DESIGNER PROFILE: PETER DUNDAS

PETER DUNDAS

It’s always a treat to be able to get to know a designer better….such is the case with Peter Dundas. Peter is the 2022 recipient of the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum Designer of Excellence Award. More on the event celebrating him below. I wanted to ask Peter to do my usual Profile Questionnaire….instead I sent him special questions which he graciously took time from his Norwegian get away to answer for me.

When you think of the DUNDAS brand you immediately think celebrity dressing….let’s see what he has cooked up for next weeks Met Gala, I’m sure more showstoppers! Most recently, one of this year’s Super Bowl half time stars, Mary J. Blige wowed us not only with her performance but her incredible fashion…Dundas, of course!

His exquisite sketch…
The garment in action!

Let’s hear from the creator….

Your garments are always showstoppers….how did you transition from ready to wear to designing for celebrities with custom pieces?

Thank you. Dressing celebrities came very naturally because they actually chose me. They started wearing pieces from my ready to wear collection and little by little the requests for custom looks started to come in. Custom pieces are not necessarily so different from ready to wear for me really. I want every person who wears my designs to look and feel amazing. I think fashion is about giving confidence and that appeals to everyone.

The Carters at a Met Gala
Beyoncé

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer, when did you discover your talent? Which of your time with other brands did you enjoy the most?

I always knew I loved fashion. It was partly a need because my widowed father had no clue how kids dressed and partly because of the pure love of color, the fantasy and later the sex appeal. I had my first manual sewing machine at 6 or 7 but coming from a family of mainly doctors I felt I needed to pursue something more serious for a profession. The decision that the love of this craft could not be ignored came when it was time for college. All of a sudden it appeared as the only path to take. The only path that would make me happy After art school I was incredibly lucky to land a top job in Paris at my then favourite designer; Jean-Paul Gaultier and I haven’t looked back since. I have had many incredible moments in many different places like Pucci in Italy, Lacroix and Ungaro in Paris, and at Cavalli twice, so it might be unfair to choose just one brand. Cavalli however was uniquely incredible because we were riding so high. Pucci was great too and we have had some amazing moments with DUNDAS.

Ready to wear collection

Have you always done your own sketches…they are stunning.

Thank you. I sketch constantly. I always carry a pen. Today most of the sketches I publish are finished electronically mixing photorealism with my own illustration and for this I get a little help. Electronic illustrations facilitate communication, and for custom work it’s especially useful as you understand the garment better. Next is NFT’s which we started doing after the Super Bowl Halftime show with Mary J. Blige. Doing those and creating wearables accessible to anyone creates an even broader outreach that I think is very exciting and important for tomorrow.

Beyoncé 2017

How do you unwind, hard I’m sure with two little ones!

We are busier than ever but sometimes it’s about a change of pace or a change of scenery. My favourite time to unwind are summer breaks at our cottage on the Greek island of Naxos. It’s special because I built it; it has a huge fruit and vegetable garden where we make our own olive oil and can live off the fat of the land literally. It’s a healthy break from the urban existence. On a daily basis giving our son Alexios his evening bath is now probably one of my favourite moments and gets my mind off the business of dresses.

I’m obsessed with your personal style…tell me a little about how you have developed it.

I think I am a frustrated child of the 70’s. The mood-boards for my collections are always filled with images of rockstars from that era. Blondie, Pat Benatar, Keith Richards, Led Zeppelin and of course Cher. It’s my favorite era to be inspired by so naturally it trickles down to how I look and dress.

With Ciara wearing a gown inspired by her husband, Russel Willson’s football jersey at last years Met Gala

Last question…I always ask this question of people I’m profiling….tell me about your dream dinner party, who would be on our your guest list (living or dead) 10 to 12 people and what would you serve (my readers love celebrity recipes!)

