FASHION IN FOOD: PROXI

 

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Friday, as you know, is all about fashion in flashback, fashion now and future fashion and with a bit of a twist on the theme I am starting to do posts on my favorite restaurants, established, dearly loved and exciting new ventures in one of the greatest food cities anywhere, Chicago. I do not intend to be a food critic but I am, most certainly a foodie. One of the definitions of fashion is “to form something into something else: to make something from something else” isn’t that exactly what we do with food….Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony have “fashioned” an exciting new concept in food with their brand new restaurant PROXI, the new kid on the block (Randolph to be exact) which, along with Fulton one of the hottest, happening places in the City (but you will see in future posts, not the only area in this ever changing food story.)

The evolution of the Randolph Street restaurant saga began many years ago with a single pioneering restaurant, Vivo (no longer with us, and of course, the beloved Ina‘s) and look at the area now, not only restaurant heaven but total gentrification.  I remember taking cabs during the beginning of the Vivo era and the drivers thought I was mad and said: “Lady, there isn’t anything there but warehouses, I can’t leave you there!”  I would explain it was okay and they could wait for me and I would wave to them from inside.  Well, those days are long gone, now the Uber and Lyft drivers and certainly all the cabbies know exactly where to take locals and visitors for the excitement that is now “Restaurant Row”! I’ll address other restaurants throughout the City in future food posts, there are so many but, of course, I do have my favorites and I have added Proxi to that list! 

imageThis was our table and I was facing a wall of wine bottles, how appropriate!

imageThe place setting, my photo.

A few weeks ago I got a call from a long time friend, Emmanuel Nony, we go back to his Park Hyatt days, and, of course, who doesn’t love Sepia!  Always the gracious host, Emmanuel invited me and a guest to come to Proxi for dinner.  I was delighted to accept the invitation and extend my guest invitation to my cooking buddy, Tom Mantel.  Emmanuel greeted us in his usual charming manner escorted us to our table where he explained the extraordinary menu and it’s interesting concept.  I asked what he recommended for the evening and after saying he couldn’t choose proceeded to choose everything! Don’t you love it!  He turned us over to our fabulous server, Jordan, who walked us through the unique menu with suggestions along the way, he was the best.  The menu is divided into three sections (all of which will change on a regular basis), the first page was very interesting starters, which were quite substantial, the middle page was all seafood and the last page all meat.

imageI think this was the Farmer’s Market Bhel Puri my photo, absotutely delicious.

imageTempura Elotes amazing!

imageSalad of Sugar Snap Peas and Carrotss, yuzu kosho, sesame, miso brûlée my photo

The concept is to share everything and pick at least one item, each, from each page, which we did. Actually three (see above photos)from page one and the whole fish (which, by the way, was probably the best fish I have ever eaten!) the only fish we tried and two from page three.

imageOur whole grilled fish “Pescado Zarandeado”.  My photo.

imageOne of our meat courses, BBQ Lamb Ribs with mango pickle and cashews. Our other choice was Wagnyu Beef Short Ribs with Malyasian curry, sort of a medley of ribs….also my photo

We had interesting wines, I chose a Gamay which I don’t think I have seen on a menu since I was in Paris (this month the wine selections are from the Loire Valley).  Dessert was a dream.  The exciting news was that with all the food and wine I didn’t feel at all stuffed…it was superb!  We then opted to have a lovely after dinner drink in the gorgeous bar.  The place was packed, but not uncomfortably so, and it had only been open a few weeks.  It will be a HUGE success, of that I am sure.  It was fun to see and have a quick chat with my old friends Bill Zwecker, Tom Gorman and Vicki and Bill Hood.  I’m sure they enjoyed their evening as much as we did. The food was interesting, delicious, the wine extraordinary and the service perfection.  Didn’t hurt that I was with a dear friend who loved it all as much as I did.

I asked Emmanuel to send me detailed information on the restaurant.  I have culled it down a bit but wanted to share it with you.  I am hoping to have a recipe or two to share with you later.

imageAndrew Zimmeman and Emmanuel Nony

Proxi (565 W. Randolph St.), the second restaurant from the acclaimed team of Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant, Sepia, opens on Tuesday, June 13. Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony are thrilled for this project to come to fruition after years of searching for the perfect location. Housed in a former print shop right beside Sepia, the restaurant is located at the beginning on Chicago’s renowned Restaurant Row. Proxi takes guests on a ride to the world’s most culinary rich corners. Using elemental cooking techniques and pristine ingredients, the menu celebrates the bold flavors of street foods.

