PROFILE: RANDY BRYAN BIGHAM

imageRandy Bryan Bigham with his book, Lucile-Her Life by Design

I am extremely excited to share a profile on a very special individual I met on Facebook, Randy Bryan Bigham.  I became totally intrigued by his scholarship and dedication to Lucile Duff Gordon, a designer I have long admired and whose story is a unique and fascinating part of fashion history.  I asked Randy for some advice on Lucile’s venture in Chicago (you will read more about that in this week’s Friday Fashion Flashback) and we became “off Facebook friends” via correspondance (he follows nenasnotes much to my delight) and I asked him if he would be one of my “profiles” and he said yes!  His answers to my questions along with his biography and photos are very personal and I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to such a humble scholar.  I know you will feel you have found a new friend just like I have!

Randy Bryan Bigham is an independent fashion history scholar whose research has been featured in a number of books, including Lucile Ltd (2009) by Valerie D. Mendes and Amy de la Haye; Hollywood Before Glamour (2013) by Michelle Tolini Finamore; and  London Society Fashion (2015) by Cassie Davies-Strodder, Jenny Lister and Lou Taylor.

The author of Lucile – Her Life by Design (2012), the first full-scale biography of Edwardian couturiere and Titanic survivor Lady Duff Gordon, Randy has contributed to TV documentaries for the BBC, the Sundance Channel and the National Geographic Channel. His journalism has appeared in Women’s Wear Daily, the Sunday Times Magazine and The Lady. He’s also the author of Finding Dorothy, a biography of silent screen star Dorothy Gibson (2012), and of Life’s Décor, a biography of Helen Churchill Candee that was included in the 2008 reissue of Candee’s 1924 travelogue Angkor the Magnificent.

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Randy was a consultant for the 2016 exhibition Lucile – Fashion. Titanic. Scandal at the Guelph Civic Museum in Canada, and coming up in 2018 his own private collection of Lucile garments and memorabilia will be spotlighted in an exhibition at the Titanic Museums in the USA.

imageRandy (on the right) with Edwardian era and Titanic historian Hugh Brewster who worked together on the 2016 Canadian exhibition Lucile: Fashion. Titanic. Scandal.

Since 2015, with friend and research colleague Inger Sheil, he’s been an admin for the Facebook group, Fashion Designers, 1800-1950.

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With Inger Sheil, a friend and colleague of 15 years, Randy is an admin for the Facebook group, Fashion Designers 1800-1950. This 1919 cover of Les Modes features an evening gown by Paris couturier Jenny (Jeanne Sacerdote), whom Randy has researched.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB

Do you mean my first job as a writer? Or do you mean my very first job? If you mean the latter, it was mowing lawns at about age 13! It was for an old lady, a Mrs. McClain, whom I used to ply with questions about her memory of the fashions of her youth. She was born in 1902, and could recall the dresses of the Edwardian era, which I was already fascinated by. Mrs. McClain said she remembered lawn parties where the women’s gowns trailed the grass, and I just loved that visual. Talking to her was fun. The long hours of hard work, mowing her huge front yard — not so much!

As to my first proper writing job, it was for the small daily paper in my hometown. I had worked freelance, writing for big papers, doing art and book reviews, but no editor would hire me on staff until the tiny newspaper in Ennis, Texas took me on. That started my evolution as a writer, learning to pare down sentences, to edit, to get the best quotes, to tell the story so simply that readers are — hopefully — moved. The human interest feature story always mattered to me. I was a horrible news reporter. I must have driven my first editor mad! Hard news and politics weren’t for me. I still hate all that, and I’m sure I’d die of boredom if I had to write about it!

BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION

I write freelance – locally and nationally, and I work as a consultant on various projects, some having nothing to do with fashion history. One thing that’s come along fairly recently is my working as a consultant for Paper Studio Press, which publishes beautiful paper doll books. I’ve worked on three titles so far, all of them on fashions of the 1910s, my favorite era. And I just did an interesting section on the history of the fashion show for a Bloomsbury textbook that will be out in 2018. Really, I just have fun. I don’t make a lot of money, but you don’t need a lot to be happy. Some of the research and writing I do is for free. Helping other writers out with material for magazine articles, assisting curators with info on garments for exhibitions, etc., are some of the things I do. Not so interesting to some but it amuses me.

WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR TALENT

I’m not sure that it’s talent. I think it is more luck than anything, and a lot of determination. If you love something you just have to do it. There isn’t much of a choice. It’s in you or it’s not. You’re led to do what you do through passion and tenacity. But going back to talent: I knew I could write reasonably well, and I had that gift in elementary school. Teachers noticed it and asked me to read my stories to the class. I can’t recall now what the stories were about, and how I had the nerve to get up in front of the class, I don’t know. I’m in my 40s now, and should be past being shy, but I’m petrified of speaking in public, and can only do it impromptu. I cannot prepare for it. I would be too nervous.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

I don’t think I have made it yet! I’m just a fashion history nut who’s been lucky to find ways to express my love for the subject. I have contributed to important projects – books on the Titanic, which started my interest in some of the famous women aboard, books on fashion history, exhibitions. But all those projects just sort of happened. The accomplishment I’m most proud of is writing Lucile’s biography. That’s been such a driving force for me, and the research has opened doors. I’m very grateful to the people who saw my work as important and helped me along the way. There were a few naysayers but you can’t listen to people like that.

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

My original passion was Lucile. When I first found out about her I was intrigued but didn’t think I would find very much. I was really surprised she was so celebrated and influential and, to tell you the truth, a little shocked she was not better remembered. Back in the late ‘80s, when I first went to school at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York, almost no one was interested in her. People would ask “Who?” And it used to irritate me. I felt I had to justify myself all the time. Now it seems everybody is an expert on Lucile! (Nena’s note…no one does it as well as Randy, without question!)

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Randy was first drawn to the work of Lucile, seen here with a model in her New York studio in 1916, when he was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the mid-1980s.

The library at FIT has the scrapbooks and photo albums kept by the staff of the New York branch of Lucile Ltd, so I became fascinated and immediately thought I should do a book. That was just a dream then. I had to earn a living, so I couldn’t devote a lot of time to it, and that’s why it stretched on until 2009 when I finished the final draft. Publishers were interested along the way, including a university press that wanted to cut it down and to not use very many color images. As you can imagine, I wasn’t thrilled with offers like that, so I finally published it myself five years ago. I was excited and am still happy to see how it’s been taken up and cited in various major studies on the history of dress. There’s so much drivel about how one can’t hope to have a success with a self-published title, and while that might be true in most cases, if you’ve got a special subject, the right people will be drawn to it. And I probably have made as much money from it as have authors who’ve gone the traditional route.

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  1. Lucile, among her achievements, is responsible for launching the first modern fashion parades, using a stage, music, lights and all the accoutrement of show.

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

I don’t think I could have done anything else well. I went to FIT to be a designer and I was hopeless. You should have seen me trying to draft a pattern. I don’t have a natural perseverance with anything but writing and editing. Nothing else seems worth it. If I had the talent, I would have loved being a designer. I have the creativity, I think, just not the technical skill.

