BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: RITZ & ESCOFFIER

TODAY’S POST IS UNDERWRITTEN BY AN ANONYMOUS SPONSOR

 

868F2B3E-5259-4876-AD6E-29933FF56059You know I love a great historical novel, probably my favorite genre, and here we have real history that reads like the plot of a novel. And if that isn’t reason enough to grab this fascinating tale then just look at the cover (in this case, you can definitely tell the book by its cover), putting on the Ritz or Ritzy come to mind, both in todays vernacular. 

13B00D37-B0FC-4765-BEF8-3A04D86E809DCesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier

The innovations these genius’s brought to the hospitality industry set the standard, in the late 19th Century, that are followed by today’s Grand Hotels and fine restaurants world-wide.  They weren’t afraid of doing whatever it took to give their esteemed clientele the best and newest of everything in food, service, accommodations, and, of course, the best staffs in each property.  Ritz was known for  only wanting the best and had no problem spending money to achieve his high standards often to the chagrin of his partners and shareholders.  Think bathrooms in each guest room and suite, electricity throughout the properties, elevators, special meals for unaccompanied ladies to be in the hotels restaurants without male escorts and on and on.

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I remember my first trip to London going to The Savoy for cocktails before the theater, I don’t remember what we saw that night, but do remember a feeling of nostalgia for a time long ago when I got out of the car and saw that amazing SAVOY  sign….wow!

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Cesar Ritz came to The Savoy in London at the request of the owner, Richard D’Oyly Carte (think Gilbert and Sullivan, that D’Oyly Carte!).  He already had made a name for himself managing several properties on The Continent where he made each prosperous and unique.  He turned The Savoy into THE place to go with the partnering of Auguste Escoffier, who had already established himself in the world of haute cuisine as an ingenious creator as well as his streamlined working ofvhiskitchens. Both gentlemen knew how to “work the room” and charmed their ever growing clientele, which included all of high society from around the world and, of course, had the blessing and attendance of the Prince of Wales, at the eleborate meals Escoffier invented and prepared in his perfectly orchestrated kitchen. All went beyond expectations until scandal breaks out (no spoilers from me!) and forces the men to Paris and The Ritz…..

6A185713-EB35-42D5-BFCD-B89BF6C199D3The Ritz, Paris

1639B5D4-3038-4794-9CAF-A2243DE9376AGabrielle Chanel in her apartment at The Ritz, Paris

I can go on and on about how much I enjoyed this book, the history of the hospitality and food industry and the men and women (their wives, who wore gowns from the Couture Houses of Charles Frederick Worth and Jacques Doucet, played a huge part in the story as do the celebrities of the day, Nellie Melba…think Peach Melba and Melba Toast, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde….all came to The Savoy). I not only learned so much but did so in a most entertaining way, Luke Barr has written a book (get it you will truly enjoy the story on so many levels) that I will refer to often and wish, yet again, that I could transport myself back into that creative time of the Belle Époque, of course with all the modern amenities we have now, in addition, of course, to those Ritz provided, elevators, bathrooms, individual service, exquisite food…..well maybe I don’t need to be that modern and can be extremely comfortable without today’s tech devices!!!!!  And you………..

Two more for your library, they are going into mine.

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One of my favorite Escoffier recipes, there are so many i couldn’t possibly mention them all including Melba toast…love making it from my French Brioche loaf, is  Baked Alaska, which he called “eggs and ice” and served to great acclaim. I have always loved this photo from the original Betty Crocker (yes, even Betty Crocker bows at the Escoffier throne!) cookbook I gave my mother when it was first published (I still have the book and use it all the time, its spine is held together with masking tape!). I have never made it but isn’t it the most fabulous photo ever….the styling, even back then, is perfection. Maybe, just maybe this summer with homemade raspberry ice cream…..just saying….

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BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: A NECESSARY EVIL

17126C6B-5355-4A14-A66E-3357186082A7I had read about this book on many of the book blogs I follow and was eager to put it on my TBR list. I hadn’t read Abir Mukherjee’s first book in the series, A Rising Man, but found it wasn’t necessary (I will, however, put it on my list), his main characters, our protagonist, Captain Sam Wyndham and his Sergeant ’Surrender-Not’ Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force are clearly drawn in this installment

From the flyleaf ”India, 1920, Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee….investigate the assassination of a Maharajah’s son…..As they desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules….”  Why wouldn’t you want to read this book!!  It certainly got me.

