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.

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: POTTERY BOYS PART 2

imageKeith Herbrand and Glenn Woods in their Studio-Showroom Pinterest photo credit unknown.

I presented the Pottery Boys to you in Monday’s Profile now let’s hear about the actual process from clay to finished product.  Do settle yourself, this will be a very detailed and interesting post, but I’m sure you will agree well worth the read, it is fascinating!  Here in Glenn’s words……

imageClay Pinterest photo credit unknown.

“Making pottery is a multi-step process: Making and trimming the piece; altering/piercing/beading the piece; bisque firing; glazing and firing; post glaze finishing
Making and trimming the piece
Each piece starts out as a simple lump of clay – we generally start with 2 to 8 pounds of clay depending on the project. Our pieces tend to be more on the small to medium sized so 2 to 4 pounds usually does the trick. We first center the clay on the potter’s wheel – open the mound of clay to make it hollow and then thin the walls to make the walls taller and uniform in thickness. Once we have established a nice cylinder, we begin pushing the cylinder into shape. We make bottles, vases, mugs, bowls, plates, and other more decorative forms.
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Altering/piercing/beading
After arriving at a pleasing shape, the piece is allowed to dry to the point where it holds its shape and can easily be handled to trim away excess clay – this stage is called “leather hard”. It is also at this stage where I will begin altering the shape – pushing the form out of round, creating grooves, creases, folds, or spiral patterns. I also begin to carve the piece at this point. Some of the pieces are given flower-like imagery on rims of plates, the body of a pot, or the neck of a vase. I also use a squeeze bottle filled with clay the consistency of frosting (called slip) to place beads on the surface – usually in conjunction with altering and/or carving to enhance the design.
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imageFrom the blank to the piece ready for firing.  Photos taken by Nena in the workshop, last photo taken by Glenn.
Bisque Firing
Once the altered/pierced/beaded piece is finished it is allowed to air dry for a couple of days, making sure it does not dry out too quickly – rapid drying may lead to cracking or structural problems. After completely dry, we place the piece in a kiln and bisque fire to drive out all the chemically bound water – this renders the piece to a stable stage, no longer able to reclaim into soft pliable clay. After cool from the bisque firing, we sand the piece and wash it to remove any dust or unwanted texture.
Glazing and Firing
We sketch each bisque piece ready to be glazed, I indicate on the drawings what glazes are going to be used and in what order. I like to layer my glazes so there may be as few as 2 layers but as many as 8 layers of contrasting colored glazes. These crystalline glazes are very fluid during the firing and require a pedestal and glaze catcher – the glazed piece is mounted on a riser and then placed in the glaze catcher, which catches the glaze that flows off the piece and over the pedestal.
We firing the piece to 2350 degrees Fahrenheit to fully melt the glaze. This temperature is called “cone 10” in potters terms. Once peak temperature is reached, we quickly lower the temperature to 2000 degrees and begin a very slow cooling process to grow the crystals – this cooling cycle can take upwards of 8 hours or more. Once the crystalline growth cycle is done, the kiln is allowed to cool naturally to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit and unloading the kiln begins.
Post firing finishing
Once the pieces reach room temperature, we are able to remove the pedestal – removal of this piece leaves the bottom dangerously sharp and much care needs to be taken to remove the razor sharp edge. We use a diamond disc to grind the bottoms smooth and give a slight bevel to the outside edge of the piece. At this point, the piece is finished. However, we have been using a few specialty techniques to enhance the color and visual quality of the crystals. One such technique is referred to as “Acid Etching”. Soaking the finished piece in an acid bath (muriatic acid or sodium bisulphate) for increments of 15 minutes – washing and drying the piece after each 15-minute soak to see what has happened to the piece. We do this in 15-minute increments because you can go too far and once acid etched, the only way to reverse the effect is to refire the piece.
The other technique we use to alter color is called “post fire reduction”. We place the finished piece in a reduction chamber (basically an old kiln we use to heat the pieces up in) We use propane to heat up the reduction chamber to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit with a propane burner. Once we reach 1500 degrees, we choke off the oxygen supply to the burner, the propane needs oxygen to burn so it depletes the oxygen from the kiln chamber, once that has been depleted, it begins taking oxygen from the glaze layer, turning the titanium creams and tans to purples and pinks. It also will turn copper green glazes into copper red glazes. This color shift is permanent and can only be reversed by re-glazing and firing again.
That is the process in a nutshell.” Nena’s note, some nutshell!!!!
imageA finished piece photo taken by Nena with iPhone 7 on site.
imageA close up of a finished piece.  Photo by Nena on site.
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imageA finished piece in the Mid-century home of Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel with a close up of the detail.  Photo taken by Nena.
More on pottery tomorrow in Collectiions.
I hope you can come to the demonstration and Open House to see all these gloroous pieces in person.  In the meantime go to the Pottery Boys website www.potteryboys.com
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Nena’s Weekly Recipe
Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil from the New York Times/Melissa Clark
(If you don’t have the New York Times Cooking App, I suggest you get it immediately, not only are there amazing recipes but you can save yours to the site as well…it is fabulous!)

