A week after we learned of the death of the last of the great couturiers I feel everything has been written about this extraordinary creator by those who knew him, wrote about him and treasured his memory. His creativity was unparalleled not only in the world of fashion but also in his homes and his magnificent gardens.
I wanted to briefly talk about my memories of the few times I met him. The first time was at the launch of his first cosmetic collection in 1966. It was always a ”contest” to see which of the major stores, usually the Speciality Stores….Saks Fifth Avenue, Bonwit Teller, I. Magnin (Neiman Marcus wasn’t in Chicago yet) and, of course, Marshall Field’s, would launch the newest, hottest fragrance. I must say Saks saw it’s share of these prestigious events. Obviously a cosmetic collection by one of the worlds most illustrious designers was beyond exciting. We had a huge fashion press in Chicago at the time and they were all vying for exclusives. I didn’t then believe in exclusives if the story doesn’t run you are ”dead in the water”. Instead, we always had a press party for visiting designers in addition to a reception for clients usually to benefit a charity. All was set, caterers in place, champagne chilled and I had the tuxedoed wait staff with their champagne ladened silver trays lined up on either side of the cosmetic aisle ready for the guest of honor, M. Givenchy, his people, the President of Saks, Corporate Cosmetic VP’s and our guests. I ran up to my office to quickly change, I am in ”mid-change” when my walkie-talkie (this is before tech thingies!) is swawking….”M. Givenchy’s car has just pulled up”! My office was on the fourth floor, I finished pulling on my clothes torn down the stairs and made it to the door to escort the entourage into the store and the reception. Whew!! I have worked with many, many wonderful creators through the years and I can say he was one of the most gracious, charming of all. He made you feel like you were the only person he wanted to talk to, if only for a brief moment in time. This cosmetic line was short lived and we had the privilege of a second launch several years later. This photo, now in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, hung on my office wall was from the first launch. Unfortunately, like several other designer photos, the salutation has faded into oblivion over the years.
In M. Givenchy received the Designer of Excellence Award from the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum at a sold-out black-tie gala held in the Museum in 1995 sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The front and inside cover of the evening’s invitation, the evening was planned with the direction of M. Givenchy’s dear friend, Victor Skrebneski (holding my hand) who took the photo on the invitation and is seen here with M. Givenchy and Bonnie Deutsch, the President of the Costume Council at that time. The evening was a roaring success monetarily and prestigiously It was the talk of the town. All the guests were given a small ivory silk pocket square with the Givenchy signature and rolled hem in grey. All three images courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.
A close up of another Skrebneski photo of one of my favorite Givenchy dresses….you by now know my love of lily of the valley…what could be more divine!!!!! Photog found on Pinterest.
We all know of the deep friendship between Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn from the time she chose her garments for Sabrina through most of her many films, as well as her personal wardrobe. One of my most favorite garments are in Charade, loved the film (what’s not to like) and the clothes are to die for…she seems to have a new outfit in every frame…each better than the last.
My favorite Skrebneski photograph of a Givenchy gown. Everything is perfection….the composition, the lighting the incredible staircase, the floor and of course the gown…oh my the gown!!!! Found on Pinterest.
Of course, a few suggestions for your fashion book library….
I have very fortunate to have worked with the creme de la creme of the fashion world….lucky, lucky me!!
I received an email from my friend, Barbara Varro, with a blog post from her niece, Dr. Jeni Waeltz, suggesting it might be of interest to me….not only is it of interest to me, I wanted to share it with all of you. I know you will enjoy this eloquently written informative piece. A nenasnote…..I was fortunate to meet Aunt Lillian on several occasions and found her to be the gracious, charming, well informed woman described in this post. We should all aim for such a full, productive life. Thank you Jeni for allowing me to share your insight…it is brilliant! Do visit and subscribe to Jeni’s blog you are in for a treat…https://www.drjeniwaeltz.com
My Why and the Wonder of Life
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
— DIANE ACKERMAN
“I remember feeling the knot in my stomach as the thought flashed through my mind,
“This is probably going to be the last time I’ll see her.”
I was not ready to fully accept that thought.
Instead, I sat in the hospital room with my mom, my two very little girls, and my Great, Great Aunt Lillian, and I talked about the girls and how tired I was as a young mother. I asked her how she was feeling and talked about how she’ll get better.