The menu at Proxi takes inspiration from Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s lifelong fascination with the vibrant, emphatic flavors most commonly seen in street foods. Including snacks, small plates, raw selections, entreés, and large-format dishes for the table, the restaurant’s cuisine captures the vivacity of such foods in approachable, Modern American presentations using primary cooking techniques showcased on the restaurant’s wood-fired hearth. Meat, seafood, and vegetables remain balanced throughout the menu, with dishes focusing on bold tastes, including an array of exotic ingredients, wood fire, and worldly spices.

Pastry Chef Sarah Mispagel unleashes her award-winning talent on Proxi’s dessert selection to offer a range of whimsical and nostalgic sweet dishes balancing familiarity with experimentation.

Josh Relkin leads the cocktail program at Proxi, crafting a menu with an emphasis on globally influenced libations to complement the kitchen. Relkin embraces the hearth, incorporating the live fire cooking into the cocktail list, with a goal of blending familiar ingredients in an unconventional way.  Proxi also offers a selection of beers from across the world, with hopes to bring guests unfamiliar brews that they‘ve only sipped during their travels.  

The Wine program, led by Beverage Director and acclaimed Advanced Sommelier Arthur Hon, boasts a succinct, dynamic wine list that converges on a central theme to unique wines from around the world. Hon, who travels often to taste new wines and experience unfamiliar flavors, was thrilled with the challenge of creating a wine list to stand up to the kitchen’s bold, vibrant, and global flavors. Hon’s wine list will have a rotating theme, that will be changed seasonally with the menu. To start, he’s transporting guests to the Loire Valley of France to experience the wines from that region.

imageNotice the original barrel ceiling and the custom fixtures, a great blend of old (read original) and the new, stunning.

Developed by James Beard Award Winning design firm, Meyer Davis, Proxi’s elegant, welcoming aesthetic reveals a mid-century American brasserie.  The space calls out to its worldly influences while preserving existing architectural elements from Werner Printing Company, which formerly occupied the expansive restaurant. Inset with brass-framed mirrors, lightly washed wood covers the walls and rustic wood planks form the floor, though custom designed cement tiles differentiate the bar and lounge space from the dining room. A long, central leather banquette stretches out to anchor the dining room, flanked by additional tables and more leather booths along the walls. The central bar, with its stone top, leather upholstered front, and cerused wood accents, sits opposite a chef’s table donning Noir St. Laurent marble and overlooking an exhibition kitchen. Overhead, eye-catching custom light fixtures hang from the original barrel-vaulted ceiling.

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imageTwo views of the bar, adore all of it, but especially the tile floor!

Through a fresh and innovative American lens, Proxi, a sister restaurant to Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony’s Sepia, scours the most culinary-rich corners of the globe to inspire a menu that celebrates the bold flavors of multicultural street foods through pristine ingredients. Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood along Restaurant Row, Proxi unites an award-winning team to transport its guests around the world, beginning with cuisine and extending to an eclectic beverage program focused on worldly inspirations and diverse, exotic ingredients. Developed by New York City-based design firm Meyer Davis, Proxi’s elegant, welcoming aesthetic reveals a mid-century American brasserie that calls out to its global influences while preserving existing architectural elements.” www.proxichicago.com.

All photos unless otherwise noted provided by Proxi.

Do go you won’t be disappointed, it is not only fabulous food but a wonderfully glorious space! Thanks so much Emmanual and Andrew for brnging this concept to Chicago, I love it, could you tell! Cookbook please!!!!

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: BAKELITE AT RANDOLPH STREET MARKET

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A treasure trove of Bakelite jewelry including a couple of the coveted cherry pins found in Carrie’s Fabulous to Funky booth at the Randolph Street Market (RSM) www.randolphstreetmarket.com.

In today’s post, I am concentrating on Bakelite jewelry from a couple of RSM‘s vendors along with my pieces.  But as usual, I like to give you a bit of the history behind my features and let you explore more on your own.  By now, I am sure you know I adore research and I love to share my finds with you, my readers.

Bakelite really happened by accident and was introduced in 1907. It was the first synthetic thermosetting plastic ever produced.  It is a hardened plastic that is used for many, many objects. You can find lots of articles on Bakelite by doing your GOOGLE search, one such search will take you to www.thespruce.com and tell you how to identify authentic Bakelite.  A fascinating article.

Another article I found absorbing was on Dr. Leo H. Baekland, www.elvenkrafte.com, it gives you everything you would ever want to know about the subject which is totally fascinating.  The Time cover featuring Dr. Baekland is from that site.

