BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: A WELL BEHAVED WOMAN

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By now you know I am obsessed with historical fiction especially when the book concerns “real” people.  When this exceptionally written book came into my consciousness I knew it would be one I would not only enjoy but would devour and, of course, would want to share with you. I was correct in that assumption.  (As usual, I recommend The Book Stall my Independent Bookseller, as your source when purchasing your books.)

The protagonist is none other than Alva Vanderbilt who married into one of the wealthiest, if not THE wealthiest at the time, American dynasties.  Wealth was new to Alva and the story tells us of a world known to very few.  The Astor’s ruled New York Society, especially their Matriarch, Caroline.  Snubbed by Mrs. Astor, Alva was determined to make her place, along with her husband, William, and the rest of the Vanderbilt family to reach the top of the Gilded Age social scene.  And not only did she do exactly that but did it with grace and class  Fowler takes us into this rarified world via, their exquisite homes, think Marble House (The Biltmore is briefly mentioned), the many homes in New York City.  I particularly enjoyed Alva’s forays into every detail of her many homes and her participation with the noted architect, Richard Hunt, in planning the architecture and each and every phase of the construction of the mansions and the interiors from paint colors, fabrics, to furniture….everything!  Having literally millions to spend she thought out every possible item in her homes and became the personification of elegance of her era.

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Alva Vanderbilt

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William Vanderbilt

Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island

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A couple of the interiors …

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Living in a strained marriage, (I’m not doing spoilers here, if you know the background of the era you know of the scandals) Alva made herself a pilar of New York, Newport, Paris and London society in lifestyle including her Charles Frederick Worth wardrobe (you know I enjoyed those descriptions!), the exquisite entertaining….balls, formal dinners…highlighting the developing of the Arts in New York City, making sure her children were exposed to the best of educations, associating with the “right” people (including Oliver Belmont) while respecting everyone no matter their social status…which I greatly admired.  She was always a philanthropist and became very involved in women’s suffrage.  In many ways she reminds me of our own Bertha Palmer as well as others of her time. It gives us details of the women (or The woman, Alva) behind the wealth which was always in the hands of their husbands, fathers, guardians. Fowler’s eye for detail parallels that of Alva’s…her research is impeccable.  Read it you will be transfixed!

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A couple of books to give you thoughts on the food of the time…

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I’m including a recipe for Beef Wellington, which happens to a favorite of mine to serve at special dinner parties.  This recipe is from Epicurious.com

 

BEEF WELLINGTON

FROM EPICURIOUS.COM

INGREDIENTS

    • a 3 1/2-pound fillet of beef tied with thin sheets of larding fat at room temperature
    • 3/4 pound mushrooms, chopped fine
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 pound pâté de foie gras (available at specialty foods shops) at room temperature
    • 1 pound puff paste or thawed frozen puff pastry plus additional for garnish if desired
    • N/A frozen puff pastry
    • 1 large egg white beaten
    • an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water
    • 1/2 cup Sercial Madeira
    • 2 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in 1 teaspoon cold water
    • 1 teaspoon water
    • 1/2 cup beef broth
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped black truffles (available at specialty food shops) if desired
    • watercress for garnish if desired

