Courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, all my inscribed designer photos hung on my office wall and are now house in a the Archives

Cher, Carol Burnett, Barbie all have one thing in common….BOB MACKIE!!!! The king of making every woman glamorous whether they are on stage or wearing something unique for a special night….what a gift he has.  His love for show business, and more importantly, the joy of making all his ladies look beyond amazing is, without a doubt, magnificently on display in the brand new Pre-Broadway production The Cher Show at Chicago’s Oriental Theater through July 15th. A must see!  Saw it loved it, the three Chers are spot on as is Sonny, Greg, et al, and the subject of this post, Bob Mackie, has not only outdone himself with the costumes but, in my opinion, his stage double steals the first act…..just saying… The show brings us back to the beginnings and we realized the talent and the relationship and collaboration between the star performer and the star designer…  bravo.


A sketch for proposed costumes in The Cher Show.

Bob’s career began in his native California as a sketch artist for Edith Head at
Paramount Studios. His talent for costuming, which began there, is unparalleled
Just think of the excitement, glamour and wit he brought to the weekly live Carol Burnett show. Week after week we would experience his extraordinary costumes
that not only set the tone for the skits but helped create the characters as well.
Can we ever forget the classic “Scarlett O’Hara” skit with the “curtain” gown,
pure Mackie!!! The Carol Burnett Show introduced him to Cher who was appearing as a guest on the show….need I say the rest of that story is show biz and fashion history.


Bob’s sketch for the classic Miss Scarlett “curtain” dress, it now lives in the Smithsonian collections, where it should be as a part of American history

The first time I saw Sonny and Cher, at the very beginning of their career, they
were totally dressed in hippie garb and looked like “mountain people”, whatever  that means…when they started their variety TV show Cher became a fashion icon, and remains one to this day, again, totally a Mackie collaboration.  The occasion of my seeing these performers was at a Chicago Tribune College Council event held annually at either the Sherman House Hotel or the Morrison Hotel (both demolished long ago).  The Tribune hosted all the Chicago retailers College Boards which were a group of college women that worked in the “college departments” at their stores. Each store “marched” into the ballroom in their specially selected outfits some stores had huge groups (think Marshall Fields and Carson Pirie Scott) and Saks Fifth Avenue usually had 8, in my humble opinion, we were a small group but our ladies looked amazing in their gear!  When this duo went to the stage the audience was stunned, I don’t think many knew who they were….the minute they began I’ve Got You Babe, everyone not only witnessed stars in action but left the room knowing they wanted to hear more and more we have heard through the years.

I had the great pleasure of working with this designing genius on many formal
fashion productions, most of which were presented in the International Ballroom
at the Hilton Hotel. They were always major choreographed shows that were
themed and featured more beading than any Ziegfeld Show. They were beyond
glamorous and the audience not only loved the shows but adored Bob. Saks Fifth
Avenue always had a huge sales result and many of the pieces we sold are now
housed in the Costume Collection at the Chicago History Museum and the Fashion Study Collection at Columbia College Chicago. Before Saks Fifth Avenue did these shows the trunk shows were presented at Kane’s and the Collection was also carried at Stanley Korshak, both stores long gone from the Chicago retail scene while Saks Fifth Avenue remains strong, since 1929, on Michigan Avenue.



The above photos are Bob doing his finale walk at one of our formal shows, the second, with me, in the Lobby of the Hilton Chicago Ballroom, prior to another show.






My piece, yes, there are Mackie day pieces….it now lives in the Fashion Study Collection at Columbia College Chicago as are the above photos (alas, not from my wardrobe) all were taken by Tanner Branson at my request.

Bob, being the gracious gentleman he is, agreed to be my date when I co-chaired my second DIFFA gala in 1991, also at the Hilton Chicago, it was a Venice masquerade event, my co-chair, Michael Hasten, brought a Fortuny mask from a visit to Venice for me and Bob sent me a major ball gown to wear….below you see us at the party (I think we look like we are at our prom…a very glamorous one to be sure!)


The DIFFA ball in 1990 and the Costume Council event, 2015, same faces a few years later…Dennis Minkel, another dear friend, brought the original photo so we could reinterpret it…fun, yes, indeed!