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Check YouTube for a trailer of All Things Bakelite  https://youtu.be/xIrGqiFsa-4

imageA Bakelite phone, you can find something similar at RSM.  I particularly like this in ivory but, of course, you might prefer the more familiar black version! Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageI am crazy about this Art Deco radio…isn’t it a stunner!  Again, you will find vintage radios at the monthly RSM, let me know if one like this hits your eye, I want it!!!! Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageYou know how much I adore anything green….so this desk lamp immediately appealed to me, a bit too modern for my taste, but then again, maybe not!  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageOr perhaps for your pool table, really cool. Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageMore pieces from Carrie’s booth, I choose some of the butterscotch pins and bangles along with a couple of adorable napkin rings, love them!  I placed them on one of Carrie’s vintage clothing pieces…this a crazy quilt hostess gown.

imageimageA close up of a couple of the pins.

 

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A fantastic collection of bangles in J&M Antiques booth across the aisle from Carrie’s booth in the Ballroom of Plumbers Hall at Randolph Street Market. There are other vendors at RSM who carry Bakelite jewelry and objects, be sure to stroll through all the aisles both outside and inside and find all manner of treasures!  The next RSM is Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30.

imageMy collection of pins all of which I got from RSM over the years, they were made by the same vendor using buttons and broken pieces…I wear them all the time and get huge compliments.  The vendor moved to New York, pity for us, she had really great pieces.

imageI wear these the most (I am particularly fond of the one with the mother of pearl inserts) and I have placed them on one of my crazy quilt pieces.

imageThis one I place on the lapel of a purple looped mohair Oscar de la Renta jacket, it matches perfectly!

imageI think this is quite a unique piece with its braided center and the color combination struck me, had to have it!

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 Looks interesting.  Pinterest photo credit unknown

All photos were taken by Nena unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

PROFILE: MICHAEL R. HAWLEY

imageMichael R. Hawley

As I continue my series of profiles of people I have known forever, new acquittances, and people I think you would be interested in learning about…I have found several that have had major impact on my life and career…one such is Michael R. Hawley.  I first met Michael when he came to Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago as Vice President and General Manager.  He had just, extremely successfully, opened the Bloomingdale’s SoHo store.  We had been without a Store Manager for quite some time and, of course, everyone was excited and a bit apprehensive as to who the new “guy” would be.  (Just a Nena’s note, in the 53 years I was with the company I had 8 managers, my first, Howard J. “Hal” Clyne was my boss for 20 of those years.  Some had very long terms, some very brief…before they left for “greener pastures” and most were 3-year stints.  I must admit I can’t even recall all the ownership and Corporate changes.  Let’s say I’m still a Gimbel girl at heart and am thrilled that the company is once again owned by a world-renowned retailer….Hudson Bay!  Yay, Saks Fifth Avenue!) I must tell you Michael’s enthusiam was contagious…he wanted everyone to participate to their best ability as individuals and as a team and a team we continued to be.  I wanted to have all our new Store Managers to feel comfortable not only in the Store but in their new City.  I hope I helped him with his relocation, I do know we became good friends from the beginning.  I always love that he tells everyone since he knew I was retiring in November of 2009, he decided to leave the company in August, it does make a good story, don’t you agree! It is with deep pleasure that I share his journey with you….enjoy his story….

MICHAEL, TELL US WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t fascinated by products and brands.  I grew up in Cincinnati, the headquarters of Proctor & Gamble and Federated Department Stores, at the time.  The stores were wonderlands of excitement.  The sense of theater and showmanship had been key to the growth of the industry.  Proctor & Gamble marketed the consumer brands in everyone’s homes.  I taught myself to read, before starting school, by recognizing brand logos in the Yellow Pages. With that accomplished, I opened my first store at the age of 5 on our front porch.  I don’t recall sales being brisk but I certainly enjoyed merchandising the store.  It would seem that I have always been a retailer.

My first paying job, if one considers $1.90 per hour as being paid, was in a fine linen store, as box boy.  Perhaps they had heard of my front porch success.   I made gift boxes after school.  Throughout high school and college, I continued to work in the store.   Whenever a coworker went on vacation, I offered to learn their job.  Through those years, I was exposed to all aspects of the business and was an eager student.

imageHere not only a great article but Michael’s career timeline.  Chicago Tribune.

Many people in my family were very creative.  I was in awe of the beauty of their art and their ability to create it.  Having produced art projects in school that only a mother could love, I did not self identify as creative.  After college I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco.  I was quite confident that with my all my experience in the linen store that I would quickly be snapped up by one of big stores in need of my assistance.  As you might imagine, it didn’t turn out quite like I expected.  I was hired as holiday sales help in the silver department at Gump’s.  It was a fascinating emporium of incredible merchandise from all over the world.  They were legendary arbiters of good taste.  As part of the interview process we were required to pass a taste test.