The murder of the heir takes place in Calcutta in front of Wyndham and Banerjee at the beginning of our story.  We then follow them to the wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore (Sambalpur), the wealth is diamonds and coal.  See the map of India below for the ”real” location of our story.

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Here we learn of the Maharajah’s three wives, the middle wife, the mother of the two adult sons has died, the first a contemporary of the aging Maharajah and the third a young beauty with a young prince. The intrigue of Palace politics is explained when we meet members of the inner circle both Indian and English as well as the ”harem” guarded by eunuchs.  We are taken into the world of opium, Indian religious traditions, and ceremonies. We go on glamorous trains (better than the Orient Express), attend formal dinner parties (everyone, of course, dresses for dinner, but then they dress for every occasion! Why can’t we still do that?!) we even learn how to hunt on top of elephants. The Raj is still in effect but times are changing and the power (read money) is the main focus of the time and the novel. Times are changing…wealth and influence are changing as well, while human nature and traditions remain the same.

F8992C77-E53F-4555-B2AD-5136B7B1DAD6An image of a Maharajah with rows and rows of diamonds and other precious stones. Iris….eat your heart out!  Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.

Our story takes many twists and turns. We have a love interest (no sex here my friends, implied, perhaps!), a bit of violence and lots and lots of intrigue and information on a time I was eager to learn more about. I must admit I was taken by surprise by the reveal of the assassin (no spoilers here), you have to read almost to the very end to find out ”who did it”!  I thoroughly enjoyed Mukherjee’s writing, his detail of the time was informational and makes me want to further explore this subject while I wait for the next adventures of Captain Wyndham and Sargeant Banerjee.

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The author, Abir Mukherjee, photo by Nick Tucker.

Would I recommend the novel, absolutely and you know I always recommend patronizing your local Independent Bookseller.

Mukherjee recommends Ann Morrow’s HIGHNESS The Maharajahs of India for further research….on my list for sure.

9EFAE5C6-6702-4783-AC34-4499C04EC42622E8FD27-111E-44BF-ADB6-2D3CB2C64516I am recommending The Great Courses, A History of India, also on my list

COLLECTIONS: ENGLISH IRONSTONE

E8A9FA8C-B041-4D64-8492-A0B752BD9189I’ve been anticipating doing this post forever…..if you are like me, I think of Ironstone as white….well silly me.  The stunning platters are just the beginning of  a connoisseurs major collections. Photo by me on my iPhone. This is my favorite pattern from the several groups in this treasure trove of Vintage Ironstone. Foolishly I didn’t match the makers stamp to the patterns but many of the items in this collection are Mason, the father of English Ironstone. You knew I would find a book or two for your reference!

The company was started by Miles Mason in 1796 and continued to 1856 by his sons most notably his third son, Charles who was married to Sarah Spode the granddaughter of Josiah Spode the founder of the famous potting dynasty. For a concise history of Mason I recommend you to go to Janice Paull

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The shelving on the right is in an antique store, notice the platter on the top shelf in the middle it is the same pattern (Pinterest) the image on the right is a display in a private collection, bottom photo a close up of one of the serving platters with dinner plates on either side. Both those photos were taken by me.

If you are looking for Ironstone to add to your collection or to start one remember this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29, from 10 to 5 each day, is the not to be missed monthly Randolph Street Market

Some examples I found on Pinterest that interested me, no other reason. Photo credits unknown.

Makers marks….I photographed them and at the time knew which went with each of the many patterns in this connoisseur’s carefully curated collections I didn’t take notes bad move on my part….sorry!  But here they are, quite impressive.

Another set….

And more….

All photos taken on my iPhone unless otherwise noted.

The excitement of the hunt can be one piece or an entire collection….what is it all about, well I’ll tell you, when you see it buy it….don’t walk away and have regret. Make friends with the dealers, learn from their expertise, read books, catalogs, go to websites enjoy the pursuit of your treasures and no better place to do exactly that than Randolph Street Market

MONDAY MUSINGS: WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT??!!