The second book we read for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. (Let me know if you are interested in attending and I’ll send you all the details.) We meet the fourth Tuesday of each month (I’m skipping July, next up Jeffrey Bank’s brilliant monograph NORELL in August). I thought an appropriate selection with all the Mackie excitement in Chicago this month.  We had a lively discussed at our June gathering while sipping Haute Couture Bubbles, delish and mini bites.  The attendees had great questions, obviously a book club is all about discussing the book!

The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum honored Bob with their Designer of Execellence Award at a conversation with Hal Rubenstein and sit-down dinner in April 2015.  Bob, like all our designer guests, viewed some of the treasures in the Costume Collection, and was beyond impressed with the selections he was shown.

I’m with my dear friend, Abra Wilkin, at the Costume Council Award Dinner…both wearing pieces from Abra’s Mackie Collection.  Bob was thrilled to reminisce with Abra about his Chicago visits and the CHM Costume.



Saks launched the Mackie fragrance and he created a special edition relaunch for gifts for the dinner guests….each signed by Bob…special indeed.  One of the attendees of The Fashion Book Club, Tanner Branson, found this jacket on Etsy it was done as a promotion piece for the fragrance.  I seem rather animated while leading the discussion and showing my DIFFA gown festured in the book.  Photo courtesy of another standee, David Sanchez.


Two Mackie pieces that were in the CHM Exhibition Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.  The gorgeous hot pink feather costume, was in one of  the Mackie formal runway shows I worked on….it was the piece in the exhibition I sponsored.  The other more pure Mackie glam!

It has been my extreme pleasure to have worked with this design genius who really knows how to put the “show” in show business and share his wisdom, talent and joie de vie with his stars and his clients….glamour is most certainly Bob Mackie’s forte.869D7C6B-530D-4270-A573-71F3426E28B4Another iconic genius…Victor Skrebneski, photographer extraordinaire, and my friend of more years than we care to admit, did a brilliant video program for my Fashion Group International Chicago Award in 1990, also at the Hilton Chicago. He asked Bob to send gowns for me to wear for the photo session….a story unto itself…here is one in ink green sequins, an example of Bob Mackie creating a body even if you don’t have one……

Bob, thank you for making my professional life the joy it was and for filling everyone’s lives with glitter, glam and drop dead gorgeous creations all Unmistakably Mackie!

When previewing this post…the photos seem to be off center, can’t seem to be able to correct this problem… sorry, I hope you enjoy the copy along with the photos and sketches, any illustrations or photos, not credited, were found on Pinterest and I don’t have photo credits. The two sketches are by Bob Mackie also found on Pinterest



6EC57E71-393B-4ED8-8EE5-D19609A201AFHeavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at the Met through October 8, 2018  John Galliano for The House of Dior 2005  Photo courtesy of Michael Anderson.

I have always loved angels and cherubs, in fact I collect Christmas angels, I did a post on them, as well as cherubs.  I have a stunning hand-colored photograph of a cemetery angel, one of my favorite fashion show make-up artists gave me when she moved from Chicago (unfortunately too high on my wall to get a good photo to share). Somehow I don’t think of them as religious symbols but rather beautiful uplifting forms.

i was visiting my friend, Barbara Varro, for Memorial Day weekend. She wanted to place flowers on the resting places of her family and I, of course, went with her. Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City dates from the late 1890’s and has many amazing monuments.  I have wanted to do a post on Angel Monuments for a long time actually since my trips to Russia and Paris, where I stupidly didn’t take any photos in their renowned cemeteries.  We went to the oldest section of Holy Cross and I found several that caught my interest. Here are a few of them all, as usual, taken with my iPhone.

D463102D-E88E-44C9-B714-F86CAF02B9293793439E-F4F5-41F7-A923-6F519DD5BD723FFFF886-48C0-465C-9F33-F223DF274148In addition, I found many images in my Pinterest search that I wanted to include. Photo credits unknown.