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, LIST THE FOLLOWING,IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE…THEATER (LEGIT, MUSICALS), BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY, TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO, LOCAL RESTAURANT

I read mostly fashion history and biographies. I don’t care for fiction, although I quite enjoyed E.M. Forster a few years back, but that’s mainly because I’ve seen the films that have been made of them. One of the dress history writers I enjoy most is Caroline Evans, whose book The Mechanical Smile I was honored to contribute research to. She was one of the first scholars to embrace my work and to make me feel what I had done mattered. I also love to read Christopher Breward. His books are all excellent. He is excellent. So is Alistair O’Neill.

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Randy with fashion historian Marlis Schweitzer, author of When Broadway was the Runway and other titles featuring her own research on Lucile.

As to theatre, I don’t have modern favorites as far as plays. I so love researching early 20th century musical theater. While learning about the Ziegfeld Follies, when I was working on Lucile (she designed for the Follies in the 1910s and early ‘20s), I got hooked. And I’m crazy for silent film history, particularly the costumes of the early female stars. I’ve written an article on Theda Bara’s influence on fashion in the ‘teens for a scholarly journal, and I hope it sees the light of day. And you know the first paper doll book I helped with for Paper Studio Press was on Theda.

Regarding modern film, I like some foreign titles, particularly French and Italian. I’m crazy for Anna Magnani! And, believe it or not, I like a few horror flicks. I know that doesn’t fit much into the rest of my personality but I can’t help it. I’m a fan of The Blair Witch Project and of the first Friday the 13th, if you can imagine that. I’ve even become friends with Adrienne King, the star of that first film, and the only really good one in the series, if you ask me. I interviewed her a couple years ago. She’s a dear, sweet person, so real and supportive.

imageAlthough Randy loves romantic period films, he’s a fan of the horror classic Friday the 13th, and has become friends with its star, Adrienne King, with whom he’s seen here in Dallas in 2016.

As for TV shows, I watch CNN, “The Golden Girls” reruns and I haven’t missed a season of “Survivor.” And, you’ll probably laugh at this, but I like the “Finding Bigfoot” series on Animal Planet. I’m not really a believer but I like the mystery of it.

imageRandy loves history but isn’t above enjoying pop culture reality shows like CBS’s “Survivor” and The Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot.” This card, signed by the cast, was sent him by a friend, Linda Plochocki, for Christmas last year.

I don’t have a favorite restaurant but I do love Italian food. I’m not hard to please in that area, and my expanding waistline is proof of it.

HOBBIES….

I love taking country drives and snapping photos of nature. I’m not a gifted photographer but I like being out and about on a beautiful day and recording what I see.

imageA pastime for Randy is taking photos along the country roads in and near his hometown of Ennis, the Official Bluebonnet City of Texas.

I used to enjoy hiking but my injury has so far prevented my resuming that. Someday, I hope to get back to it. I lost my right leg from the knee down back in 2013 due to an infection that came on suddenly. It was a huge adjustment. To say it changed my life is an understatement. It just about did me in, but I think if you keep focused on what matters, you can come through anything. It has taken the four years since I lost my leg to have a firm philosophy about it. The bottom line for me now, when it comes to being disabled, is it doesn’t matter. And I don’t feel disabled. I am still me. I haven’t changed in the essentials. But I don’t walk as fast, and I can’t run anymore. I used to love to run. That’s the only thing I get emotional about. I hate that I will probably never run again. But in general I’m still happy with life; whatever good it has in store for me, I welcome it. The bad stuff nobody wants, of course, and you just learn to work around it.Randy lost his right leg at the knee in 2013, after surviving a serious infection. The setback only strengthened him, he says, and made him more determined to enjoy life.

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This shot of Randy was taken in a field of bluebonnets near Ennis during the town’s Bluebonnet Trails Festival.

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC DESCRIBE

I love anything Elsie de Wolfe would have approved of. I adore Louis Seize antiques, mirrors, chintz, old wicker, green and white stripes. I’m a huge Elsie fan.  I think with certain tweaks that take into account changes in modern life, her ideas are still in good taste.

imageElsie de Wolfe’s early 1900s interiors featured design elements Randy appreciates.

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

I would invite Zandra Rhodes, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington (I love old jazz), Cecil Beaton, the cast from Finding Bigfoot and Bigfoot! And I would add you to the list because we could compare notes afterwards! I’m not a gourmet so I have no idea what I’d serve but I’d hire someone to do it all up perfectly.

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST

I fell in love with Versailles when I first visited the Palace and Petit Trianon in 1997. I’ve gone back twice, and would love to go again. It really is a spiritual experience for me, having researched Marie Antoinette and Rose Bertin.

imageOne of Randy’s favorite places in the world is Versailles, where this picture of him at age 28 was taken in 1997.

That reminds me: I do have a favorite book! Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell. It’s stellar. Get it. You’ll love it.

imageOne of Randy’s favorite books on fashion history is Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell’s Fashion Victims

FAVORITE WORK OF ART

I really appreciate Corot’s landscapes, especially Souvenir de Mortefontaine. I know it’s one of his most famous, so it may be expected that I would like it, but I never tire of it. It warms the soul. And that’s what great art is supposed to do. I have a copy framed on the wall by my bed. It’s been there for over 20 years.

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HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

Just as someone who loved history and who got a kick out of sharing it with others. I hope I’ve had a hand in shedding light on the work of great designers in history like Lucile who are in fact artists deserving of admiration and respect for the beauty they gave the world in their time. That’s what we try to celebrate in the Facebook group, Fashion Designers, 1800-1950.

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A FAVORITE RECIPE

I’m not a cook. I do make a mean pimento cheese but that’s probably too simple to brag about. I eat salads when I can, and that certainly saves on calories, but I’m not going to lie — on busy days it’s a McDonald’s cheeseburger! And believe me, if I could eat pasta every day and not gain weight, I’d do it. A family friend who’s an incredible cook, and is surrounded by other gourmets, shared a recipe recently and he gave me permission to include it here. Kevin Graves is his name and he collaborated with his friend Robin Dailey to come up with this delicious recipe. Kevin calls the dish Palm Beach Chicken because that’s where they were when they conceived it. It is garlic infused sautéed chicken breasts served on a bed of cooked asparagus with a creamy sauce and topped with green onion and chopped fresh tomato.

imagePalm Peach Chicken, a recipe by Kevin Graves and Robin Dailey, is delicious and beautiful.

