I was deeply saddened to get an email yesterday letting me know one of my exceptional models, Olivia Fondrevay, had passed away. This news came just weeks after I learned about another of my fabulous model’s death earlier this month, Eleanor Monte Sano Pappas, (please check the archives for the post I did on Eleanor on October 24, 2016) Both were not only glamorous, kind, family focused but totally professional and dreams on the runways of the many shows they did with me and other Chicago retailers.
I was overwhelmed with the tribute Olivia’s daughter, Jennifer, shared with us. I asked if I could reprint it, she agreed. It is a very special ode to Olivia and, I think in the world we are living in, even more poignant. I can not thank her enough for sharing her incredible thoughts on her special Mother.
Here are Jennifer’s words….
“How do you grieve when you can’t gather? I never even thought I would have to ponder this question. How do you honor someone’s life when the traditional rituals for doing so have been halted? For distant family and friends, how do you let someone know that you love them and wish them peace when you can’t be by their bedside?
How do you make sure that they don’t slip away without proper acknowledgment?
You write about them – you shout about them. You don’t just honor their contributions to this planet, you declare them. You write long and hard and often about the impact that they had on your life. With formal funeral gatherings delayed indefinitely, we must take on the important responsibility of honoring those we lose during this period of time. We must ensure that the impact they had is not lost when all attention is focused elsewhere, and people are prohibited from gathering to collectively share their sorrow and condolences.
I am writing about my mother, Sharon Olivia Fondrevay Sefert, in the pages of LinkedIn because she had such an outsized impact on my career success. Some of that success I acknowledge readily and some I admit begrudgingly (come on, what daughter hasn’t had that argument with her mother saying she had no clue, only to appreciate later she was right all along?). I am sharing her passing on LinkedIn because her impact was widespread. So many of my girlfriends shared with me over the years what a powerful influence my mother had on their careers. I wish to impart the wisdom she shared that had such a huge contribution to so much career success.
To understand all of this you need to know one key piece: I have the unique distinction of having had a fashion-model mom.
Olivia with Jennifer
Lest you think my mom was one of those supermodels who didn’t roll out of bed for less than $20k, let me be clear: a fashion model in Chicago from the mid-1960s through the late ‘80s, treated modeling like a job. You didn’t decide what you would roll out of bed for, you just did it. She made her living doing the bread and butter of Chicago modeling: catalog shoots for places like Wickes Furniture; trunk shows and runway jobs at stores that have long since disappeared, such as Bonwit Teller, I. Magnin, Carson Pirie Scott, and Marshall Fields.
Being a fashion model’s daughter brought with it both the glamour you would expect (I have some amazing Yves Saint Laurent hand-me-downs) as well as the odd experiences you might never believe. For instance, on more than one occasion my mother would be running late to a fashion show. She tended to book several jobs in a row for the income without truly appreciating the time it took to get from one gig to the next. My sister and I were inevitably pulled into her acting drama as we would get pulled over by cops for speeding and would have to act as though one of us was violently ill, appearing as if we needed to “throw up” on the side of the road to prove how sick we were. My sister Ashley and I agree she deserved an Oscar for her part.
My mom was already a bit of an exception as a divorced woman raising two kids while modeling. She divorced when I was 12 and determined she had a better chance of making a decent buck modeling then she did as a speech therapist working in Chicago Public Schools. Oh, and the other thing. She was absolutely beautiful.
I have experienced that wonder and awe when you walk into a room and it seems like all conversation stops as people stare. In this case, at my mother. It didn’t matter where we were, she just had that power. I went to an all girl’s Catholic boarding school in Southern Indiana in the mid-’80s (how and why that happened is a completely different article). My mom came down once for Career Day (even the nuns realized we were not all going to become nuns), and the nuns and priest, as well as my fellow classmates, were all transfixed by my mother. Girls dressed in blue-gray uniform skirts and cardboard-like white shirts listened raptly as my mother extolled the virtues of inner beauty, your posture and walking with grace and most importantly — getting a good education.
Years later, one of my girlfriends from school explained that my mom represented what was possible as a female in life. What you could achieve if you put your mind to it. It was at that moment I realized that I’d had the unique privilege of being raised by someone who knew the strengths and benefits of being a female, along with the importance of “personal branding” before personal branding was even a thing.