PREPARATION

    1. In a roasting pan roast the beef in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the thermometer registers 120°F. Let the fillet cool completely and discard the larding fat and the strings. Skim the fat from the pan juices and reserve the pan juices.
    2. In a heavy skillet cook the mushrooms in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until all the liquid they give off is evaporated and the mixture is dry, season them with salt and pepper, and let them cool completely. Spread the fillet evenly with the pâté de foie gras, covering the top and sides, and spread the mushrooms evenly over the pâté de foie gras. On a floured surface roll 1 pound of the puff paste into a rectangle about 20- by 12- inches, or large enough to enclose the fillet completely, invert the coated fillet carefully under the middle of the dough, and fold up the long sides of the dough to enclose the fillet brushing the edges of the dough with some of the egg white to seal them. Fold ends of the dough over the fillet and seal them with the remaining egg white. Transfer the fillet, seam side down to a jelly-roll pan or shallow roasting pan and brush the dough with some of the egg wash. Roll out the additional dough and cut the shapes with decorative cutters. Arrange the cutouts on the dough decoratively, brush them with the remaining egg wash, and chill the fillet for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Bake the fillet in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°, and bake the fillet for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the meat thermometer registers 130°F. for medium-rare meat and the pastry is cooked through. Let the fillet stand for 15 minutes.
    3. In a saucepan boil the reserved pan juices and the Madeira until the mixture is reduced by one fourth. Add the arrowroot mixture, the broth, the truffles, and salt and pepper to taste and cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring, being careful not to let it boil, for 5 minutes, or until it is thickened. Loosen the fillet from the jelly-roll pan, transfer it with two spatulas to a heated platter, and garnish it with watercress. Serve the fillet, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices, with the sauce.

Serves 8.

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Photos are from Pinterest credits unknown. 
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FASHION NOW: DENIM ALWAYS CLASSIC ALWAYS NEW

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Early last year I was asked by Sally Schwartz, Founder/Owner of Randolph Street Market  which is celebrating its sixteenth year in 2019, to do two monthly exclusive posts for the RSM newsletter she has given me permission to share some of them with you in 2019, starting with DENIM.  I have added a few more photos to my original piece.  Enjoy!

nenasnotes Fashion Trends Exclusively for The Randolph Street Market reprinted with Sally Schwartz permission.  All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

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A quote from FIT’s  DENIM: Fashion’s Frontier, the cover is seen in the photo above.

“Denim is one of the world’s favorite fabrics, and today it accounts for the largest segment of the clothing industry. The market for jeans alone is worth over 55 billion dollars. Accompanying a recent exhibition at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, this handsome book explores the history of denim and examines the continually evolving relationship between it and high fashion.

Prized for its durability and strength, denim began as an ideal fabric for workwear, most famously in the clothing produced by Levi Strauss & Co. for fortune hunters during the 19th-century California gold rush. Over the past 160 years, however, film, television, and advertising have helped transform denim into a symbol of youth, rebellion and sex. The fashion industry has also played a large role in the expansion of denim into casual and couture clothing.”

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Quite a transition from it’s lowly beginnings as overalls worn by the men and woman seeking their fortunes in the Gold Rush of the latter part of the 19th Century. Levi Strauss saw the need for a sturdy fabric…denim…and sturdy closers to hold the fabric in place…thus “jeans” were born, first in the form of overalls.

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Seeking their fortunes….then…

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And now….

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In my opinion, in my youth, denim was only worn to garden, maybe go grocery shopping but never seen as a fashion item until the “Hippie Movement” of the 1960’s. Everyone, at the time, thought that it was the beginning of everyone wearing “uniforms” that uniform being traditional jeans. This was not the case, think embellishments, think the “flower child” and individuality came to the forefront and quite frankly has never looked back. It might be “uniform” but only the fabric, not the fashion. People want acceptance but with their own twist. For years I would think….denim is dead instead of long live denim!

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Obviously the latter is the case and it just gets stronger and more trend worthy. Take for example the entire denim collection Karl Lagerfeld did for Chanel in 1996.
He is quoted as saying Mlle Chanel thought Mini skirts were dreadful as was denim….there you have it…the rest as they say is fashion history (or fashion myth!)

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When I worked with Victoria Beckham, in 2008, she was only doing sunglasses and we introduced her jeans which became status symbols so much so that I “paid” our models in the jeans they wore for the personal appearance, I must admit a rather clever marketing ploy on my part…gorgeous young models wearing the product out and about didn’t hurt sales!!!! The jeans all had embroidered stars on the back hip pocket….the item of the season. Her talent has blossomed and I might add, she was a dream to work with, loved her.