DE6A3CAD-4267-4D4A-BEA0-A0765719C996C695A1D5-E24F-4EA6-953A-DD32593CA8C052C1F52D-BFB7-4988-A2C8-02C96172202DDD687C13-13A9-4BBB-A552-FC5FD1B896AEAC8D512B-A16E-444B-9408-FAE34E755281E0A24807-05CC-4118-8975-E6EA1809EBD358F7D370-C0B9-401B-AB51-B09D5F0A1999The carving is exquisite on each. I could fill pages with these beauties, but let’s explore more.


You knew I’d find a book on the subject here you go, this looks interesting.

31555D42-C136-44D7-8244-E88466880392An Art Deco figure on the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.


4EEA09B2-08CA-4C1E-A1F2-659615441E7BAn Art Deco Cadillac hood ornament…why don’t the cars of today have style!!!!!an E3410E7C-2549-4161-AE41-4B88156DCC39An Erte piece an Art Deco angel

63158610-7867-4A1F-AAE1-38773C9F18C7529B7438-D0DD-4892-AC63-F97AF42865C2Even angel wings on buildings which are showing up on a zillion Instagram selfies. Charming!!!!

ED959416-8509-4E95-8D7E-E7353712C74AI just found this artist on Pinterest and I am obsessed with her work, the detail, the color, the technique….love it all. The artist is Olga Suvorova.

More pieces in the Met exhibition taken by Michael Anderson. The exhibit is in the Met proper, in many galleries, it is the largest Fashion exhibition they have mounted, and at The Clositers.  I hate to say brilliant marketing but I must do so.  To drive the visitor through parts of the Museum they might otherwise neglect is an act of genius and the Met has been doing this with the annual Costume Collection exhibition in various galleries for years.  This is the first time it has taken pieces to The Cloisters…if you haven’t  been there it is a must see with or without fashion….the views are extraordinary and, of course, the perfect setting for the exhibition’s theme.

0491410A-0C93-48DC-8E0F-D3D1D0C1735BThierry Mugler 1984.

Tom + Lorenzo

532A024F-E558-4FDA-B72B-74027250FF82A digitized scan of the Galliano for Dior gown, the cover of the slip case for the exhibition catalog set.

Katy Perry in Versace at the Met Gala 2018.


Angel fragrance by Thierry Mugler launched in 1992.

One of my all time favorite films the 1996 Michael  with John Travolta, charming and a tear jerker.

Of course, I have to mention Angels in America, the powerful Tony Kushner landmark play first performed in 1991, became a HBO event in 2003 and just won several Tony awards this year for the revival.  Always relevant and particularly so  during Pride Month.  It is an extremely important part of our theater history and when presented during two totally different eras, I think even more thought provoking  I saw the original, devastating, the HBO film, well done but, in my opinion, you need to see the play live, and now the revival with its stellar cast, it has to be amazing.  Times have changed, AIDS no longer the stigma it was….I, like everyone, long for the day when it will be eradicated!

65A358CE-8C21-4F21-B542-564FB2932E00I leave you with The Winged Victory at the Louvre.  Breathtakingly beautiful…..


18A73FF8-4061-4705-8C45-1CA1180C42CFOne of my go to authors, Laurie King, never disappoints and she hasn’t with her new book Island of the Mad the lastest in her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes adventures. This is the fourteenth in the series beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I was given the opportunity, by NetGallery, to preview the book, thanks to them I throughly enjoyed this story which primarily takes place in Venice. I have read most of the series, and as usual, if you are new to Russell and Holmes, I would suggest you begin at the beginning, after that you don’t need to read them in order, but not a bad idea…I do love a good series, don’t you!!!

Mary Russell takes center stage in this story, of course Sherlock is very much in the picture but it is pretty much Russell’s tale to tell and she does it really, really well. The story involves a friend of Mary’s missing aunt who has spent most of her adult life in asylums.  She seems to be improving but has disappeared from an outing with her nurse.  Russell and, the reluctant, Holmes trace them to Venice and so the real intrigue begins.