It’s hard to whittle down all of the advice she gave me over the years. There was a lot of it – some well-received and some (much) rejected. But as you get older, you realize that your mother, as much as she may annoy you, as much as you wish she would just let you live your life the way you want to, that she is trying to do just that: let you live a better, more fulfilled life than she did by passing on her wisdom. But as we all know, sometimes we need to learn lessons the hard way.
Here are three key lessons she imparted that propelled my career, and as I’ve since learned, many others:
Look your best, at every moment
Pay attention to what you wear. My roommates in graduate school found it hysterical that when I spoke to my parents after a job interview, they could always tell when I spoke to my dad and when I spoke to my mom. My father, who was an executive in international sales and then quality management, would grill me on the questions asked during the interview and how I answered them, letting me know if he thought I had a shot at getting the job. My mom, on the other hand, would always ask, “What did you wear?” And as I described my outfit, she would ask what accessories I wore and if I wore the so-and-so earrings or necklace or high heels or pantyhose (yes, we got down to that level of detail). And once she felt she had a complete picture of what I wore, she would always say, “I bet you looked great. And that you made the right impression.” In her view, I was worthy of every job I went out for and it was the hiring company that was either smart or complete idiots. God, how I miss that cheerleading now.
Respect yourself, and others will respect you.
If you remember only one thing, remember this advice as it is the most critical of all. In life, in business, in relationships, in parenting. In EVERY interaction you have in life – if you respect yourself, others will respect you. I saw that in every interaction I had throughout my career: whether as a junior account executive in advertising working with creatives, media planners and clients or even as the global head of integrated marketing at Nokia working with senior management: if I respected myself and my work product, there was always a like response. It was when I wavered, when I didn’t have respect for my work, when I suffered from imposter syndrome and doubted my value that others reacted in kind. My mother did NOT support or promote over-confidence or arrogance. What she believed in to her core was self-respect. If you didn’t respect yourself why would others?
Beyond Executive Presence, be present.
I mentioned earlier my mom could stop conversations in restaurants. She claimed to never be aware of this, declaring her near-sightedness kept her from noticing that people dropped forks as she walked by. For her, it was about BEING present – in the moment. It was less about the impact you would have on people and more about how present you were for people. Mind you – she gave me a lot of schooling in having an executive presence. Practicing walking in high heels was an after-school activity and I learned how to “read a room” very early in life, thanks to her. I am certain that many ideas I presented during my career for which I had success were because I’d learned to calibrate how people were feeling or thinking and position my ideas to connect with their interests.
That, in and of itself, is invaluable business advice. But she didn’t stop there. For her, having executive presence was table stakes. As her daughter, I should know that was important. What she found more important was that you be present – as a person, a friend, as a work colleague – that when someone needed you, you would be there. It taught me to be courageous in work. To speak up and be present when people were counting on me. It is why I do the work I do now.
Olivia with Ashley and Jennifer
Rather than dwell on what Parkinson’s took from my mother, I choose to focus on the gifts she gave to me that have made me successful. She was beautiful and wicked smart and reminded me that both were equally important to her success. She never just rested on her looks. I share her invaluable business guidance, because it’s advice that I got for free simply because I was her daughter.
How do you mourn someone during a pandemic? You honor them by sharing loudly the impact that they had. I choose to honor my mother in writing with the hope that the amazing advice I received throughout my life will help others in their career.”
All photos courtesy of Jennifer J. Fondrevay.
Several months ago I shared my dear friend, Barbara Varro’s Celebrity Interviews. She has been kind and sent me her travel stories…I have saved them, for whatever reason, and thought at this point in time we needed a breath of fresh air and some thoughts on where we can go when our confinement is over…..enjoy!!!!
Barbara Varro’s Travels…
Travel has been one of the great joys of my life: the adventures, the thrills, the discoveries, the amusements and amazements. All of these I have experienced though the years all over the world, and written about them in travel articles for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Among the highlights…
Seeing elephants in their natural habitats, families of them with their young, in Kenya and Tanzania was thrilling. Like a zoo, oh no. It is different. Sitting on a veranda of a lodge in the bush, sipping a gin and tonic at sunset, watching hundreds of wildebeests and zebra rushing by is like being in paradise. At various times we saw giraffes, leopards, hippos and rhinos.