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8015A753-A7E5-444C-BC06-9EB2615EE1D1Claire McCardell’s popover dress of 1942 featured in the FIT Denim exhibition and book

6B9FF1DB-2B2A-4C5A-A565-63787C589C55“Rosie the Riveter” interpretation 1942-1945 also featured in the FIT Denim exhibition and book.

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Junya Wataniabe dress 2002 (detail is on cover of the FIT exhibition book)

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From the creativity of the Antwerp designers 2005

Vivianne Westwood’s denim interpretations…

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John Galliano for Dior 2002…

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And wearing denim 2009…

0FB84D00-8392-46CB-B67C-0A9A15D4FAA4Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen 2016.

Celebrities have always wore denim….

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Then….Marilyn Monroe in the film The Misfits

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Now…Rihanna out and about.

The 2018 Collections featured denim in its many guises…..

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Randolph Street MarketBBBA72AF-3542-4B79-A639-4E9D59C2E535The King of American sportswear, Ralph Lauren, at his beginnings and at the finale of his extraordinary 50th anniversary extravaganza 2018….I’m obsessed with the tuxedo jacket and jeans…what could be more modern….

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Or perhaps a patchwork quilt…..the possibilities of working with “blue jeans” is obviously endless…I can hardly wait to see what our designing geniuses will create in future collections with what was considered “workman’s” cloth…..stay tuned….

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: PINK: THE HISTORY OF A PUNK, PRETTY, POWERFUL COLOR

 

22B49155-B5B5-4790-9198-0F4848E9F178.jpegThis will be a combination post….a book review, an overview of my conversation with the erudite, Valerie Steele for my monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, and additional thoughts on PINK. The book edited by Steele is the companion to the current exhibition, ending January 5th, at The Museum at FITwhere she is the Director and major guiding influencer.

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The FIT exhibitions are always brilliantly mounted and worthy of your visit. There will be two exhibitions in 2019 that will be accompanied by books, more opportunities for us to hear from this unique fashion scholar (she is so much more…as you will learn in an upcoming nenasnotes Profile!)

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Book Review and other thoughts on pink in fashion and our lives: The book is brilliantly written, edited and illustrated. Giving us insights into a color that has been in fashion for centuries.  I particularly like the layout of the book (not all the pictures accompanying this post are in the book or exhibition but are being used to illustrate my take on pink!) taking us from the courts of Europe when pink was worn by as many men (see above illustration) as women through Haute Couture Collections to Punk to Red Carpets to Pussy Hats to Real Men Wear Pink to pink ribbons fighting  breast cancer.  We learn about the introduction of Shocking Pink by Elsa Schiaparelli to the iconic Yves Saint Laurent black gown with wide shocking pink bow, a garment, that Steele shared with us in conversation, that was a major exhibition coup and one she was especially excited to include.  It is a MUST for your fashion library, but then all of Valerie Steele’s books are meant to be included there.

I have had the fabulous good fortune to have many brilliant authors join me in conversation for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and I must admit Valerie wasn’t an exception, we all learned so much!  I hope she enjoyed the hour as much as I did and the attendees were in rapt attention, I might even say in awe with her at ease conversation in sharing her expertise which, in my opinion, knows no bounds.  Bravo Valerie and thank you….here’s to the next book!

The reinvention of Schiaparelli, Christian Lacroix with the first collection (which I thought was brilliant, but then I am a huge fan of Lacroix!) and a more recent interpretation, love the color combination!

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Two photos from the exhibition……notice the Comme des Garçons (pale pink on the far right) is inspired by court gowns of the 18th century.  The book and exhibition pushes our knowledge of color, silhouette, influence and on and on…I suggest when you either read an accompany exhibition book or are fortunate enough to visit one that you look beyond the obvious, leave behind what you think you know and absorb the detail of the garments and text…clothing is history which oftens recreates itself but always defines a place in time.

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A masterwork by a master craftsman Charles James from the Costume Collections of the Chicago History Museum

Pink in major works of art as well as the fabulous scene in Funny Face with the extraordinary Kay Thompson et al singing “Think Pink” an ode to the classic Diana Vreeland proclamation “Pink is the navy blue of India!”