It is a tightly woven mystery, involving family fortunes (not new in English mysteries, but handled interestingly here), escaping family secrets in dramatic fashion (asylums to be exact!). A mystery, absolutely, but also a look at Venice after WWI (almost a sightseeing guide, loved that!), the beginning of the rise of fascism, the fascination of the followers of Benito Mussolini, International celebrities such as Cole Porter and his socialite wife, Linda, Elsa Maxwell, entertaining everyone around the Lido cabarets (I must read her biography by Sam Staggs Inventing Elsa Maxwell: How an Irrepressible Nobody Conquered High Society, Hollywood, the Press, and the World as well as the many Maxwell wrote herself!). I found that LGBTQ was openingly discussed at that time period a not expected story line that King, in my opinion, handled perfectly. An appropriate tone for Pride Month.  Of course, I loved the in-depth descriptions of all the interiors and clothing of the period, as well as the romantic pull of Venice, it’s citizens and the celebrities who intensified the glamour of this mysterious city.

Definitely a good read, as is the series….hope you enjoy it, do let me know your thoughts

You know I always recommend using your Independent Bookseller, FYI I am partnering with The Book Stallfor nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club.


33A06E6A-8F85-42A9-9052-591FB077485AMichael Vollbracht at the beginning of his career when we first met, late 1970’s. Inscribed photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

When the news reached me last week that Michael Vollbracht had died, after total disbelief, I immediately wanted to do a post on my wonderful times with him. I didn’t want to do an obit, His dear friend, Jeffrey Banks, did one so eloquently for the CFDA and it was followed by an brilliant piece in the New York Times and Woman’s Wear Daily. All detailed the life of a unique, brilliant talent. But rather, I wanted to honor him with personal reflections.

I first encountered Michael’s talent when Saks Fifth Avenue bought his collection and I featured his extraordinary garments, all of which were amazingly beautiful prints that he had created, in many of the charity fashion shows we did at the time.


They were great hits so much so that SFA Chicago invited him to bring his collection to the store and do a formal fashion at The Hilton Chicago, the first of several formal shows with him, (home to many, many of our shows!) In those days, I met all the designers (and often their representatives if the designers weren’t making a personal appearance) at the airport, actually at their gate, we could do that until 9/11, and escorted them to their hotel. This allowed us to get to know each other and, in my opinion, set the stage for a comfortable, successful event. In addition, I was on the selling floor throughout their visit and usually was included in the dinners we hosted for the designers.




We got to The Hilton on the day of the show, it was a luncheon in the Grand Ballroom, a magnificent room to this day, I can’t remember a time when I checked the room before I would arrive at any venue. Of course, I would do a walk through of the space prior to any event.  The charity usually did the decor, centerpieces, etc. We opened the doors to the room and were met with at least 20 American flags on flag poles placed on the balcony hanging over the stage (they had been there for some political event and left!)  I love my flag but it was a bit much, to say the least, for a fashion show.  There was nothing to be done but work with them. Michael’s reaction, “How charming, a salute to a born and bred American designer….love it!”  This gives you an idea of his sense of humor, his ability to adjust to the situation and deal with it.


The twinkle in his eyes…..

Michael had a special relationship with Bill Blass (Michael later designed the Blass collection, I thought the perfect fit!) who asked him to design his retrospective exhibition at Indiana University the fall of 2002.  The opening night was attended by many of Bill’s New York designer pals such as Adolfo and Carolyne Roehm as well as the ladies Blass dressed all of whom, after viewing the exhibition, sat down to Bill’s famous meatloaf.  The only thing missing was Bill who had died shortly before the opening.


Talking about Bill Blass

Michael asked to describe the exhibition said it would “be a mixture of museum and theatrics.”  The exhibit had dramatic lighting, the walls were what Michael called “cafe latte”, music of another Indiana native, Blass was from Indiana, Cole Porter, was piped throughout the space.  I was devasted not to be able to attend this once in a lifetime event, work prevented it  I did however go to see it at the invitation of Kate Rowland, curator of the University’s Sage Historical Costume Collection.  I was able to see it several times the day I was there…fortunately the first visit was early in the morning when I walked through it by myself…fortunately I say because I burst into tears at the first thing I encountered, Bill’s office, totally reassembled, again the only thing missing was Bill!  Bravo Michael…you totally did it and Bill would have totally approved.  I adore fashion exhibitions and this was done to perfection in a very small space, luckily we have a book co-authored by Michael, Kate, and my first SFA boss/mentor/supporter, the incredible, Helen O’Hagan.