Once our Land Rover stopped within several feet from a pride of lions. They just yawned at us. Another time we followed three cheetahs on a hunt for a gazelle. They caught it—ugh!
At one dinner I ate zebra pot roast—not bad . At one point I met a bush pilot named John, and at dinner at the famous Stanley Hotel in Nairobi he regaled me with tales about flying over the Serengeti plains. He was no Robert Redford, but it made me feel a bit like someone in Isak Dinesen’s “Out of Africa.”
Talk about amazing. Seeing the pyramids and sphinx in Giza were awe inspiring. Crawling up a rickety ladder to see a small upper room with an empty tomb was more scary than stunning. I was amazed to find that the three great pyramids are so close to the bustling city of Cairo. But the sphinx and pyramids are even more spectacular during a light show in the evening with a narrator reciting the history of these ancient monuments.
Sailing on the placid Nile to Luxor to view the magnificent temples, and then to the Valley of the Kings to see King Tut’s tomb was a thrill of a lifetime. It is nice to see Egyptian artifacts in a museum, but seeing them in person is special.
I had always wanted to go to Russia because I am enamored of Russian literature. Tolstoy’s description of St. Petersburg came alive when I visited. The beauty of the baroque pastel homes along the Neva River were remarkable. The city was known as Leningrad when I was there and I stayed in the Leningrad Hotel, that played host to Elizabeth Taylor for a movie she was in that year. The art collection at the Hermitage is vast and gorgeous, especially the malachite room.
Moscow was an amazing sight with the colorful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the imposing Kremlin. At the time, every day we saw hundreds of Muscovites lining up to view Lenin’s tomb in Red Square. One of our discoveries was the splendor of the elaborate marble walled subway stations, some with sparkling chandeliers. We found the people to be friendly and helpful as we tried to read the names of the stations in the Cyrillic alphabet.
I have gone to Poland several times because I have relatives there who live in a rural area south of Krakow. The first time I was there in 1972, they were living in old wooden homes without running water. I heard stories from older relatives about how oppressed they had been during the Nazi and Russian occupations. The next time I visited they had indoor plumbing. And when I visited in 1993, they had new brick homes with two bathrooms. They are much better off since the fall of communism.
One year was memorable because I was the maid of honor at a cousin’s wedding. Our entourage rode to the wedding reception in a horse-drawn cart while we were serenaded by a band. During my last visit in 2015, there were major changes in Krakow and Warsaw, with new buildings and businesses flourishing in the booming economy. One memory: walking down the main street to Old Town, you can rest on benches with a button to press to hear glorious piano music by Chopin.
I came here as fashion editor accompanied by a photographer and two models wearing Israeli styles that were from Carson Pirie Scott in Chicago. A highlight of the trip was staying in the town of Sodom (of Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah) overnight, then waking at dawn to have the models photographed at the salt-encrusted beach riming the Dead Sea. Later they posed below Masada, the place where Jewish zealots committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans.
Then they were photographed at a Bedouin encampment, and various locales around the old city of Jerusalem. Once we stopped for lunch of fresh fish at a cafe on the Sea of Galilee. A few of us had fun riding a smelly camel. I had our driver make a side trip to Bethlehem so I could see the Church of the Nativity, and I bought a carved olive wood creche from a peddler outside.
I have returned to this sceptered isle many times. I sometimes stay with friends who live in Islington. I enjoy the teas at Harrods and the Savoy. I love the Victoria and Albert and the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, where a friend often lectures. I also love taking the boat up the Thames to Kew Gardens. One pleasant discovery was seeing the huge “Saying Goodbye” bronze statue in the renovated St. Pancreas train station. The chunnel train to Paris leaves from this station.
On one trip to England I visited a friend in Wales who has an old stone home in the shadow of the Snowdon Mountains. It was awesome.
Another time I spent time in the South West in Lyme Regis, and I took side trips to Bath and Penzance. I was impressed by Mount St. Michael, where the walkway gets inundated at high tide. I almost did not make it back across in time to catch my bus.