Palm Beach Chicken with Asparagus and Tomatoes

2 lbs. Aldi Boneless Chicken Strips
3 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
1 stick Butter
4 Tbsp. Avocado Oil
6 Green Onions Chopped (divided)
1 medium vine-ripened Tomato, chopped, drained
6 oz. Whipped Cream Cheese room temp
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tsp. natural tenderizer with no MSG
1 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Onion powder
1 Tsp. Dried Cilantro
1 Tsp. Dried Parsley
¾ Cup fresh Shredded Parmesan (divided)
½ Cup Grated Parmesan and Romano
Dash of Lemon Pepper
1 Tbsp. Powdered Chicken Bouillon
Tsp. Corn Starch

Directions:
Melt butter in pan on ned-low, add avocado oil, 5 chopped green onions, sprinkle tenderizer into mixture, add chicken. After it’s been sautéing and has been turned a few times add garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon pepper, paprika and dried seasonings. Add a few more shakes of tenderizer, keep turning, then let simmer on low.

Asparagus:
Rinse, snap, rub 2 lbs of asparagus with avocado oil and a few dashes of garlic powder and salt and steam in the microwave for 3.5 minutes.

Tomato: Chop, drain, add 1 chopped green onion and a dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder, sit to the side in small colander

Take a long oval tray and spread vertical to the length of the oval tray (imagine the tray is horizontal so lay asparagus spears in opposite direction and place chicken pieces in the middle.

Keep the chicken drippings simmering on low, add the heavy whipping cream and cream cheese, 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and cornstarch and whisk. Pour a few ladles over the chicken and put the rest in a pourable cup. Keep it warm or it will break and separate.  After adding the sauce sprinkle the tomato mixture and top with remaining shredded Parmesan and serve.

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF RANDY BRYAN BIGHAM

Some links Randy has shared with us….

Lucile – Her Life by Design by Randy Bryan Bigham, currently only available via lulu.com, can be ordered here:
“Ontario Today” CBC Radio interview with Randy Bryan Bigham by Rita Celli
 
“Beautiful and damned” by Randy Bryan Bigham in The Lady
 
“A beautiful, devilishly gorgeous career” by Randy Bigham for Urbanette
 
“The Pioneering Fashions of Lady Duff Gordon.” An interview with Randy Bryan Bigham by James Blake Wiener for Fair Observer
 
“Lucy Duff Gordon.” Entry by Randy Bryan Bigham and Leslie Midkiff DeBauche in Columbia University’s Women Film Pioneers Project.
 
PastFashion, Randy Bryan Bigham’s fashion history blog.
 
“Pop Culture Tonight ” Radio interview with Randy Bryan Bigham by Patrick Phillips

COLLECTIONS: PAGE TURNERS

imageI am totally fascinated by collectors and their coveted collections and most of all learning something new each time.  We all, of course, watch Antiques Roadshow (don’t we wish we could get more of the English BBC version, please!) and find something fascinating each time we watch, not only the value but the history of the items.

I found such a collector and his collection recently when visiting my friends Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel.  We were going to a concert that Tom H was playing at and stopped by to pick up his parents, Harold and Elenor Hawley, (you have been treated to several of Elenor’s recipes in past posts and will find two more at the end of this post) it was a quick visit and I became intrigued by the cabinet in the above photo (Harold is an accomplished woodcrafter, I’m sure there is a more glamorous name for this craft, sorry Harold…..his work is amazing a true craftsman. There are many examples in their home. He built a wonderful walnut shelf for my apartment, I’ll feature it in a future post.) Harold built this case of oak, along with several other pieces, to display his extensive collection of page turners and the amazing antique Asian chess set that fits into the center.  The side pieces are fitted with beveled glass and it has shelves underneath.  I decided that this would make a fascinating topic for one of my collections posts.  I was fortunate to go back a couple of weeks later when Christmas decor was going up and took the opportunity to talk a bit with Harold about his collection and take lots of photos.

How did the collection begin….both the Hawleys like to collect and Harold was thinking of a new collection when Elenor said “Why don’t you start a collection of page turners!” and so the hunt was on. His collection begins with a piece from 1859 and goes through 1912-1914 with most of the items from the late 19th Century.  The history of the page turner goes back further to churches and synagogues where they were used to read Holy Books…they were used to do exactly what they imply turn pages in huge manuscripts and books (and later newspapers) as well as open double pages without a sharp knife (letter openers).  As you will see they have rounded or square ends not sharp ends.  If you look on Pinterest, and you will find many examples, you will often find them listed as letter openers.

imageThe only book I could find on the subject.

Instead of my talking about this extraordinary collection, let’s look at some of the pieces.imageThis vignette holds some of my favorites and I love the way Elenor staged her Grandfather’s prayer book that he brought with him from Germany when he immigrated to the States…the ivory piece with the roses, to the left in the picture, I think is my most favorite of all. The silver and ivory piece, on the book, is the smallest at 8″.

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imageI am also very fond of the angel and the cameo pieces.  The pierced ivory is also most unusual.

imageimageimageimageSome of the Asian pieces along with an advertising piece done as promotional giveaways (somethings never change!).imageimageMore of the Asian pieces.

imageSome sterling handled page turners with march strikers.

imageimageimageIsn’t this amazing….makes me want to take up chess again!

A huge thank you to Harold and Elenor for allowing me to document this unusual story of a collection and it’s collector.  I am sure you all agree it is amazingly beautiful and each piece a work of art.

All photos were taken by me on my iPhone 7….if you look closely you will see my silhouette hovering in a couple of shots….sorry about that.

Remember to check the monthly Randolph Street Market to add to your collections or to start a new one, you never know what treasures await you.  Next market Saturday and Sunday, January 27th and 28th from 10 to 5.

How about a couple of brunch suggestions for New Year’s Day.

FROM ELENOR HAWLEY’S RECIPE BOX

Corned Beef Oven Omelet

12 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

4 cups milk

2 – 4 oz packages Buddig thinly sliced corned beef

2 Tablespoons minced onion

Beat eggs and milk together, add salt; tear corned beef into small pieces & add to mixture.  Stir in cheese and onion and combine.  Pour into greased 9″ X 13″ glass casserole.  Bake uncovered 1 hour at 350º oven or until omelet is set and top is golden brown. Test by sticking a silver knife in center, the knife should come out clean.  Cut into 12 or 15 pieces.  Any leftovers may be rewarmed in microwave.

Elenor’s note: “I often put the casserole together and refrigerate overnight, especially when we have overnight guests…it will need an additional ten minutes or so to bake.”

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Prepare topping and filling mix:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teapsoon cinnamon

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix and set aside.

Cream 1/2 cup butter until solf

Gradually add 1 cup sugar

Continue creaming until light and fluffy

Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition

Sift together:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to butter mixture, alternating with 1 cup sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Pour half the batter into a Bundt pan.  Sprinkle 1/2 nut mixture evenly over batter. Stir spoonfuls of remaining batter evenly over nut mixture and top with remaining nut mixture.

Bake at 325º for 40 minutes until done.

Elenor suggests serving with fresh fruit, juice, and coffee…. Nena says…anyone for a mimosa!!!