After Christmas, I was hired as an assistant buyer in the Crystal department.  I was then promoted to my first job.  I was responsible for the textile department, which meant handwoven Persian rugs and various tribal textiles such as camel trappings.   The moths had plenty to eat. The company was in the process of finalizing plans for a major storewide event.  My predecessor had committed to a “textile shop”.  It was scheduled to open in six weeks…and nothing had been done including a workable concept.

I read everything I could find to learn about the rugs and learned about business conducted in the ways of the Middle East.  I found a resource for the most incredible antique fabrics from a couple who dealt in antique couture.  Although the individual pieces were beautiful as they were, they were not particularly saleable.  I created a London “cushion” shop filled with beautiful one of kind pillows that retailed up to $1500.  This is where I first recognized the creativity in myself.  It became successful leading to four collections a year and having my responsibility extended to the lamp department.  It was almost exclusively product that I designed and had made.  I loved the whole process.

imageMichael gave me this magnificent textile pillow when he was Vice Presiden/General Manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  I treasure this magnificent addition to my pillow collection primarily because he made it and most of all that he thought enough of me to share his creation with me!
MICHAEL, WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”

I am not at all sure that we ever make it.  There is always another mountain to climb and new challenges to conquer.  One time that comes to mind was when I was interviewed by the New York Times.  I had just opened a new store for Bloomingdale’s in SoHo as the General Manager.

imageCover of Women’s Wear Daily for Bloomingdale’s SoHo Opening.

It was a very successful store opening and created a shift in the paradigm for the company.  Reading about oneself in the NYT provided a certain feeling of having arrived  http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/04/nyregion/public-lives-a-merchandise-snob-out-to-exceed-expectations.html  Soon after being pursued by Saks Fifth Avenue for the Michigan Avenue store was also very flattering.

imageChicago Magazine piece 2006

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

I am a passionate guy.   I can’t imagine spending a significant amount of time, let alone a lifetime, doing something for which I lacked passion.   To do so would feel like my own personal hell.

My path has been far from linear.  It does not look at all similar to what a career counselor describes to their soon to be college graduates.  Early in my career, I failed to get whatever position I wanted at the time.  I was open minded towards the opportunities, and trusted that it was in the company’s best interest to place me where they saw the greatest potential for success.  I was willing to learn and one thing led to another.  I just kept saying yes.

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

This is an excellent question.  I was not someone with career angst.  When I was young, I never considered doing anything else.  Not once.  Having any particular talent frankly did not occur to me.   I just loved merchandise and never thought about another path.

There are two distinct roles as a retailer.  Merchandising is one and management is the other.  As my career developed, I found leading large teams very rewarding and I was good at it. The team at Saks Chicago numbered more than 300.  I like to think that leading a store family helped me become a better person.  There was no shortage of opportunities for me to learn the impact of my actions on others.  As a leader, I believe it is my responsibility to understand what my team members need from me to be successful and then provide it.  I want to make it fun and rewarding.  Winning is fun.

imageSkin Dimemsoms Team.

I get to enjoy watching people achieve more than they believed possible and that provides immense satisfaction.  If I had known then, what I know now, I would have studied Clinical Psychology and opened a private practice.

imageCheering on the Bloomingdale’s SoHo team.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY), TYPE OF MUSIC, LOCAL RESTAURANT/AND/OR TYPE OF FOOD

Beyond raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, I have a favorite everything.  Just another aspect of life where my passion comes to play.  I enjoy reading biographies.  It is fascinating to learn about someone whose life may differ greatly from one’s own, yet beneath it all, we all have the same wants and needs.  I just finished WAR PAINT, by Lindy Woodhead.  The beauty industry that we know today was created in large part by two early entrepreneurs, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein.  The book was adapted for Broadway and I can’t wait to see it on my next trip to New York.

I don’t recall a time without music in my life.  As a kid, I loved The Motown Sound.   My taste has expanded and is rather eclectic.  I listen to music everyday and love to sing.   Following a brief stint in the choir at church, I now headline only in the shower or car.  No thanks for this kindness is necessary.

imageHaving fun at a black tie gala.

My favorite restaurant is Parachute on Elston in Avondale www.parachuterestaurant.com.  Beverly and John have created a unique space with outstanding food drawing inspiration from Korean American cuisine.    Their passion is apparent and we already know how I feel about that!

WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES

I am a genealogist.  Frustrated about my family’s inability to answer my questions, I decided to do some research myself.   This has developed into a 20 year never ending project that I have found incredibly fascinating and inspiring.   We study history and learn what our culture has determined was so.  Even family histories are biased and frequently revisionist.  It is quite special to have some visibility into who were our ancestors as human beings and having enough knowledge to determine why they made the choices they made.