I wanted to share some of the portraits Michael did of his designer friends, they are fabulous and capture the personalities perfectly.

9C4D8C18-42A4-4BE5-8C3F-8A8B30CED252                                                                      Bill Blass


Love this of Pauline Trigere, it captures her perfectly


James Galanos, exquisite



Donald Brooks (sorry for the poor quality, the only copy I could find)


Diane Von Furstenberg, gorgeous


Norman Norell, another designer who passed away prior to the opening of their exhibition from the Nena Ivon Archives of Columbia College Chicago.


Two illustrations from the divine monograph NORELL by the brilliant Jeffrey Banks….if you don’t already have it purchased it immediately, it is glorious and a MUST have for your library along with the Blass book


Lucky me, I worked with all the designers, above, who were captured by the insightful eye of Michael Vollbracht.


The famous Bloomingdale’s shopping bag, Michael’s Book, and…….no words needed!

My last in person encounter with Michael was at a Costume Society of America Symposium in Kansas City, (Michael was a hometown guy!) in 2010 when he was the Keynote Speaker.  A bit of background, at the 2009 CSA Symposium I was seated with the cochairs of the Kansas City event and they were discussing how excited and a bit intimated that Michael Vollbracht was coming for their event, I spoke up and said, “what a coup, he is the Renaissance Man and you will love him.”  Their response, and I think in unison, “do you know him!”  “Yes, yes, I do” I said….well needless to say I became golden and was asked to be his host…yes, please.


I set up the room before his presentation with pieces he had sent and put them on dress forms.  I introduced him and he began by talking about me much to my embarrassment, but I was nonetheless thrilled.  He got a standing ovation, not easy from the group…he was perfect, of course he was!  There is always a Patron Dinner for the keynote and those who wanted to be up close and personal with the guest…again he charmed the group with his “unfiltered” stories.  He and I went to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the Edward Steichen photography exhibition, who better to go with and spent another evening with Dennis Brozynski, my Columbia College Chicago Fashion Studies colleague and long term CSA supporter (the other member of our group, my dear friend and CSA roomie, Dianne Erpenbach, also a CCC Fashion Studies colleague, was tied up with CSA meetings and couldn’t join us) getting Kansas City barbecue….Michael knew all THE joints to go too.  We roamed around, stuffed full of some of the best barbecue ever.  Ah memories…all good ones


My little black dress sketch, hangs on one of the shelves of my fashion library.  It is visible from the foot of my bed, so we can say I wake up with Michael every day! Photo taken by me

So much has been said of his talent, his art, his fashion, his newly found voice on Facebook with wonderful in-depth stories of his career, his relationship with mega stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor, his frustration with the fashion industry, to say his death is a huge loss is a major understatement.  Rest In Peace Michael Vollbracht, your art lives on.

7CBE6DFC-024A-486C-9B24-EDE5A8B7016AAll photos and illustrations unless otherwise noted are from Pinterest credits unknown.


This post is underwritten by an anonymous sponsor

D0CDC04F-EACC-496E-BD4A-8D630A1EA560Appropriate title for this week’s book review, why you might ask…..I’m doing a post later this week on angels!  I really didn’t plan this and it is only the title, a true coincidence….I’ll leave that up to you!

I have been an avid reader of Barbara Cleverly wonderful series of books (13 so far) featuring Joe Sandilands so needless to say when I read about the first in her series with Detective Inspector John Redfyre I had it on my to be read list.

As you know by now, I don’t review books I don’t like…in fact I don’t read books I don’t enjoy right from the get go….too many to enjoy, too little time to read all of them.  How do I choose, certainly an author I think might have something to say, who engages me emotionally, intellectually, stretches me, and once in awhile gives me a giggle (where are the Patrick Dennis’ with their Auntie Mames!!!!!). Authors I have read such as Louise Penny, Cara Black, Charles Finch, Rhys Bowen, etc. do just that and I am always looking forward to their next adventure.  And yes, a cozy fits into the mix, I think of them like a meal Intermezzo….a mind cleanser, if yout please.

