6C698FF1-A8C6-44DC-ADDC-E30AD447BB89A 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. AFD15AD3-A8F0-45DC-9E8C-A92419EFF774.jpegThis 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!!



DFFA3B15-94FA-4D44-B215-23A77F245C84Yes, this is a paint by number painting…I think it is a stunner and not what we think about when thinking of this craft.  I saw it at last months Randolph Street Market (the March RSM is Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31 from 10 to 5 each day) and thought about doing a story….of course I did!!!!  It immediately brought to mind two of my friends who collect the art. Photo taken with my iPhone.

One collects ballet pieces, here are some…the photos below were taken by me with my iPhone.D4441945-67C8-433C-8727-1C088D1E8908C8615D84-5A21-45BE-B0E8-C0E9BC6DA3A23EEF587B-1F4A-46BF-991E-C9BA62ABA24D

The other has over 400 pieces….I first met, worked with and became friends with Robert Groos, when he was one of the multi-talented Visual Merchandising team at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago and then in charge of Visual in the Highland Park store….his charm and extraordinary creativity would make him a friend to all and his passion for Paint by Number Art was unparalleled. Some of his pieces formed the background across the Store’s Michigan Avenue windows.


59F7F3A2-128A-46B1-A091-FCDB0D71B271Aren’t they awesome….the art of window display at its finest.

Rob’s first purchase…what a handsome lad….



Two of his favorites, Roy and Dale…(a Nena’s note…I adored Roy Rogers as a child and dressed as Dale Evans for years at Halloween…all in white with gold studs and fringe, Mom made my outfit, and we got handtooled white leather cowgirl boots when we summered each year in Midland, Texas…yes, you heard that correctly!  Keep following nenasnotes and there won’t be too much you don’t know about me!  Just saying….)

Let me have Rob tell you about his collections in his own words….


“In 1995 I met a couple who owned an antique store in Chicago.  They had a beautiful, well edited assortment of objects in their store.  One evening they hosted a Gallery Openingthat featured a selection of old Paint By Number paintings theyd collected.   I attended and purchased three beautiful dog paintings from them.  I fell in love with the paintings and decided to start collecting more to compliment them.   Before I knew it I ws searching thrift stores and antique stores all over the midwest to locate PBNs.   I soon discovered that you could bid on PBNs through Ebay and I became passionate about purchasing them there.”



“Over the years I built a sizable collection which now stands at over 400.  The categories Ive focused on are Dogs, Clowns, Ballet/Ballerinas, Religious, Landscape, Flowers and Birds.  Ive several extremely old paintings that were painted on canvas.  Some are proudly signed and dated by the artists that painted them.  Canvas is the material the original paint by numbers were sold back when Craftmaster first launched them to the market.”


“In addition to the painted PBNs I have several metal Toleware Paint By Number items:  Two waste cans, a magazine rack, a desk organizer and a small vase.  These are pretty rare and not seen as much as the flat paintings.”


“In 1997 my Paint By Number collection was featured in Collectibles Magazine along with an article on my apartment and artwork.”


 “In 2000, I used many of the paintings to create a massive salon style backdrop in the Saks Fifth Avenue, Michigan Avenue windows that featured Marc by Marc Jacobs denim pieces.   Ive also had the pleasure of meeting Dan Robbins who created the Paint By Numbers for Palmer Paint Company in 1950.  


“Ive stopped collecting the paintings now and have all but two stored safely away.  Id like to sell the collection to someone but would want to sell it intact and not item by item.  It would make an impressive presentation in a very large loft home, or in a restaurant or kitschy business somewhere.”

A million thanks to Rob for sharing his story and his photos with nenasnotes.  As you can see it is a superb and unique collection and if interested in purchasing the artwork in its entirety get in touch with Robert Groos at

This art form is being revived, if you are in need of a new craft project and want to try your hand at this art or want further information, I suggest you go to My Paint By Numbers



By now you know I am obsessed with historical fiction especially when the book concerns “real” people.  When this exceptionally written book came into my consciousness I knew it would be one I would not only enjoy but would devour and, of course, would want to share with you. I was correct in that assumption.  (As usual, I recommend The Book Stall my Independent Bookseller, as your source when purchasing your books.)