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

My taste is rather eclectic and has evolved over time.   It is primarily mid-century modern coupled with Asian antiques.  After many years of collecting, I find, like many others, that I am editing, and quite happy doing with less. (Nena’s note, his home is exquisite!!)

MICHAEL’S FANTASY DINNER GUEST LIST

  1. Diana, Princess of Wales
  2. Forrest Trefz, maternal grandfather
  3. Jackie Onassis
  4. Jesus of Nazareth
  5. Joseph Hawley, 1603-1690, 9th GGF
  6. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
  7. Mohammed
  8. Moses
  9. Ray Hawley, paternal GF
  10. The Dalai Llama
  11. Thomas Jefferson
  12. Michael Hawley

I would serve Cincinnati Chili, of course.

imageI am mad for “original” recipes, Michael’s well used orginial copy from Cincinnati newspaper.  Sounds yummy, enjoy!!!

  1. MICHAEL’S FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND WHERE HE WOULD LIKE TO VISIT

    I most enjoyed a trip China several years ago.   My list of destinations is quite long and includes, Antarctica, The Galapagos, and Mars.

    HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED

    Ah, to be remembered at all is very special.  It is important to me to have impact.   I want to be remembered as a person of contribution.   I am one of the founders of BEAUTYKIND, www.beautykind.us, an online retailer.  Our mission is to provide a more meaningful way to shop for beauty products.   We donate 5% of the purchase price to a charity of the customer’s choice.    It is an idea whose time has come.

    One of my charities of choice is charity: water.    While I was running Saks, I challenged the team to build a well.   I am very proud to share that we built it in Eritbo, Ethiopia.   It provides 400 people with water everyday that they would not otherwise have. Link to our well  https://vimeo.com/4247997

    imageMichael’s grandparents, his grandfather, the well driller.

    MICHAEL’S FAVORITE CHICAGO PUBLIC ART PIECE

    Chicago Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite places anywhere.   The property is so beautifully designed and executed, I could spend eternity there.
    SOME BLOGS MICHAEL FOLLOWS

    I am obsessed with wellness and self improvement.  I read Well + Good www.wellandgood.com, The Fine Line and A Mishfit Life www.mishfitlife.com and, of course, www.nenasnotes.com.

    https://beautykind.us

    imageMy current most favorite photo of Michael taken in New York.

    All photos courtesy of Michael R. Hawley with the exception of the pillow photo courtesy of it’s proud owner, Nena Ivon!

FASHION FLASHBACK: PAULINE TRIGERE

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It’s a Sunday afternoon and the phone rings, a deep throaty voice with a magnificent French accent “Nena, Pauline….” it could not be anyone else!  Most every Sunday for many years I would get this call and the same introduction.  Always just a short hello and touch base for the week.

Sit back, pour yourself another cup of coffee or a glass of champagne this is a long one….

imageA treasured photo that hung on the “designer wall of fame” in my office.  The criteria was that you had at least made a personal appearance in the Store.  It is now part of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago and I am using it with their permission.

I was a very, very lucky gal to be able to work with the best of the best during my career at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  I have done several posts of some of the designers I have worked with, I’m trying to do them in some order, not always working, I’m sorry to say, but that is my intent.  Having done shows, personal appearances, etc,. with well over 150 fashion personalities we will have lots of time to explore their importance on fashion and, for the purpose of nena’snotes, on my life and career.  Of course, there are those who impacted me more than others, Adolfo, Bill Blass, Bob Mackie, Oscar de la Renta, Norman Norell, Mark Heister, to highlight several that I worked with and admired most, and who became friends (sorry all others….loved almost all of you…those are other stories to be told!!)  And for this post, Pauline Trigère.

When I began at Saks, Pauline was showing her collections at Millie B. Oppenheimer (located at 1300 North State Parkway in the old Ambassador Hotels) and worked with the dynamic Ellie Pope, one of the Chicago fashion icons.  Since I was totally into knowing as much as I could about all the “name” designers, the name Pauline Trigère was totally familiar to me.  We did carry her line in Chicago and, of course, in New York.  I got to see her garments up close and personal when doing the annual St. Luke’s Fashion Show (now the annual Rush Medical Center Fashion Show) in which Oppenheimer always featured her garments.  When Oppenheimer closed we were fortunate to have Pauline join us for personal appearances and formal fashion shows.

