FASHION REMEMBRANCE: HUBERT DE GIVENCHY

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.

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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.

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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!!

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MONDAY MUSINGS: HOLIDAY PIES

 

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I love pie!!!!!! Actually any pie but particularly Holiday pie such as pumpkin, mincemeat, pecan and…..you name it and I’ll eat it. Yum, yum, yum… Now about making the pie crust, I’m not good at it at all. Mom did the best pie crusts you would ever want to eat..I would work side by side with her (from the time I was little) and I either handled it too much or too little so, guess what I do, I buy Pillsbury piecrust, yes, I do!!!!  Now you know my secret. I do make graham cracker, vanilla wafer, and ginger snap crusts but in today’s post most of the pies are shortening crusts with decorative details. I thought you might enjoy trying one or two for your Holiday pies.  I’m including a few recipes as well  Happy Holiday’s!

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The cartoon above from  The New Yorker….

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Suggested toppings for pumpkin pies use your own mixture for your filling, I always use Libby’s pumpkin as shown.
B11AAC5C-2404-4E47-9141-62BEE16767810727D7F6-C863-4FBC-B279-1A44CEC982339AC80321-FDE2-4A18-BE25-4C0D73248EB354881256-B3C0-45C8-B0D7-5E6396E0F8D6FDE046E5-A053-44EB-A420-FC2A3DAC1406   I always add more brandy, a bit of lemon zest and juice to the mix and use either None Such or Crosse and Blackwell. I serve with hard sauce, I make my own but you can tart up (add brandy) to store bought.  Above photos are suggested special toppings for mincemeat or fruit pies.

Two more glorious toppings…the first is one I am doing for my mince pie, I’ll share my finished pie on Instagram,

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TOMMY’S APPLE-PUMPKIN PIE

FILLING:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup water

2Tablespoons butter

3 cups Granny Smith apples peeled and sliced

3/4 cup packed canned oumpkin

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg beaten

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare your own pie crust for a 9” pie.

In a skillet combine brown sugar, corn starch, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, add the vanilla, water, butter and bring to a boil stirring.  The mixture will thicken creating a caramel sauce.  Add the apples and continue cooking over medium heat for 4-5 minutes stirring constantly.  Pour mixture into the unbaked pie crust and set aside.  Whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, egg, 1/2 teaspoon, nutmeg, all spice and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Pour over the apple layer.  Bake at 375 for 50 minutes until a knife comes out clean.  Cool completely before cutting.  This pie should be refrigerated.  Serve with whipped cream

TOMMY’S PECAN PIE

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Prepare your own pastry pie crust

Beat together with a beater

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup dark corn syrup

Mix in 1 cup pecans

Pour into pastry shell.  Bake until set and pastry is browned.  Bake in 400 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes.

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Isn’t this glorious….let’s all strive to create something fun, pretty, perhaps a bit over the top, why not it’s the Holidays, the most special time of the year!  Most of all relax and enjoy the season!

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All photos from Pinterest, photo credits unknown as is the top illustration. Above  illustration from Norman Rockwell.

 

 

 

SATURDAY MUSINGS: BOOTH ONE THE PODCAST!

 

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Update….Booth One

 

I recently had the MOST incredible experience that I want to share with you  I was asked by my new friend, Betsy Ingram, to be interviewed on the BOOTH ONE podcast. I found the idea intriguing and while I am very use to being interviewed and doing interviews, they are usually for print. In addition, I have been wanting to do my own podcast, to expand on nenasnotes and nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, for a long time and was anxious to see how it all works.  All I can tell you is it was a total joy.  Gary Zabinski is an unbelievable interviewer…he had, most certainly, done his homework on me.  The interview, let’s call it a conversation between friends (which we now are!) was held in their apartment  we had a casual dialogue before the taping which was followed by wine and cheese….my faves!!  I don’t usually do anything other than my own musings but wanted to give you ALL the info on this amazing podcast the only thing missing was not meeting co-host, Frank Tourangeau, next time!!  I’m am happy to share the interview with you.  Enjoy!!!!!