The protagonist is none other than Alva Vanderbilt who married into one of the wealthiest, if not THE wealthiest at the time, American dynasties.  Wealth was new to Alva and the story tells us of a world known to very few.  The Astor’s ruled New York Society, especially their Matriarch, Caroline.  Snubbed by Mrs. Astor, Alva was determined to make her place, along with her husband, William, and the rest of the Vanderbilt family to reach the top of the Gilded Age social scene.  And not only did she do exactly that but did it with grace and class  Fowler takes us into this rarified world via, their exquisite homes, think Marble House (The Biltmore is briefly mentioned), the many homes in New York City.  I particularly enjoyed Alva’s forays into every detail of her many homes and her participation with the noted architect, Richard Hunt, in planning the architecture and each and every phase of the construction of the mansions and the interiors from paint colors, fabrics, to furniture….everything!  Having literally millions to spend she thought out every possible item in her homes and became the personification of elegance of her era.


Alva Vanderbilt


William Vanderbilt

Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island


A couple of the interiors …



Living in a strained marriage, (I’m not doing spoilers here, if you know the background of the era you know of the scandals) Alva made herself a pilar of New York, Newport, Paris and London society in lifestyle including her Charles Frederick Worth wardrobe (you know I enjoyed those descriptions!), the exquisite entertaining….balls, formal dinners…highlighting the developing of the Arts in New York City, making sure her children were exposed to the best of educations, associating with the “right” people (including Oliver Belmont) while respecting everyone no matter their social status…which I greatly admired.  She was always a philanthropist and became very involved in women’s suffrage.  In many ways she reminds me of our own Bertha Palmer as well as others of her time. It gives us details of the women (or The woman, Alva) behind the wealth which was always in the hands of their husbands, fathers, guardians. Fowler’s eye for detail parallels that of Alva’s…her research is impeccable.  Read it you will be transfixed!


A couple of books to give you thoughts on the food of the time…



I’m including a recipe for Beef Wellington, which happens to a favorite of mine to serve at special dinner parties.  This recipe is from





    • a 3 1/2-pound fillet of beef tied with thin sheets of larding fat at room temperature
    • 3/4 pound mushrooms, chopped fine
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 pound pâté de foie gras (available at specialty foods shops) at room temperature
    • 1 pound puff paste or thawed frozen puff pastry plus additional for garnish if desired
    • N/A frozen puff pastry
    • 1 large egg white beaten
    • an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water
    • 1/2 cup Sercial Madeira
    • 2 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in 1 teaspoon cold water
    • 1 teaspoon water
    • 1/2 cup beef broth
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped black truffles (available at specialty food shops) if desired
    • watercress for garnish if desired


    1. In a roasting pan roast the beef in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the thermometer registers 120°F. Let the fillet cool completely and discard the larding fat and the strings. Skim the fat from the pan juices and reserve the pan juices.
    2. In a heavy skillet cook the mushrooms in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until all the liquid they give off is evaporated and the mixture is dry, season them with salt and pepper, and let them cool completely. Spread the fillet evenly with the pâté de foie gras, covering the top and sides, and spread the mushrooms evenly over the pâté de foie gras. On a floured surface roll 1 pound of the puff paste into a rectangle about 20- by 12- inches, or large enough to enclose the fillet completely, invert the coated fillet carefully under the middle of the dough, and fold up the long sides of the dough to enclose the fillet brushing the edges of the dough with some of the egg white to seal them. Fold ends of the dough over the fillet and seal them with the remaining egg white. Transfer the fillet, seam side down to a jelly-roll pan or shallow roasting pan and brush the dough with some of the egg wash. Roll out the additional dough and cut the shapes with decorative cutters. Arrange the cutouts on the dough decoratively, brush them with the remaining egg wash, and chill the fillet for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Bake the fillet in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°, and bake the fillet for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the meat thermometer registers 130°F. for medium-rare meat and the pastry is cooked through. Let the fillet stand for 15 minutes.
    3. In a saucepan boil the reserved pan juices and the Madeira until the mixture is reduced by one fourth. Add the arrowroot mixture, the broth, the truffles, and salt and pepper to taste and cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring, being careful not to let it boil, for 5 minutes, or until it is thickened. Loosen the fillet from the jelly-roll pan, transfer it with two spatulas to a heated platter, and garnish it with watercress. Serve the fillet, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices, with the sauce.

Serves 8.


Photos are from Pinterest credits unknown. 


Oscar de la Renta                          Carolina Herrera                   Oscar de la Renta

In reviewiing New York Fashion Week Fall 2019 Collections I found many print looks to varify my theory that prints are seasonless.  Here are a few from selected collections.