1754938F-4234-400F-A0D7-8D18B01B783A3AA2B026-7F64-4A04-974D-17F19230978DBarbie Pink is Red Carpet ready….and from the Valentino Haute Couture catwalk to Tracee Ellis Ross on the real runway, the Emmy’s Red Carpet, gorgeous!!!!

9768E5DE-929A-4B35-AB47-9E4EA80E5BB6Exquisite pink entryway

7C9D38C5-35C1-40BE-9D02-B07BF0641E69                                       Pink Cadillacs and Grease’s Pink Ladies

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E2FF171D-BA38-4984-868E-DD407BE2B28CReal Men Wear Pink supporting  Chicago fundraising for Breast Cancer

Carolyne Roehm in one of her designs from her new book Carolyne Roehm: Design & Style: A Common Thread

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Catherine Grace O’Connell Founder of Forever Fierce Revolution and a nenasnotes Profile, please check Archives.  839D3BE2-7469-4238-9312-8528641C568C

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Shades of pink for an interior space

Some pieces courtesy of the Costume Collection of the Chicago History Museum  gathered for me by Jessica Pushor, Costume Collections Manager. You can research on their digital platform.

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A glorious ethereal fantasy.

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Of course, an exquisite rose to inspire us….

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And from the uber talented artist, Rosemary Fanti, her interpretation of me in her pink creation….a surprise gift at The Fashion Book Club.  Thrilled to include it in my Rt collection.

 

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All photos unless otherwise noted from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

MY BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS POSTS ARE UNDRRWRIITEN BY AN ANONYMOUS SPONSOR.  PLEASE CONTACT ME AT NENASNOTES1@gmail.com FOR SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNIES OR nenasnotes THE FASHION BOOK CLUB INFORMATION. 

 

BOOKNOTES: THE MASTERPIECE

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

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

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

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

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

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

42nd Street entrance

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

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

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

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

Commuting Ramp
Grand Central Station, Manhattan, New York

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

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

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

All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

THIS POST GENEROUSLY UNDERWRITTEN BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR. CONTACT ME FOR SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES. 

BOOKNOTES: SEPTEMBER TO BE READ LIST

16342407-F683-4D48-9B49-0F5DD55F4751I thought I’d give you a preview of some of the books I will be reviewing this month.I have SO many on my TBR list that it was difficult to choose just a few…but here goes…

I am currently reading The Masterpiece by one of my favorite authors, Fiona Davis. So far it doesn’t disappoint.  It is the story, told in two time periods (seems to a trend in many of the novels I have been reading, wasn’t a fan, but am adjusting to them…this one definitely works!), of the art school housed in the Grand Central Terminal in New York, one of my favorite NYC structures.  You know how much I love historical fiction…this is a fascinating little known story…..I’ll post the review next week.

Next up, I’ll probably review a long over due non-fiction work by another of my favorites, Julia Reed, South Toward Home. I always love her books and her other writings….informative, funny, and very, very well written I never want to finish her books and that is a compliment….I think we are in for a good read. 1CBA0F19-D464-40C9-A7EC-151F444932BF

Torn by which of these titles to read next….maybe The Dinner List, intriguing to me and hopefully to you since that is one of the questions I ask each of my nenasnotes Profile guests to answer…”who would you have, living or dead, to your dinner party?”  Should be a fun read

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Or maybe I’ll switch gears and go with another author whose works I enjoy, Natasha Solomon’s and her House of Gold.  Another historical piece set in Austria and England during the World War I era.  You know I love any story set in England and that time period….we shall see!  61A9BA18-7F9F-4A8B-B80E-227AD207A6AA

Of course I need to re-read Bonnie Cashin Chic Is Where You Find It by the Uber talented, Stephanie Lake, who is joining this month’s nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and then read what looks like a stunning addition to the Christian Dior oeuvre Dior and His Decorators by Maureen Footer, this is the October selection for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club.

