW in upcoming posts.

Now for this post….my first “movie” review.

imageI had the pleasure of being invited by Brooks Brothers Chicago (Zac is the creative director of Brook Brothers) to attend a reception at the Michigan Avenue store and a screening of the House of Z a documentary on Zac Posen.  The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews. You can watch the film on www.vogue.com/houseofz

The film traces the designer’s life, from childhood to 2014, and his beginnings with his mother and sister at 20, in 2001, at which time his premiere collection was met with great enthusiasm from the press and stores.  It goes through the major ups and the major downs when no one wanted to know him…ego does get in the way of many creative people.  It doesn’t hold back on anything, the details are not glossed over, which I found refreshing and at times very sad.  It is the story of triumph, failure, and triumph once again…only in America, which I believe is true.

My opinion of Zac Posen has always been a positive one, he is extraordinarily talented and I feel his early success was too much too soon.  Not unusual in our industry but in many cases if a desinger goes into a decline they often don’t come back.  Fortunately for all of us Zac most certainly has come back and with a bang.  He, of course, kept in the public eye and became even visible with his participation on Project Runway. Always the darling of celelebrities walking the red carpet and once again with the press. The Collection that is featured as the “comeback” show is his Fall 2014 Collection and is presented in his atelier, it is an ode to Charles James who he feels has always been his inspirational designer.  Watching THE blue dress come to life and how many hands and hours it takes is fascinating, charming and nail biting. The only other fashion designer documentary that I have seen that resembles this is Isaac Mizrahi and Unzipped, which I thought was so sad…and look at Isaac now into so many things, including one man shows…he will be at the City Winery www.citywinery.com/chicago on September 29th!!  I found House of Z to be gritty, honest, with major doses of what goes on behind the scenes of not only creating clothes but into the heart, and yes, the soul of the designer.  Bravo!

imageIsn’t this amazing….

Did I work with Zac, yes, I did.  Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago hosted him at a benefit for Steppenwolf Theater www.steppenwolf.org at a show at the Murphy Auditorium www.the-murphy.com an absolutely gorgeous venue.  My production team from Ravenswood Studios headed by Deb Gohr built a runway out from the stage and painted it to look exactly like the wood on the stage everyone thought it was part of the room. Backstage was right next to the audience and very, very tight quarters…trying to keep 20+ models quiet is always a challenge but all went off without a hitch and was quite a stunning show.  We featured the Fall 2008 collection that spring, I always liked to do the collections as close to the actual time they are shown during market weeks rather than in season when everyone has seen them especially true now with most of the designers either live streaming and everyone in the audience immediately posting their photos and/or videos on Instagram.

imageTwo of the looks from the Zac Posen Fall 2008  Collection.

 

 

COLLECTIONS: SMALL BOXES

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I have always been a fan of boxes, large and small.  Since I live in a tiny apartment and love to collect, I have to think small (as you know most of my space is devoted to my fashion book collection along with other books!).  Many of my pieces, which I will share in a future post, are very small and many of them reside together on the top on one of my chests.  All of them are memories of where I got them or who gave them to me.  You will find treasures at the monthly Randolph Street Market, www.randolphstreetmarket.com  who is one of the sponsors of nenasnotes and has been from the beginning of the blog, (the last of the seasonal outdoor markets will be on Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24, the indoor Market is year round!)  I took the above photo at the last market and placed my selection of boxes on a vintage carpet all are from Greg Johnson’s booth in the Ballroom on the Second Floor of Plumbers Hall. Greg’s selections of fabulous items are always a joy to see and his knowledge is amazing.  I love talking with him.  For some unknown reason, I didn’t take close up photos of the round Mille Fleur box nor the hand painted porcelain Sampson Paris rectangular box.  Let’s look at the other individual pieces.

imageI am mad for Asian pieces and this one is a gem….a rectangular Cinnabar box from the 19th Century with black lacquer inside.  The carving is, in my opinion, and I’m, most certainly not an expert, exquisite.  From Webster’s Dictionary:

