PROFILE: SAMANTHA SAIFER BERNGARD

imageSamantha Saifer Berngard, Partner, Boldface Co.  Photo by Monia Ponce.

I am excited to start my Monday Profiles again…..and wanted to share a special lady’s story with you.  I met Sam several years ago….when she was at CS and I was still at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  We worked on a couple of events together and then re-engaged when she was at SPLASH.  We have kept in touch over the years and she was kind to invite me to a recent panel discussion with female entrepreneurs which I thoroughly enjoyed.  A fascinating presentation, lively Q and A.

Sam is definitely the face of the young modern woman, a wife, mother of two precious children and a true professional with her own business.  Let’s learn about her journey.

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

I went to school for journalism. I always had a passion for magazines, and I was always told that I was a good writer. Ever since I was little, I was infatuated with magazines and wanted to write for them! I interned at the best New York magazines – People . . . Conde Nast, etc. all through college. I graduated college and the only job I could get was assistant to the publisher at CS magazine. I thought it would be the perfect foot in the door to eventually transition into an editor position. Little did I know, the publisher felt I had a better talent for throwing parties / events / creating marketing programs, etc. I had never done anything like it but it all came so natural. I realized that maybe I never really enjoyed writing at all (I think the deadlines made me anxious!) and that throwing events was what I really enjoyed. It came easily, and I didn’t just like it – I LOVED it! From then on, I knew I was not meant to sit behind a keyboard.  Networking, meeting new people, organizing groups of people and curating awesome experiences – those are my talents!

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”

I’m still not sure I have – ha! When I decided to go off on my own and join my business partner at Boldface Co., I was super nervous that it would be challenging to keep a steady list of clients and make a living vs. working for a company full time. The fact that we have never had to go after clients and have maintained a full book of business at all times . . .  that makes me feel truly successful! Also, being happy with my life and loving it – that is true success.

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

As I mentioned above, I always thought of my future self as a big time writer / journalist .  .  . my background in journalism led me to go to school in DC at George Washington University. It gave me many opportunities that I would not have originally had AND introduced me to all the right people. Once I decided to shift gears into marketing, event planning and now PR – I still utilize a lot of the skills I learned in school.  I truly believe in the importance of every single rung when you are climbing your career ladder. Keep in touch with everyone. Don’t burn bridges with anyone and pay attention to everything!

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

Now I look back in my training in journalism and wish I would have pursued broadcast journalism. I could have been the next Savannah Guthrie – ha! I am definitely a morning person, and I love to talk! I could have killed it!

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY, TYPE OF MUSIC) LOCAL RESTAURANT

Favorite Book: The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss. I read it to my kids and it reminds me of the infinite possibilities that life offers and how much they have to look forward to!

Theater: I am a SUCKER for Bye Bye Birdie – favorite musical of all time! I go to my friend Graham’s house and sing showtunes on the piano regularly. His husband had to learn Bye Bye Birdie for me!

Local Restaurant:  Le Colonial http://www.lecolonialchicago.com it’s been around 20 years and they have never changed their menu. It’s always the best experience!

HOBBIES….

I can’t remember my hobbies pre kids, but I most enjoy spending time with my kids (1 & 3) in my spare time. Everything we do together is my favorite thing to do! We have a lot of fun. If I get out on my own with friends – I sure do enjoy karaoke!

imageSam and her “Crew” on a recent Windy City Live (ABC Channel 7 weekdays at 1:00) the spot was for one of her clients, Monica + Andy www.monicaandandy.com

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

Our home has a modern and very open vibe. I like to think it reminds me of a little beach shack in the middle of Bucktown. It is cozy and nothing is too expensive (everything breaks with kids!) It’s definitely a house made for entertaining. We love to have people over more than anything!

imageWith husband, Jason, Brooklyn and Baby Billie June….they look like a photo out of Central Casting….photo by Suzy Brown for Monica + Andy.

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

OH WOW! That is a lot of pressure. I would probably have Michelle Obama, Olivia Wilde, Madonna, Joan Rivers, Jackie O, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton and Goldie Hawn  over for the most wild GNO / dance party of all time. I don’t know / care what we would eat – but I would have some excellent wine!

I’d also love for my mom, best friend and mother in law to join in because I think they would enjoy it!