 

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Stay tuned for my reviews on each (go to the nenasnotes Archives for my review on the Bonnie Cadhin book).  As the song says….the beat goes on, or should I say the books go on and on and on…..

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PROFILE: JEFFREY BANKS–GENTLEMAN CREATOR

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The exciting world of Social Media brought me to Jeffrey Banks.  I have, of course, admired his work forever, first and still as a designer and then and now as an author. I got to Jeffrey through Facebook accounts from our mutual friend, the multi-talented, Michael Vollbracht who I did have the pleasure of knowing and working with…I did a blog post recently just following his untimely death.  I am posting this Profile of Jeffrey, who graciously agree to do my nenasnotes questionnaire, on the day of Michael’s Memorial Service in New York.

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Michael Vollbracht’s delightful work as a student at Parson’s where he won the Norman Norell Award, Mr. Norell was not able to present the award instead it was presented by Bill Blass who became a lifelong friend of Michael’s and who designed the Blass Collection after Mr. Blass’ death.  I bet they are now very busy designing the robes for the angels!

Last week Jeffrey delighted my nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club group, via conference call, with reminiscences of the unsurpassed designer Norman Norell as recounted in Jeffrey’s exquisite book NORELL: Master of American Design. Jeffrey’s books are as well done as his design work, all perfection.

Thank you, Jeffrey Banks, for joining my blogging adventure and for sharing your insight into the world of fashion via your exceptional books…you can be sure I will call upon you to chat again in the very near future to discuss another of your books….let’s see which one shall be next….stay tuned!!

Want to hear more about this unique creator…read on in Jeffrey’s own words……

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WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB
My first job was at age 15 selling Men’s clothing at Britches of Georgetown . I loved it and on my very first day sold more than any of the seasoned professional salesman did combined.
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR MOST RECENT OCCUPATION
Unfortunately, it seems to be planning memorial services for friends.
WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
I always loved to draw, and at a very young age thought that I might become an artist. That was until I found out that most of the artists that I admired did not achieve success or fame during their lifetimes, so at the tender age of 10 I decided to become a designer. The reasoning being that I would know rather instantly whether the things that I designed had struck a cord with the public….or not!
Baby JB
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” 
I think it was the day after the night I won my first Coty Award and I was with my Mother at Bergdorf’s on the up escalator and two guys were going down on the down escalator and I heard them say as we sailed passed …” Oh look, there’s designer, Jeffrey Banks!”
Coty Awards 1982
                                                         Coty Award winner 1982
Mom and I at the Coty Awards September 23rd, 1982
Coty Awards 1982 Cover Invite
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HOW YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BROUGHT YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW
I feel so lucky that my original passion for fashion has allowed me to make a living, branch out to books, go on television, teach, and meet so many of the people I most admired in the world. I feel very fortunate.
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All in Norman Norell…..Lynn Revson one of the biggest collectors of Norell.
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WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE
There really wasn’t an alternate choice at the time. But, as I love photography so much, I would have to say, Art Director.
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (LEGIT, MUSICALS), BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY, TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO, LOCAL RESTAURANT
Favorite Book : A Private View by Irene Mayer Selznick  ( a great read on early Hollywood by Louis B. Mayer’s daughter )
Favorite Movie: Funny Face ( it’s got it all : Fashion, Paris, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Givenchy, Gershwin, Avedon)…who could ask for anything more ? 
Theater: Anything Sondheim !
Ballet: Anything Balanchine !
Opera: Anything Directed by Bartlett Sher
I love show tunes , Streisand, and Adele
My favorite restaurant is Union Square Cafe 
HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC
Mostly modern, clean white with some antiques in bleached pine. I work with color all day long so I need an absence of color at home,
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE 
Fred Astaire, George Gershwin, Michelle and Barack Obama, Audrey Hepburn and Rob Wolders, Hubert de Givenchy, Bruce Weber, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Jeffrey Banks, Diahann Carroll would be the guests. 
I would serve my Risotto with Carmelized Onions and Figs with a side salad of Heirloom Tomatoes with a Shallot, Dijon Mustard, and Honey Vinaigrette (see recipe below). For Starters: Baked Brie with Honey, Brandy and Walnuts. For dessert, Assorted Gelatos