Florence is my favorite city in Italy because of its breathtaking multicolored marble churches and spectacular art, especially Michelangelo’s David. And watching fashion shows in the Pitti Palace was a special treat.
Rome’s fountains and squares are exceptional, as is the pasta. I have thrown many coins in the Trevi Fountain, which has brought me back to this golden city often. I think of it whenever I see the opera, “Tosca,” and see Castle Sant Angelo on the Tiber River. It is always a thrill to see Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. I am in awe of the canals and St. Mark’s Square in Venice. But I was gobsmacked in Pompeii with is people frozen in place when Vesuvius erupted eons ago. And Milan has two marvels: Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper and La Scala Opera House.
Paris is a dream with its distinctive architecture, and at the Louvre I was awed by the Winged Victory at the top of the steps, more visually exciting than the Mona Lisa. I saw a lot of the city when covering fashion shows, flitting to the salons of Dior, Givenchy, Balmain, Chanel, etc. on the Right Bank. But I love the Left Bank in St. Michel and Saint German with its cafes such as the Deux Magots.
One of my favorite places in France is Villefranche sur Mer, on the Riviera near Nice, where I spent a month learning French at the Institut de Francais. I had a view of the gorgeous bay from my studio terrace. I would have learned more if I had studied more.
But I was distracted by the food and wine, ooh la la! One must is going to see Monet’s beauteous gardens at Giverny, it is a worthwhile trip just as is viewing the opulence at Versailles.
Unexpected things sometimes happen when traveling. For instance, once I, along with my mother and aunt, were thrown off a train from Poland to Hungary. We had been told that we only needed a visa to Hungary and not to Czechoslovakia, which we were only passing through. But at the border of Czechoslovakia an official boarded and reprimanded us for not having a visa. He made us disembark
So there we were in the middle of the night, three women on a dark, deserted platform. We waited for more than an hour for a train back to Poland.
An amusing thing happened on a tour in Morocco. While some of us were touring the souk (marketplace), a Moroccan man approached a woman and her well-endowed daughter, and he asked if she would like to trade her well-endowed daughter for his dozen camels.
She indignantly said, “NO WAY!”
In Moscow I was approached by two young girls who wanted to buy the blue jean skirt I was wearing. I declined their offer but they followed me to my hotel. So I told them to wait outside while I went to my room to change. I returned with the skirt and told them they could have it for the equivalent of $5 in rubles. They agreed and went on their way with my skirt. At that time in the 1970s young Russians were gaga over American jeans, which were scarce in their basic stores.
1970‘S Russian youth in blue jeans.
A million thanks Barbara, I know my readers have throughly enjoyed joining you in your travel adventures….I wonder what reflections you will share with us next (soon I hope!)….I can only imagine!!!!!
Barbara’s own photos and newspaper clippings are supplemented by photos found on Pinterest phot credits unknown.
With all of us self-isolating our thoughts, or at least mine, are concentrating on food and drink….I need to understand the obsession/hoarding of beans…..
Need some recipes (check the archives for past posts), okay, but I need you to share yours with me as well or no deal!!!! Here are a of couple thoughts…..
NENA’s BLOODY MARY
In a tall glass pour as much Cucumber Vodka, or regular vodka, as you like…let’s not get carried away here…but….fill glass with Original V-8, 6-7 dashes Tabasco, and a squeeze of Mike’s Hot Honey (I told you I’d share how I use it!!!!! Here is use #1), stir. Drink and enjoy. Note…I’m not including ice, it dilutes the drink too much in my opinion. Garnishes only if you want to. I’m enjoying one while I write this.
I don’t think I have shared this before primarily because it is very special to me….but these are unusual times so why not. Beware, there aren’t measurements here, I do a lot of recipes by taste, sorry Tommy, but here are the basics….adjust as you like. Understand, most borscht recipes are family recipes. Serve with a banquette and a lightly dressed salad, if you wish.
2 cans Original V-8 (seems to be my go to…)
1 can shoestring beets or beet chunks with juices
6-8 beef meatballs homemade or frozen (if frozen bake first, I use frozen) do not do either raw must be throughly cooked and drain off fat before putting into soup
A few dashes of Angostura bitters
Maybe a “bit” of red wine…up to the cook (since I’m the cook what do you think!!!!!) .