Ingredients

  • Fine sea salt
  • 12 ounces dry orecchiette or farfalle  (we did orecchiette)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and thinly sliced (keep the whites and greens separate)
  • 2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (2 cups kernels)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste (we did more, actually much more!)
  • cup torn basil or mint, more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice, as needed

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat; add scallion whites and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and all but 1/4 cup corn; simmer until corn is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, transfer to a blender, and purée mixture until smooth, adding a little extra water if needed to get a thick but pourable texture.
  3. Heat the same skillet over high heat. Add butter and let melt. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. (It’s O.K. if the butter browns; that deepens the flavor.) Add the corn purée and cook for 30 seconds to heat and combine the flavors.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add pasta and half the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then add a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. Stir in 1/4 cup of the scallion greens, the Parmesan, the herbs, the red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. Transfer to warm pasta bowls and garnish with more scallions, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper.

We added sliced grilled chicken to it.  It is truly delicious….make it you won’t be sorry!  Served with my usual simple green salad and vingerette and, of course, lots of rosé or white wine!  We did my Strawberries Romanoff for dessert.

PROFILE: THE POTTERY BOYS

imageI had the great pleasure of seeing the Pottery Boys in action this week and I wanted to share their story with you.  I will be doing so in several posts this week and invite you to their pottery demonstration and open house on Saturday, August 19th in Blue Island, Illinois (see the bottom of this post for all the deets!)

How you might ask, did I hear about this talented duo…my dear friends (family), Tom Mantel and Tom Hawley have been collecting their pieces for several years and I have admired their pieces in their Mid-Century home (a post in the future!).

imageThree pieces from The Toms collection…aren’t they stunners!  The detail and shading are amazing let alone the size of the center piece.  I do love them against the brick wall in the living room, modern pottery coming from the earth against brick also coming from the earth and tracing Blue Island’s roots as the “Brick Capital of the World”!

Over the years I have admired the pieces and have said I wanted to meet Glenn Woods and Keith Herbrand, I had that opportunity this week and was totally enamored with the process.  It was quite the experience to see Glenn in action and learn more about the art of potting (I’ll share that story later this week).

imageWhat Glenn was working on when I arrived at the workshop.

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Finishing the piece in very short order! Ready for decorating and then firing.

imageOne of the three kilns.

imageA portion of my workroom tour.

imageA selection of leaves waiting for their color to be applied.

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Heart shaped leaves (I will think they are inspired by my beloved redbud trees see the glorious weeping redbud, below, in The Toms garden!).

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As is usual I ask my “Profiles” to answer a questionnaire…this one has been tailored especially for The Pottery Boys and Glenn graciously answered my questions, you will read much more on his technique later in the week, and Keith gave me a tour of some of the finished product.

imageSome of the finished pieces.

imagePieces of Keith’s creativity.