 

A FASHIONABLE CHRISTMAS

imageWhen these two gentlemen greet you at the door of Casa Hyder/Smith you know you are in for a great time, their annual Christmas Tree Trimming Party was not an exception.  I have been after Greg Hyder since I began nenasnotes to join me with his stories, all of a sudden he became shy and kept putting me off.  I finally said, “you are off the hook”!  A sigh of relief from him and then he thought better of it and said: “how about coming to our Tree Trimming Party and documenting it!”  Why not indeed! I have known Greg for years and Jim for just about as long.  I worked with Greg when I was still at Saks and he was always very generous with chefs from The Peninsula Chicago, where he is Director of Style and Community Relations, when I had events that featured the top chefs in Chicago, in addition he never said no to door prizes for special shows and events.  We have had many too many glasses of wine together, obviously both our sign of a good friendship!  Silly us!!!

Well, all I can say is when someone tells you they are obsessed with something believe them!  There isn’t a square inch of their exquisite home that isn’t decorated to the nines.  It is extraordinary, to say the least.  Let me take you through it, at least a little bit of it.  The scale is something else.  The tree is gigantic, I have no idea how they got it up three flights of stairs.

imagePicking out the perfect tree at Gethsemane Garden Center

imageLights on and the ornament placement begins….each area of the tree has its own themed ornaments, let’s look at some of them, there are hundreds!  Many collected on their trips and many are family traditions.

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imageimageimageimageAnd, of course, a Cubs section!!!!  Our hosts are avid Cubs fans!

imageSome baubles were held aside for the party guests, remember the theme of the day was a tree trimming party!!!!  We were told if their placement didn’t meet with Mr. Hyder’s approval off they would come (after the party!)  Pictured are Tim Emond, Becca Smith (Jim’s daughter), Julie Machmon and Jean Antoniou.

On to the Santas….

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The custom-made Cubs Santa next to the fireplace….glorious!!!!

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imageimageimageimageimageThe crystal chandelier is festooned with red ribbon and the bobeche are filled with cranberries rather than drippings of candle wax, finished with a huge ornament.

imageAnother chandelier looking from the hall into the living room.

imageThe hall from the living room into the rest of the home.

imageSanta has forgotten his hat on the bed…

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Jim’s painting over the chest in the bedroom, it is only displayed during the Christmas season, another takes its place the rest of the year.  I was quite taken with this painting.  Obviously a talented artist.

imageAnother wall in the bedroom, I love icons and have done a post on them.

imageOne of the bathrooms, of course, in its festive attire!

How about a couple of wreaths…..

imageIn the dining room..

imageAnd inside the backdoor in the kitchen….

imageThe back bedroom with its African theme gets in the holiday spirit!

imageimageimageThe drinks tables…special Christmas Mimosas, yummy!

imageThe tree in the corner of the dining room with more treasured memories

imageimageOh, and did I mention food……my oh my what a spread. Top photo the sweets table (I suggested a cookie exchange next year they were so good!!!!!) Bottom the baked ham, cheeses., paté, relishes and on and on and on……(I got a goodie bag, yay!!!!)

imageJim, Nena, and Greg in front of the tree (still wasn’t finished the tinsel had yet to be placed piece by piece by piece!) that rivals the one in The Walnut Room and this one is alive!!!!!  Thank you so much, my friends, for allowing me to share your Christmas story with my readers, I am most grateful!

The soup served was worthy of my having two cups, here is the recipe beyond fabulous but then so was the entire afternoon…

FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX

GREG AND JIM’S CREAM OF PUMPKIN SOUP WITH CURRY

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 1/2 quarts chicken stock

32 ounces (4 cups) canned pumpkin

2/3 cup brown sugar

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

Nutmeg to taste

2 cups heavy cream

Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

Serves 12

Melt butter in 6 or 8-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute for 5 minutes until translucent.  Add curry powder and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add chicken stock, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; blend in cream.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Adjust to desired consistency with a roux (equal parts melted butter and flour) or a whitewash (flour and water).  If too thin, cook an additional 10 minutes to cook out the starch.  If too thick, add more cream.  Adjust flavor with seasonings.

Blend in a blender until smooth and creamy.  Ladle into bowls or mugs and garnish with chives or parsley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FASHION FLASHBACK/FASHION NOW: CAROLINA HERRERA

imageAs you know I have had the incredible pleasure of working with many, many designers and lifestyle personalities over my many years at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  Among my favorites was (and is!) Carolina Herrera.  Not only an extremely talented designer but probably, even more importantly, one off the nicest people you can meet in or out of the world of fashion!  I had the privilege of working with her on several occasions over the 36 years of her career (the House of Herrera celebrated their 35th Anniversary in 2016). The photos above were a part of my desinger wall in my office they are now housed in the Nena Ivon Collection in the Archives and Special Collections at Columbia College Chicago.  Two weren’t glazed so you see a vintage look to them which I find charming.  I have never seen a bad photo of Carolina.  She would sign a new one each time she visited. She is a photographers dream and has been shot by the best including our own genius Victor Skrebneski, the remarkable Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol to name a few.  Every artist has used her as their muse and one of my personal favorites is David Downton’s piece he did for her SCAD exhibition. I really want a portrait by him…follow his Instagram posts… I would show them to you but I would probably be sued for copyright violations so please go online and enjoy them for yourself.

imageHad to do this…the truly exquisite Carolina Herrera in front of the iconic Warhol piece.

Carolina was “discovered” by Diana Vreeland who admired her personal style (Carolina was on the Best Dressed List long before she started her business and she and her husband, Reinaldo, were/are in the heart of the International social scene)  and encouraged her to start designing, again Diana was correct with her discriminating eye and we all have been able to enjoy and wear the glamour and excitement of Carolina Herrera since 1981.

imageimageimageDiana Vreeland and Carolina in the top photo and two pieces from her first collection…I was there and it was amazingly beautiful.  Her evening gowns were and are the elegant way to look at any formal occasion and her day pieces are timeless as well.

imageimageTwo Monographs, you know me and books especially on fashion….the top title published in 2016 to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Carolina Herrera. 

imageAt her perfume launch

imageI know I have posted this photo before but why not again….four of our visiting designers at the Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago Place opening party September 1990.  Left to right, Adolfo, Carolina, Pauline Trigère and Bob Mackie.  I’m on the left and Beverly Blettner, the event chair, is pictured on the right. I have another version of this photo (which I can’t locate, sorry) that has Adolfo and Carolina laughing…the photographer had asked if they were married, don’t know why the question was asked but it broke up all the designers!

imageAt the Fashion Group International Chicago www.chicago.fgi.org Gala when Carolina was presented with their Night of Stars Designer of the Year Award 2004.  It was at the Ritz Carlton Chicago.  At that event, she asked me how long have we worked together, both our responses were, “since the beginning”!  Her latest award from all her Chicago admirers was this Spring when she received the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum’s www.chicagohistory.org Designer of Excellence Award.  I must add we have lovely representation of the House of Herrera in the Costume Collection. The above three photos are from the Nena Ivon Collection in the College Archives and Special Collections at Columbia College Chicago  wwwdigitalcommons@colum.edu

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I featured a couple of pieces from the Carolina Herrera Spring 2018 Collection in my posts on New York Fashion Week….let’s look at a couple more that were my favorites.  The Collection was shown in the Museum of Modern Art’s Garden a first for MOMA and for Herrera and it won’t be the last they plan on showing there for the next few seasons, the Collections have been shown at The Frick Museum the past few seasons.