  • Cinnabar red sulphide of mercury, occurring in brilliant red crystals, and also in red or brown amorphous masses. It is used in medicine

  • Cinnabar the artificial red sulphide of mercury used as a pigment; vermilion

 

imageThe top of the 1920’s Chinese enamel stamp box…does anyone use stamps anymore, hopefully, on lovely handwritten notes, I always love that personal touch, don’t you!

imageA beautifully carved Mother of Pearl box in different shades of the shell.  Stunning piece.

imageimage I didn’t take notes on this but it is obviously an old hand painted tile set into a carved wooden box.  It is shaped and gives me the idea that the tile was originally on a foot stool or a neck rest!  But then again, I don’t profess to be an expert,  just like what I like.  On that subject, do make the acquaintance of each dealer, you will learn so much and they truly love to talk about their treasures. Keep in mind your friends tastes and what they collect and stock up on gifts when at RSM and ALWAYS buy it when you see it and like it…it may well be gone in the minutes you walk away to make up your mind!!!  Haven’t we all done that……

imageWhen I was visiting my friend Barbara (I have shared some of her other collections with you as well as a couple of her recipes in past posts) I mentioned that I was doing a piece on small collectible boxes.  We got busy and gathered hers together on her marble coffee table.  Barbara is a world traveler and always brings back treasures for her collections and as gifts (over the years I have been the lucky recipient of many objects).  Let’s explore their stories….

imageThe first is a Russian Palekh hand painted black enamel box she got on a trip to Russia.  I love the primitive look of the painting,

imageimageThis beauty, we named it “Mother of the Pearl” major giggles all around…..is Limoges and my mother, Ruth, got it at Field’s AFar, many, many years ago it was a house gift from us.  In my opinion, it is an unusual piece and the interior is in an iridescent white totally resembling a shell.  Love it.

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imageTwo hand painted Herend Porcelain pieces from one of her trips to Hungary.

imageAnd Barbara’s Cinnabar box from her trip to Hong Kong.

All photos taken by me with my iPhone 7

From Barbara’s Recipe Box

SHRIMP AND VEGETABLE SALAD

1 large avocado

2 cups pea pods

1 pound cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp, sliced lengthwise

8 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

Romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2 inch slices

Dressing:

1 cup oil, including 2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 Tablespoons minced parsley

1 1/2 Tablespoons minced chives

1 Tablespoon minced shallots or green onions

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel avocado and cut into bite-size pieces.  Simmer pea pods 2 minutes, then rinse in cold water.  In food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients.  Process until blended.  Marinate shrimp, artichoke hearts, avocado and pea pods in dressing.  Refrigerate 3 hours, turning occasionally.  Blend in lettuce in desired quantity just before serving.  Nena’s note…it is a delicious recipe and can be served year round.  You know me, you will serve with a lovely white wine and crusty French bread.  Enjoy!

 

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: THE ADDRESS

imageI have been waiting for this book to come out for months, having enjoyed Fiona Davis’ first book The Dollhouse and anticipated a good read, I wasn’t disappointed!  I usually don’t like plots that go from one time to another, this one begins in 1884 and then travels to 1985, this is done in different chapters.  In this case, it works extremely well and brings the story to contemporary times.

We begin at a luxury hotel in England where our protagonist, Sara Smythe, is head housekeeper and sees a little girl balancing on a window ledge, rushes to save her (which she does), the father of the little girl, Theodore Camden, is so grateful he offers Sara a position at the soon to be opened Dakota, in New York where he is one of the architects and project manager.  She thinks the offer is not sincere but because she saved his daughter.  Shortly after Camden, his wife and children return to New York, Sara receives a ticket and travel expenses to join them.  Without much hesitation, she boards her ship and sails for New York and her new life….by the way, all this is in the first few pages of the book!