I have talked about going to the New York Fashion Weeks for many years and when I began the shows were primarily in the designer’s showrooms, Pauline never varied from this practice.  Her shows were intimate (usually done over two days, two per day) and at the beginning of my attending the shows she commentated them, then she became a back of the house last minute check while a number or name of the garment was read.  When she did shows for us in Chicago she always commentated the shows and her audiences loved her insightful comments…we sold her clothes like popcorn!!!

imageMaybe if we look very closely we can find me in the audience….this coat was very typical of the Trigère look (I remember having many conversations with her about her major regret of not “licensing” her coats.  She wanted to keep complete control over her garments, rightly so.)  You could always identify a Trigère garment it had her creativity all over it.

imageHer signature coat, it spells PAULINE TRIGÈRE!  Two of my coats are in the Columbia College Chicago Fashion Study Collection, one in a royal purple mohair and the other in a cranberry wool with wide notched collar.

Let’s go back to the beginning of her story.  Pauline was born in Paris, France in 1908 (some references say 1912) to Russian émigrés, Alexander, a tailor and Cecile, a dressmaker.  She wanted to become a surgeon but instead at age 15 apprenticed with a Paris Couture house and afer a few days she was told that they couldn’t teach her any more than she already knew, she stayed a year when she returned to work for her parents where she had begun as a young girl picking up pins and scraps from the floor.  Her first design was a party dress when she was in school it was made because there wasn’t money to buy one.  .

At age 19 she married a another Russian immigrant and tailor, Lazar Radley with whom she had two sons, Jean-Pierre and Philippe. In 1937 she, her two sons, her brother and mother fled France with the intention of going to Chile.  Instead, after having a layover in New York for 6 weeks and a trip to Detroit to visit an uncle, she decided to stay in New York (she has stated that she wouldn’t live anywhere but New York!).  She knew no English and learned to speak by watching movies.  She became a design assistant at Ben Gershel & Co. and then an assistant to Travis Banton at Hattie Carnetie (FYI Carnegie never had a woman designer, didn’t believe in them) from 1937 until 1941, leaving just after Pearl Harbor.  She separated from her husband and opened her own company, the House of Trigère with her brother Robert in 1942, by 1945 she had a respected label and shall we say the rest is history!!!! Throughout her career she made clothes for a woman with an active lifestyle.  She designed for herself and was always her best model.  She planned her clothes to move with the wearer, using fluid jerseys, chiffon.  Her forte was wool, and she loved working on the bias, using sheer wools for afternoon and evening gowns.  She usually added a jacket, a full length coat or a cape to go with each dress, and as I mentioned, always cut her garments into the cloth rather than making a pattern or muslin. Pauline won every fashion award, the Coty 3 times and in 1982 the highest decoration of the City of Paris, La Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris.

imageIn her workroom working on a garment draping and cutting into the fabric which she then turned over to her pattern maker…you are looking at a genius at work.  Image from Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

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The finale of one of her shows in her New York showroom.  From Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

imageThe finale of her 50th Anniversary Show 1992.  The finale was a retrospective of her collections.  It was a huge hit with the audience at a private club in Chicago.  We did a show for the Club for many years.  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, www.colum.edu.

She was 5’4″ tall but gave the impression of being 8′ tall with her wonderful personality and unmatched talent.  She draped and cut directly into the fabric, didn’t  do a model she just DID IT!!!  On one occasion I flew into New York to surprise her, she was doing a lecture/demonstration at FIT, I stayed at the back of the room and listened along with the students and guests to her explaining how to design while working on a dress, which she completed at the end of her talk.  She looked up and saw me and the smile I got was worth the entire trip!  She was thrilled that I thought enough of her to surprise her.  I also attended her 50 Anniversary Gala, it was some party!!!!

She adored her home in Connectcut, La Tortue, so named because when she was looking at the property a giant turtle was basking in the sun on a big rock in the pond on the property.  I once asked her about her love of turtles, she replied “I didn’t really love them but since the country home is named for them everyone gives me turtles…pins, boxes, paintings, etc.” so now I love them!”  Her signature scarf is an abstract turtle print.

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At home at La Tortue.  Image from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

She adored entertaining at her New York apartment, which had a wonderous red room (think Diana Vreeland!!) and she often did the cooking (I’ve included one of her recipes at the end of this post). When I was in New York, which was at least twice a year sometimes more and I often spent my summer vacations there we would go to dinner in small neighborhood restaurants, always French and always delightful and beyond delicious.

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Some stills from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Givenchy did all of Audrey Hepburn’s costumeas and Pauline Trigère did Patricia Neals!  Neal’s character was the Trigère woman, elegant, self assured and moneyed, a perfect collaboration.  Pinterest photos credit unknown.