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And here is your personal invitation to see the Resort and Spring 2018 Collections…I would suggest you take advantage of this opportunity to see these treasures in person and find something special to add to your wardrobe.image

imageCarolina today in her signature white shirt, let’s look forward to many more years with this creator’s truly glorious garments!

In closing I want to direct you to the Carolina Herrera website, www.carolinaherrera.com it is extraordinary and you will learn much more about this unique talent that I have had the great privileged to have had in my fashion life!

ALL PHOTOS UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED ARE FROM PINTEREST PHOTO CREDIT UNKNOWN

TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS, AS ALWAYS ALL THOUGHTS ARE MINE AND I AM NOT COMPENSATED BY THE BRANDS I AM CURRENTLY DISCUSSING.

IN YESTERDAY’S HALLOWEEN POST STEPHANIE LAKE’S WEBSITE WAS NOT CLEAR THE CORRECT INFORMATION IS www.stephanielakedesign.com MY APOLOGIES TO STEPHANIE!!

 

COLLECTIONS: HALLOWEEN

PLEASE CORRECT STEPHANINE LAKE’S WEBSITE THE CORRECT INFORMATION IS www.stephanielakedesign.com MY APOLOGIES FOR THE ERROR!

 

imageGrab your candy corn this is going to be a long post and I hope a fun one, we all love Halloween don’t we!!!!  It seems that everyone now decorates for this spooky holiday and spend over 9 million dollars on it, oh my, that is scary!!!! I wonder how much of that is spent on Pumpkin Spice items…..or maybe that would be another several million!!!

CORRECTION SHOULD READ 9 BILLION $$$$$$$$

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The holiday began in ancient times, the Celtics had the festival of Samhain to celebrate their New Year began on November 1. All Hallows Eve became Halloween sometime in the late 1800’s a time to go trick-or-treating, carve pumpkins, get dressed up in costumes and all in all come to the end of a season and get ready for winter.  There is so much to learn about ALL the traditions that I encourage you to do a bit of research on your own and, of course, be sure to watch the Giant Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, a yearly tradition…he will appear one of these years!

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Let’s begin with pumpkins…having a very talented artist as a Father I had amazingly glorious carved pumpkins and I could carve my own acorn squash, I don’t remember having the charming small pumpkins and other decorative gourds back in the day.  We always had several, one was never enough and I got to help scoop out the pulp and seeds anytime I could spend with my Daddy I did so and I very happy to say he always had lots of time for me…only great memories.  I now see painted pumpkins, glittered pumpkins, gilded pumpkins, and on and on…love them all.  Here are some photos of some of the thousands you can find on Pinterest and Instagram…enjoy…

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Do come to Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com this weekend, October 28 and 29 from 10 to 5 where you will find lots of vintage Halloween items. I had a huge Halloween party every year from grade school through high school.  Everyone, of course, came in costume, mine, for several years, was a white fringed cowgirl outfit that Mom fashioned each year worn with handtooled white leather boots that we got each year when we spent the summer in Midland, Texas (yes, you heard that correctly!), cowgirl hat and gloves….I thought I was Dale Evans (I was crazy about Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger, what can I say!) Mom decorated every inch of our homes with crepe paper and traditional Halloween paper goods (see what you can find at RSM, I can assure you lots….)  We always had a sit down meal also themed as well as games.  We went trick-or-treating on Beggar’s Night as well as Halloween alternating different neighborhoods…it was the best time ever!

A couple of books on collecting Halloween items….

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Here are some of the decorations we had when I was a child….

imageI had all of these…aren’t they super and now very collectible, see what RSM has…

imageimageimageWe would often have these to go trick-or-treating….hard to find now but great fun to fill with goodies.

imageAbsolutely love this, I want to go to this party…a great way to display all the collectibles you will find at Randolph Street Market.

imageWhen you are in the South Bend area please make a stop at Council Oak Antiques at 50981 S.R. 933 N. as you can see the vendors are ready not only for Halloween but for the rest of the Fall celebrations.  They are open daily and I am mad for the Owner’s Instagram account patricia_mcmahon_smith, do check it out. Photo courtesy of Council Oak Antiques.

There are a zillion haunted houses to visit, parties to go to or host your own, my favorites are at The Peninsula Chicago, hurry home from the Randolph Street Market on Saturday don you costume and attend this year’s extragranza…here are the details…image

And for the children, the party is Saturday morning, also at The Peninsula Chicago www.chicago.peninsula.com….Party invitation graphics courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago.

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Here is our precious Odette modeling her butterfly costume exclusively for nenasnotes photo by Stephanie Lake….

imageimageimageJust perfection…..

imageWorking on Halloween Haunted House….

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TheFinished Halloween House…scary!!!!

imageimageThe above seven photos courtesy of Stephaine Lake, www.lake@stephanielakedesign.com  go to the nenasnotes archives for the week of December 12th for the series of profiles I did on Stephanie…you wont’t be disappointed!!!

imageAfter the festivities I am ready for my treats…and you!!!!!

imageOn my way home…….

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

PROFILE: SAMANTHA SAIFER BERNGARD

imageSamantha Saifer Berngard, Partner, Boldface Co.  Photo by Monia Ponce.

I am excited to start my Monday Profiles again…..and wanted to share a special lady’s story with you.  I met Sam several years ago….when she was at CS and I was still at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  We worked on a couple of events together and then re-engaged when she was at SPLASH.  We have kept in touch over the years and she was kind to invite me to a recent panel discussion with female entrepreneurs which I thoroughly enjoyed.  A fascinating presentation, lively Q and A.

Sam is definitely the face of the young modern woman, a wife, mother of two precious children and a true professional with her own business.  Let’s learn about her journey.

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

I went to school for journalism. I always had a passion for magazines, and I was always told that I was a good writer. Ever since I was little, I was infatuated with magazines and wanted to write for them! I interned at the best New York magazines – People . . . Conde Nast, etc. all through college. I graduated college and the only job I could get was assistant to the publisher at CS magazine. I thought it would be the perfect foot in the door to eventually transition into an editor position. Little did I know, the publisher felt I had a better talent for throwing parties / events / creating marketing programs, etc. I had never done anything like it but it all came so natural. I realized that maybe I never really enjoyed writing at all (I think the deadlines made me anxious!) and that throwing events was what I really enjoyed. It came easily, and I didn’t just like it – I LOVED it! From then on, I knew I was not meant to sit behind a keyboard.  Networking, meeting new people, organizing groups of people and curating awesome experiences – those are my talents!

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”

I’m still not sure I have – ha! When I decided to go off on my own and join my business partner at Boldface Co., I was super nervous that it would be challenging to keep a steady list of clients and make a living vs. working for a company full time. The fact that we have never had to go after clients and have maintained a full book of business at all times . . .  that makes me feel truly successful! Also, being happy with my life and loving it – that is true success.