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST 
London, is my favorite city after NY and I love Italy, especially Florence, Tuscany and Venice. Love to discover (and re-discover) great museums and try new restaurants.In London, Theater and Shopping is everything for me! 
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING MOST IN YOUR FREE TIME? FAVORITE WORK  OF PUBLIC ART
I LOVE to read (books and magazines ) especially biographies. I love going through The Metropolitan Museum and The Frick Collection here in NY. 

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED
As a kind person, loyal to his friends.
                               THANK YOU AND BRAVO JEFFREY BANKS, BRAVO!
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF JEFFREY BANKS WITH EXCEPTION OF THE BOOK COVERS, TAKEN FROM GOOGLE PHOTOS.
                                              ELEANOR BANKS’ MEATLOAF

Ingredients:

 

1 lb Ground Chuck

1/2 lb Pork Sausage

1 Medium Small Onion (chopped finely)

1/2 Green Pepper  (chopped finely)

2-3 Spines of Celery (chopped finely)

3/4 cup Bread Crumbs

Salt & Pepper to Taste

Celery Salt

2 Cans Hunts Tomato Sauce

Combine all ingredients mix very well with 1 can of tomato sauce.  Shape loaf in lightly greased Pyrex pan.  Take other can of tomato sauce and mix with 1/2 can water and set aside.  Place loaf in pre-heated oven set at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.  After 1/2 hour reduce heat to 325 and bake loaf for additional 40 minutes.  Pour off excess fat and baste with tomato sauce that was set aside.

              JEFFREY BANKS’ HONEY, SHALLOT, DIJON MUSTARD  VINAIGRETTE

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1 large shallot, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

 



 

BOOK NOTES: THE ROMANOV EMPRESS

D656140D-AC78-4BC6-8863-CCDFB8346F1AI must begin this review by saying I am most certainly not a fan of the current Russian regime, in fact I am appalled by it.  I was fortunate to visit this extraordinary country and meet its gracious people in 2002 (I will do blog posts on the amazing trip in the future) when it was just learning to embrace its new “freedom” from Communism, well, I’m afraid, that was short lived.  Since I’m not a political commentator nor do I like to express negativity in my posts, I shall not bore you with my opinions on how I feel about the Russian government and its involvement in our affairs, but rather turn to the grandeur of the Romanov’s in the 19th century and their ultimate demise.

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Tsarina Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark)

I found The Romanov Empress to be a fascinating read from cover to cover.  The detailed research done by C. W. Gortner is extraordinary.  He has, changed some dates and anglicized many of the Russian names, but I felt, having read a lot about the time of Nicholas II and Alexandra and, of course their execution but not much about his parents, he gave us a precise story.  I have always been fascinated by Russian history and by now you are aware of my passion for historical novels….this detailed intriguing story did not disappoint me, in fact it makes me want to find more novels and non-fiction about this period in time. I was aware of the intermarriage of the European royals, but this telling put these marriages in perspective. The world, in all ways, was at a major turning point and now, a century plus years later, is still in turmoil. Can we change our destinies, I doubt it, but shouldn’t we learn from history or are we destined to keep making mistakes!!!!  Oops, seems a bit deep doesn’t it….perhaps Tzarist thinking!  Let’s get to our story….