When she arrives at the Dakota she is stunned by the size, the beauty of the structure and the location, in the middle of nowhere, remember this is 1884.  Sara finds herself as managerette (don’t you love this title!) and totally in charge of basically everything.  She is very much up to the task and the new apartment dwelling opens beautifully.  Naturally, she lives in the building as does Theo and his family.

We then meet our other protagonist, Bailey Camden, a modern young woman who is an interior decorator and has just been released from rehab where she was treated for alcoholism and drug addiction.  Her boss has taken care of her rehab expenses and promptly fires her.  Her “cousin” (are they really cousins!!!!???) and friend Melinda, is rehabbing an apartment in the Dakota with the idea of making it very modern much to Bailey’s chagrin.  As part of their agreement, Melinda allows Bailey to live in the apartment during the renovation along with the promise of her fee when Melinda turns 30 in a few weeks and receives her substantial inheritance. If you have ever been in the building you know it is tradition personified and still considered a prestigious building, it is a stunner.

Both stories have lives of their own but, of course, mesh together as well. We meet many characters along the way, learn about New York as it begins to become the City we all know and love by learning about its architecture, go inside an insane asylum (not my favorite part of the story, I felt it was a bit long), the glamour of the Gilded Age and the excess of the 1980’s New York scene.  My take away was how talented women, in any age, with the drive, the know how, skills and willingness to succeed do so.  A feminist story, perhaps, but more one of human nature, self-worth and lots and lots of intrigue along the way, romance, yes that too!.  Did I like the book, yes, indeed I did!

From the last paragraph on the fly leaf of the book….”A century apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted and struggled against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the nightlife’s free-flowing drinks and cocaine—and take refuge in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress.”

 

FASHION FLASHBACK: FASHION AND FRAGRANCE PART 1

HURRAH, I’M BACK UP AND RUNNING…..SORRY FOR THE ABSENCE…ENJOY THE POST

 

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The Paris Exhibition of 1900 brought us Art Nouveau and a new woman was born.  A woman who wanted to be liberated (it did take a bit longer for that to happen, but the dye, so to speak was cast!)  Perfume, up to this point (fragrance has been with us almost since the beginning of time) was mostly floral, the established perfumer, Guerlain introduced a perfume which broke ground with an unusual name and innovative presentation,  It was called Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine (That’s Why I Love Rosine).  It was the first artistic perfume bottle and resembled a vase with silk flowers concealing a stopper.

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“…fashion does reflect the whim of the moment.  Perfume, meanwhile, seems to withstand the test of time.  Nowadays all the great fashion houses possess one or several perfumes.  Not only because they project the image of the make abroad (perfumes represent 50% of all luxury goods exports) but also because the foreign currency they bring into France covers the colossal financial demands of the couture industry.  If in the 1920’s Haute Couture made possible the advent of the fashion designer’s perfume, today it is perfume which ensures the survival of Haute Couture” From The Book of Perfume by Elizabeth Barille

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The first Haute Couture Designer to feature fragrance was Paul Poiret who introduced his fragrance Rosine, named for his daughter, in 1912.  I wonder was she named for the Guerlain fragrance? Les Parfumes de Rosine was the first perfume and cosmetics company founded by a French couturier.  While traveling to Vienna Poiret met Gustav Klimt and the company of artists of the Vienna Secession Movement. This artistic community produced textile designs, fabrics, fashion, accessories and jewelry as well as painting, furniture, etc.  Poiret was inspired by them to create his own way of bringing art into everyday life.  In my opinion, he was the Ralph Lauren of his time, a lifestyle creator.  He felt by creating fragrances not only his established clientele but women who could not afford his clothes could have something “Poiret”.  Another part of his company was named for his son Atelier Coin and produced the boxes and packaging materials.  The over all company was named after his other daughter, Martine.

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imageI counted 58 fragrances from Parfums de Rosine!