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

As I mentioned above, I always thought of my future self as a big time writer / journalist .  .  . my background in journalism led me to go to school in DC at George Washington University. It gave me many opportunities that I would not have originally had AND introduced me to all the right people. Once I decided to shift gears into marketing, event planning and now PR – I still utilize a lot of the skills I learned in school.  I truly believe in the importance of every single rung when you are climbing your career ladder. Keep in touch with everyone. Don’t burn bridges with anyone and pay attention to everything!

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

Now I look back in my training in journalism and wish I would have pursued broadcast journalism. I could have been the next Savannah Guthrie – ha! I am definitely a morning person, and I love to talk! I could have killed it!

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY, TYPE OF MUSIC) LOCAL RESTAURANT

Favorite Book: The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss. I read it to my kids and it reminds me of the infinite possibilities that life offers and how much they have to look forward to!

Theater: I am a SUCKER for Bye Bye Birdie – favorite musical of all time! I go to my friend Graham’s house and sing showtunes on the piano regularly. His husband had to learn Bye Bye Birdie for me!

Local Restaurant:  Le Colonial http://www.lecolonialchicago.com it’s been around 20 years and they have never changed their menu. It’s always the best experience!

HOBBIES….

I can’t remember my hobbies pre kids, but I most enjoy spending time with my kids (1 & 3) in my spare time. Everything we do together is my favorite thing to do! We have a lot of fun. If I get out on my own with friends – I sure do enjoy karaoke!

imageSam and her “Crew” on a recent Windy City Live (ABC Channel 7 weekdays at 1:00) the spot was for one of her clients, Monica + Andy www.monicaandandy.com

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

Our home has a modern and very open vibe. I like to think it reminds me of a little beach shack in the middle of Bucktown. It is cozy and nothing is too expensive (everything breaks with kids!) It’s definitely a house made for entertaining. We love to have people over more than anything!

imageWith husband, Jason, Brooklyn and Baby Billie June….they look like a photo out of Central Casting….photo by Suzy Brown for Monica + Andy.

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

OH WOW! That is a lot of pressure. I would probably have Michelle Obama, Olivia Wilde, Madonna, Joan Rivers, Jackie O, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton and Goldie Hawn  over for the most wild GNO / dance party of all time. I don’t know / care what we would eat – but I would have some excellent wine!

I’d also love for my mom, best friend and mother in law to join in because I think they would enjoy it!

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST

We took our son to  Isla De Holbox last year and had one of the best trips ever. It’s such a gorgeous untouched island, and Mexico is a very special place for our family. We met the most wonderful people who we still keep in touch with and hope to go back soon!  Italy will also have a spot in my heart because I studied there in college.

imageCamping with Billie June at one of the Berngard’s favorite summer vacation spots, Camp Wandawega (A nenasnote…I must do a post on this amazing place!!!) www.campwandawegacom

FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT

Giant www.giantrestaurant.com

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FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART

I love Hebru Brantley http://www.hebrubrantley.com and his super hero mural on the Hollywood Cleaners in Wicker Park (image below).

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I also love the “We All Live Here” tags throughout Chicago – reminds me how powerful our Chicago community is. . .

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

Sweet & kind + ridiculously fun!

imageWith Billie June at Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan’s recent Harvest Fest.

A FAVORITE RECIPE

My favorite recipe of all time is my mom’s “Sus” chicken! It’s a family favorite but I can’t give away the recipe 😉

I also look forward to my mom’s vegetable stuffing –we have it every Thanksgiving and sometimes stuffed in chicken breast – it’s amazing!!!

MOM’S VEGETABLE STUFFING

(serves 9 – can be made the day before serving)

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped carrots

1 box (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

4 ozs. Sliced mushrooms

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp.pepper

½ tsp crushed rosemary

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup chicken broth

8 slices day-old white bread cut into cubes

Make the day before: cube bread and put in plastic bag

  1. Large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, celery and carrots and cook 8 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. Add spinach and mushrooms and cook 2 min more
  3. Remove skillet from heat
  4. Stir salt, pepper, and rosemary into beaten egg
  5. Pour egg and seasonings over the vegetables and mix well
  6. Put bread cubes in a very large pan or mixing bowl and pour vegetables over the bread cubes. Mix well. Pour cup of broth over and mix well.

Put in casserole dish, 2 quart size. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min.

BLOGS YOU FOLLOW

I love The Cut https://www.thecut.com – it’s basically how I keep up with my fashion news & not sure if a blog but https://www.theskimm.com is my go to for all news

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Off for a busy day of event planning for Boldface Co. www.boldfacechicago.com, (actually getting ready for an event in NYC) which Sam does so well.  Sam, a million thanks for taking time from your hectic schedule to answer the nenasnotes questionnaire and supplying me with such delightful photos!

FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 PART 7 PARIS

imageWe have come to our final destination for our Spring 2018 Fashion Weeks….Paris and so far it hasn’t disappointed!  Lots of trends, lots of new venues and designers with established Houses.  Let’s take a look at several of the Brands I always follow, no new ones here but the current designers are looking to the originators for their inspiration…

Saint Laurent chose to do their show in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower…wow, could anything be more French….having Dior and Saint Laurent on the same day to me is quite ironic since Yves Saint Laurent was Dior’s Assistant and the person M. Dior chose to succeed him.  We will look at Dior next.

imageThe catwalk and seating, amazing!

imageOne of the trends that has been in almost all collections from New York to Paris, the broad shoulder influenced by the 1980’s and to think Dynasty is being given a new life in a new TV series….interesting.  This looks very YSL with the twist of the feather boot.  I quite like them.

imageimageTwo more looks straight out of the Saint Laurent archives, the deep plunge neckline and tight accented waist and the bold pink “ruffle” bodice with black…note the shoe and the boot, as I have mentioned in the last 6 posts, footwear is what is happening, without question…lots and lots of new looks to add to our wardrobes.

imageimageimageThe Saint Laurent version of the LBD!

imageThe Saint Laurent finale.

The House of Christian Dior is celebrating its 70th year with major exhibitions, books by the score and a stunning new collection by its first female designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Spring 2018 kicked off the Paris Collections and her theme was women in art and saluted Niki de Saint Phalle’s art.  The show took place in the gardens of the Musée Rodin and the stage had 80,000 pieces of mirror 7.2 tons of concrete, a workforce of 80 and 20 days to complete….I’m sure it was spectacular…here is a partial view of the masterpiece.

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imageStripes, denim, messages on tees. First Exit!

imageDenim with wool fringe, love this look, fresh, on trend.

imageBlack and white leather with color accents with a tulle skirt, of course, to be worn with a lining but I really like the juxtaposition of hard chic with the tulle skirt.

imageThe 2018 version of the Bar jacket topping another tulle skirt with Niki’s art applique.

imageOne of the colors for Spring 2018, red here in leather and knits, two more of the trends we have seen in all the markets.

imageChrome and stripes.

imagePink spangles.

imageThis, to me, is very Christian Dior, classic yet modern, a forever dress and making it even more “now” worn with flats!

imageLanvin show at the Grand Palais the first collection by Artistic Director Olivier Lapidus who has plans to turn the oldest continuing House into “a French Michael Kors”.  The House has been in decline since the departure of the talented Elber Albaz.

imageOne of the colors of the Spring 2018 season.

imageAnd red….again note the footwear.