914DD8BA-0E7A-4835-937B-0AF625C6A4D6A question I have been asking myself, sorry for the lack of posts….lots of reasons, primarily a dead computer….a learning curve of doing nenasnotes on my iPad, let’s just call it frustration, confusion and loss of clear focus…let’s talk about it, shall we.

Perhaps it’s the lack of spring blooms, yes, they will come (I took the above photo last year in Harbor Country…I’ve referenced the grounds in many other posts), but then we rarely have spring until later, if at all. So I guess that’s not it.  I made a decision when I began my blog, a year and a half ago, that I wouldn’t do negative posts and I have stuck to that philosophy….so please let me vent this one time.  I decided to ask a consultant to help me toward my path to monetize nenanotes. I found the perfect person and we “clicked” immediately as friends.  During our delightful meetings over a period of time and lots of glasses of wine, I was advised to do lots of selfies, makeovers, talk about product, etc.  None of which is my style at all.  I’m not a pretty young thing who will have followers to buy what I  wear or droll over tutorials on how I apply my makeup …who cares!!! It has nothing to do with age but rather a preference of what my “mission/goal is”.  I think it is best to leave that to those who do it well. Guess what, I decided not to follow that advice (and it was excellent advice just not for me!) but continue on the path of my original plan to share my experiences in the world of fashion, do book reviews, explore collections, interiors (mine and others) share profiles of interesting people, my travels, in general talk about what interests me.  I do, however, have (suggested at my meetings) a smashingly glorious Media Kit produced by my dear friend, the extraordinarily talented, Christine Hawley, who also worked with me to produce my exceptional logo. I will use it for potential sponsors for nenasnotes. I’ll be happy to share the MK with any of you who are interested.

Okay, rant over. What do I have planned going forward, actually lots!!!  High on my list is to kick off my nenasnotes Fashion Book Club with Loulou & Yves by Christopher Petkanas. I will do a review, Christopher has asked me if I would post my review on the actual date of publication which is Tuesday, April 17th, I’m excited to do so.  It will be the first in my monthly Fashion Book Club choices and Christopher is interested in joining the discussion via Skype, too exciting for words! I will be announcing that May date soon along with the rest of the year’s exciting selections and surprises. Stay tuned!!!!!97B4DD29-93F9-46AC-AA9A-49F169C68071

I’ve been lax in sharing recipes with you lately…..sorry, I’ll correct that shortly. I love to make brownies and think mine are THE best (don’t we all!!!!!), I’ve made them forever.  For some unknown reason I had purchased a box of brownie mix as well as a can of fudge frosting and thought why not give them a try….I added pecans and vanilla to the brownies (sorry Tommy I was naughty and changed yet another recipe!!!) They were absolutely delicious and I think they are my new best!!!!!57807917-295B-4FE7-849E-EE9CDE411161

I am obsessed with looking at other peoples homes and gardens so you can bet you will see more of those, what did we do before Pinterest, I have zillions of clippings from magazines through the years as well as complete issues of some of my favorites, that is what we did. The photo below is a corner of my home (it was taken by Christine Hawley, I told you she is talented in so many ways!)…I’ve already done a post on paisley, there will be several on my needlepoint (some of which you can see on my built-in daybed) textiles, my lily of the valley collection in the breakfront and all over my home.  You can also see how I house some of my obsessive book collections, the two vintage bamboo shelves are mostly fiction and the tall slim bookcase (made for me by Harold Hawley, whom I profiled in my post on page-tuners) holds my collection of needlework books. You can also see lots of art on all surfaces. 3A576191-CDE5-4A95-9A76-C3124C09E84D

Gardens, of course….here is my favorite tree, in spring bloom, in Blue Island at the Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel home.  It is spectacular each season 9BB99CCF-DDB1-49FB-ABD5-3B44A670EAB8

As for my Profiles, I have a couple coming up that I know you will enjoy, waiting for photos on several and transcriptions on others. They are really, really outstanding and worth waiting for.  And always profiles of designers I have had the pleasure of working with.  Below I’m with Bob Mackie who has just launched his exquisite fine jewelry collection and is busy at work on the costumes for The Cher Show which will open in Chicago pre-Broadway in June…all too exciting for mere words!!D3B0A1F7-B99B-47B7-88BA-02BE1144DB92

Collections, of course, mine, and others and those found, like the assemblage below, at my favorite go-to monthly event Randolph Street Market

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From a magnificent private collection of English Ironstone.