I tried desperately to keep the girls company and entertained with toys and stories and looking out the big window, down to the cars below.
I look around the room that day, took in the beauty of such wondrous women present. I thought of my two little girls, Lilli just about to turn 2, and Madi only 8 months old. I thought about the presence in the room of one life ending and two just only beginning.
I ignored what my heart knew. That this time my 97 year old aunt wasn’t going to make it back to her assisted living home. That those beautiful 97 years of life were coming to an end.
But the words of love, gratitude, and awe of her life were never spoken aloud.
Oh — the goodbye I could have said.
The words never came that day, but I think of them often.
I think about all the women like my Aunt Lillian that came before me and all the worldly changes she was able to see and live during her life.
I think about my mom, who went back to school at age 42 to finally get that college education that so many people didn’t believe she could get. And how she now has a major role as grannanny to my two little girls.
I think about me, a millennial woman, who was taught as a little girl that I could do and become anything I wanted to, but had no idea what doing and being anything they wanted to would feel like and look like after kids came into the picture. That the “real world” was nothing I was prepared to experience.
And I think about my two little girls now and how they will become the women of the future.
And oh how exciting that future will be for them.
You see — the opportunities and potential for innovation, social justice, equality, and expanding the human consciousness are just beginning to take on a new level that my Great, Great Aunt never will be able to see.
My Aunt Lillian was born February 12, 1920. Almost 100 years ago.
One hundred year’s ago women didn’t even have the right to vote. It wasn’t until half a year later on August 18th, 1920 that the 19th Amendment was finally certified granting women the right to vote.
When my Aunt Lillian was just 22 years old, she joined the WACs (Women’s Army Corp). It was 1942.
The WACs had been formed by Oveta Culp Hobby, US Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, just a couple of years before to offer support to the military. She was the only woman from East Chicago to join the WACs, and she left by train for Fort Meade, Maryland, an Army Training Camp.
The courage it must have taken to leave home all alone and travel to an Army Training Camp as such a young woman. No cell phone. No GPS. No text messaging.
During her career, which included clerical jobs in Boca Raton, Florida, she was selected to be a recruiter for the WACs in Pittsburgh, PA. She lived with other WAC colleagues at the William Penn Hotel downtown. While there, she was selected to be on a recruiting poster with Commander Kelly, who was an important Army officer. She had attained the rank of Technical Sargeant.
She stayed in Pittsburgh until she was discharged in 1945, when WWII ended. She always said that she was extremely proud of her Army service because she had learned so much and had made good friends while she served the country.
When she returned home, she got a job as a secretary at LaSalle Steel in Hammond, Indiana, then worked for many years as a clerk/analyst at IBM, in Calumet City, Illinois, then in Hammond, Indiana.
She had loved traveling with friends, mostly to cities in South America and Europe. She often went to Poland, where she had relatives. Her mother and father had been born in Poland, and my Aunt Lillian was fluent in Polish.
My Aunt Lillian never had kids. However, she loved all her nieces and nephews with all her heart and she played such a big role in my family’s life growing up.
My Aunt Lillian lived through one of the most progressive 100 years in women’s history. She witnessed and watched so many BRAVE women blaze the trail towards equality. From Amelia Earhart, to Rosa Parks, to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to Sally Ride, to Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, and to Hiliary Clinton. She herself was one of those BRAVE women.
As a recruiter for two major veterinary corporations, I’ve been blown away at the negotiation difference between male and female counterparts. Not that I was offering my male veterinary candidates more, but that my female veterinary candidates didn’t even ask for close to what the male doctors were asking.
Instead of trying to fit the mold and status quo of what has come before us, it’s time to rock the whole systems and create a life and career that works for the 21st century woman.
And do I think that’s possible?
Why? Because of all of those the leading ladies that came before us, just like my Aunt Lillian, blazing that trail of progress.
IT’S TIME FOR A MINDSET REVOLUTION.
It’s time to actually be taught how to handle our broken systems to where we either have the tools and resources to deal with them or the courage to create new businesses and become leaders that support these new needs.
It’s time for those bread-winning working ladies to celebrate their victory and drive versus playing down their successes.
It’s time for those stay at home mamas to snuggle their babies and nurture their teenage children as long as they want to, and then not be scared to start over and follow a dream when they decide their ready.
It’s time to stop pretending that you don’t care about money and letting it scare you. It’s time to protect and claim your financial freedom.