One of my favorite designers is Dries Van Noten, his combination of color and prints is always imaginative and thought-provoking.  Here are a couple of looks from his Collection.

imageimageimageStripes one of my major trends for Spring 2018 along with chrome yellow.

imageimageThe LBD Dries style.

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COLLECTIONS: VINTAGE PORTRAITS

 

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Vintage portraits a super collectible in so many ways. You can make-up your family tree if you so desire, do fabulous wall displays, research the history of itinerant painters and naive paintings….the list goes on. What is the picture that I am opening with today, it is mine, sits on my desk purchased, (if I turn my head slightly to the right it is in my view while I am at my lapto)  a zillion years ago at RSM (Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com is Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24 from 10 to 5….it is the last outdoor Market of the season, it is, of course, year round inside Plumbers Hall!) it is an oil on wood and I have decided it is me with my. Mother, Ruthy. The frame is in disrepair but I like it that way (Tommy this one is for you!!!)

Come to Randolph Street Market this weekend and find one, two or more to add to or start a collection.  I am featuring some of my favorites as well as introducing you to Melissa Parks who will be at RSM with some of her treasures. Melissa is one of my most admired and go to vendors she has amazing taste and vision with her own collections and she gathers many, many, many items to share with you when she comes to RSM, a must visit booth….and I am absolutely mad for her Instagram posts you can follow her @megillicutti, you won’t be sorry.  l’ll try to convince her to do a Monday Profile…really want to know more about her and share her story with you…fingers crossed!  I asked her to take a couple of photos of her collection of portraits that she displays with her multitude of collectibles.

imageimageimageimageEach definitely has a story to tell.  I particularly like the gentleman who is looking directly at us…what is he saying with his very blue eyes and jaunty mustache!!!! Love all of them.  Melissa, thanks so much for sharing.

Portraits have always been with us and a way not only to capture loved ones but yourself as well.  Here are a few I found on Pinterest and have added to my favorites list.  I actually don’t collect them myself, but you know I have limited space, maybe I will start with some “smalls”!!

imageIsn’t she a charmer with the pearls and magnificent hat.

imageReally, really old but I really, really like her gaze and the primitiveness of it (is that a word!!!!)

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imageI believe a Chagall…

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imageMy photo at RSM, frames all ready for your art!

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imageJust a few suggestions on how to display your collection.

Another vendor I always visit at RSM  is Kevin Gorsch, find him in the Ballroom of Plumbers Hall and follow his Instagram @redleopardcrocodilevintage.  Kevin and I have known each other for years and, in fact, spent many a Sunday getting treasures at the Sandwich Flea Market.  He has shared a couple of portraits with me to pass along to you and included his entrance hall wall where he houses his “family” portraits!!

imageA pastel done by an American in Paris at Le Montmartre.

imageA portrait of Kevin at 13 from a show in San Antonio, no art could be more than $10, it was called the Starving Artists Show, no wonder!

imageKevin done a couple of weeks ago at the Lakeview Festival of Art.

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All of Kevin’s pieces photographed by him.  Huge thanks to Kevin for sharing some of his unique treasures with us.

imageShe is my favorite find on Pinterest…I have become addicted to the site.  I have always be a “clipper” it is in my DNA both my Mother and Father were clippers and I am proud to carry on in the family tradition…I must admit I still pull things out of magazines and newspapers but with all the ways you can save on the Internet I am in pig heaven!

Unless otherwise noted all photos are from Pinterest credits unknown.

I just heard on the Channel 7 News that The Hungry Hound’s www.abc7chicago.com/hungryhound featured restaurant tomorrow night will be one of my new favs and one I reviewed several weeks ago…PROXI www.proxichicago.com.  Emmanuel Nony promised to give me a recipe so here it is….enjoy and do go to the restaurant and enjoy a fantastically creative menu.

PROXI Restauran Andrew Zimmerman, chef

Fried Fish Collars with Thai garlic-chili sauce

Serves four

8pc fish collars, about 6oz each, cleaned by your fishmonger

or 2 whole fish (red snapper for example) about 1.5-2 lbs each, cleaned by your fish monger or and fish fillets that you like (one per person about 5-6oz each)

½ cup white rice flour

2 tbsp tempura flour

1-2 tbsp salt

2 limes, cut into wedges

12-16 sprigs of cilantro

8 cups vegetable oil (or enough to fill a Dutch oven or wide pot to a depth of about 6 inches)

Sauce:

2 tsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp minced shallots

1.5 tbsp sambal oelek

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp sugar

¼ cup tamarind water (made from 4oz seedless tamarind and 3 cups water…warmed up…mashed and then strained)

Pre heat an oven to 200 F.

Pre heat the oil in a wide pot or dutch oven to 350 F.

Have a sheet pan lined with paper towels topped with a rack handy.

To make the sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pan.  Add the shallots, cilantro and garlic.  Cook for about two minutes until the shallots are softened.  Add the samabal, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind water.  Cook about three minutes more.

Remove from heat and keep warm.

For the fish collars,  lightly season the collars with salt and them combine the rice and tempura flours.  Completely coat the collars in the flour mix and add them in batches to the hot oil.  Fry about 4-5 minutes or until lightly golden brown and hot all the way through.  As the collars are finished remove them from the oil and put them on the rack over the paper towels to drain.  Keep warm in the oven as you cook the remaining collars.

To serve:  put some of the sauce down on four plates.  Top the sauce with the fish collars. And then some cilantro sprigs and the lime pieces.

Serve.

Nena’s note…I am suggesting a wonderful dry white wine or champagne.  It is a delicious dish, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLLECTIONS: PERFUME BOTTLES PART 1

I know all our thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Houston and the other areas devasted by the hurricane and torrential rains.  While watching the heroic efforts by so many to help others we realize how much good there is in the world even in tragic times.  Perhaps not a time for trivia, but perhaps just the thing to take our minds to a subject that has been around for centuries and know that civilization will survive.

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Miniature perfume bottles in a shadow box put together by one of my assistants many years ago. The batting was added by the Columbia College Archivists. My perfume bottle collection is a part of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago. My photo.

Sorry for the delayed postings…I have had some major tech problems…let’s hope they are resolved, shall we see…Tom H. I’m relying on you!

When I was in retail I had the privilege of attending many seminars on fragrances and launches of designer and unique perfumes.  During that time I collected many miniature perfume bottles, all tiny replicas of the full product.  I tried to keep all the boxes (you all watch Antiques Roadshow and they tell us to keep toys, etc. in the original packaging!) In some cases we received full-size bottles and I kept those as well.