It is basically a love story of a man and woman who happen to rule Russia and their children and their children’s children.  It is also the story of a very strong woman, “Minnie” (the Tsarina), who was instrumental, to a great extent, in forward thinking of women’s rights as well as preserving, above all else, the Romanov dynasty, which she supported, in all ways, until the very end. We learn about her sister’s marriage to Bertie, The Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria, the Russian court, exquisite descriptions of the social protocol of the time, the fashion, much from Charles Frederick Worth, the art, the jewelry, oh the jewelry, and, of course, the palaces.  And mostly the pride in upholding the centuries of Romanov rule and then seeing this regime destroy itself….so very sad!  Do I recommend the book, yes, yes and yes.
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Tsar Alexander III, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna

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St. Petersburg late 1900’s

I will definitely read more of Gortner’s novels, I’m considering his Mademoiselle Chanel as an upcoming nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club selection

This post is generously underwritten by an anonymous sponsor who is an avid reader. My everlasting gratitude.  Contact me for sponsorship opportunities. 

Photos found on a Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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FRIDAY MUSINGS: TINY HOUSES

 

78A3DA77-25DD-4D42-A9E0-35F0ABFA4DD9No this post isn’t about tiny Coalport, Meissen or other small collectibles (I can do that later) but rather actual tiny houses!!!! Yes, ones you live in. Full disclosure, I already live in a tiny house…what you say, “I thought you live in a high rise condo”, true but it is 700 square feet…so I am qualified to discuss the subject…just saying!  As a child I adored my doll house and, of course, spent many hours making many log cabins with my Lincoln Logs with Daddy.

At this point in time in my life should I be rethinking my living arrangements and perhaps see if any of my land owning friends will let me “park” myself on their property…I don’t drive so it would either be a permanent structure or mobile, with a hired driver when needed

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I am obsessed with watching ALL the programming on tiny homes on HGTV and DIY, but then I’m obsessed with most of their programming.  It seems many of them are either metal frames or wood cabin looking…neither would be what I would want, so mine would have to be designed to my specs, of course it would, and here are some looks that appeal to me.  Most with either a Victorian shabby chic or bohemian feeling, definitely my style, or a bit of modern….maybe!

Too cookie cutter for me…

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More my taste…

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A more mid-century look perhaps……

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Even George Bernard Shaw enjoy a tiny house, it rotated with the sun, for his studio.F3FF65EA-F576-4F3C-9678-0BBCCDAA2808But I envision something more Pygmalion or actually Beaton’s My Fair Lady decor…  CE5BDD98-7536-4041-9B8F-8724E1A424E4If truth were told I would love to retrofit a Vintage Airstream….some thoughts…FC2D018A-809D-4BEE-9214-C4F510AA78382B7BDC28-5CE0-4F31-B977-A762E7CEFD007D5E98B0-F319-4202-932D-597E512FC552C3A6A03B-46A8-424A-87DD-ED687AA3C2AB055E7C4C-6324-43C8-8A48-8E0F19A0C8B7

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Okay full confession, how I really want to live is in a English gypsy caravan.  Ruthy, my Mother, loved to tell of the gypsies and their caravans that would camp on her Father’s land outside Joplin, Missouri.  Each year they would come and my Grandfather gave them permission to use the land. As children, Mom and her siblings would visit the camp to hear wonderful stories and play with the children. Mom didn’t look like her brothers and sisters and I teased her that she must have been left as a baby by the gypsies to be taken care of by my grandparents…she rather liked the idea of a Bohemian lifestyle and found it a romantic notion (she was, of course, a legitimate child of my grandparents, birth certificates and Bible entry as proof!!!!!) In any instance, fairy tales aside, I find gypsy caravans right up my alley…in fact my current dwelling resembles one.

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How I want my home to look….walls and pillows are pretty similar now, would love to do either wallpaper or dark lacquer green, very glossy, paint.

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AEC579F9-E28A-414B-8E8B-C210111808C63CDF6C7B-76C5-445A-A8D0-2B57245751070F4DEADB-4CB6-43AC-AE7B-FA81F8E4DAE50EA93ACD-07BC-4BEE-B35A-AB30D82B6D20F7AD5A2F-5C1E-4D12-984D-0F1843AAC67E4A1107C7-AE6C-443C-9484-F72C281AE312118D0E6D-D08D-4B8D-8A91-795885A661037A04DA17-7DF1-4141-B772-3BB847C9FED1Too much…in my mind never….and I would have to consider where to house ALL my books.