It’s time for those working mamas to to stop striving for balance and instead focus on work-life satisfaction.
It’s time for those workaholic ladies that can’t say no to their work demands to stop defining their self-worth by their work success and start setting boundaries and find the confidence to strive for progress not perfection.
It’s time for women to love their bodies as is and start eating healthy and exercising to feed their soul instead of defining their self-worth by a number on a scale.
AND it’s time to evolve our mind. It’s time to continue the mental health discussion and invest in the resources to adopt a more conscious mindset.
THE FUTURE — IT’S UP TO US. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. IT’S TIME TO STOP SETTLING AND START CREATING.
My girls have reached an age where they’re asking about life and death. I tell them all the time if your lucky you’ll live to be 100.
But the reality is that we have no control over when our lives will end. Yes, it would be great to make it to be 100, but how would those 100 years have been spent if you didn’t live fully?
Lived that width and not just the length.
To stop foreboding JOY and really feel the highs of life.
To stop trying to mask and numb the pain but allow yourself time to grieve, be angry, depressed, and sad.
And to take daring risks and go after big dreams and leave fear of failure behind.
ALL THAT I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH I OWE SO MUCH TO THE AMAZING WOMEN THAT CAME BEFORE ME.
My goal is to create a dialogue about women’s empowerment and to offer coaching, leadership, and education to as many women as I can as my contribution to this world.
This new business adventure is in honor of my Aunt Lee, in honor of the other strong women in my family, my girlfriends and coworkers, and to those whose lives were taken too soon because they just couldn’t see another way out.
And in honor of my young veterinarian self. For the years of suffering in silence due to lack of confidence, fear, and anxiety that she just wasn’t good enough.
And most importantly, in honor of my two little girls. My why is for them. For the future be so bright.
In the coming weeks and months this blog will be filled with actionable strategies that will inspire you to make the change to a more fulfilled and conscious driven life and to step into the leader you were destined to become. We’ll cover mindset, emotions, goal setting, fulfillment, time management, productivity, confidence, money mindset, positive body image, decluttering, thought work, physical health, relationships, and more.
Are you ready for this mindset revolution? If so, leave a comment and tell me about your journey and your dreams for the future.”
Be sure to subscribe to Jeni’s blog for more in-depth perspectives on life….I know I am looking forward to getting a new slant on the now and the future!!
It’s the beginning of year four of nenasnotes amazing how quickly a year goes by…..I must admit I am basically in the same position I was when I wrote last year’s updated post. I have been remiss in doing regular posts and for that I apologize. The nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club has taken on a life of its own and the monthly meetings are continuing to grow. I was beyond thrilled that the Uber talented Victor Skrebneski joined me in conversation about his sensational new book SKREBNESKI DOCUMENTED: 1948-2018. I will be doing a post in the near future, I promise, on the friendship we have shared for many, many years….stay tuned.
I finally had my first guest post with Barbara Varro’s nostalgic trip with her fabulous reminisces of her celebrity interviews while fashion editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. More guest posts to come, again, I promise. I know you like my book reviews…you can count on more of them.
Okay, your turn what would you like me to concentrate on….by now you know when I post I do have a lot to say…I’d love to know what you want me to research for you….or do you prefer when I take a trip down memory lane with designers I have worked with, personality profiles, book reviews, or just my ramblings about things I find interesting….please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Year four…..here we go!
October 13, 2018
Another year has flown by and I am now starting year three of NENASNOTES. I must admit I haven’t been consistent of late, computer issues, other obligations, etc. I plan to continue my same schedule with more tweaks. I am asking the people I have profiled over the last two years to do a guest post on whatever subject they like. I think their thoughts will be of interest to all of us. I do like my Tuesdays posts, BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS, and will continue them and probably expand to an additional day. This has led to the formation of NENASNOTES The Fashion Book Club a monthly gathering to discuss all manner of fashion books, featuring fascinating authors and a throughly engaged audience, I will do monthly posts on these books as well. More recipes, more decor, more fashion….yes, all of those along with interesting personality profiles. If you have something you would like me to discuss please let me know. By now, if you follow me, you know I have a wide range of interests that I like to share with my readers. I now also do two monthly posts for the Randolph Street Market blog, one on collection trends and one on fashion trends these are totally different from my NENASNOTES posts. Do follow me there, on Instagram, (I’m having a blast there!) and Pinterest. I am in the process of launching a sponsorship program with unique incentives based on level of funding. So lots to look forward to…I do hope you will continue to join me in my ventures and do recommend NENASNOTES to your friends and please make comments, they are invaluable. Here we go….welcome Year Three!