Combine, heat to almost boiling….serve hot with a dollop or more of sour cream and fresh dill.
Taste and adjust accordingly. If you want the exact taste you will have to come to Chez Ivon for dinner….
Double or triple….freezes well. Most of all, enjoy.
My everyday wine of choice is Ménage A Trois, the red blend in particular and the white blend as well…but I’m a red girl, my new favorite white in a Sancerre, love it!!! Please no Chardonnay for me! Almost out of wine and I’m uncomfortable with having delivery in cardboard am I becoming paranoid? You know I do love my wine, am I whining…yes, yes I am.
We are in this together…so start sharing!
My go to sources, all the time, whether I’m totally home bound or not. Of course, I watch regular channels such as all PBS channels, HGTV, Food Network, DIY (love Restored!) Ovation, etc., etc., and, of course, Hallmark Christmas Movies!!!
I am not use to doing movie/TV show reviews, (I do love doing book reviews) and will do thumbnails of some I have found of interest especially when we are home bound. I must admit I don’t usually stream entire series with binge watching but have found myself doing so and am having fun with it! It has become addictive and almost obsessive. And most importantly a respite from continually watching constant news reports.
The series I finished last night (actually, early this morning!!!!!) and really the reason for this post is The English Game….loved every bit of it. In a nutshell it is the story of the beginnings of the UK’s Football Association, FA, and it’s transformation from a totally “gentlemen’s” game to become the game for the working class as well to the worldwide phenomenon it has become! It is not the football we know it,, it would be soccer to us. The reluctance of the upper classes to relinquish “their sport” to the “masses” and, therefore, become modern, all inclusive and finding the best athletes no matter their social position. Reading what I just wrote makes this sound rather uninteresting and perhaps a bit boring. I can assure you it is anything but! It is the product of the mega-brilliant Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey fame among many other accomplishments), so how can it go wrong…it doesn’t! You may or may not not know I do love sports, I’m the only child of a major “jock” and if I wanted to be with my Father I needed to like sports…and it so happens that football is my favorite. As a child I went to the Chicago Bears games at Wrigley Field and, of course, still follow them, but I digress. Back to the series….the actors…excellent, the story…engaging, the sets and costumes…fabulous. I was unfamiliar with most of the cast except for one that I haven’t seen forever and realized how much I missed him…Anthony Andrews, love him, not a huge part but he plays it well. The story basically follows two players on the opposing teams, one the “gentleman” who feels it is exclusively their game and they are very, very good and the other is the “working class” man who feels they can equal their “betters”. We see them in their homes, work and, of course, the playing fields. No spoilers here, you need to watch this 6 part series. It is filled with so many levels of society, you see the progress of women becoming independent (the men as well), the pathos of the workers and, I might add, of the so-called gentlemen. The struggle of social classes in 19th Century England wonderfully discussed. Do I recommend it…I highly do so.
Anthony Andrews as he appeared in Brideshead Revisited, 1981, and today.
This new found luxury of filling time began with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I am beyond in love with this series, I’ve stopped myself from starting series 3. It’s like loving a book and not wanting it to end. It is charming, fun, the characters engaging, the clothes and sets spot on….I could definitely go on and on about it….someone needs to tell me why I waited so long to engage with this fabulous production…definitely superb in all ways. The Catskills episodes are particularly delightful, spot on and joyful. If you are celebrating Passover and haven’t watched it now is the time…but then anytime is the time!!
I’ve been watching Murdock Mysteries from the beginning, again love the cast, the period costuming and sets and the unique storylines. I usually watch it on OVATION but you can find it elsewhere. This season (they just celebrated their 200th episode!)
wraps up with a two hour finale on March 28th I don’t binge on this program, but if you aren’t familiar with it you might like to do so. It’s definitely on my not to miss list. Filling it’s Saturday time slot is a newer favorite The Frankie Drake Mysteries, all female detective agency….glamour, costuming terrific, delightful plots….add it you won’t be sorry
Here are what I’ll be watching next, in no particular order…..I’ll report back after I watch them. I’m open to your suggestions….PS, I watch most of these on my iPad…regular TV, of course, on my television.