Okay Nena, let’s get to the book. First off I liked our new protagonist Dectective Inspector John Redfyre, he is smart, kind, very good at what he does and, of course, good looking!  Set in Cambridge (a change from most English stories set in University towns…Oxford being the place of choice).  Perhaps not as highbrow (that is how it is depicted, not a criticism on my part), but, of course, still with the English standards of higher education and their rules and regulations. It is filled with mystery starting in the first chapter with a female trumpeter (unheard of then and I can’t think of many now!) who is in performance with a male organist.  She has an accident which brings our hero to her aid and so the story begins. We learn other females are murdered….none of them seem to be connected socially, but the method is the same. We, of course, learn about what the commonality is…I’m not going to spoil it for you. I will, however, say I didn’t guess the murderer until revealed, I liked that, it kept the mystery going, perhaps I missed the right clues!

Set in 1923, I found Cleverly has written a ode to the suffragists and those who followed them working toward more inclusion….not much different from today…equal pay, more opportunities in the hierarchy (hence the title), voting (although women had the right to vote in England they had to be 35!), and on and on. Well done Barbara. I also liked that she mentioned “brands” such as Liberty of London, fashion designers such Captain Edward Molyneux, adding a bit of panache especially when referenced by our sophisticated Redfyre.

Should you read it, yes, will there be another with our clever Detective Inspector John Redfyre, I would say definitely….at least I hope so.


Paintings found at the May Randolph Street Market be sure to check their website for a fabulous piece on collector extraordinaire, Melissa Parks, and while you are at it check out Melissa’s Instagram account @megillicutti, you won’t be disappointed.  Melissa has a fantastic eye, a wonderful aesthetic and unique knack for finding the most unusual items you immediately want to add to your collections. These paintings gave me the genesis for this post.

Its Summer that means lots of activities centered on our incredible Lake Michigan or shall I say our amazing the “Michigan Ocean”….it certainly acts like one. How lucky we are to have such a vibrant body of water in Chicago as well our surrounding States, especially Indiana and Michigan where I spend lovely weekends as a houseguest, lucky Nena.  All things considered, I’m thinking nautical. Once again I’m posting lots of photos mostly mine taken on my IPhone7.

Our Lake Michigan images found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.

i usually take the South Shore when I travel to Harbor Country….love the vintage posters…wish they had parlor and dining cars now….how quaint that sounds…I’d be happy with a quiet car!!58720543-391D-4133-81C9-12252BE04B0B


Several books if you planning a day trip or weekend get away to the Indisna Dunes.

I was visiting my long time friend, Barbara Varro, a couple of weeks ago (I’ve posted some of her treasures in the past as well as a couple of recipes, she gave me some that I will share with you in future posts) and we visited other friends in their charming home in Michiana, had a delightful lunch and long overdue chat and another day we visited one of Barbara’s close friends, Rosie Krueger, and I took lots of photos of some of her art all of which were done by local artists. I took other photos of her collections watch for them in upcoming weeks. The following are her paintings and textiles.

DD122196-B2FC-47DD-B699-2C4699D9DC4ELove this study of the Dunes painted by Jo Ergstrom.

B8CBE763-99D0-4C13-B6C4-C835F08D7279A painting of Rosie’s grandchildren by Rosale.

42117E73-5D3C-4590-AE8D-D5FA2FD7975FDunes and Lake Michigan waves by M.F. Meyers9A458C2C-6660-4C00-9487-19E853F0CEBDOf course there must be a lighthouse another charming Lake Michigan scene this by J. Cornell

Can you believe these are art quilted pictures about 8” x 6” by quilting artist Marlene Goodfield.

B4C34429-9B57-4D4E-92B8-7E7ED91B1AF0A Monet print of sailboats that remind me of all the incredible boats getting ready for the Annual Race to Mackinac July 21st this year. The best place to watch is at Navy Pier unless, of course, you are sailing!  Check Michigan Avenue’s Ashore Thing for all the details on this annual event. All above paintings and art quilt pieces photos taken by me on my iPhone7.


Sailboats on our beautiful Lake….photo from Pinterest credit unknown.

By now you know I love antique shopping, particularly at the monthly Randolph Street Market, and when I can get to South Bend, Indiana I hurry to Council Oak Antiques The photos were taken by Pat Smith at my request for some nautical items…aren’t they wonderful!