 

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imageDenise Poiret with Rosine Poiret

imageThe Perfumery

imagePaul Poiret in his perfumery

In 1913 along with a new assistant, Ertè, he created costumes for Le Minaret and created a fragrance with its name and the bottle was entirely covered in tulle and gold thread.  Later in 1913 Nuit de Chine resembled a snuff bottle with Chinese characters on one side and French on the other.  It featured a molded glass ring with dark blue bakelite rings, the first time Bakelite had been used with glass.  When I saw the Poiret exhibition at The Met in New York several years ago, they featured some of the items from the Martine workrooms, furniture, rugs, etc. and several examples of the Rosine fragrances, I noticed on the information plaques that most were on loan from Karl Lagerfeld!

imageThe Perfume Salon

All the Rosine fragrances were innovative.  All were avant-garde and completely different from each other.  From The Book of Perfume: “Not only was he the first to produce his own perfumes but he also changed dramatically the creative potential for the presentation of perfume.  His innovations would be a source of inspiration for other designers for years to come.  The Rosine perfume presentations may prove to be the most enduring examples of Paul Poiret’s genius.”

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imageFour of my favorite Rosine fragrances.  All the above photos from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imagePaul Poiret fitting a client.

I was given further information about who was first with a designer fragrance, Lucile, by the consummate authority on Lady Duff Gordon, Randy Bryan Bigham, who introduced her fragrances in London in 1907.  I explained that I was featuring Haute Couture designers (French) he totally understood and agreed with me.

imageRandy Bryan Bigham’s magnificent book on Lucile.

imageLucile, Lady Duff Gordon  Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.

imageLucile’s London branch label (FYI she had a salon in Chicago…more about that in another post!!!!)

imageA Lucile ad from 1919 the French Novelties was “code” for the fragrance and cosmetics.

Here is Randy’s information on Lucile’s fragrance:

“Poiret may well have been the first Paris couturier to have his own perfume, but he’s not the first famous designer to launch a line of fragrances. The British designer Lucile – in private life Lady Duff Gordon – featured a signature scent as early as 1907 in her exclusive London salon in Hanover Square. At that time, Lucile was known for what she called the “emotional gown,” a dress of varying tones of layered chiffon that was supposed to express the personality of each client. She gave each frock a romantic name, sometimes whimsical, sometimes sultry, and they appeared in the program for her fashion shows. One that received perhaps the most publicity was a pastel tea-gown called “The Sighing Sound of Lips Unsatisfied.” To go along with these dresses, she offered perfumes that were specially blended to complement each woman’s personality. Clients selected from a range of scents while ordering lingerie in a private showroom called “The Rose Room,” a delicately feminine oasis decorated like a boudoir. Not only were fragrances available there in bottles but they were sold as sachets to put among one’s lingerie; some were sewed into the gowns themselves. Orrisroot and heather were popular fragrances she used. Another scent Lucile sold at her New York branch in 1916 was called “Lilac Blossoms.” The New York house of Lucile also provided a French perfume called “Shamrock.” In addition to Lucile’s own line of perfume, by the 1920s she sold several scents made for her by Coty, Djer-Kiss, and Ciel which created its “La Rose Lucile” scent in homage to her. She advertised these fragrances as “French novelties” which included cosmetics, bath oils, and powders. She was especially known for a lavender shade of powder, available to all Lucile clients in the house’s fitting rooms. Vogue magazine recommended this for use not only on the face but on the neck, shoulders, and arms.”

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The Rose Room in Lucile’s London Salon where her fragrances and lingerie were sold

imageThe Rose Room in Lucile’s Chicago Salon where lingerie was modeled and fragrances were sold.

All above photos courtesy of Randy Byran Bigham

My deepest appreciation to Randy for sharing his expertise with me to include in this post.  Randy and I “met” on Facebook and have become lovely FB friends.  You will, most definitely, hear more from Randy in upcoming posts, count on it! I am most excited to tell you Randy has agreed to answer my nenasnotes questionnaire, look for his profile in upcoming weeks!

 
From Randy’s website, PastFashion.