She adored men and, in my opinion was quite the flirt in a totally charming way.  When she was in Chicago for events I would oftens take her to dinner with some of my gentlemen friends and she found them delightful, so much so that they were invited to join me at her shows in New York on several occasions (on these trips we all stayed in a three bedroom suite at The Mark and would cross the street to the Cafe Carlyle to hear Bobby Short with much champagne and caviar…those were definitely the days). And did I mention the foyer of our suite was always filled with dozens of Cassablanca lillies…glorious! The guys loved going to the shows and were always treated royally by my designer friends…a totally different world from their businesses.  She closed her ready-to-wear business in 1994 but continued to design her scarves and jewelry as well as produce her incredibly delicious fragrance.  She also designed a collection for Gold Violin a line of accessories for seniors.

Her sketchbooks are housed at Kent State University in her dear friends, Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rogers Collection. Pauline Trigère gave the KSU Museum more than thirty dresses and ensembles, as well as sketchbooks spanning her entire career, from 1944 through 1994. The Trigère sketchbooks are currently housed in the June F. Mohler Fashion Library, located in Rockwell Hall, where they can be viewed by appointment. I visited the archives serveral years ago, they are amazing.  In addition, the Pauline Trigère’s papers are held by Brandeis University Archives & Special Collections.  And, of course, her work is part of every major costume collection in the world including our own Chicago History Museum Costume Collection, www.chicagohistory.org.

imageIn her red room surrounded by items she created for Gold Violin. Pinterest photo credit unknown.

Pauline was always beautifully dressed, of course she was, coiffed and always, always, always wore a wonderful red lipstick and shaded glasses.  She came to all our special shows, such as SFA/USA, our 50th anniversary Party in 1979 and the opening of the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Chicago Place in 1990.  Also in 1990 she was an honored guest at the Fashion Group International of Chicago gala held in my honor at the Chicago Hilton…needness to say she was the life of the party!

imageFrom New York’s Designer Walk of Fame.

imagePauline and Nena at the Mayfair Regent in the main floor lounge.  I did many events coordinating with the then PR guru of the Hotel, Biba Roesch as well as many dinners in the Hotel’s Ciel Bleu restaurant, still miss it!  This photo was taken at one of the breakfasts with designers we did.  Informal get togethers with personalities who would share their stories….always fascinating.  I think it’s time to do this again, any takers!!!!????  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

Pauline remained active, with her great personal charm, French style and joie de vivre, into her 9th decade, she passed away in her sleep on Valentine’s Day 2002.  Oh, how I miss those Sunday “Nena…Pauline” calls!!!!

FROM HELEN O’HAGAN’S COOKING IN STYLE COOKBOOK

PAULINE TRIGÈRE’S CRAB SOUP

2 cans celery soup (PT’s note any brand will do, NI’s note, I use Campbell’s)

1/2 can water or chicken bouillon

1 large onion, grated

Salt and white pepper to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 pint heavy cream

1 pound crabmeat (preferrably fresh can be frozen not canned!!!)

1 cup light sherry

Chopped parsley for garnish

Put celery soup, water or bouillon and the very finely grated onion to heat in a saucepan.  Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg.  When warm, add the cream and crab, and the cup of sherry.  Do not allow to boil, correct seasoning. Top with chopped fresh parsley.  Serves 6.

FASHION FASHIONBACK: A VERY DIVERSE WEEK IN FASHION

Yet another off-kilter bit of fashion…a very diverse week in fashion from a beautiful wedding to an interesting award show to an annual celebrity festival all have offered an unusual look at the fascinating world of fashion  I may or may not give you my comments and let you decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t  My blog isn’t meant to be a “fashion blog” but rather my reflections on my experiences in this exciting, challenging, and always changing phenomenon called fashion! This week gave us lots and lots to look at and think about.  I would love to hear your thoughts on what I am sharing and what you would have listed.

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Here goes….Peppa looked glorious in her exquisite lace gown ( loved the heart back and the fit was flawless) by English designer, Giles Deacon* (who, by the way, hopes he won’t only be known for wedding gowns, don’t think that will happen his garments are truly Couture in feeling let’s watch as he progresses now that the world has heard his name), and Kate looked perfect in her face powder peach dress from Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen (an excellent choice since Sarah did the Duchess’s wedding gown!) and hat, by Jane Taylor.  And the adorable pageboys and bridesmaids were perfection, even if little Prince George got scolded!

*A brief Giles Deacon Bio:

After graduating from London’s Saint Martins in 1992, Giles Deacon worked with Jean Charles De Castelbajac in Paris for 2 years. From 1998 until 2002 he designed at Bottega Veneta and the Gucci Group.  May 2010 Giles became Creative Design Director at Emanuel Ungaro in Paris.  He is also an accomplished illustrator. His Couture Collection was launched in 2017.  Such a short bio on a designer who has so many accolades to his credit.