More Wes Gordon’s Carolina Herrera…

And more from Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia for Oscar de la Renta…

Oscar de la Renta RTW Fall 2019

Oscar de la Renta RTW Fall 2019


And Michael Kors….

From Marc Jacobs…

0BAD92E4-F46E-45B1-8144-EB3F893AB694And from Spring Haute Couture….John Galliano for Maison Margiela Artisian Collection…


The article below was first published exclusively for The Randolph Market blog, I am reprinting it with permission from RSM Market founder, guru and guiding force, Sally Schwartz.  To update the post I inserted looks from the current NYFW Fall 2019 Collections.

                                           ALWAYS CLASSIC…ALWAYS NEW


Flower Prints for Fall…..Absolutely!

Collecting Trend Impressions from Nena Ivon

Gone are the days that floral prints are only worn in the spring or summer they are shown for all seasons (or for that matter, any print, think leopard, but that is another post!!!!). The photos above are just a few looks from the Fall 2019 ready-to-wear collections. So why do I feel this is a trend…for exactly this reason….fashion is no longer seasonal. Wardrobes are refreshed by adding a new piece, and yes, that can be a vintage item that you find at the Randolph Street Market. I find it exciting to pair a floral print skirt or pant with a sweater….looks new, fun, fresh. That, to me, is the key to modernity in styling.

Let’s look back a year at a few more pieces that were featured in the Fall 2018 Fashion Week Collections.

Randolph Street Market

Randolph Street Market

And from Oscar de la Renta

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Randolph Street Market

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Randolph Street Market

And more looks from Fall 2018 Fashion Week Collections….

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Randolph Street Market

Randolph Street Market

I adore all of Carolyne Roehm’s books and this is an exquisite one….and made even more special, one of the extraordinary Randolph Street Market vendors gave it to me as a gift at the last Market…..can you imagine anything nicer!!!!  Look to books, magazines and Pinterest for print inspiration.

Randolph Street Market

Now let’s look at a few vintage pieces….feminine, for sure, whether floaty, sheaths, nipped waists and full skirts, all can be adapted to work today. If it’s a vintage “sundress” to wear in cooler seasons style with a cardigan, a blazer, even a leather jacket to give an edgy twist or perhaps drape a contrasting print shawl around your shoulders…..

Randolph Street Market

Randolph Street Market

Randolph Street Market

Randolph Street Market

Randolph Street Market

Randolph Street Market

Randolph Street Market

Lily Pulitzer and her iconic print pieces….

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As you can see, by the endless variety, you will definitely find a floral print to incorporate into your year round wardrobe….do it, you won’t be sorry on a gloomy cold day to brighten yourself with a print dress, blouse, jacket, scarf, shoe or bag. Don’t be afraid to mix your prints although I suggest working with the same color palette….have fun, that is what fashion is all about!!!!

Randolph Street Market

2018 Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda

All photos from Pinterest credits unknown.



27B61BF9-78AE-47D4-B880-950F868AB1E6Just in time for Valentine’s Day, in my opinion any day, I wanted to share the story, and unique beauty, of my friend, Shelley Rosen’s Luxe Bloom. I took a photo of this glorious bouquet to show you the vast variety of colors….beyond one’s imagination.  Here is the exciting news…..go to  or follow them on Instagram @luxebloomroses. Upon check out you, my readers, can use LOVEKISSES15 for a 15% off coupon. Local Chicago clients can pick up your custom rose arrangements in the Luxe Bloom West Loop Office in time for Valentines Day. Act quickly….you want to take advantage of this special offer.

And Luxe Bloom will be on ABC’s WINDY CITY LIVE February 14 at 1pm for their Valentine’s Day Special, Mark your calendars.  You will want to keep Luxe Bloom in your contacts for special occasions or for no reason st all just as a perk to yourself or others, to me the best gift of all!

My photo of this glorious piece done as a present to Shelley that holds a place of honor in her office….Happy  Valentine’s Day!!!!