Of course, I’ll continue to share fashion shows past and present such as the benefit for RefuSHE on Thursday, April 12th at The Cultural Center. The photo below is from last years show with a gown incorporating fabric produced by the members of the RefuSHE ccommunity in Africa and created by one our talented Chicsgo based designers. 1E65F7B4-9A5E-479F-A96C-806C2A046734I think I’ll cross out the makeup and keep wine…well maybe keep both on the top of my list…..your thoughts my friends!!0589C2AE-6CB4-4D43-B87E-3937333C121C

To sum up, in addition to the aforementioned topics, I’ve been asked to redo my Fashion Show Production class at Columbia College Chicago which i am very excited to do as well as a couple of other CCC projects, we shall see how they develop.

If there are topics you want to explore with me let me know.  Until Spting arrives…..0B5F6705-23E6-4917-B449-380810FA655D                      Photo from Pinterest credit unknown

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: VINTAGE FASHION PAPER DOLLS AND A TEA COZY

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When I was a little girl I loved paper dolls. I had them in all shapes and sizes. My most favorites were the Brenda Starr paper dolls that appeared in the Chicago Tribune Sunday Comics, very glamorous. I would carefully cut them out with my tiny sewing scissors and then create new garments for them. Brenda and her wardrobe lived in their special golden box. The beginning of my love of anything fashion, perhaps!!!  Why am I’m telling you this, because my friend, Randy Bryan Bigham (see his Profile on nenasnotes on January 8, 2018) who is THE authority on all things Lucile Duff Gordon, the Couturier, (see January 12th post) has given us a wonderful insight into the clothes worn on the Titanic.  By now we are all very familiar with the fact and fiction of this ill-fated voyage.  By seeing some of the garments, worn by 6 of the women, of different stages of society, as illustrated by the renowned artist, Norma Lu Meehan, makes them even more ”real” to us. Randy has provided a thumbnail sketch of each of these women.

BAF1C28C-4912-4338-9CB3-8EB3035309B3I for one can’t wait to get my hands on the book when it is published on April 27th, (you can pre-order on Amazon or Paper Studio Press right now!)  I will actually need two, one to treasure and make it’s home in my fashion library, the other to cut up and ”play” dress up with like I did as a child.  There are many ”celebrity” paper doll books but trust me this has the authenticity of being championed by one who knows what he is talking about!  I believe this will start a new trend in paper doll book collecting, move over coloring books!!!

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While we are thinking England, yes, that is what we are thinking, let’s talk tea, shall we!  The next book I wanted to discuss today isn’t set in England at all but it is all about tea.  The 19th in Laura Childs Tea Shop Cozy Mystery series, Plum Tea Crazy, reunites us with our heroine, Theodosia Browning and her ”crew”.  As always, in this series, the murder occurs at the very beginning and Theo is pulled into solving ”who done it”. Set in Historical Charleston, insightful details about the charming homes, neighborhoods, traditions are always woven into the plot along with a multitude of characters, many are in each volume, along with new shop owners, visitors, business and cultural leaders, etc. Our protagonist owns a tea shop, the Indigo Teahouse, where she hosts many themed special teas with her debonair tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley and chef, Haley, who creates magic in her teeny kitchen. The murder isn’t all it seems to be, a fall, but rather death by an antique crossbow and arrow. Many suspects, many encounters and consultations with the head of Homicide, Detective Tidwell, a romantic attachment to the handsome, charming, Detective Pete Riley.  This story involves us in guns and other weapons, rather interesting given all the important issues regarding gun control we are contemplating now.  It goes into jealousy, fraud, money laundering, I didn’t suspect the murderer right away, and lots of talk about what tea to serve with each course (you will want to check the appendix for tea purveyors, there are many) and as always in Childs’ books, recipes….yay, you know I love recipes!!!!!  What’s not to love about a Cozy Mystery, and when they are by Laura Childs, you become enchanted with her characters, her locations, her enthusiasm for giving her readers a thoughtful feel good reading experience (besides the murder, of course!!!!!!!)  Thanks to Penguin Random House for giving me the opportunity to read the book, it is out now for you to enjoy.