Fashion world icon Nena Ivon joins us in the Booth to talk about her astounding career, her varied interests in all things cultural, and so much more!

A legend in Chicago, Nena Ivon was the fashion and special events director at Saks Fifth Avenue from 1956 to 2009, where among other things, she produced all of the fashion shows, handled publicity, styled the windows and dressed the mannequins.

She has worked with hundreds of the leading fashion designers and style icons of the 20th and 21st centuries, including many great models. Nena talked about the quality one-on-one time she got to spend with these designers, picking them up at the airport when they came to town for Saks events.

She is currently a member of the executive board of the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, and a faculty member in Fashion Studies at Columbia College Chicago (where the Nena Ivon Collection is archived).

She is also the author of a marvelous blog called Nena’s Notes. We love the way she organized the blog. As you will learn in more detail on the episode, each day of the week has a different theme to reflect things she’s passionate about. Monday is for profiles of people, starting with a Proust-like questionnaire, then an interview. A favorite topic for her is how people reinvent themselves when they leave one career, such as the models she worked with. Tuesday is for book reviews. Wednesday is musings, which can go in a number of different directions. Thursday is for collections, not just of fashion, but also other beautiful objects. Friday is for Fashion. Spotlights on designers she’s worked with or the current season. Check it out. There is something for everyone. We are excited that she is working on a podcast and a book!

Amazingly enough, Nena has a direct connection to the real Booth One and the impetus for our show. Back in the day at Saks, they would hold two fashion shows a week at The Pump Room at lunch time. Then there were conversations in Booth One with stars, Broadway tryout cast members, authors, and local personalities. Nena led a number of these interviews. Oh, how we wish those were recorded!

Speaking of Booth One, she is a huge fan of theatre, ballet, and opera. Her favorite medium is musical theatre!

Learn who Nena’s favorite designers are, including the great Bob Mackie, who she says is a brilliant designer of clothes as well as costumes. Gary tells Nena that he has never missed an episode of Project Runway. Her favorite designer to come out of that show is Christian Seriano and she tells us why.

Check out this glam photo of Nena with Christian LaCroix. The photographer, Robert Carl, said of the picture, ““I love this shot of two sophisticates, Nena Ivon and Christian Lacroix. It reminds me of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” even though she is the high priestess of Chicago fashion and he is the darling of Paris.”

We talk about the new Library of Congress National Screening Room, which has films from 1890-1999. They are being digitized so we can all check them out. The goal is to have their vast collection reach the largest possible audience.

Nena talks about Guo Pei’s collection at Paris fashion week. Wow. Check out her stunning and show-stopping designs on her website.

Kiss of Death: Dorcas B. Reilley

As you know, we end every episode with a celebration of a life. Our New York correspondent and good friend, Robbie Young, suggested Dorcas B. Riley, the inventor of green bean casserole! She was a supervisor in Campbell’s Soup test kitchen and led the group to come up with a great dish that could be made with things already in most people’s pantries. Made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, it offered “convenience with a touch of glamour.” Here is the original recipe, still being made today. It is estimated that it will be served in 20 million homes this coming Thanksgiving. Our producer’s grandmother added some Velveeta, which made it even better. Read her story here.

About BOOTH ONE

In the heyday of the Pump Room at the Ambassador East Hotel here in Chicago, Booth One was the most sought after seat in the house, as the privileged celebrities and other luminaries (check out the amazing list here) who were seated there could be seen from the lobby, the bar and the rest of the room.  A place to see and to be seen.*

On our BOOTH ONE podcast (formerly known as TalkSports), host Gary Zabinski and his rotating co-hosts and guests engage in the art of lively conversation as we attempt to revive that feeling of being in the best seat in the house. We talk about our recent “Booth One” encounters with brilliant artists,celebrities, world-class events, and behind-the scenes experiences.  Our Booth One conversations cover a variety of topics, including current events and the esoteric. We also send our hosts to some of the more exotic places and events in this great metropolis and beyond, looking for Booth One-type experiences to share with our listeners.