When did you start doing your art and why pottery?  (I am the daughter of an artist so perhaps I view art differently, I hope so!) 
I have always loved making things and as a child would sew dresses for my friend’s dolls, or style their hair, or crochet something – I also had a learning disability – reading and grasping abstract concepts was difficult for me so I would often seek art as a way to feel productive. I was in special education from 3rd grade to 6th grade and I remember hearing that if you couldn’t do math, science, or read well, they would put you in art class – Thank God for art classes, that is where I found myself and was able to grow.
It was my high school teacher – Judy Wenig (who I am still friends with today) who introduced me to clay as well as a host of other art mediums but I fell in love with clay the moment I sat down at the potters wheel. My first piece was dated 1974 – I still remember that piece and how it gave me hope for my future as a potter.
 Has your aesthetic changed over the years, if so how? Has it just evolved or has your style changed completely?
I tell people all the time that my style has changed dramatically over the years – and it has. However, recently I met up with a college friend who was also an art major – he found me at an art fair in Indianapolis. My work has gone through so many changes as I explore different techniques and ceramic materials, so I was excited to show him my new work – but he said “I recognized your work instantly” I was shocked. At first I took it as a disappointing suggestion that I have not grown at all but the more I think about it, I guess it is a complement. No matter how many changes and transformations my work takes, there is still something there, a common thread that is evident despite the changes – to an artist this is a great compliment.
 
Where do you get your inspiration for your pieces?
I sketch a lot – I dream a lot – I admire other artists’ work a lot. You can see influence from nature in most of my work – some people see suggestions of gourd shapes, flowers, twisting branches, and even patterns found in snowflakes. The truth is, I never look at a flower and say – “I am going to incorporate that in my work” it just seems to surface as a desire to design, decorate, or create patterns. The general public tend to find the influence by asking if I was influenced by something specific – wow, I can see your influence from Asian potters, or lotus blooms, or . . . I often discover my influence through other peoples observations.
 
Do you do commissions?  How do they affect your creativity?
I will do commissions but only on rare occasions – when I feel the commision will take me down a path I would like to explore, I go for it. However, I NEVER take a deposit and I ALWAYS say, I will give it a shot and then move on from there. I do not like to spend time chasing after another person’s dream – If I can’t capture what they are looking for in the first series, I suggest they find an artist whose style is more closely aligned with what they are looking for. I work in small series – 6 to 10 pieces, if they cannot find one piece in that series that meets their needs, we both go our own way and I have a few new pieces to show. Chasing after commissions tends to disrupt the creative process.
 
I understand that you spend your winters in Florida how does that inspire you?
I became a full time potter in 2001 and moved from Evanston, IL to Palm Harbor, FL because Florida has so many outside art fairs, an artist has shows to pick from year ’round. I have never liked the heat and I am not into beach life so the influence one might think I would get from living in Florida is very limited. The greatest change to my work is color – when we lived in the midwest, my colors tended to be more neutral – browns, tans, rust, deep blue, and dark greens. These colors do not do well in Florida so we now use lots of lighter colors, teals, emerald greens, deep blues – very water borne colors. I am color blind – not totally but I never know what color I can’t see until we are talking color variations and then I am in big trouble – in mixing glazes, my thought process is more focused on the chemistry rather than the value or depth of color – when glazing I am looking for a color blend from light to dark to create weight and a sense of depth so it is less about color and more about how the colors interact, blend, and work to create that sense of depth – even if you were viewing the piece in black and white.
 
Why do you create in Blue Island?
I often say, Blue Island found us, we did not seek out Blue Island intentionally. After moving to Florida, we decided to establish a home base back here in the midwest – especially after deciding to participate in summer art fairs for 4 months out of the year – traveling back and forth was not an effective way for us to live and we needed a place to work and live for the summer months while participating in the art fairs (without relying on staying with family or friends). We met Bridget Scales at the Bucktown Art Fair – she told us of a building in Blue Island that might just fit our needs – a year later, we moved in and love the building, the town, and especially the Blue Islanders – Blue Island has a rich history and those who live here love it’s history and work hard to keep the city alive.
 
What would you do if you weren’t artists?
I would be a philanthropist or a counselor/psychologist – I have always wanted to help people – especially where people feel tormented by the contrast of who they are and who society wants them to be. Growing up gay in a small farming community where my best friends were Amish kind of set the tone for my life. Needless to say, I was surrounded by very conservative people whose thoughts and advice was not real supportive – not only of my sexual identity but also my desire to create. I remember my mom telling me “little boys DO NOT sew dresses” or crochet or play with hair. She caught me sewing in my bedroom one day – the others were outside playing. She was so appalled at what i was doing, she wrapped a towel around me and paraded me around the others while singing here she is, Miss America. It was great fun for her but I was totally humiliated (too much information, I know but artists do struggle to find ways to express themselves that are socially acceptable, a lesson I learned at an early age)
 