Actually I’m usually at home…however I could go out when I wanted to, get my mail, packages, have Instacart, GrubHub, etc. come to my door, have friends in for drinks night, lunch, tea, do my monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and my brand new nenasnotes The Fashion Film Club (thinking of doing them virally!!!)…at the moment I can’t do any of those things.
So what to do beside worrying about getting toilet paper, paper towels, let alone food in the near future….and oh yes, my staple, wine!!!!!!
Pinterest photo credit unknown.
Learning to teach remotely, (a subject that needs to be personal, a major learning curve for me and my students),…streaming shows that I haven’t had time to watch (more on that shortly)…hearing from people wanting to shop, etc. for me that I wouldn’t think would care and not hearing from others who I would think would! An interesting time to say the very least. The best part, if there is a best part, all of us and that includes the entire world, are traveling this unknown road together! The better news, this too shall pass, and our world will be changed, how is basically up to each of us.
Columbia College Chicago Fashion Show Production class Spring 2020, venue visit to the Hilton Chicago.
So why you ask, am I writing this post. For several reasons, because lately I haven’t been a good blogger, and I miss it, and I’ve heard from many of you that you miss my rambles, so why not! I would LOVE you to help me with some suggestions on topics, by now you know I love to do research, post lots of photos, talk about books, profile people, etc. One of my dear friends wants me to talk about Fabergé eggs, a perfect topic for Easter, so yes, I’ll do that.
Pinterest photo photo credit unknown.
That makes me think about my trip to Russia several years ago and other trips I’ve made, so I’ll do a travel series. I’ve been saving my friend, Barbara Varro’s, travel stories so they will fit in perfectly. She has been everywhere and has great stories to tell, I know you enjoyed the post I shared with you on her celebrity interviews.
I’ll continue my book reviews, my To Be Read pile, both physically and on my Kindle, is about to “fall over” on me, now is the time to tackle that “stack”.
Recipes, please share some, yes, of course, I’ll include them…getting rather tired of how to use our pantry’s stash, aren’t you, but maybe you have made something that will become a permanent addition to your recipe box. I have become addicted to Mike’s Hot Honey, more on how I use it, basically on everything, later (no, not a sponsored mention…unfortunately I don’t have any sponsors…hint, hint!!!! Except for my book reviews) A question, why are people hoarding flour….or anything for that matter, so selfish! I would love to bake something…how about you.
Well, My Dears, enough rambling for this post, I think so! Keep in touch, stay well and safe until we meet again in person but for now stay tuned and keep in touch through the wonder of how we can communicate…we are t alone!
Photo by Victor Skrebneski used with permission.
All photos taken by me unless otherwise noted.
Yes, I admit, I’ve been absent without leave from blogging….I can give you excuses but I’m sure they wouldn’t be of interest….let’s just say life has gotten in the way!!!! I wish I’d been doing the tango with my mystery man, but alas, not the case!
Interestedly, several of my friends and followers asked me, in the same day if you please, if I wasn’t blogging any more…that gave me a knee jerk reaction that I actually have people who are interested in what I do.
What has been going on, teaching, of course…
Columbia College Chicago Fashion Show Production class venue visit at the Chicago Hilton with the fabulous Robert Neubert sharing his expertise on event planning.
Preparing and doing lectures, ✔️ just did my Hooray For Hollywood on Oscar Sunday for The Blue Island Historical Society
Sarah Bernhardt as Elizabeth I dressed by Couturier Paul Poiret early 20th century.
Up next the story of The Little Black Dress.
Of course working on my monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and the brand new nenasnotes The Fashion Film Club, happily yes ✔️✔️!
The February book selection and March film
In addition, I am continuing my twice monthly The Randolph Street Market blog posts, the most recent fashion feature is on Gloves and the collectibles post is on American Pottery, especially Roseville Pottery ✔️ and ✔️!
I am also doing a monthly fashion book review for The Fashion Map. A blog you must put on your list especially if fashion is your passion.
The last in-depth post I did here was on the first of my new series of book discussions at my Independent Bookseller The Book Stall next up in April…
Finally got my home back to being my home and have been doing a bit of entertaining, one of my favorite things to do….