BC59AEA5-267B-4C40-ABCA-93043A8FF33BHow I see my caravan in its pastoral setting….I can dream can’t I…..

All images found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.

FASHION NOW: PARIS HAUTE COUTURE 3 GUO PEI

 

71CEFBE2-F208-45F7-A67F-DABD6F6A3471I wanted to talk about a designer I’m sure isn’t familiar to many of you, unless, of course you obsessed over the exquisite gown Rihanna wore to the 2015 Met Gala, China: Through The Looking Glass…that designer is GUO PEI.  Based in China, her Haute Couture collections in Paris are always beyond spectacular.  Often compared to Alexander McQueen and John Galliano she shows pieces that are, in my opinion, works of art.

B7343817-BFC5-437C-9124-84DB0D70B260In the Met exhibition, China: Through The Looking Glass.

Pieces from the recent Fall 2018 Haute Couture Collection inspired by the current Met Fashion exhibition Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.

 

Pieces from past collections….beyond description..

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If you love blue and white porcelain…how about this…

Guo Pei : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Spring Summer 2017
PARIS, FRANCE – JANUARY 25: Carmen Dell’Orefice walks the runway during the Guo Pei Spring Summer 2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 25, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)
2010 China Fashion Week - 'Rosestudio' Guo Pei High Class Fashion Show
BEIJING, CHINA – NOVEMBER 6: (CHINA OUT) Model Carmen Dell’ Orefice walks the runway in the ‘Rosestudio’ Guo Pei High Class Fashion Show 2010 during China Fashion Week on November 6, 2009 in Beijing, China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Known for dressing China’s elite, her first collection “One Thousand and Two Nights”  in November 2009 featured Carmel Dell’ Orefice, seen in the photo above, wearing the show stopping Costume with its train carrying attendants, a design star was born  In addition, she has designed for the Chinese cinema to award winning reviews.

A book, you bet….

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A movie, sure….the documentary coming soon….

72466B09-D35E-4649-BC0B-9CDB57851A8F9BA7C405-21BF-4658-ADDE-518134759605The designer in her Salon.  I suggest we all keep our eyes out for what is next for GUO PEI!  I personally can’t wait!!!!

All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown unless indicated.

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: ANOTHER SIDE OF PARADISE

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I happen to be a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald and, as you know, I am also a big fan of fiction based on reality….so, of course, I was drawn to this novel.  I was not disappointed.  Truly an enjoyable read. The author, Sally Koslow, has used our protagonist, gossip columnist, Sheilah Graham’s, diaries, memoirs, interviews and letters to tell this story of their love affair.

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The beginning of the book explores Graham’s childhood (reads like a Dickens novel, but worse) her time in England, her journey to the States and her transformation into a writer. Fascinating stuff, to say the least. She was a rival to Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, all competing to get the scoop on the newest who was “seen with whom”!  Her meeting with Fitzgerald, whose writing career wasin decline and who is trying to eke out a living writing scripts for movies in the ‘30’s, not to much success, is Kismet. His alcoholism is definitely a contributing factor to his writing slump. This affliction also contributes to the ups, major, and downs, also major, of this star crossed affair. While Sheilah (Fitzgerald always misspells her name, Shielah, similar to a gentleman friend of mine, Nina…done to annoy, or just don’t know or care, I wonder….).

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Of course, Zelda and Scottie are always a huge part of the scenario, divorce is not in the picture and Scottie is at Vassar so not a frequent visitor. The love between Fitzgerald and Graham is intense, heaven when he is sober, tragic when he is drunk. He writes his last, unfinished, some consider his best work, The Last Tycoon, 1940 just before his death based on his Hollywood years and his time with Sheilah.

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I must admit I want to reread all his work as well as hers, especially Beloved Infidel, 1959, which I read when it was first published.

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I think you will enjoy their story, I know I did.  As usual, I recommend you support your local bookseller, mine is The Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois

                  This post is generously supported by an anonymous sponsor.