THE book signing…..who knew the excitement this would bring to the nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club guests, to me and most importantly to Victor! This and the other book signing photos taken by Mark Olley, one of the monthly TFBC supporters and the Official Photographer for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club.
The book is hefty in actual weight and in weighty content, lots of photos, many not published before, mine included…let’s start there…
I try to plan my chosen fashion/lifestyle books as close to publication date as possible and have the author in conversation and, when I can, have them in person. I knew the new Skrebneski book, SKREBNESKI DOCUMENTED, was making its debut in September 2019 and I wanted to be the first to present it. I made a call to Dennis Minkel to see if this would be possible and if Victor would agree to be in conversation with me and discuss the book with his thoughts on photography, of course, and life in general. He said he would ask him and would call me back. Shortly after our conversation my phone rang with the familiar voice of my long time friend…who said, “Of course, when, where and, you are in the book”. Huh, did I hear correctly, I was in the book…impossible..but no, it was possible. What an honor, what a dream, what a thrill. I didn’t know which picture, and thought it would be a small photo on a page with other shots, again, wrong…my own full page in one of the shots from The Fashion Group International Chicago gala in 1990. I received the books from my Independent Bookseller for my events The Book Stall and found my photo, stunned beyond all expectations.
The RSVPS were huge, I keep the monthly events small, it is a book club after all, but I couldn’t say no to anyone and wanted all of Victor’s friends and admirers to come to this intimate event. We had almost four times our normal attendees. We sold so many books that even the Rizzoli Publisher was impressed. Victor was candid, when wasn’t he, and was almost giddy, he was so energized by the reception and seeing people he hadn’t seen for awhile. Of course, each book was personalized with his signature silver pen and several guests bought additional books as gifts.
It was the perfect event and who knew what was on the horizon for him. In hindsight, it was not only the launching of a fabulous book, but for most of the audience the last time they would be with him. And, perhaps, his last book….there were two more planned.
Mark, I can never thank you enough for capturing the evening perfectly.
Fast forward to December yet another book signing and conversation for a special breakfast honoring Susan Glick a major force in Fashion and her extraordinary devotion to The Fashion Group International of Chicago was beautifully acknowledged at the Ritz Carlton. Again, friends and admirers of the iconic, bigger than life, Victor Skrebneski, gathered to hear his stories, of course, The Black Turtleneck celebrity series, working with celebrities, in particular, David Bowie and more…always more. What a treat for me to chat with my chum again in a casual easy conversation.
Dennis Minkel, Victor Skrebneski and Nena Ivon holding their Skrebneski images in SKREBNESKI DOCUMENTED, at the Fashion Group International Chicago book signing. Photo taken with my iPhone.
Actually up until March I was still selling books, in fact the last one I sold was to Victor himself when I visited him at his Studio to identify designers in some of his photographs before we went to dinner at La Scarola. One of the things we discussed that evening prior to dinner, I asked the question what was he going to photograph next…his answer, and I haven’t talked about this until today, was “Photography doesn’t interest me anymore, I’ve done everything I want to do. I want to concentrate on my books.” Was I stunned, you bet I was. He also shared that he wasn’t feeling well, but I had no idea how ill he was or that it would be our last time together. It was the last time I saw him in person. We did speak on the phone almost until his death in April.
Self Portrait not dated.
His camera will never again capture the images that only his eye saw….we have lost a major artist and an era goes with him. Rest In Peace dear friend, Rest In Peace.