October 13, 2017
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.
MY 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.
A SAMPLING OF MY CHANEL LIBRARY
Wednesday….Miscellany day could be a great recipe, restaurant, movie, play….whatever strikes my fancy that week.
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.
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.
Here we go….I hope you will join me on my on reinvention.
THE BLACK LEATHER JACKET…..ALWAYS CLASSIC ALWAYS NEW
Repost with permission from the Randolph Street Market blog. A reminder the last outdoor vendor portion of this year round market is Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29, 2019. Do go it is chocked full of treasures in vintage clothing and everything else under the sun!
From “Greasers” to high fashion and everything in between, let’s look at where the leather jacket began and see it developed into a fashion wardrobe classic.
Obviously leather has been with us for centuries but the jacket we are featuring today we are tracing back to “modern” history.
The brown leather jacket made its entrance on the scene on the aviators of World War I.
Then again for the air women and men as the Bomber jacket for WWII.
In 1928 Irving Schott designs the first motorcycle jacket and sells it for $5.50 at the Harley Davidson store in New York. He named it after his favorite cigar, The Perfecto. And perfect it was, on and off motorcycles.
In 1953 The Wild One starred a sexy Marlon Brando in a classic leather motorcycle jacket. Often the jacket became its own character.
And other stars jumped on the bike, so to speak, definitely defying the norm and defining the person on and off the screen…James Dean
Elvis, of course…..
Henry Winkler before he was The Fonz (notice Stallone) in The Lords of Flatbush…
And as Fonzie….
And then there was Grease…..(my era!)
The Beatles before suits and Ringo….
The English Punks and, of course Sid and Nancy and The Sex Pistols…
The one and only Michael Jackson…
From the outrageous to….David Beckham….
And so many more celebrities….
Three blonds….Madonna, Glenn, Lady Gaga…..who wears it best, I’ll leave it to you…
Haute Couture, why not….a bit of Schiaparelli…
Some embellished jackets…they have come a long way baby, how shall you embellish your Randolph Street Market Finds…..so many options…here are a few suggestions…
I must admit my favorite of the bunch, although the feathered piece or hand painted or……
Let’s look at a few ways to style and update your vintage jacket…..
(Original Caption) Model in long jupe and leather jacket. (Photo by Pierre Vauthey/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
I’m obsessed with this on Elizabeth Moss…
Robert Mapplethorpe Self Portrait…a recent Retrospective at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
For your own research some books (you knew I would have some suggestions didn’t you!)
The one and only Ralph Lauren who exemplifies “Always Classic Always New”
And your blogger in one of four black leather jackets, a motorcycle piece needs to be added if only to embellish!!!!! RSM here I come!!
All photos with the exception of the one of me, from Pinterest photos credits unknown.
I asked the best reporter I know, actually the best all round writer and editor I know, my long time BFF, Barbara Varro, to write a post or two or more…on her reflections of celebrities she interviewed while fashion editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. Her wit, wisdom and total honesty make her a perfect person to do my first nenasnotes guest post.She sent along some tear sheets of her interviews with many of the icons of the 20th and thinking of Streisand, Tomlin, Twiggy and Shrimpton into the 21st Centuries. I have added some head shots of her interviewees. I know you are going to enjoy her reminiscences….perhaps I can convince her to do more in the future.Here we go on a trip down memory lane…
Nena has prompted (pushed) me to reminisce about my life as a newspaper writer and editor. We go way back when I was the fashion editor of the Chicago Sun-Times and she was the fashion maven at Saks Fifth Avenue.
In reflecting on my newspaper activities I remember interviews with designers, but some of my fondest memories are those with celebrities. Colleagues at the paper used to say, “follow the stars with Barbara.”
Of the models I interviewed one of the standouts was the British Twiggy who came to Chicago for a promotion for Gamble/Aldens catalog. The narrow-as-an-arrow model with huge eyes enhanced with multiple pairs of false lashes was only 17. She giggled and seemed vacuous. But she was very popular at the time. She was sweet to a group of teenagers crowding around her when she arrived at the Ambassador East Hotel, saying in her cockney accent, “Oy love Chicago. Never been here before.”