The very next day The Billboard Music Awards happened…I have already discussed, in my Wednesday post, why I watched the show and talked about Cher but also mentioned Celine Dion.  Two major talents and both have been around for what seems like forever…and I guess “Our Hearts Will Go On” with them!!!!  Sorry, I had to do it!!!!  Can it be 20 years since The Titanic movie came into our lives…seriously!  Celine’s performance was quite dramatic as was her gown.  My thoughts, a bit too much sleeve, were we trying to look angelic, very couture, or what.  When you see the photo of the gown in the actual fashion presentation it seems to be a bit more subdued but no matter it certainly grabbed out attention.  The gown is by French designer,  Stéphane Rolland,  most certainly not a newcomer but let’s see if this elevates him to the front of our list of designers that are mostly unknown to the general public and become superstars.  He was the youngest person admitted to the Chambre Syndicale.

Stéphane Rolland Timeline
1966  –  Born in Maisons-Alfort, France
1982  –  Graduated from École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne
1986  –  Appointed as Creative Director at Balenciaga
1990  –  Under Balmain license, he created apparels 
1997  –  Appointed at Jean-Louis Scherrer Haute Couture
2007  –  Established House of Stéphane Rolland
2008  –  Became a full member at Chambre Syndicale
2013  –  Launched his ready-to-wear collection 
 
imageThe Gown
imageI just don’t get this outfit on Halsey….did she forget her top…the skirt and sandals I quite like but if we are going in our bra let’s make it an interesting one!!!!
And now on to The 2017 Cannes Film Festival.  It is always THE place to see and be seen and I can’t even imagine how one packs for all the black-tie premieres and parties throughout the day and evening.  If you are superstars your designers along with your stylists take care of the garments but still….. There were lots and lots of very high split gowns for lovely legs to shine and then there were some quite unusual ensembles….I  have only chosen a couple to share with you, it could be pages and pages of photos, the Festival goes on for two weeks after all!
Let’s start with two that the girl of the moment, Kendall Jenner, wore on two different occasions….
imageI really liked this by Giambattista Valli (I did a show with him with him several years ago with his ready-to-wear collection, he was a delight to work with, very shy and OMG so very talented) The gown is young, very fashion forward and, in my opinion right on trend to attract a new Couture client or for that matter any fashionista. How one is going to handle the trains (lots of them on every red carpet this season) heaven only knows.
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 This one, not so much, looks like a fashion design student project gone wrong…I’m fine with the mix of taffeta (or peau de soie) with denim, actually love that combination, but in my opinion, this doesn’t quite work.  From what I have read Kendall added the jean shorts with Swarovski crystal trim to the dramatic crop top which is from Alexandre Vauthier Haute Couture.
Now let’s look at Elle Fanning and how this young amazingly talented actress chose to style herself for Cannes….
imagePure movie star glamour by Gucci.
imageAnd wearing Vivianne Westwood’s  handpainted “Unicorn” gown. We have seen Elle grow up on screen now we are seeing her make the red carpet her own with great aplomb!
imageI don’t know the actress nor the designer, but interesting none the less, obviously making a MAJOR statement, how does one sit in this!!!
imageAnd we end with this and why not…Fun or Freaky.  I tend to Fun…from Maison Margiela and worn by Li Yuchun.
Well, that was quite a week to be a fashion voyeur wouldn’t you agree.  You might not agree with the looks but you can’t say that fashion isn’t fascinating, fun and often frustrating!
A postcript….a major Balenciaga exhibition, Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion (of course there is a catalog!!) just opened at the V&A in London (though next April) and guess what our very own Costume Collection at the Chicago History Museum has two garments featured…how exciting is that…here they are…
imageBalenciaga evening dress with cape in silk gazar 1961 a gift of Mrs. George Connor, 1985.
imageAn iconic piece, evening coat in wool gabardine and silk taffeta, 1950.  Gift of Mrs. Kathleen Catlin (Fashion Director at Marshall Field’s) in 1985. Both photos above courtesy of the Chicago History Museum Costume Collection.
imageAs photographed by Irving Penn for Vogue.  Be sure to see the Irving Penn Exhibition to celebrate his Centennial at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York through July 30 (you can visit it and the Rei Kawakubo Exhibition at the same time….you will definitely need wine and a sit down after!!! And, of course, get books on both exhibitions, you know I will!!!)
All photos, unless otherwise noted, from Pinterest and photo credit unknown.
www.chicagohistory.org
www.vam.ac.uk
www.MetMuseum.org
www.festival-cannes.com
www.BillboardMusicAwards.com