Anything is fair game on BOOTH ONE, reflective of the kinds of conversations that must have taken place in the legendary Pump Room’s first-class seating.  Be a fly on the wall we attempt to recreate the magic, mystery and mischief of the BOOTH ONE experience for your amusement and edification.

Send us photos and descriptions of your Booth One experiences and we’ll share them with our listeners on the podcast and here on the website. Your reservation to BOOTH ONE is waiting!

*The original Booth One from the ’40s is on display in a wonderful exhibit at the Chicago History Museum called The Secret Lives of Objects.  There is a colorful replica in the theater at the UP Club at Second City.

Gary Zabinski (Host):

Gary’s career in the entertainment industry spans four decades as a producer, director, venue manager and promoter in theatre, music, dance, opera, cabaret and comedy.

He has an Actors’ Equity card from his days as a professional stage manager and emergency performer on and off-Broadway and in the legendary Chicago theatre community.

His passions include golf, the American Musical Theatre, Stephen King, the US Supreme Court, cooking for friends, red wine, the Cubs, the Blackhawks, and a frosty half volka/half gin martini (a “OO7”).

Gary is the product of a well-rounded education from a slightly obscure Midwestern liberal arts college. And the school of hard knocks. His friends refer to him as The Gangster.

Betsy Ingram (Producer):

Betsy has worked in Chicago theatre as a producer, director, actor, and general manager. She currently works with the company that oversees production for concerts and events at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Past positions include founder and Artistic Director of the Thresholds Theatre Arts Project, General Manager for Chicago Shakespeare Company, Producing Director for New Crime Productions, and Executive Director of Blind Parrot Productions.

She directed The Remembered City featuring Tony Fitzpatrick and Steve Earle, which was performed as part of the Traffic Series at Steppenwolf Theatre then was selected to be presented at the Galway Arts Festival. She is the president of Booth One Productions, a nonprofit arts organization that produces this podcast as well as theatre projects such as the world premiere adaptation of Stuart Dybek’s The Coast of Chicago, co-produced with Kristan Schmidt and Walkabout Theatre, presented at Loookingglass Theatre. Betsy is a graduate of Stanford University.

Frank Tourangeau (Co-Host):

Frank’s life has been spent in the arts and in arts education; teaching, performing and directing both at the high school and college level. After getting a BA in English from Elmhurst College and an MA in Theater from the University of Illinois, he started teaching at University High School in Normal, IL where he coached the speech team there to three consecutive IHSA state speech championships. He then moved back to the Chicago area and taught at Fenton High School in Bensenville, running the Speech and Drama Dept. His 5 years there culminated in a state championship in speech and a few weeks later a state championship in drama, a feat that has been unequaled.

After taking time off to get a Ph.D from Southern Illinois University, he began teaching and directing at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL where he directed such productions as Jesus Christ Superstar, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Hair, Little Shop of Horrors, A View From the Bridge, Summer and Smoke, Dames at Sea, The Elephant Man, ER, Grease, and where he coached the C.O.D. speech team to 5 National Championships.

He has now become somewhat of a world traveler with recent trips to Cuba, Turkey, Russia, Montenegro, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Spain, Iceland, among others. Plans for later this year include Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. Frank is married and lives in the Chicago suburbs. He goes way back with our producer and has many many stories!!!

 

 

FRIDAY MUSINGS: THE MAGNIFICENT MILE LIGHTS FESTIVAL REPEAT!

                          THE MAGNIFICENT MILE LIGHTS FESTIVAL

The following is a repost from November 16, 2016 that I thought was worth resharing.  The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is tomorrow, Saturday, November 17th for the 27th Festival when the City becomes even more magical.  I’m also repeating my Hot Carrot Mold recipe. to include on your Thanksgiving Dinner menu….I always get raves on it…if there is any left it keeps well and freezes perfectly in individual portions…hope I get some to take home, fingers crossed

Enjoy….