Jean Shrimpton, another wildly popular British model of that era, was classier than Twiggy. She retired from modeling after a few years and ran a bed and breakfast in Penzance with her husband. On a vacation there one year I ran into her and she was friendly but did not want to talk about her modeling days and the adulation she experienced. She said she was happy just being a normal woman living in Cornwall.
Whenever I went to California to cover fashion I had opportunities to talk to celebrities. Once we fashion editors were invited to a clambake on the set of the TV series, Peyton Place, and we hobnobbed with such stars as Ryan O’Neal, Mia Farrow, Dorothy Malone and George Peppard.
Another time we hit a jackpot of stars at the discotheque The Factory, set in an old furniture factory in Hollywood. We were guests of actress Polly Bergen, who was hawking her Turtle Oil cosmetics at the time. We were gaga whenever the elevator stopped and out came stars such as Rock Hudson, Sonny and Cher, Liza Minnelli, Rosalind Russell, Fred Astaire, Tony Curtis, Joan Collins, etc. Polly had asked the editors not to bother the stars, but one of the women had the nerve to ask Astaire to dance, and he did. The rest of us were too chicken to do such a thing but what a story she had to tell.
Debbie Reynolds was a delight, brash and witty. We fashion editors were invited to her home (when she was married to shoe magnate Harry Karl) for dinner and a showing of the Helen Rose collection. Standing next to Helen by her pool, Debbie said, “Years ago Helen told me that I looked terrible. I had been wearing $11 Lerner dresses at that point. Today, whatever I know about dressing this lady taught me.” Later, Helen said, “Over the years I have designed for a lot of stars, including Elizabeth Taylor, oops…I forgot.” Debbie shot back, “I didn’t.”
Debbie Reynolds and Helen Rose
I interviewed singer/actress Doris Day twice. She was lovely and talked a lot about animals. She was weepy when she told a story about Strongheart the German Shepherd. She said that friends referred to her Beverly Hills home as “the canine country club.” She also said that whenever she was on a movie set people would say, “here comes that animal nut whenever I went around looking to see if the animals were properly cared for and fed.”
I spoke to Barbra Streisand by telephone just before she gave her first concert in Chicago at Soldier Field in 1966. She mentioned that her sleek, short hair was styled by Chicago’s Fred Glaser and she had bought three gowns by Sarmi at Saks Fifth Avenue. She said that she had attended the fashion openings in Paris and had bought several Diors but had to had them altered because she was pregnant. At the time she was married to actor Elliot Gould. The Sarmis she would wear for the concert were all tent shapes to accommodate her growing mid section.
Zsa Zsa Gabor was a stitch. She was holding forth at lunch in Booth One at the Pump Room and was flattering a male friend, telling him that she loves a man who knows how to order, when she actually did most of the ordering. She was her usual bubbly self and was wearing a lot of jewelry including a humongous diamond ring that I said was big enough to give her hand a hernia. She told me that she had always been impulsive. “I even get married and divorced on impulse,” she said.
Ginger Rogers came to Chicago to do the play “Forty Carats” at Drury Lane. She was very particular about how she was to be photographed. When the photographer and I entered her suite at the hotel she was seated on a sofa surrounded by four big lights on poles. She said we could not take candid photos. She looked fine but her hair was long and platinum, billowing on her shoulders like cotton candy. She told me that she did not relish talking about the chiffon and feathered gowns she wore when she danced with Fred Astaire. “That is over,” she said. But she did mention the old saw about how she danced as well as he did but she did so backwards and in high heels.
Singer Rosemary Clooney was a great interview subject, so warm and self deprecating. She talked freely about her disturbing marriage to Jose Ferrer, who was abusive. She spoke about her former addictions to Percodan and about the rehab treatment that saved her. She also spoke fondly of Bing Crosby, who appeared with her in the movie “White Christmas.” And he wrote the forward to her book, “This for Remembrance.”
Lily Tomlin, who was performing on the TV hit “Laugh In” at the time, was a witty interview. She said, “I have no taste. I like comfortable, raggedy clothes.” And she said she hated to shop. Her idea of heaven would be opening her closet and finding “all new clothes that someone put in it and all in my size.” Asked about her character Ernestine, the telephone operator who wears 1940s clothes, she said, “Ernestine likes the 40s look. It was the look she had when she was young and she never changed.”