 I want you to know this isn’t a sponsored post…by now, I hope you know, I only post about things that appeal to me….books, people, collections, and in some cases businesses, this is one such example.  I love the uniqueness of the product and the dedication of Shelley and her staff.  And, bonus, you, dear readers, get a lovely 15% off coupon as a treat for yourself or a special someone!!  Enjoy! (An aside…..I’m thrilled to accept sponsorships, you can email me, or pass the thought along, at for a media kit and price list)

Shelley and I first met many years ago when she was on the Columbia College Chicago’s Board of Trustees. We have kept in touch over the years with her interest (and obtaining the rights to and) in ERTE, one of my favorite artists/designers ever!  Her current passion and “life work” is roses….in every color imaginable, and yes, they are real.

2039454E-2D3C-44E3-8ACA-184A040DDF29 I am thrilled to share this woman-owned Chicago based, Internationally recognized company Luxe Bloom that is changing the way people buy flowers and therefore is making a new market for your home and gifts but also for corporations to rethink design and visuals.  Luxe Bloom has over 100 subscription based luxury operators such as Langham, St. Regis, Waldorf Astoria,  Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Loews, Hilton, Hyatt, Red Door Spas nationwide.



Iconic installations like Saks Fifth Avenue New York city with 100,000 roses May, 2015.

5AF7C03D-D2F6-486F-96C7-8591FF6EF023Official Flower to Walt Disney Company “Beauty and the Beast” Premier, March, 2017. (The four above photos for nenasnotes courtesy of Shelley Rosen.)

I was invited to visit her showroom/workroom/distribution center and I must tell you it was fantasyland….absolutely gorgeous and quite the production! Each hand assembled arrangement must go through several steps each step handled by an expert straight through the packing and shipping process.  The arrangement I chose for myself was a blush rose piece in an antique silvered pedestal vase.  I watched it go through it’s assemblage, fascinating to say the least.  I’ve had it for 8 months and it is as fresh today as the day I got it….talk about “everlasting”!

Some examples of arrangements photos courtesy of Luxe Bloom…



536BBA16-D9BF-4BC7-9F4A-13FFE9873438Shelley in front of boxes and boxes full of roses for a QVC appearance….

And now some photos I took on site at the West Loop Luxe Bloom offices to show you some of the process and some finished pieces that appealed to me  I think my next bouquet will be a nosegay of multi-color roses….love them so much.  Looks like another visit is in order!





Refrigeration….all by color…

4C03BBE7-2B89-496F-AF07-1D1C54DD40C6Prepping the base…413F9650-29E9-4C97-B67D-FC0D92A353E6

Beginning the assembly…

D7698291-4993-47DA-9265-38E1FA82E353Finished bouquet….

Several of my favorites….many one of a kind…possibilities are limitless….04FE5F36-BC5D-4292-9880-72326530F501





And my most favorites…..





Mad for the framed pieces….


“Luxe Bloom Hospitality

Luxe Bloom provides long lasting luxury rose arrangements to luxury businesses (nenasnotes…and, of course, to individuals) on a recurring basis.  Our roses do not require water or refrigeration to keep their natural beauty and can last up to 60 dayS.

  • Subscription contract for every day floral
  • No water, ever
  • Saves Money-up to 30-50%% over fresh-cut contracts
  • Saves Time – with labor associated with floral care
  • Lasts up to 60 days in a hospitality setting and longer in your home
  • BESPOKE design to suit the hotel or other businesses
  • Over 20+colors and rose sizes
  • Allergy free-no aroma
  • Ships direct to business throughout the USA
  • Perfect for Private Suites, in room dining, concierge check in and more
  • Forbes Travel Guide approved as the “Official Flower” of the firm that verifies luxury”         A18D8050-65CD-4920-9FDF-FA8CD81C7760







Happy Chinese New Year…the year of the pig.  I did a post featuring the incredible creativity of GUO PEI and her Haute Couture Collection for Fall 2018. Here are some looks from her Spring 2019 collection. Dramatic, stunningly beautiful, totally innovative and incredibly inspiring. Amazingly creative!!!  Let’s look at a few more pieces from the collection.


Guo Pei Couture Spring 2019




I have always been fascinated with Chinese culture.  One of my Father and Mother’s dear friends was a gentleman by the name of Charlie Lum who owned a Chinese restaurant on Rush Street in Chicago, The Cantonese Cafe.  I adored it from birth until it closed.  Daddy severely cut his hand during the Depression (I wasn’t around as yet), that would be an issue for anyone but, as I have told you, he was an artist so it was a double whammy.  Charlie made sure that my parents had food either at the restaurant or he personally brought dinner to their apartment on Astor Street on a daily basis.  In addition, when Mom was pregnant with me she was quite ill for the entire 9 months and basically the only food she could tolerate was Chinese…Charlie to the rescue yet again.