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST

We took our son to  Isla De Holbox last year and had one of the best trips ever. It’s such a gorgeous untouched island, and Mexico is a very special place for our family. We met the most wonderful people who we still keep in touch with and hope to go back soon!  Italy will also have a spot in my heart because I studied there in college.

imageCamping with Billie June at one of the Berngard’s favorite summer vacation spots, Camp Wandawega (A nenasnote…I must do a post on this amazing place!!!) www.campwandawegacom

FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT

Giant www.giantrestaurant.com

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FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART

I love Hebru Brantley http://www.hebrubrantley.com and his super hero mural on the Hollywood Cleaners in Wicker Park (image below).

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I also love the “We All Live Here” tags throughout Chicago – reminds me how powerful our Chicago community is. . .

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

Sweet & kind + ridiculously fun!

imageWith Billie June at Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan’s recent Harvest Fest.

A FAVORITE RECIPE

My favorite recipe of all time is my mom’s “Sus” chicken! It’s a family favorite but I can’t give away the recipe 😉

I also look forward to my mom’s vegetable stuffing –we have it every Thanksgiving and sometimes stuffed in chicken breast – it’s amazing!!!

MOM’S VEGETABLE STUFFING

(serves 9 – can be made the day before serving)

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped carrots

1 box (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

4 ozs. Sliced mushrooms

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp.pepper

½ tsp crushed rosemary

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup chicken broth

8 slices day-old white bread cut into cubes

Make the day before: cube bread and put in plastic bag

  1. Large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, celery and carrots and cook 8 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. Add spinach and mushrooms and cook 2 min more
  3. Remove skillet from heat
  4. Stir salt, pepper, and rosemary into beaten egg
  5. Pour egg and seasonings over the vegetables and mix well
  6. Put bread cubes in a very large pan or mixing bowl and pour vegetables over the bread cubes. Mix well. Pour cup of broth over and mix well.

Put in casserole dish, 2 quart size. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min.

BLOGS YOU FOLLOW

I love The Cut https://www.thecut.com – it’s basically how I keep up with my fashion news & not sure if a blog but https://www.theskimm.com is my go to for all news

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Off for a busy day of event planning for Boldface Co. www.boldfacechicago.com, (actually getting ready for an event in NYC) which Sam does so well.  Sam, a million thanks for taking time from your hectic schedule to answer the nenasnotes questionnaire and supplying me with such delightful photos!

REFLECTIONS ONE YEAR LATER: A REINTRODUCTION

Here is what I wrote one year ago today when I launched NENASNOTES, as I begin my second year, my goals remain the same.  I have tweaked the daily themes a bit but the concept hasn’t changed. I will be adding new features and ask that you watch for an upcoming announcement of how you can supoort me and what incentives you can expect.  I hope you are enjoying my thoughts on the variety of lifestyle things that interest me…so I say, Happy Birthday NENASNOTES and I hope you, my followers, will continue to join me on a regular basis and invite your friends to have their morning coffee with us as well.

October 13, 2016

Well, here we go….I have been waiting to start my blog NENASNOTES for what seems like ages, actually, it has been ages!

I, therefore, feel it is necessary to give you my thoughts on what you can expect on what will become daily postings.

It began with the current trend of focusing on people reinventing themselves, through career and/or lifestyle changes.  I realized that there are so many of my friends and acquaintances whose diverse lives now are totally different from how they started.  First up were my many former models who were superstars in the myriad shows I produced during my lengthy career as Fashion and Special Director at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  Most, if not all, have totally changed careers and become successful with their new life choices.  You will learn their stories, reminiscences and photos from then and now.

      imageMY MODEL CREW IN THE 1960’S

I thought why not carry this further to my other friends and people I know who had fascinating stories to tell and was I correct in that assumption!  I began this process with a handful of people, which soon became many more, by doing an in person hour long taped conversational interview and Proust-like questionnaire.  Again, I asked for photos and this time a favorite recipe. I hope you will enjoy these posts as much as I am enjoying gathering them.  They are riveting.

These two groups of conversations will be my Monday posts, here is what I have planned for Tuesday through Friday:

Tuesday….Books, books, books.  I’m afraid I have a book fetish, especially fashion books. It seems to be my goal in life to own every fashion book printed!!! So we will start there.  I do read a lot, particularly historical fiction, I love fiction about “real” people, we will go that route as well.  Nothing like a good English mystery but don’t mind a “Cozy” once in awhile and can never miss Louis Penny’s newest (who doesn’t love Armand!).  So much to read so little time.

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  A SAMPLING OF THE CHANEL LIBRARY

Wednesday….Miscellany day could be a great recipe, restaurant, movie, play….whatever strikes my fancy that week.