It was fun to walk down memory lane with the stars, some who have passed and some still present.”
A nenasnotes…Yes, Barbara it was fun to walk down memory lane with you and here we are friends for more years than we care to admit, still sharing a giggle or two, good food and always…always a bit of nostalgia! I’m going to work on her to share some of her incredible travel stories, fingers crossed. Good times….to be continued.
All Chicago Sun Times tearsheets courtesy of Barbara Varro. All other photos from Pinterest no photo credits available Barbara and Nena photo taken with Barbara’s camera several years ago at one of my visits to her home.
I wanted to do this post in advance of what I always think of as the new year when all of us say good bye to summer and head back to full time work and the new school year, after our summer breaks (we will leave pumpkin spice everything for another post…it is a season unto itself…I just learned that there will pumpkin spice SPAM……now really!!!!!)
This strange looking thingie is called a typewriter (I’m obsessed with her hair!!!!)….remember them, no, well let me explain a bit….long before the technological age we live in, they were the devices used to communicate with others using the written word via type…..I know inconceivable but true!!!! Yes, we did get in touch that way for a zillion years….the typewriter, in its first of many guises, was introduced in 1829 in Detroit but it is said to have officially evolved in Milwaukee in 1867….another “tool” that advanced women in the workplace. Progress was fairly quick and many, many different manufactures jumped on board, Royal, Smith-Corona, Oliver, etc. It was one of the reasons women could respectfully enter the workforce.
I want this, isn’t it stunning….I, by the way, didn’t learn on this particular machine but must admit I did learn to type on a standard keyboard, not an electric. I switched high schools to be able to do two things, art classes and “office” skills, typing and shorthand. I was an excellent typist, still not too bad and I do love technology, (did a lot of thesis papers for Northwestern U students while I was in high school on my portable Royal)….but sucked at shorthand, I could always write faster in long hand…once I proved that, my teacher gave me a pass!!! We had electric typewriters in the classroom, but had to learn manuel first pretty much like a shift car (I also learned to drive a stick shift) with special permits for automatic…yes, pretty much the Stone Age….but I digress! Let’s look at some machines. You will find many vintage office collectibles at the monthly Randolph Street Market
Decoupage….love it!! Notice the ribbon…to be discussed later (the disks on either side of the carriage that round thing at the top..)
A decorating idea for a vintage piece…stunning for an office accessory.
The two photos above taken by me at Randolph Street Market at Jocelyn Reimann’s The Green Door Booth…always perfectly merchandised and styled.
More from The Green Door Booth…a Hermes portable…to die for… perfection mine was similar but a Royal…green, naturally.
A couple of books on the subject, of course….and one by the gentleman who only uses and collects manual typewriters, Tom Hanks!!!! He loves the sound of hitting the keys and has even done an app! Check out his YouTube pieces…they are delightful.
Speaking of keys…..or perhaps do jewelry with finds at RSM….
The aforementioned ribbons….in their decorative tins another collecting thought…
Oh my….look what you can do….
From pencils to…
Staplers to erasers to chalk and rulers, think of vintage in your collecting to add a bit of charm and nostalgia! And guess, what they all work to perfection….who needs new?!
These found in Marci’s Green for Style Booth at RSM, the inspiration for this post.
Two more images found at the Green Door Booth at RSM.
Here is little Nena writing fashion show scripts for her boss!
Today’s technology combined with a “real” keyboard…my dear friend, Barbara Varro, would love this. Vintage meets modernity!
FIRST APPEARED ON THE RANDOLPH STREET MARKET BLOG REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
Recently I have found myself wanting to play board games…is this a summer thing…no, I think a year round thing! While visiting friends at their county cottage a few weeks ago, I found they love to spend weekend evenings entertaining friends, after a divine home cooked supper, playing board games. Imagine actually sitting with “real” people at a table and moving game pieces, tossing dice, stretching your brain and enjoying a giggle or two or three!! We have gotten so use to playing games on our gaming systems or on our tech devices…think PacMan, Candy Crush, Words With Friends, Jeopardy, the list goes on and on and grows daily…let alone the zillion versions of solitaire (I’ll address card games and collecting decks of cards in another post!) we are losing the camaraderie of being with people. Well, that is true of so much of today’s culture isn’t it!! How modern to enjoy the challenges the many versions of board games give us.