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On Saturday, November 19th, BMO Harris Bank presents the 25th Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

Can that be possible?  Let’s take a brief look back even further to see where it all began. I was sitting in the office of the General Manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hal Clyne, in a meeting with the Display Director  (would now be called Visual Merchandising Director), Joe Kreis, discussing the upcoming Holiday season.  At the time, and for many years, I managed the Holiday Boutique which housed the best of the best of the Store’s merchandise that I personally edited and styled for the shop.  It started the day after Thanksgiving and went away on Christmas Eve.  Joe was very excited about new information he had just received.  He used a display company to buy props and have props made for the many windows we had on Michigan Avenue (the Store was then located on Michigan Avenue and Erie Street it moved to 700 North Michigan Avenue in 1990). The company was Silvestri.  Joe and Mr. Silvestri were fast friends and Mr. Silvestri had told him about a discovery he had made while in Italy.  Strings of tiny lights… At the time we had a lighted outline of a Christmas tree that went from the main floor to the fifth floor (the addition hadn’t been built). This tree was sold to Charles A. Stevens on State Street. What Joe wanted to do was festoon the elm trees in front of the Store with these lights….well the rest, as they say, is history, to say the least!  Hal said go for it although he hesitated about the cost if memory serves me correctly, each tree was around $250, but it might have been  less. The year, 1959!!!!

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Obviously, this beautiful sight has not only grown in Chicago and covers all of Michigan Avenue trees but the bee lights are used all over the world.  While sitting in another meeting, this time with the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, talking about the lighting of the trees and how you would walk out in the evening and the trees were all glowing.  It was suggested that something more special, more elaborate happen, that is how the Lights Festival happened…starting small and growing to the exceptional special event it is today.

Since Thanksgiving is next week I wanted to share a recipe that is tradition in the Ivon household.  Very easy and truly delicious.

From Nena’s recipe box

Hot Carrot Mold

Grease a ring mold well, preheat oven to 350.

Mix the following as listed:

1 cup Crisco (regular Crisco not buttered and must be Crisco do not substitute, don’t worry it doesn’t taste like Crisco!)

1 cup dark brown sugar

Add 2 eggs

2 cups grated carrots

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cup flour sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon baking soda

Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake. Loosen around the center hole of the pan and around sides turn out onto a platter.

Note:  You can make the batter the day before serving and keep in the refrigerator warm to room temperature and bake.  Is great for leftovers…just heat until heated through.  Also freezes well.  I usually cut into individual servings if I freeze any leftovers.

Enjoy Turkey Day!!

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WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: HALLOWEEN STORIES

F2CD6998-FFAF-4173-B2F7-41F8C33A07F6I have mentioned that I am asking my friends to be guest contributors to nenasnotes    so on this special day, Halloween,  I am featuring several stories from Virginia Heaven, a historian, teacher, author, curator, raconteur and very good friend, which she has entitled “Halloween: Culture Is Everything”.  You are in for a treat.

6DBC8FC5-499C-4B87-A986-51C3751BF989 This vitrine is up all year in Virginia’s home.  She likes to use her huge collections differently each year and, of course, constantly adds new items…that is what a collector does!  Speaking of collections be sure to check out the Halloween blog post I did for the  Randolph Street Market.

Story #1

Now, I love Halloween (well, the sweet kind). It’s magical because it’s really fun and kind of scary for me all at the same time. I’m from London and in my day (and neighborhood) Halloween was not celebrated. Although there is ample evidence that it was celebrated all over the UK as All Hallows Eve.

When I first came to America, Halloween fascinated me and I gradually began to gather a few decorations, and I loved pumpkin carving. But most of all I loved the children coming around to get their candy. All those kids dressed as their heroes or some fantastic creature, how fun is that? And the tiny ones are so funny!