What are your passions outside of your talent?
I am a total clay geek, so I do not have many interests outside of my clay work – I do like to write – especially about my work in clay. I recently have had 5 articles published in “Pottery Making Illustrated” I also have a passion for helping people, looking for ways to build self worth. While I enjoy music, theater, I would not say I am passionate about those things. I love to invent, I love to talk to total strangers, I love to express my love and gratitude, I also can’t contain my distaste for something – like a political figure that seems to be misguided (in my own opinion, of course).
Informaion on the Pottery Demonstratons from noon to 5 and the Open House from 6 to 9

Saturday, August 19 – noon to 9pm
13201 Olde Western Ave. / Blue Island, IL 60406  /  727-504-6200

Glenn Woods and Keith Herbrand will be hosting an open house in their Blue Island Gallery on Saturday, August 19th. Glenn will be conducting pottery demonstrations from noon to 5pm while Keith tends to the gallery. The formal Open House will be from 6pm to 9pm with light snacks and refreshments. Several local artists will also be participating offering: Original Paintings; Mosaics; Jewelry; Ceramic Arts; and Pottery.

The gallery is located in Blue Island on the north side of the Cal-sag Canal, just under the Western bridge.

Glenn and Keith are full time potters who reside in Palm Harbor, Florida but have been summer residents of Blue Island since 2004. They have a formal open house once each summer due to their hectic summer art fair schedule. You can see their work at many local art fairs including: Chicago’s Old Town Art Fair; Chicago’s 57th Street Art Fair; Downtown Geneva Art Fair; Lake Forest’s Art Fair on the Square; Naperville’s Riverwalk Art Fair; Park Forest’s Tall Grass Art Fair. If you are unable to make it to those art fairs, this is a great opportunity to see their work AND to watch Glenn as he creates pottery on the potters’ wheel from noon to 5pm.

There will be several local and regional artists represented – all will be present to chat a bit about their work.

Crystalline Glazed Pottery – Glenn’s pottery is made out of fine porcelain and glazed with a specialty glaze called Crystalline Glaze. These glazes are noted for their ability to grow crystals in the glaze layer during a complex cooling process during the glaze firing. By altering the firing temperatures and the duration of the firing, special effects and wonderful visual texture can be achieved.

We are inviting you to come out for the day or evening to see our work, meet the artists and enjoy the company of art lovers. You can come out for the demonstrations – visit one of the many wonderful local restaurants in Blue Island, Midlothian, or Crestwood and then come back for the Opening to wrap up the day.

All photos were taken on site by Nena.

FASHION FLASHBACK: JUDITH LEIBER AND MORE FANS…

imageI had the pleasure of working with Judith Leiber on several occasions, each visit was a total joy.  In addition, she always invited me to visit her showroom/workrooms when I was in New York.  They were like a museum truly something to behold.  The pride level of the talented craftsmen quite frankly was something I have only seen duplicated in the Ateliers of Paris Haute Couture.  I think everyone only thinks of her beaded bags, which are exquisite works of art, but she also did skin bags, leathers and suede as well as fabric bags for day in addition to her overwhelmingly prolific collection of minaudière.  She would open a cabinet in her showroom that revealed a wondrous collection of very special pieces and always say, “choose whatever you like!”  If only, it was totally against store policy (Saks Fifth Avenue) to accept gifts from designers or vendors.  Unless the designer asked me to wear something from the collection we were featuring at a show (I was a sample size in those long ago days!!!), I bought what I wore at all times. I do own several Judith Leiber bags both day and evening and treasure each of them.

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Two bags from her fan collection (I included these at the end of yesterday’s post as a teaser, did you guess who I would be featuring today, of course, you did!) Each season there were animal bags, a themed collection, and her classics, always something extraordinary to add to your collection or start a new one.  She would also do special orders, perhaps just a color change.  You will see her bags on every red carpet as well as in the hands of royalty and our own First Ladies.  She was a major star with no star ego, a true icon in the industry.

image Judith Leiber in her workrooms in the early years.  The following is an excerpt from the Museum of Arts and Design and the Leiber exhibition that is closing this weekend.

“Judith Leiber spent sixty-five years in the handbag industry, from an apprentice in Budapest to the owner of an internationally renowned handbag company based in New York City. As the only female pattern-maker, and with the unusual ability to make a handbag from start to finish, Leiber brought a distinctly European training and skill set to the United States, where handbags were made with assembly-line skill division. This allowed her not only to succeed as a designer but also to revolutionize the meaning of handbag craftsmanship for the American consumer.