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CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM TIFFANY STAINED GLASS

Thursday….Homes and Gardens, again tapping my friends and their eclectic styles, mostly self-decorated homes and brilliant gardens.  A glimpse at my tiny space as well.

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                                                A FRIEND’S EXQUISITE SOLARIUM

Friday….Fashion Flashback.  I’ve worked with over 150 designers and fashion personalities through the years and want to share some of these experiences with you.  I’m sure those of you who know me thought the blog would be all about the “glamorous” fashion shows I produced, yes, there is that but the nitty gritty as well and only one day a week.

Nena, Pauline Trigere, Bill Blass
Nena, Pauline Trigere, Bill Blass

Here we go….I hope you will join me on my on reinvention.

SPRING 2018 FASHION ROUND UP

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After critiquing a month of the four major Fashion Markets and over 500 shows (!) let’s look at what I saw as the trends….I love reading all the experts views…it seems everyone is looking at the same shows but seeing different trends, I must admit Spring 2018 was filled with great variety. Variety of new designers of established Brands, emerging creators, new faces and sizes on the catwalks, extreme diversity of venues and on and on.  I’ll try to break it all down to my point of view after all that is that this blog is all about….

THE NEWS STORIES:

  • Interesting venues, such as in front of the Eiffel Tower, in the lower level of the Louvre, on the Streets of New York, next to a major waterfall, and on and on
  • Many designers featured both their Women’s and Men’s Collections together a trend we are seeing more and more of
  • Designers showing in cities other than their own such as Tommy Hilfiger
  • Several designers acknowledged that not all women are a size 0, one of the best at this, in my opinion, is Christian Siriano
  • The new model in all the markets…Kaia Gerber, whose professionalism for someone so young is to be admired.  Loved when Mom, Cindy, was in the Versace show as well as in many of the audiences
  • Many, many changes of designers with major Brands, some worked others didn’t
  • Fascinating finales, again, in my opinion, more than in past seasons.  A recap of some of my favorites are pictured below Saint Laurent, Thom Browne, Dolce & Gabbana  and, of course, Versace

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imageThe finale to end all finales…..brilliant!

WHAT I FOLLOWED AS TRENDS:

  • Trench coats
  • Vinyl, patent leather, leather
  • Stripes
  • Denim
  • Shorts teamed with blazers
  • Bold color especially Chrome yellow, red and vibrant blue
  • The black dress
  • All shades of pink
  • Bold prints, especially at Comme des Garçons
  • Flowery prints
  • Embellishment
  • Feathers and fringes
  • Bold shoulders
  • Gloves
  • Shoes, shoes, shoes of all shapes and sizes from stilettos to sneakers with everything from daywear to elaborate evening gowns and thongs with everything as well, but the stand out to me were sandals and socks (light in weight!) and high boots for Springimageimageimage

 

The Trench…

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The Black Dress…

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The Pinks…

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The Bold Prints…

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I could go on and on but you will need to review the past posts to find more of my picks.  You are going to ask what my favorite Collections were…hard to single out just a few but here goes and not in any order other than my most favorite was…

  • Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, I felt she has finally done her own thing
  • Fenty + Puma for its happiness
  • Alexander Wang for it’s staging on the streets of New York
  • Ralph Lauren because for me it’s always Ralph Lauren’s classic look and shown with his vintage cars what could be bad
  • I pretty much liked most of London, but would single out Burberry
  • Versace, of course, for it’s ode to Gianni
  • Armani and Fendi, always
  • Ferretti for feminity
  • A turn for the Brands that we all know…Ferragamo, Missoni, Etro let’s watch them
  • Ah Paris…a brilliant start with Saint Laurent in front of a glittering Eiffel Tower
  • Chanel, Karl does it again by dramatically chasing waterfalls
  • Dries Van Noten just because…love his designs in clothing, his home and his gardens
  • Loved Thom Browne’s aesthetic
  • I want to keep my eye on Off-White, let’s see where that goes
  • Andrew Gn amazes me every time with his creativity
  • Of course, Comme des Garçons
  • Many more….you know, I do love fashion….

What I will say is that I felt it was one of the strongest spring seasons trendwise in many years.  Lots and lots of new looks to get consumers into the stores, and yes, I’ll even say on line….I just want them to shop.  But that is in the months ahead.  Perhaps this month long journey has whetted your appetite to go shopping, looking at Fall 2017 it is a very exciting trend and classic filled time to treat yourselves… I didn’t mean to leave the gentlemen out, I promise to review the next wave of men’s wear collections…there is just as much news out there for you.