Let’s look at their history and then talk about what you might find at the monthly Randolph Street Market….who knows! Board games have been found in Egyptian tombs and, as shown at the top of this post, painted on the walls of the tombs. They can be traced back 6000 years. Senet, as shown in this fresco and in the painting below, dates to around 3500 BC.
Backgammon originated in Persia 5000 years ago. Chess, Pachisi from India. And The Royal Game of Ur, the oldest game known with surviving original rules, is over 2000 years old.
The Royal Game of Ur
Hounds and Jackals from 13th Dynasty Egypt.
Snakes and Ladders began as an ancient Indian game still widely played today.
A modern Snakes and Ladders…
As a child I loved all games, most especially Monopoly….we certainly did not want to land in “Jail” but rather acquire the most prestigious real estate….what could be more fun. There are dozens of versions of this one of the all time best selling board games. Conceived and patented as The Landlords Game in 1903 by a feminist, Lizzie Magie (she wasn’t credited with creating Monopoly). Here is the original patented design….
And the original design for Monopoly….1935.
And other games….
Photos, taken by me, of a few of the games I have found from vendors at Randolph Street Market…
Some decorating ideas…..
Another book suggestion, two editions…..
And a board game Café….they seem to be everywhere…who knew!!!!!!
Dig out your games or find vintage ones at RSM what could be more fun for a lazy day by a body of water, to past the time at a picnic or barbecue or to play inside on a rainy day…a perfect way to conjure lots of nostalgia and giggles along the way….enjoy!!!!!
REPRINTED FROM RANDOLPH STREET MARKET BLOG WITH PERMISSION FROM FOUNDER SALLY SCHWARTZ
All photos, unless otherwise credited, from Pinterest credits unknown.
An exquisite tureen handcrafted by Dodie Thayer, the extraordinary Lettuce Ware artisan.
I have mentioned that I do two monthly posts for the Randolph Street Market one on fashion the other on collecting/collectibles…Sally Schwartz, Founder of RSM has given me permission to repost when I feel they would fit into my blog. The following is one of my recent favorites….hope you enjoy it.
COLLECTIBLES EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE RANDOLPH STREET MARKET LETTUCE WARE COLLECTIBLES (AND OTHER VEGETABLE
Happy Spring and the earth’s rebirth. I was originally thinking I would do an Easter post…you know wonderful little bunnies, perfectly dyed eggs, tulips, wonderful tablescapes and the bounty of the Spring holiday feasts…but how cliché. Yes, I know we all love these signs of renewal but since these posts are about collectibles let’s go a bit outside the box and talk about an area of collecting many of us don’t normally think about….Lettuce Ware and other vegetable ware collectibles.
We can, of course, relate to collecting fabulous pieces of Majolica in the form of vegetables but I am concentrating this account on more modern collectibles…we will save Majolica for another time.
Dodie Thayer (who passed away at age 91 in 2018) cast her life-like pieces, each vein shaped by hand, in her home in Jupiter, Florida. During the 1960’s through the 1980’s the pieces were in demand by Palm Beach Society. C.Z. Guest was a major collector and her collection was sold in 2015 at Sotheby’s for $35,000, original valuation, $3,000.
Dodie Thayer looking very Mid-Century Modern with a display of her wares.
Some of the C. Z. Guest collection.
From one of my favorite blogs The Glam Pad, a C. Z. Guest table setting
A bit about CZ Guest’s Collection in this fabulous book.
You would have found these charming pieces in the homes of Brooke Astor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the Duchess of Windsor among many others.
From the Tory Burch Collection in this cheerful table setting.
Having purchased a huge collection from renowned interior designer and collector, Todd Romano, Designer and Lifestyle guru, Tory Burch, became a friend of Thayer that friendship led to a collaboration and Dodie authorized reproductions for the first time. We love when these things happen. Now we can find the beauty of this artisan at non-auction prices. To me this is the perfect subject when you are collecting (of course, at RANDOLPH STREET MARKET), lucky you will be to find an original piece but now you can find the continuation of the work of a true innovator in a 21st century line, which is also now collectible….everything old is indeed new again!!!
More from the Tory Burch Collection.
Let’s look at a few more pieces and display ideas….from Thayer….
A collectors dream…..
Now let’s look at a couple of Majolica pieces…yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to do Majolica but couldn’t resist….sorry (not sorry!)