Leiber’s handbags run the gamut from finely crafted leather pieces and textile-based bags to the fantastical Swarovski crystal–encrusted creations for which she is most well known. Inspired by a life-long admiration of art, travel, and opera, Leiber’s bags include Art Deco–influenced hardware; materials such as Lucite and seashells; references to the artwork of Piet Mondrian, Georges Braque, and Sonia Delaunay; and collaboration with Faith Ringgold on a collection of handbags inspired by her quilts.

As Leiber’s reputation flourished, designers and suppliers sought her out, offering interesting materials, particularly textiles. Thus, many of her handbags are constructed with obis from Japan, Parsi ribbons from India, and fabrics from Iran and Africa. From the earliest days of her company, Leiber pushed the boundaries of handbag design—innovation that is epitomized by her famed sparkling minaudières, a technique that began as a solution to a damaged metal frame, and was then catalyzed by the design of her imaginative animal and food clutches to become fashion staples for First Ladies and celebrities alike.”

imageI love this photo of Mrs. Leiber surrounded by a few of her creations.  On one of her visits she was invited to attend a dinner in her honor at the home of one of our very good clients who collected Leiber bags…did I just say the Leiber showroom was like a museum, well I stand corrected, this client’s home was Leiber everywhere in specially designed museum quality cases, it was something out a movie and by the way quite tasteful.  Mrs. Leiber was overwhelmed.  The client, I might add, supplemented her collection, after that dinner, with Mrs. Leiber’s guidance.

imageAnother book to add to your fashion library, lucky me, mine is autographed by the wonderful creator herself!

 

One of my favorite designer stories came from James Galanos.  We were discussing selling many pieces to a single client and he told me that one of the California boutiques that sold his garments, actually bought most of the Collection each season, and that is saying something, had a client who had purchased multiple gowns that particular season and also ordered a Judith Leiber bag to go with each.  He was aghast at the expense.  My comment was “was the client involved with charities” answer, yes, very much so.  “did the client employ staff at her many homes, entertain there, have flowers, chefs, etc.” again, the answer, yes. “did the couple travel”…yes, yes, yes!  My answer to Mr. Galanos “the client is supporting the economy, we are just a small portion of that”.  His answer, “I never thought of it that way, but Nena, you are right!”  Wow, coming from one of the major fashion icons, oh my…  In other words, the people who can afford expensive items, clothes, cars, property, etc. make our economy, I guess that is what capitalism is all about.  Needless to say, I’m not in that category (one can live in hope) but I was lucky to be surrounded by beautiful things in my years in retail and can appreciate quality.

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Gerson and Judith Leiber in front of the wonderfully talented Gerson’s  paintings.

Information on the Leiber Museum….www.leibermuseum.org

“In 2005, Gerson and Judith Leiber built a gallery to house their works of art and to chronicle their careers, offering an unparalleled retrospective of their creations over the past many decades.

The Leiber Collection, a magnificent Renaissance styled Palladian edifice, sits majestically in a sublime sculpture garden that borders six additional gardens, each designed by Gerson Leiber, in a style befitting the local geography. Considered by many to be the best-kept secret of the Hamptons, you are in for a real treat as you peruse the exquisite jewel of a museum and explore the charming gardens.

Come visit us on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 – 4 pm”.

A YouTube video one of several, this a very dramatic life story of a major influencer and unique talent. Mrs. Leiber retired in 1998 having designed over 3,500 handbags!  The company’s current creative director and co-owner is Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger.

For further reading here is a link to the incredible Judith Leiber story in Harper’s Bazaar.

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a17293/judith-leiber-from-holocaust-to-handbag-icon/

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There are other Judith Leiber fragrances, I chose to feature this one because of its name, love it!imageKarl Lagerfeld with his ever present fan with his then friend Yves Saint Laurent (whose 81st birthday we would have celebrated this week)

imageAnother photo of Karl Lagerfeld with his fan

imageSo much a part of his aesthetic that his fragrance bottle is fan shaped.

imageimageTwo looks from a John Galliano Dior Haute Couture collection.  As you can see fans are every where in every culture and in every era.

All photos from Pinterest credits unknown.