Today’s post is about the bottles and packaging not the juice nor the history of perfume…we will get to those interesting facts in future posts.

Let’s begin with a most unusual launch we did at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago in 2005 with a personal appearance by the creator of many of the perfume bottles, we admire and wear, who created his own fragrance, Marc Rosen, and Shanghai. I had a lot of fun planning the launch and called upon my dear friend, Greg Hyder, The Peninsula Hotel, Chicago’s, Catering Director extraordinaire, to assist me by allowing me to use the charming wait staff from their Shanghai Terrace as well as serving their special hors d’oeuvres and a signature cocktail created for the event.

imageA must have for your fashion book library.

IMG_0287Marc autographed each bottle purchased….here is mine which is housed in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

IMG_0286Marc Rosen signing my bottle.

IMG_0288The exquisite packaging designed by Marc Rosen.

imageThe Shanghai Terrace servers. All the above photos are from the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageA photo I took in my library of some of the special bottles I still have.  The Norell miniature is from the relaunch of the fragrance that Neiman Marcus did a couple of years ago.  Same packaging a slightly updated fragrance.  Center is the iconic Chanel No. 5 which was given to me when I visited the Chanel apartment on my 50th Anniversary trip to the Haute Couture Collections, that shall stay with me awhile before going to my Archives, and the vintage bottle of Shocking by Elsa Schiaparelli. I did have the box but it was unfortunately destroyed…must find another one, that is the fun of the hunt for things you collect.  I am also looking for an original Lanvin Arpege.

imageSaks Fifth Avenue launched the Bob Mackie, Mackie fragrance in 1991, here is the relaunched signed piece in a limited edition for the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum’s celebration in honor of Bob’s Designer of Excellence Award in 2015.

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One of the oldest perfume companies still in existence, Guerlain.  My mother’s fragrance, L’heure Bleu launched in 1912,  her bottle has a bit of juice and it still has the scent…it is Mom in a bottle!  My father gave her the entire set of product each Christmas until his death, I continued the tradition.  I think the Guerlain bottles are exquisite as are the fragrances.

imageMy bottle of my fragrance, Marilyn Miglin’s Pheromone.  I have worn it since its inception in 1978.  Marilyn’s story is a fascinating one, she went to Egypt to the research the oils, etc. used in ancient times and found many of the jars still held the scent…amazing.  I always get compliments on it.  As an aside, Marilyn was one of my small group of models back in the day! She was and is a stunner!

IMG_0334Kay Dobson. the Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago when I started and my second mother.  Joy was her fragrance of choice, here my bottle again a classic and one I will discuss when I do the Haute Couture designer perfumes.

imageTwo Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances, I don’t know where their caps are, that are going to my Archives…I just found them tucked away!  You note the bottles are inspired by the Shocking bottle, which was fashioned after Mae West’s silhouette.  Gaultier’s first fragrance bottle was inspired by Madonna!

imageThe packaging of fragrance and cosmetics is what draws us into the product…its all about marketing and appealing to our senses.  What I love about this piece is that it is housed in a square box, approximately 5″ x 5″ and opens to reveal a Chanel runway complete with the iconic Chanel mirrors, chairs set up for a fashion show and Mlle. herself with a mannequin on stage…I think one of my most favorite pieces in my collection…I think I will keep it for awhile!

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As always with my Collections posting I advise you to attend the Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com to see what you can find…this time Perfume Bottles.  Also, check your favorite stores for the classics even if you don’t wear them you can add to your vanity table.

More perfume bottles in the next Collections posting….in that post we will explore vintage collectible bottles, not by brand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLLECTIONS: ART POTTERY

imagePhoto was taken from the Pottery Boys website.

I have been posting about the Pottery Boys  www.potteryboys.com this week and their open house this Saturday, August 19th.   The piece above is from their vast collection, each piece I feel is extraordinary.  I wanted to share a few more of their pieces, a glimpse into the creativity of David Erpenbach, another skilled artist, and delve into a collection at the Chicago History Museum www.chicagohistory.org

imageOne of the Pottery Boys pieces and an up close photo of the special top. The details look like jewelry.  Both photos were taken by me in their Studio. image

imageAnother from their website.

imageAnother photo I took in the Studio.

imageFrom Tom Mantel and Tom Hawley’s Collection, I featured the grouping of three pieces in another post here is the very large piece close up and then the exquisite detail of the top of the sculpture and the intricate almost lace like work of the body of the piece.

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While I was preparing this post my thoughts wandered back in time to the apartment of a dear friend and colleague at Columbia College Chicago, Dianne Erpenbach and her husband, Jon, and their collection of their son, David’s unique, and wonderful art pottery.  Why don’t ask me, I haven’t thought about it in years.  I contacted Dianne who in turn let David know I was interested in seeing his current work.  I asked him to share his thoughts as well…you know I will do that!

Here are those thoughts and some of his special pieces:

“I use traditional wheel thrown and hand built techniques to begin all of my pieces. My vision is to take traditional pottery forms and make them more unique by cutting, altering and adding several thrown and hand built pieces to create one final form. Some of my pieces may use up to ten or more thrown or hand built pieces to create one piece. I do not use molds so all of my pieces are original and one of a kind. My experience with firing includes High Fire reduction, High and Low Fire oxidation, Soda Fire, Salt Fire, Pit Fire and Raku. I have five years of learning and experimentation during my undergraduate study at Northern Michigan University where I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts with a studio concentration in ceramics.”

imageDavid Erpenbach at his wheel.

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imageMy favorites of David’s work…as you know I am a green girl, but these really drew me into them.  All above photos courtesy of David Erpenbach.

The Midwest is known for its pottery, think Ohio for an example, McCoy, Hall, Shawnee, USA, actually a mark not a brand, (all of which I collect in white, you have seen some of that collection, and some green pieces).  Roseville, Rookwood, and Weller, of course, and all the Arts and Crafts designers and Mid-Century artists.  The subject is huge and I will probably do future posts on it but I wanted to do a short photo essay on Teco which was/is done locally.  “The American Terra Cotta Tile and Ceramic Company was founded in 1881 in Terra Cotta, Illinois between Crystal Lake and McHenry.  It became the first American manufacturer of architectural terra cotta (I did a post on terra cotta a few weeks ago in my Thursday Collections series). The founder William Day Gates began experimenting with clays and glazes for art pottery which introduced TECO Pottery (TErra COtta) in 1899.  It is known for it’s Teco Green glaze, a smooth, microcrystalline, matte.” (Source Wikipedia).  I like to credit as much as I can to local resources for nenasnotes and I found several pieces housed in our Chicago History Museum Collections www.chicagohistory.org all from around l905.

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imageThe three pieces above are in the Chicago History Museum Decorative Arts Collection.

imageThis piece found on Pinterest photo credit unknown.  I think it is stunning.

imageAn out of print book….if you are interested I would suggest an internet search.

Of course, you will find many, many art pottery pieces to add to or start your collection at the Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com Saturday and Sunday, August 26 and 27 from 10 to 5.