As a little girl I was totally fascinated with the color and glamour of the restaurant, the food, of course, and adored being allowed to visit the kitchen and visit my friend the cook…he looked like a Genie, was huge (think Sumo wrestler huge!) toothless, didn’t speak English but every time he saw me he would break into a huge grin and carry me around on his immense shoulders. I adored him, I don’t think I ever knew his name. Once in awhile, on special occasions, we would be invited to Charlie’s apartment, upstairs of the restaurant, for an evening of an extravagant dinner.  And on special Chinese Holidays, such as today’s, we would go to Chinatown with Charlie to celebrate where he was honored as a major celebrity, which he was.  They are very, very fond memories.


Happy Chinese New Year…perhaps something Chinese for dinner…sounds perfect to me!!!!

All photos found on Pinterest credits unknown




Early last year I was asked by Sally Schwartz, Founder/Owner of Randolph Street Market  which is celebrating its sixteenth year in 2019, to do two monthly exclusive posts for the RSM newsletter she has given me permission to share some of them with you in 2019, starting with DENIM.  I have added a few more photos to my original piece.  Enjoy!

nenasnotes Fashion Trends Exclusively for The Randolph Street Market reprinted with Sally Schwartz permission.  All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown.


A quote from FIT’s  DENIM: Fashion’s Frontier, the cover is seen in the photo above.

“Denim is one of the world’s favorite fabrics, and today it accounts for the largest segment of the clothing industry. The market for jeans alone is worth over 55 billion dollars. Accompanying a recent exhibition at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, this handsome book explores the history of denim and examines the continually evolving relationship between it and high fashion.

Prized for its durability and strength, denim began as an ideal fabric for workwear, most famously in the clothing produced by Levi Strauss & Co. for fortune hunters during the 19th-century California gold rush. Over the past 160 years, however, film, television, and advertising have helped transform denim into a symbol of youth, rebellion and sex. The fashion industry has also played a large role in the expansion of denim into casual and couture clothing.”





Quite a transition from it’s lowly beginnings as overalls worn by the men and woman seeking their fortunes in the Gold Rush of the latter part of the 19th Century. Levi Strauss saw the need for a sturdy fabric…denim…and sturdy closers to hold the fabric in place…thus “jeans” were born, first in the form of overalls.


Seeking their fortunes….then…


And now….


In my opinion, in my youth, denim was only worn to garden, maybe go grocery shopping but never seen as a fashion item until the “Hippie Movement” of the 1960’s. Everyone, at the time, thought that it was the beginning of everyone wearing “uniforms” that uniform being traditional jeans. This was not the case, think embellishments, think the “flower child” and individuality came to the forefront and quite frankly has never looked back. It might be “uniform” but only the fabric, not the fashion. People want acceptance but with their own twist. For years I would think….denim is dead instead of long live denim!



Obviously the latter is the case and it just gets stronger and more trend worthy. Take for example the entire denim collection Karl Lagerfeld did for Chanel in 1996.
He is quoted as saying Mlle Chanel thought Mini skirts were dreadful as was denim….there you have it…the rest as they say is fashion history (or fashion myth!)



When I worked with Victoria Beckham, in 2008, she was only doing sunglasses and we introduced her jeans which became status symbols so much so that I “paid” our models in the jeans they wore for the personal appearance, I must admit a rather clever marketing ploy on my part…gorgeous young models wearing the product out and about didn’t hurt sales!!!! The jeans all had embroidered stars on the back hip pocket….the item of the season. Her talent has blossomed and I might add, she was a dream to work with, loved her.


8015A753-A7E5-444C-BC06-9EB2615EE1D1Claire McCardell’s popover dress of 1942 featured in the FIT Denim exhibition and book

6B9FF1DB-2B2A-4C5A-A565-63787C589C55“Rosie the Riveter” interpretation 1942-1945 also featured in the FIT Denim exhibition and book.


Junya Wataniabe dress 2002 (detail is on cover of the FIT exhibition book)


From the creativity of the Antwerp designers 2005

Vivianne Westwood’s denim interpretations…


John Galliano for Dior 2002…


And wearing denim 2009…

0FB84D00-8392-46CB-B67C-0A9A15D4FAA4Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen 2016.

Celebrities have always wore denim….