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When my cousin (who is like my sister) had her first three kids, they lived in a small English town where there was no Halloween celebrations either. So, I would pack up a box in September of all the fun Halloween things I could find and post it off (all big boxes were sent by ship then, remember?) and her kids were the only ones in the town to have a Halloween party which made them very popular! They are all in their 30s now but still remember the box arriving each year and the excitement of opening it to find what was inside! By the time her last two babies were born (now in their 20s) Halloween was popular in Britain too, but I still sent boxes of American Halloween tchotchkes for the parties!

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Story #2

I was dating a guy (who later became my husband, but after this stunt it was by the skin of his teeth!) who loves haunted houses at Halloween. He insisted that I would find it really fun, it was part of his Halloween “tradition” that he wanted to share with me. We found one in Milwaukee that looked pretty good and off we went.

I began to have misgivings when I realized it was a derelict building entirely made over into a pretty spooky looking house. We entered. The actors were excellent, the scenes superb, the lighting magnificent and after the first “scare” I didn’t stop screaming! At first my date, and presumably the actors, thought it was all in good fun, until it was evident I was actually traumatized. I’d never seen anything like this; I put my coat over my head (sobbing) and was led outside. The people in line were very excited when they saw the state I was in—“wow! It must be great!” I heard someone say…

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Needless to say I have never entered another Haunted House, and after about five years I forgave the man I married, but I still shudder at the memory.

Story #3

I have been to Mexico twice to celebrate The Day of the Dead. The first time was after the loss of my Father and a beloved Aunt. I went to Mexico City by chance was still grieving but, I had a wonderful time. It was colorful with alters everywhere and in the Zócalo there were orange marigolds and magenta cockscomb flowers laid out in patterns: beautiful. It was a wonderful and strangely healing experience because there was an acceptance of the inevitability of death rather than a resistance to loss.

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Some years later I was in Oaxaca at the same time. That time was very different, just as moving but more visceral. I was taken to a graveyard where families sat around graves sitting with and laying out offerings of food to the dead. It was very dark and the graves were mounds of earth with simple crosses. Death felt present rather than removed under heavy stone monuments. As the night progressed more and more people arrived and they brought candles and flowers and eventually it was as light as day in the candlelight and the atmosphere was quietly celebratory. It was a very beautiful and soulful experience.

1C1E9001-D7CF-49CF-8B83-D36DD3A46AC7989C7D1E-40FF-4599-B860-1BF26425BD000E22D125-1FFC-46F7-9F96-DD2D77FEB59A37AF4589-C754-4D30-AF64-205E86D503F7All above photos courtesy of Virginia Heaven….a million thanks for the wondeful Halloween memories and the awesome decorations….what a way to begin my guest posts!!!!!

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Above photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

Love these charming plates from Williams-Sonoma.

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Hope I get these in my treat bag……

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PROFILE: SWAN LAKE JOFFREY BALLET STYLE

 

68FAED15-9001-4ACF-883F-EA75CFAAC1D5       Swans in a peaceful country setting on an exquisite fall day.  Photo credit, Nena’s iPhone.

i have always been enamored with the beauty of swans as well as adoring ballet since I was held on my Father’s lap to see the majesty of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake, created in 1875-76, the first of his classic trio of ballets that include Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.  Swan Lake, an initial failure, has become one of the most popular of all ballets.  I have seen dozens of performances of this well known piece and until now my all time favorite interpretation was with Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev….now tied for first place is the current production of Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagining of the story of a swan brought to life and love by her prince.

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There are so many elements that I adore about this version, I must say Wheeldon’s imagination, in all he creates, is at the top of my list.  From the Joffrey’s reimagined Nutcracker, to the critically acclaimed  musical An American In Paris, his vision takes us to places not seen in dance productions before and quite frankly isn’t that what a choreographer should do…in my opinion, yes, they should. Wheeldon along with Joffrey’s dynamic The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater and forward thinking, President and CEO, Greg Cameron have succeeded in making my favorite ballet company world class. The Company can, most certainly, make us proud on the world stage.  When Robert Joffrey and Robert Arpino brought the Joffrey to Chicago, as a visiting company, I fell under their spell….fortunately that spell has not dissipated over the years it has just gotten stronger and as a native Chicagoan and lover of ballet I am so proud they are ours!!!