FASHION REMEMBRANCE: HUBERT DE GIVENCHY

6C698FF1-A8C6-44DC-ADDC-E30AD447BB89A week after we learned of the death of the last of the great couturiers I feel everything has been written about this extraordinary creator by those who knew him, wrote about him and treasured his memory. His creativity was unparalleled not only in the world of fashion but also in his homes and his magnificent gardens.

I wanted to briefly talk about my memories of the few times I met him.  The first time was at the launch of his first cosmetic collection in 1966. It was always a ”contest” to see which of the major stores, usually the Speciality Stores….Saks Fifth Avenue, Bonwit Teller, I. Magnin (Neiman Marcus wasn’t in Chicago yet) and, of course, Marshall Field’s, would launch the newest, hottest fragrance.  I must say Saks saw it’s share of these prestigious events. Obviously a cosmetic collection by one of the worlds most illustrious designers was beyond exciting. We had a huge fashion press in Chicago at the time and they were all vying for exclusives. I didn’t then believe in exclusives if the story doesn’t run you are ”dead in the water”. Instead, we always had a press party for visiting designers in addition to a reception for clients usually to benefit a charity. All was set, caterers in place, champagne chilled and I had the tuxedoed wait staff with their champagne ladened silver trays lined up on either side of the cosmetic aisle ready for the guest of honor, M. Givenchy, his people, the President of Saks, Corporate Cosmetic VP’s and our guests. I ran up to my office to quickly change, I am in ”mid-change” when my walkie-talkie (this is before tech thingies!) is swawking….”M. Givenchy’s car has just pulled up”!  My office was on the fourth floor, I finished pulling on my clothes torn down the stairs and made it to the door to escort the entourage into the store and the reception. Whew!!  I have worked with many, many wonderful creators through the years and I can say he was one of the most gracious, charming of all.  He made you feel like you were the only person he wanted to talk to, if only for a brief moment in time. This cosmetic line was short lived and we had the privilege of a second launch several years later. AFD15AD3-A8F0-45DC-9E8C-A92419EFF774.jpegThis photo, now in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, hung on my office wall was from the first launch.  Unfortunately, like several other designer photos, the salutation has faded into oblivion over the years.

In M. Givenchy received the Designer of Excellence Award from the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum at a sold-out black-tie gala held in the Museum in 1995 sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The front and inside cover of the evening’s invitation, the evening was planned with the direction of M. Givenchy’s dear friend, Victor Skrebneski (holding my hand) who took the photo on the invitation and is seen here with M. Givenchy and Bonnie Deutsch, the President of the Costume Council at that time.  The evening was a roaring success monetarily and prestigiously   It was the talk of the town. All the guests were given a small ivory silk pocket square with the Givenchy signature and rolled hem in grey. All three images courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

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A close up of another Skrebneski photo of one of my favorite Givenchy dresses….you by now know my love of lily of the valley…what could be more divine!!!!!  Photog found on Pinterest.

We all know of the deep friendship between Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn from the time she chose her garments for Sabrina through most of her many films, as well as her personal wardrobe.  One of my most favorite garments are in Charade, loved the film (what’s not to like) and the clothes are to die for…she seems to have a new outfit in every frame…each better than the last.

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My favorite Skrebneski photograph of a Givenchy gown. Everything is perfection….the composition, the lighting the incredible staircase, the floor and of course the gown…oh my the gown!!!!  Found on Pinterest.

Of course, a few suggestions for your fashion book library….

I have very fortunate to have worked with the creme de la creme of the fashion world….lucky, lucky me!!

COLLECTIONS: BIRDS!