And now back to my regularly scheduled blogs…..please give me your thoughts on what you would like me to cover in the coming months….this coming Friday will be the 1 year anniversary of nenasnotes, I have some new directions to share with you as well as continuing most of my daily posts perhaps with a new twist or two!

 

 

 

 

 

FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 PART 9 PARIS

imageI have always been a huge fan of Comme Des Garçons and the Spring 2018 Collection, shown in the Russian Embassy in Paris, does not disappoint.  Filled with the creative imagination of Rei Kawakubo the prints take one’s breath away.  I have been talking about shoes throughout all the Collections, again, they are an important element in this collection.  Perhaps something in a new hairdo….yes, I know, outrageous, but they got us talking!  Thought-provoking as always yet elements that break down to be visionary and in the end, wearable!  See below for a couple more of the looks.  No one combines print like CDG!

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Another designer who always pushes the limits is Thom Browne, here is his take on the season and why not lead off your finale with a unicorn…….imageimageimageSome of my trends…chrome yellow, black and white along with an illusion of stripes.

One of my favorites is Andrew Gn, a creative genius, that I have had the pleasure of working with.  His Collections are always filled with his own prints, brilliant color and color combinations, charming must have handbags and jewelry all from his brilliant imagination.  A designer who knows exactly what his client wants and gives it to her. Here are a couple I chose as favorites and that fit into my trend themes for these posts.

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A couple of looks from Miu Miu…do notice the shoes and socks….a major trend…who knew!!!

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Of course Chanel, this time the staging is mammoth waterfalls.  Lots of vinyl/plastic shoes, bags., trench coats and capes, but always you know it is without question Chanel!!!!imageimageimageimageDenim a la LagerfeldimageimageimageBlack shiny trenchimagePale yellow

imagePetal pink.

imageChanel finale on the raised wooden bridge.

One of my most favorite collections….Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.  Sarah finally coming into her own, a stunning presentation.  Hard-edged feminity with a floral bower for the staging.  Loved it!imageimageimageimageimageimage

imageimageI’m mad for the hair and other accessories and note the beautiful combination of prints, texture, and subtlety of color, divine.image

And to end not only Paris Fashion week but all four of the major markets….Louis Vuitton‘s, Nicolas Ghesquière chose the temple like “catacombs” of the Louve!  Spectacular to say the least!  Viva la mode!!!!

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You can go to YouTube to view many of the full shows from all four markets.

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: THE DESIGNER

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I thought The Designer would be a perfect read for the end of Paris Fashion Week(s) and I wasn’t wrong.  The designer in the title is Christian Dior before he became “Christian Dior”!  Our protagonist is Copper Reilly, an American newlywed, who arrives in Paris just after the liberation.  Realizing she has made a mistake in her marriage she immediately demands a separation, alone she finds a new friend in a designer who is working with a well-established couturier, Lucien Lelong, that gentle man is Christian Dior.  Copper begins to photograph and write about what she sees happening to the female collaborators, takes photos of them and sends her story off to Harper’s Bazaar and the then editor, Carmel Snow, accepts it and prints it.  This illustrious editor has her French contact, a Russian Count, get in touch with Copper to sign a contract, Copper would rather freelance and so begins her journey.  They (Copper and the older Count) meet each week for dinner at the Ritz and Copper becomes independent as well as a respected photojournalist.  Of course, there is a romance or two, many interesting characters, all rather bohemian, and perhaps a bit predictable but fun. As she progresses so does Dior and the book takes us to the monumental fashion world changing 1947 debut of the House of Dior!

What I particularly liked was our author’s authenticity about the rise of Dior and the other characters of the fashion world immediately following WW II.  I really loved all the detail about one of my favorite pieces of fashion history the Théâtre de la Mode.  I did a nenasnotes post on it several months ago, on March 31, 2017, to be exact. Other than the film that was made about it (you can view it on YouTube) and the book on it I haven’t seen any other documentation and was thrilled to see it incorporated into a novel.

By now you know I love a novel that combines fact with fiction and this one does it extremely well.  Is it major literature, most certainly not but an enjoyable read none the less.  I haven’t read any of Marius Gabriel’s other works (and he writes under several pseudonyms) but I plan on doing so.  Would I recommend it, indeed I would, especially if you are into fashion, what was happening in the industry after the War, and the beginnings of one of the most important of all the fashion houses, Christian Dior!