Last week I was at a event at the brand new Space519 for a preview of the Christie’s auction of the Kenneth Jay Lang estate, extraordinary pieces, and found Stuart Mesires presenting (and selling!) her charming vintage pieces from her Ladybug Vintage Collection. You can also find her on her 1st Dibs page under dealers/ladybug-vintage. Again I asked if she would send me some photos to fit today’s theme…here they are….75C7C0B5-E52E-4C36-9155-74BF0BB023EA1950’s Miriam Haskell shell necklace

Kenneth Jay Lane Necklaces

Yves Saint Laurent fish brooch.                                 1970’s Trifari fish pendant



I haven’t done a model profile post for awhile and I have been “pestering” my girls forever, being the persistent gal I am I haven’t given up hope.  I must admit I’ve had D’Arry’s reminiscences for awhile, but as you know my laptop died and I have been in a learning curve with my iPad…..I think I have conquered it…..yay!

I was (and am) very lucky to have worked with exceptionally professional models through the years, you have had the pleasure of meeting many of them through nenasnotes (hopefully there will be more!).  When I started in the Fashion Office at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago we used 8, maybe 10, models in our shows most of which were commentated and an hour long. I used the same group for each show. Of course, as they left and shows changed I used more, but did like the consistency of the Saks models, I always knew what they could wear and most of the designers, in many cases, allowed me to eliminate fittings (it saved my budget!)  D’Arry was always the consummate pro…always show ready, on time (I do have a thing about promptness, I admit it!) I loved her look and, of course her red hair….

When I retired from Saks the models, organized by Elsa Tullos, (I did Elsa’s profile as one of my first model profiles) had the best party ever and D’Arry did the perfect drawings of the models…then and now, as my gift…I’m sharing it with you, they are now housed in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

They are definitely an inside joke but I think you can enjoy them

Now let’s hear from D’Arry and how she started her modeling career and where that took her and her fascinating life today.


“i was 19 when I started to model, a career fallen into by circumstance. I was training horses and restoring vintage Corvettes by day, and going to school at night to study criminology. My goal was to join the police force, but I still had two years before I was old enough to take the test…a boyfriend suggested modeling as a way to make extra money; and my career was born! I started doing print work, and my first job was a 5 hour shoot with Victor Skrebneski for Head and Shoulders shampoo. I had no idea who he was, and I remember my father being mortified; “He shoots NUDES!” he told me. I calmed him down with the latest issue of Vogue magazine and showed him all the fashion shots attributed to Mr. Skrebneski…to this day I feel Victor started me on my print career, and I am thankful.


Victor Skrebneski Marshall Fields ad, one of  D’Arry’s first print jobs

I was lucky enough to work the world, spending time in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Zurich, New York…probably not what would have been in the plans for me had I ever taken that police exam!


F7958600-A824-4654-9D90-150279230100Some of my favourite designers to work with were Gianni Versace, Georgio Armani, Luciano Soprani, and Karl Lagerfeld…On a sidenote: one of my favourite illustration jobs post-modelling was an award winning calendar featuring Jack Russell Terriers. One day I received a call from the publisher, she said she just gotten off the phone from a new customer in Paris. This woman had seen the calendar hanging on the showroom wall at the Maison de Givenchy, and had inquired about buying it. Monsieur Givenchy graciously gave her the phone number of the publisher and told her she could get her own. I’m certain he never knew the illustrator was someone he had offered the job of House model to 15 years earlier! (I declined because I could not, at that time, move to Paris for the year required.) When worlds collide.  


After I cut my teeth on printwork, I added runway…a new learning curve to master! In those days we didn’t go to “modeling school”, we learned from each other and our agents; and the runway girls were a pretty closed group to get to know (I’m glad I persevered, as I’m still great friends with most of them now. A bevy of Nena’s beauties even came to cheer me on my first time competing at the Westminster Dog Show in New York a couple of years ago-a memory that is dear to my heart.).

B86CD00C-B7BF-4F0E-A998-BA6DC61E5C76D’Arry with her model pals at Westminster, Maureen Mueller, Jeanouche Wopinski, Karen Ryan, D’Arry, Shelley MacArthur Farley, all have been profiled in past nenasnotes posts.  Photo from the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.