Randolph Street Market
Then….Marilyn Monroe in the film The Misfits

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Randolph Street Market
Now…Rihanna out and about.

The 2018 Collections featured denim in its many guises…..


Randolph Street Market


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Randolph Street MarketBBBA72AF-3542-4B79-A639-4E9D59C2E535The King of American sportswear, Ralph Lauren, at his beginnings and at the finale of his extraordinary 50th anniversary extravaganza 2018….I’m obsessed with the tuxedo jacket and jeans…what could be more modern….



Or perhaps a patchwork quilt…..the possibilities of working with “blue jeans” is obviously endless…I can hardly wait to see what our designing geniuses will create in future collections with what was considered “workman’s” cloth…..stay tuned….





I have always been enamored with pearls and their association with fashion but there is so much more to them…the history is fascinating…from natural pearls to cultured, from Haute Couture, to Opera, to Royalty, to Art, to Romance, and on and on….whether a single strand or a extravagant bib the pearl has so many interpretations….let’s look at some.

The natural pearl is harvested by mostly female ame pearl divers in Japan






Natural pearls…

”Cultured pearls are real, genuine pearls that are formed inside a living oyster with human intervention. When a nucleus is surgically implanted in the oyster’s flesh, the oyster recognises it as an irritant and begins to coat it with smooth layers of nacre. Over time, the growing pearl gets completely covered with the beautiful iridescent substance we call nacre, or mother-of-pearl. All pearls sold today are cultured pearls, with the exception of vintage estate jewellery and heirloom pieces that are more than 80 years old.“

“Natural pearls, on the other hand, are formed naturally by free-range “wild” oysters living at sea without any encouragement from humans. When a natural irritant such as a fragment of shell, a scale or a parasite becomes lodged inside an oyster or mollusk, it gets coated with layer upon layer of nacre. Contrary to popular belief, grains of sand do not form pearls. If sand were enough of an irritant, our ocean floors would be littered with millions of natural pearls! Natural pearls are actually very rare, mostly because pearl-producing species of mollusks were nearly hunted to extinction with most natural beds of pearl-bearing oysters depleted by over-harvesting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, natural pearls are extremely rare. Only 1 in about 10,000 wild oysters will yield a pearl and of those, only a small percentage achieve the size, shape and colour desirable to the jewellery industry.” Source: Raw Pearls


Kokichi Mikimoto

“Mikimoto learned that Akoya oysters produced the best pearls. He explored methods of introducing a particle into the flesh of the oyster to stimulate secretions of “nacre” that build up in hundreds of thousands of layers, creating a lustrous pearl. He overcame many failed experiments and challenges of nature, from oyster-eating octopi to a disastrous “red tide” of bacteria that threatened the survival of his oyster beds.” Be sure to go the Mikimoto website, linked here, for the extraordinary story of the originator of the cultured pearl. Source: Mikimoto Pearls

Pearls in history….

A mosaic….


Queen Elizabeth I


Whoopi Goldberg hosting the Oscars several years ago…gowned as Queen Elizabeth I

Vermeer’s The Girl With The Pearl Earring


A bejeweled  Maharajah



Georges Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles, The Pearl Fishers….one of my favorite opera’s, of course the highlight, the duet, it is definitely my favorite operatic piece!!

Queen Victoria…


Mata Hari probably wearing Paul Poiret….


A couple of showgirls in costume…..

Of course, Gabrielle Chanel…..always mixing real and faux



Lagerfeld for Chanel….love these!!!


I’m obsessed with this look from the 1930’s


As well as this one…


The iconic Audrey Hepburn in the iconic black dress and pearls in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

First Ladies and their “pearls”….cultured and faux….



Liz with Queen Mary’s beyond exquisite La Peregrina pearl sold at auction for $11.8 million


Liz with more pearls…..

Marie Antoinette’s pear and diamond pendant sold at auction for $32 million



Something in a tiara perhaps from the English Crown Jewels….0371ED77-015F-4DBF-A285-08AA77FBA8DB

Gloria Vanderbilt at home…


The modernity of this classic on Rihanna…


Masses of pearls


The elegant embroidery of Lasage for a Haute Couture piece…


Nena in a treasured Adolfo jacket with wide pearl beading around neck, down the front of the jacket and on the cuffs…the beading,  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago


A few more books, one non-fiction the others fiction.


All photos, unless otherwise noted, from Pinterest photo credits unknown.