Other veggies…these from Boston porcelain artist, Katherine Houston, glorious…
Let’s look for something from her at RSM….
From my own collection, this charming Katherine Houston pea pod (4”) signed and dated 1997, a Christmas gift that year from a dear friend, Martin Gapshis, miss him terribly….great taste and style!!!
Another gift from Martin this cauliflower small covered bowl (long before the popularity of the veg!) late 1990’s from Vietri, Italian Majolica.
Oh, alright, a couple of bunnies……enjoy Spring!!!!!
For more information check the comprehensive article in the Wall Street Journal on Collecting Lettuce Ware by Alexa Brazilian July 19, 2013.
LETTUCE SOUP FOUND ON EPICURIOUS.COM
Wouldn’t that be glorious served in a Lettuce Ware bowl…I say yes!
Makes 4 servings
1 cup chopped onions, scallions, and/or shallots
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup diced (1/3 inch) peeled potato
8 cups coarsely chopped lettuce leaves including ribs (3/4 lb)
3 cups water
Cook onion mixture and garlic in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add coriander, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in potato, lettuce, and water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potato is very tender, about 10 minutes.
Purée soup in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) and transfer to a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Bring soup to a simmer, then whisk in remaining tablespoon butter and salt and pepper to taste.
All photos, with the exception of the two pieces from my collection, from Pinterest photo credits unknown.
I was reluctant to read another book based on World War II, and there are so many, as well there should be, knowing we must never forget the horrors of war and especially WWII. The reason I didn’t want to read this was I needed something not as heavy but I succumbed to the pull of The Ritz Hotel and how it played a major roll in the Nazi occupation of Paris and actually served as its headquarters in Paris. Being a historical novel written by the amazing story teller/historian, Melanie Benjamin it was a no brainer as I have enjoyed all her writings….and, a bonus, I was able to obtain an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) from NetGalley. Having recently read and reviewed on my blog (see the Archives) Ritz and Escoffier, which I really loved, I was interested to learn more about how The Ritz survived this horrific period in history.
The story revolves around the Ritz French General Manager, Claude Auzello and his American wife, Blanche. Beginning with their whirlwind courtship, and his advancement as a hotelier it then follows them through the intrigues of living with and serving the enemy in their Hotel. Becoming an important part of the Resistance evolves and using historical facts Benjamin keeps the story moving with intrigue, love affairs, behind the scenes hotel stories as well as how everyday citizens respond to crisis in order to survive.
Obviously, wartime at the Ritz was one of the darker chapters in the hotel’s history. When they arrived in Paris, the Germans used the hotel as a swanky headquarters for high-ranking officers, Hermann Göring among them. The Nazis took over half the hotel, allowing the other half to remain open to guests. Gone were the halcyon days of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Porter and the romantic thoughts of Proust….instead the uniforms and boots of Nazi’s filled the lobby, bar and rooms of the legendary hotel. The hotel staff ate well from the leftovers of the invaders and, of course Claude and Blanche lived on site.
I felt the story told us more of Blanches role as she became more independent of her husband in trying to find her way in a hostile environment, to help those in need, as well as a more self sufficient woman.
Having done extensive research on Paris Haute Couture, I do know quite a bit about how the French Couturiers survived, some are briefly mentioned, and of Hitler’s desire to move Couture to Berlin, not mentioned in the book but worth your while to research if you are interested, it is a fascinating story. I did enjoy the encounter, in the book, between Blanche, who is wearing a Schiaparelli dress, and Mademoiselle Chanel’s comments to her. Chanel and Schiaparelli were arch enemies and this sentence conveys this animosity perfectly.
Chanel in her Suite at The Ritz
Gabrielle Chanel plays a minor role in this novel but her presence is definitely there and she makes an occasional appearance. It was while she was staying at the Ritz during the war years that she had a romantic liaison with Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German officer and spy. She also took care of him in her home, Villa Pausa on the French Riviera, after the war. There is much speculation about Chanel and the Nazi’s….was she a collaborator, was she a spy for the British…for more on this story I recommend reading Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War.
I know you want to know if I recommend reading this book….by now you must know I don’t review books I don’t like so the answer is yes, read it….and guess what Ms. Benjamin will appear at my Independent Bookseller of choice The Book Stall in June, be sure to check it out, I hope to attend.