95107314-4DDC-450D-B57F-FEE0BF43A45D.jpegA print found at Randolph Street Market in Paper Patty’s booth. (My photo)

Audubon book found in the NOV booth at Randolph Street Market open to two pages.  (My photo)

I don’t know about you but I am so ready for Spring, although it hasn’t been the worse Winter I have gone though. Yesterday I actually saw a “haze” on some trees which indicated, to me, a glimpse of the future, buds!  And Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend…another harbinger of Spring!!!  Living in an major urban environment I don’t see many bird varieties, mostly dear little sparrows, pigeons, of course, and, at the moment, four huge crows or are they blackbirds or ravens, sorry I’m not an ornithologist, whatever they are they are gorgeous but extrembly vocal!

6DA49802-C0CF-415E-91AC-7B853E042251A beautiful sleek American Robin, I do see them occasionally. Image from Pinterest credit unknown.37B0A860-6BEB-4280-9E02-8E57395EB64E.jpegA basket of Robin’s eggs photo found on Pinterest credit unknown.

C9A4EE8E-ED8D-4BC6-9D3D-C2F5C7D761B1A charming watercolor (one of two) of an English Robin given to me by a dear English friend who is no longer with us….I have it close to where I can constantly see it to remind me of her and our weekly Sunday chats!  I found the hand carved destressed white wood frame at RSM and feel it compliments it perfectly.  I love the difference between our Robins…ours sleek and their British cousins, short and stout!!!!  I love both.  (My photo)

More nests, 1870’s English prints, from Paper Patty’s extensive collection you can find her on the Balcony of Plumbers Hall at the next RSM on March 24 and 25  (Also my photos).

1860’s Italian lithographs from Paper Patty’s vast collections of birds and many, many other images  (My photos).

9106E498-4FDC-431B-9BA8-9A6605D87E53.jpegOne of my vignettes, I try to group like items together, here you see several variations on the bird theme, a book of poems given to me by another dear friend, two already framed pictures…the larger a lithograph print with metal frame, the small round carved wooden Italian frame surrounding a delightful miniature watercolor of a bird’s nest.  The concrete bird is the lone element left from my Evanston garden (and Mom’s over two hundred English roses plus other cutting flowers!) part of the birdbath shell with a cherub (which now reside in a friend’s country estate).  I used one of my iPhone filters to distress the image, I think makes it a bit moody!

Speaking of pigeons, and these most certainly are not the ones on the streets of Chicago…….here are two amazing lithographs from a new friend I follow on Instagram who has kindly let me share these with you.  You can follow at cpgoodrich  on Instagram  I think what I like most about Social Media is how you can make new friends virtually.  Everyone I have contacted to share images and more with me for nenasnotes, has been so willing to do so.  It, to my minds eye, makes my posts a bit more personal, hope you agree. C884ED91-00E2-4FBE-8A2D-7CCB8038E295More from Cary, this time glorious hummingbirds.

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296F4747-E8F6-4204-BE21-6204884A13BFSilver plated Woodcock mounted on a wooden disk.

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A vintage needlepoint piece.

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Charming wooden bird and it’s little house (I’ll do a post on birdhouses in the future.)

The above 4 images are of items at Council Oak Antiques in South Bend, Indiana. Pat is always so generous in accommodating my wacky requests. Again, we are Instagram ”friends” you can find her posts at patricia_mcmahan_smith and I am so excited to finally meet her in person this weekend.  I’ve been to the store and the selections are beyond fabulous. I’ll be like a kid in a candy store.  I can’t begin to imagine what material I will find for upcoming posts!

A couple of books….there are hundreds, that I found appealing…

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Of course, I couldn’t do a post without a bit of fashion…how about a vintage 1960’s Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture…what makes this even more special to me is when I visited the Lasage Atelier in Paris I held the sample for the embroidery, an incredible experience.

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NENASBOOKNOTES: PAISLEY RABBIT AND THE TREEHOUSE CONTEST

 

9B407105-1DFD-4774-83F4-D555988CC8DFBefore you think I have gone totally mad stay with me…..I know this is a children’s book….but is it really.  Let me explain.  A new friend of mine, Brett Firdman, a major Media Influencer, knowing I love books, and she is no longer reviewing them, has referred nenasnotes to publishers, authors and publicists. This was the first I received. I immediately loved our heroine’s name (I collect vintage paisley and was planning a post on it…it will appear later this week) so I thought why not!  When I received the book, before I opened it, I was totally enchanted by the exquisite cover illustration. I have been enamored with books from birth.  Both my parents constantly read to me and when I started to read, well you know the rest…I haven’t stopped. I don’t have children but have always read to my friends children and grandchildren and their presents are always books. This one would be bought in bulk it is glorious in its prose and art…I want to live in Paisley’s treehouse.