Using the background of the Paris Opera Ballet and Impressionists Edgar Degas and Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec to set the scene, we are transported into a beautiful world of sets and costumes (watch for an upcoming posts on the costuming for the Joffrey’s Spring World Premiere of Anna Karinina).  The principles, and there are several couples in the two week run which ends on Sunday, October 28th, are breathtakingly brilliant, the dual role of Odette and Odile, one of the most intricate in any ballet, is matched to perfection by the Corps de Ballet….gorgeous!  Let’s not forget the male dancers…beyond perfection. The following photos were taken at our unparalleled, The Art Institute of Chicago, in front of some the iconic Impressionists paintings.

Ballerinas Dara Holmes, Yumi Kanazawa and Brooke Linford photograph by Cheryl Mann.

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The painting in the background of the photos that hangs, along with other superb Degas works at The Art Institute of Chicago.

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Another of our Degas paintings that inspired the production. Both above images found on Pinterest no photo credit available

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Jeraldine Mendoza and Grieg Matthews photograph by Cheryl Mann.

My thanks to The Art Institute of Chicago’s Gloria Groom and Nora Gainer and Joffrey’s Vicki Crain for giving me permission to share these images with you, I am forever grateful!

I have to admit I had tears of pure joy at the end of the opening night performance and to read the glowing reviews, by all media, was gratifying to say the least….I would have lost all respect from the critics if they been anything less. The long standing ovation and shouts of bravo were beyond perfection.  Run don’t walk to get your tickets for a not to be missed cultural experience, it ends Sunday, October 28th.

 I had to share the following photos with you of the daughter, of my dear friends Stephanie and Cory Lake, Odette (you read that correctly and yes, she is named for our heroine).  I did a week of posts on Stephanie in 2016, check the nenasnotes archives they are fascinating insights into a creative mind. That mind has translated to the Lake’s precious, about to be 5 year old, child. Don’t tell her but I am doing a special Birthday post for her.  Here a taste of our budding ballerina, prepare yourself Joffrey Ballet!!!!!

Looks more Odile than a Odette….versatile our little Diva at ballet class and in her swan print skirt at Pre-School….the theme continues….photos courtesy of Stephanie Lake.

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Could there be a book any more perfect, I think not!!!!!

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Both swan photos found on Pinterest photo credits unknown. 

 

BEGINNING YEAR THREE…….

 

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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!

 

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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.

imageMY MODEL CREW IN THE 1960’S

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

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

Tuesday….Books, books, books.  I’m afraid I have a book fetish, especially fashion books. It seems to be my goal in life to own every fashion book printed!!! So we will start there.  I do read a lot, particularly historical fiction, I love fiction about “real” people, we will go that route as well.  Nothing like a good English mystery but don’t mind a “Cozy” once in awhile and can never miss Louis Penny’s newest (who doesn’t love Armand!).  So much to read so little time.29100F02-D395-45F5-8790-EB78839B8F4E

A SAMPLING OF MY CHANEL LIBRARY

 

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

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CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM TIFFANY STAINED GLASS

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

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A FRIEND’S EXQUISITE SOLARIUM

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

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

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

FASHION FORWARD: NEW YORK SPRING 2019 PART 3

Here we are in week two of NYFW when most of the “big” guns presenting, lots of new designers on board with established houses. Do they continue in the tradition of the brand, bring a freshness or go in a totally different direction and how about those with their originators and those who have come back to New York….let’s see.  Several showed in outside venues and carried on in the rain….

What am I seeing thus far….chrome yellow, black and white alone or together, polka dots, color blocking, splashes of boho, ethnic prints, pattern mixing, feathers, a bit of red, a smattering of all shades of pink and now a splash of ink green.  Pretty much classic silhouettes, seasonless garments and lots of interesting shoes and boots (for Spring!) Shall these trends continue through NYFW, London, Milan and Paris…the next few weeks will give us the answers.