I’ll try to post more on a regular basis….if you have topics you might like me to delve into don’t hesitate to let me know.
Until next time….stay well and know Spring is on its way!!!!!!! Cheers, my dears….
By now you know I don’t review, or for that matter finish reading, any book I don’t enjoy….life is just too short. And you also know that I host a monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, that I have a blast doing and have very engaged attendees. In addition you have, if you follow this blog, been exposed to my Independent Bookseller of choice The Book Stall
As luck would have it, The Book Stall owner, Stephanie Hochschild, invited me to lead an occasional Fashion Book discussion at the store.
Stephanie Hochschild Chicago Tribune photo.
I gave her several titles to choose from which she presented to her amazing staff and their choice was The Other Side Of The Coin The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly LVO. It wasn’t my first choice, but guess what….it was definitely a fabulous choice, I LOVE the book!!! And the attendees did as well. I happen to be a major Anglophile and love the Royals, especially Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This book gives us insights that we might not have known and makes Her Majesty very human, it’s a delight. It is a MUST add to your fashion or your British Royals libraries.
Here I am with some of the attendees at The Book Stall Fashion Book Group Discussion. Photo taken with my iPhone.
The author, Angela Kelly, has been with The Queen for twenty-five years and is Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor and Curator and In-House Designer, the first in history to hold this title. She enjoys a very close working relationship with The Queen. Many of the photos have never been seen before and some are from Angela’s personal collection.
When Angela started Her Majesty’s wardrobe was not documented, a fact I can’t even imagine, she has over the years made sure each piece of clothing is labeled and catalogued, of course, including the accessories…the omnipresent hats and the exquisite jewels. This is a story unto itself. By creating The Queen’s wardrobe “in-house” has become a major cost saving.
Choosing a more modern approach to a modern monarch has evolved over the years and working with someone who trusts your judgement has taken time, but there seemed to me to be a connection from the start. With just a glance they understand each other.
Here are some of my favorite parts of the book…
It opens with paragraphs written by Angela’s four teenage grandchildren telling us how proud the are of their Gran and what it has meant to them growing up at Windsor and visiting Buckingham Palace and other royal residences, I truly enjoyed their charming recollections and obvious love for her.
The Queen’s sense of humor and that she loves a good laugh with Angela and others. Let’s remember her in the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony with James Bond (Daniel Craig)…not easily forgotten!
Fact…Her Majesty dresses herself…she might need a zip up or a hook hooked. Of course, the State occasions with the royal robes are a different issue and Angela is there to assist.
Fact…The Queen does her own make-up, the exception her Christmas address.
Fact….someone needs to “break in” The Queen’s shoes…Angela just happens to have the same shoe size!
Fact….The Queen attended London Fashion Week with Anna Wintour and Angela. She presented the inaugural The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Fashion to Richard Quinn in February 2018.
Fact…The Queen wanted to be photographed more informally with her hands in her pockets, a secret she had since she was a young girl…never done before and to me one of the most endearing stories, and there are many, in the book.
From the chapter Inspiration Is Everywhere…Angela was walking through Windsor Castle and saw a wonderful Wedgwood collection, the color was the exact blue that she had selected to do a garment and hat for Her Majesty’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour to Northern Ireland. She trimmed the coat and hat with fine lace replicating the delicate pattern on the Wedgwood pieces. One of my favorite outfits…don’t you agree!!
Obviously The Queen has been photographed by all the great photographers during her extraordinary reign…we would be hard pressed to find any better, well maybe Cecil Beaton, than Annie Leibovitz and the magnificent Vanity Fair spread….here two that hold my heart. And to my mind’s eye show us both sides of the coin….the private Queen Elizabeth II and the ceremonial Royal.
I was given this little gem of a book (pun intended!) by my friend and super supporter of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, Mark Olley….thanks to him I have had a wonderful magical tour not only with Her Majesty but with her designer, friend and so much more, Angela Kelly, who has shared an intimate insight into one side of the coin which is Royal and on the other side of the coin is a woman who wants to put her hands in her pockets!!
All photos from The Other Side Of The Coin unless otherwise noted.