The premise of the book is a lone girl rabbit, Paisley, is up against Jimmy Squirrel whose father owns the biggest construction company in the city. Jimmy challenges a close group of friends to a treehouse contest. Paisley has no building skills and no one to help her enters the contest. The story is motivational for all ages in seeing the so-called underdog take charge, get a team together and defying all odds create something magical while proving anything can happen with grit, nerve and a can do attitude. The result is extraordinary in so many ways.    Not only will children read this over and over, so will I.

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From the amazing insightful author, Steve Richardson when asked how he came up with the idea, “The book was inspired by watching my sister, Margaret Chambers who is an interior designer,  work on awe-inspiring and epic multi-million dollar houses.”

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Then he was asked what he thought was the most important message of the book, “The importance of not jumping into a project but taking it slow, doing research, thinking creatively and big.  Looking for ways to bring creative people together with all kinds of talents to work as a team.  Finally, it’s not just about winning but producing something that will help others when done.”

The artist, Chris Dunn, is only in his 20’s and this is his first children’s book.  His illustrations are glorious, I can’t wait to see what he does next. You can find him at www.chris-dunn.co.uk.

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Paisley writing thank you notes in her library.

My thanks to Smith Publicity for getting me this advanced copy, Impossible Dreams Publishing Co. releases the book on March 1, 2018.  My recommendation get it for every child in your life and be sure to get one for yourself it is a total delight.  Just you wait until you see the finished house, I want to find property and hire Paisley and her team to build my dream house!

 

FASHION BOOKS: NORELL

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I have been waiting forever for someone to write a monograph on Norman Norell, well it is finally here and the book is beyond brilliant!!!!  Jeffrey Banks, who obviously, is not only in awe of this extraordinary designer and individual, but also recognizes the important contributions Norell made to the world of fashion, has written the perfect salute to one of the best fashion designers ever!

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Jeffrey Banks at the opening of the Norell retrospective exhibition at FIT which he guest curated

The cover, pretty much says it all (not quite you need to read every word and look at each photo and drawing….many by the extraordinarily talented Michael Vollbracht, (lucky me, I worked with Michael on several occasions as well as having had the privilege of doing many shows with Mr. Norell, huge regret that I did not have the experience of working with Jeffrey Banks but we have become friends on Facebook and I have many of his other books in my fashion library.) Putting red on a redhead, the incomparable Suzy Parker in a 1952 photograph by Milton Greene, was very forward for the time, and here she is in one of Norell signature all over sequin gowns and enveloped in a cage of red tulle….glorious glamour.

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One of Vollbracht’s immaculate drawings of an iconic mermaid gown

NORELL Master of American Fashion opens with an outstanding forward by Ralph Rucci and then broken down into brilliant chapters such as The Clothes, The History, The Leading Ladies and The Legacy, etc. The Afterword, Collecting Norell is by Kenneth Pool the renowned collector of Norell.  The end papers are closeups of the handsewn sequins. So many incredible photos, one of my favorites is on page 26 which is described as “Norell’s smart theater suit” (don’t we wish everyone dressed up when going to dinner, the theater or at all!!!) it is a camel hair jacket lined in gold pailettes over a gold pailetted dress….stunningly beautiful. You have to hold your breath as you turn each page when you discover yet another miracle of design.

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The sailor dress a look you saw in some form or another in most of Norell’s collections.

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The iconic Life Magazine photo of Mr. Norell with his four models in mermaid gowns

Pass go and go directly to your nearest independent bookseller and get this book it is one of THE best ever…I’m afraid mine will become tattered from all the use it will get, we won’t even discuss the drolling over the images and tears of remembrance of days gone by but that can be relived in Jeffrey’s perfect book and also know that if we have a Norell in our wardrobe (I still live in hope all these years later…..) that it will never go out of style  NORMAN NORELL lives on!

May I direct you to my blog post on Norman Norell from November 11, 2016 Norman Norell