RODARTE

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CAROLINA HERRERA

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Carolina Herrera RTW Spring 2019

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OSCAR DE LA RENTA

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PROENZA SCHOULER

PRABAL GURUNG

All photos from Pinterest credits unknown.

BOOKNOTES: THE MASTERPIECE

THIS REVIEW IS POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 11th A DAY WE MUST NEVER FORGET. I DEDICATE IT TO THOSE WHO PERISHED, THE FIRST RESPONDERS AND THOSE OF US WHO REMAIN TO HONOR THEIR MEMORY.  WE ARE A VERY STRONG COUNTRY AND WE KNOW WE ARE SURVIVORS, NEW YORK CITY IS OUR BEACON OF LIGHT AND THIS STORY TELLS THE REBIRTH, OF TIME LONG GONE, OF AN EXQUISITE STRUCTURE THAT HAS SURVIVED DESPITE ALL ODDS, JUST LIKE ALL OF US!

563325A4-17ED-4593-B696-30915C471F00CB4C5E58-A3BF-4823-BD84-BA887661BA67                               Fiona Davis photograph by Kristen Jensen.

Having read The Dollhouse and The Address, both of which I absolutely loved, I didn’t want them to end, I waited with baited breath for Fiona Davis’ next book, The Masterpiece, to arrive.  I most certainly wasn’t disappointed  This time, like both of her other books, the story takes place in a landmark building in New York, the Grand Central Terminal.

It is the story, told in two time periods (seems to a trend in many of the novels I have been reading, wasn’t a fan, but am adjusting to them…this one definitely works!), of the art school housed in the Grand Central Terminal in New York, one of my favorite NYC structures.  You know how much I love historical fiction…this is a fascinating little known story.

Our two protagonists, Clara Darden, a noted illustrator, artist and teacher of the period, whose history has been lost to time, and Virginia Clay, recently divorced who has taken a job in the Information Booth at the dilapidated Terminal, tell stories of their different eras, one the late 1920’s and the other the 1970’s. While the stories are years apart, the way women were (are still?) treated in the workplace and in life in general isn’t much different.  Their stories intertwine with the downturn of their work place, the once glamorous GCT, and to my mind’s eye it is a tale of the arts during the Depression, how they survived, their decline in the ‘70’s and the promise of a light at “the end of the tunnel”, telling us that things can, indeed, get better, that beauty and confidence can be restored whether it is a building or a person and how our two women survive.  We follow them through love affairs, betrayed trust, found and lost friendships, power struggles (no matter your social class!), in other words, the real world.  We find the determination of one to find more about the other…the story we want to continue.  Ms. Davis is a master of mixing periods, giving us a story of architecture, New York City’s history and making the past come alive through the structures we come to admire and love

Relationships come and go, grow or die, new jobs, new directions, the promise of talent in many guises, so many life lessons in one work of fiction…I really enjoyed the book…I can’t wait to see what’s next in Ms. Davis’ oeuvre!!!

42nd Street entrance

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A cross section rendering of the building….love this and it relates perfectly to our story

The Great Hall and it’s restored constellations painted vaulted ceiling, it has always been one of my favorite places in NYC.

I try to go to the legendary Oyster Bar as often as I can, love the ambiance, the decor, the delicious good food…..oysters, of course!!!!

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Many a time I walked down this passageway to my train, The Twentieth Century…legendary, what train travel should be!! Oh my, another post…..why not!!!!

Commuting Ramp
Grand Central Station, Manhattan, New York

The catalogue for the Grand Central School of Art, one of the art instructors in the studio.  Opened in 1922 and closed in 1944 reported to have enrolled up to 900 students the year before it closed according to the author’s notes

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The restoration and rededication in 1998 was led by architecture firm Breyer Blinder Platt and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and brought the derelict building back to its glory, preserving it for the ages. This looks like yet another book I need to add to my collection.  I am mad for nostalgia, but you know that!!!

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And then there is this….Sir Paul McCarthy impromptu performance at Grand Central Terminal last week!!!!

All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

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