Working with Nena Ivon was, I think, about the best training you could get to make it in the modeling world. You could not buy that knowledge, and Nena was extremely selective on whom she chose to work with. She also demanded professionalism, and made NO exceptions when her expectations were not met. I remember I had a booking for a Bill Blass show, and the day before I burned my leg on the exhaust pipe of a friend’s motorcycle. I had a circle burn the size of a tennis ball on my calf, a really bad melted-skin burn. I told my agent so she could call Nena and replace me, but to my surprise, Nena kept me in the show. I walked the runway with a 4 inch square of white gauze on my leg…and afterwards Nena cancelled me out of the entire rest of the show season. Devastating for me; although I did end up getting an out of town print booking for one of the days I was originally scheduled for a Nena show, so it turned out okay (you could NEVER cancel a Nena show for another job!).


It took several years, a new short haircut and a completely new “look” to get re-hired for Saks shows. I apparently learned my lesson, as I was a regular in her group of girls after that! And I worked for her right up to the time that I “retired” and moved to a farm down in Southern Illinois. And as far as favourite designers for Nena’s shows-hands down for Adolfo! He always asked for me, and I simply adored him.

It’s now twenty (*ahem*) years later, and I make my living as an artist and a breeder of dogs. In addition to illustration work, I sculpt horses and dogs; I have done design work for the Breyer Molding Company in New Jersey, and design and sculpt for the Peter Stone Company in Indiana. I basically play with toys and puppies! And I get to play Vanna White for all the big model horse auctions…sometimes holding up my own artwork!

I am thankful for the experiences I’ve had in the modeling/acting world, it has helped me tremendously in showing my dogs-a passion of mine. Since most of my competing dogs are out of my own breeding programs, showing them off in the ring as flawlessly as I can is of the upmost importance. Even new dogs to my kennel are brought in as puppies, and I’ve trained them to be the show dogs they become. Since working with an animal can have challenges all on its own, the fact that I am comfortable walking and performing (necessary to showcase your dog in the ring) without getting nervous or flustered, well, that’s just another aspect of showmanship…not much different than walking the catwalk!

I am currently campaigning BrokenRoad Marco Polo of Prestige (Portuguese Podengo Pequeno), Prestige Gothom City Glitch (French Bulldog), And Prestige Exes and Ohs (Border Terrier) in the Owner Handler division of the AKC show circuit, and am proud to say that all three were ranked in the top 5 of their breeds; I am the first person to achieve this. (Final standings for 2017 were Griffy the Border and Marco the Pod #2 in their breeds, and Glitch the Frenchie was #5). This meant an invitation to compete in the National Owner Handler Finals in Orlando, Florida at the prestigious Royal Canin National Show. Very exciting! Marco Polo is currently ranked #3 in the breed of Podengos, if I can hang on to #5 or better, he and I will be invited to compete at Westminster in N.Y. again…

What a life!”5A70D502-A14E-474E-846B-9D7356821728

A reunion show at Wilmette Theater, Karen, Lelar, D’Arry, Gayle, Jeanouche, Nena, Shelley, Lou May, Terri, Dori and Camille. I do love orange on Ms. D’Arry.  Group photo from the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.  D’Arry photo courtesy of Ms. Frank.

D08E7825-AB3F-42DF-89DC-2BD45C5E4797 At the Misericordia Fashion Show on May 11, 2018 at the Chicago Hilton.  Karen always takes two tables and invites the models and me to join her. Pictured standing Dori Wilson, Isabell Bernard, Debra Balchen, Karen Ryan, Elsa Tullos, Diane Narcisse, Shelley MacArthur Farley, seated Loretta Wilger, Eleanor Simon and D’Arry.  I think time for another reunion show!!!!  Photo taken with my iPhone7.

D’Arry, I can tell you it was worth the wait to share your story with my readers.  I’m so pleased we had good times on the “catwalk” together and so very proud of you in your transformation with your precious dogs and your exquisite art.  Thank you so much for joining my blogging adventure….we have both reinvented ourselves.

All photos, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of D’Arry Jone Frank.