Wow that’s a loaded question hmm. My guests would be:

-My partner Evangelo of course

-Halston

-Yves Saint Laurent, both are my heros

-Melissa McCarthy for laughs

-Oprah because she is Oprah

-Bill Gates because he is an amazing entrepreneur who also cares about doing good

-Audrey Hepburn because she was a fashion icon when I was a kid watching old movies with my Dad

-The Dalai Lama for his wisdom

-Queen Elizabeth, I heard she is fun

-Rihanna as she is one of the most beautiful women I know and love to dress

-My mother because I didn’t really know her growing up

-At last God because she is of course always welcome

I would serve caviar on baked potato & champagne which is what I crave right this minute and then profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream!

With partner, Evangelo Bousis

Peter, thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions. They give all of us a wonderful glimpse into The World of Peter Dundas. May I offer my congratulations on receiving the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum 2022 Designer of Excellence Award.

PRESS RELEASE: THE COSTUME COUNCIL OF THE CHICAGO HISTORY MISEUM PRESENTS THE 2022 DESIGNER OF EXCELLENCE AWARD TO PETER DUNDAS ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 4th AT THE LANGHAM HOTEL

“The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum is pleased to announce an exciting evening honoring celebrity fashion designer Peter Dundas, as he receives our Designer of Excellence Award. His illustrious fashion career serving as Creative Director for Emmanuel Ungaro, Emilio Pucci, and Roberto Cavalli has shaped a global experience leading top fashion houses.

His eponymous brand, DUNDAS, launched in unconventional style debuting with Beyoncé Knowles at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Created in partnership with Evangelo Bousis, a Chicago native, DUNDAS continuously delivers notable, couture red carpet looks for celebrities: Shakira, Ciara, Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum, Mary J. Blige, H.E.R., Emily Ratajkowski and many more.”

Honorary Co-Chairs: Brian Atwood, Evangelo Bousis, and Nick Cave

Event Co-Chairs: Dusty Stemer, Rebekah Shalit and VP Programs Chair, Pamella Capitanini.

“The Designer of Excellence Awards is a fundraiser to benefit the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum and has a rich history in our organization as an important pillar of designer recognition in Chicago. The Museum has more than 50,000 pieces of fashion in its archives and is one of the largest repositories in the world. Brian Atwood, Evangelo Bousis, and Nick Cave are this year’s honorary co-chairs. Over the years, the Awards have honored James Galanos, Geoffrey Beene, Christian Lacroix, Sonia Rykiel, Hubert de Givenchy, Bill Blass, Ralph Rucci, Bob Mackie, Carolina Herrera, and this year, we are thrilled to honor Peter Dundas. All proceeds benefit the Chicago History Museum for exhibition and curatorial needs to preserve the costume collection.”

For further information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.chicagohistory.org/event/designer-of-excellence-award-with-peter-dundas/

PROFILE: THE VINTAGE CONTESSA PART 1

The Vintage Contessa

I find it beyond fascinating how many interesting people you can encounter on social media and also how lovely it is to make new friends who enjoy many of the same things that you do. Elizabeth Kirkpatrick aka The Vintage Contessa is exactly one of those people and I wanted to share her story with you! I asked her to do The nenasnotes Questionnaire and she immediately agreed. The following is Part 1 of her responses (she writes her fabulous blog, http://thevintagecontessa.net/ in ALL CAPS and has asked me to keep “ALL CAPS” that she has used for her answers!) I know you will be fascinated with her stories and be charmed and intrigued with her breathtakingly gorgeous photos….enjoy!

In the garden

nenasnotes QUESTION….WHEN READING YOUR BLOG POSTS I NOTED THAT YOU HAVE HAD MANY INCARNATIONS….WHICH HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY

INCARNATIONS? That is an interesting observation, but I do believe you are correct! As a child I wanted to be a BALLERINA or a VET. That did not come to fruition. Then I worked in FASHION RETAIL Then Wholesale, The Gucci Accessory Collection. We sold to the Specialty stores and Department stores. That is how I met my husband of 36 years. We worked for a woman who had the distribution for the United States and Canada. Then married in Florence, Italy in 1986. Then I became a MOTHER to TWO BEAUTIFUL SONS. Then an Antique/Vintage Collector which became a store front. After they grew up a bit I opened a shop that sold antiques and vintage for 12 years. Last came the BLOG :THEVINTAGECONTESSA.NET. Then Instagram hit! I found people who had similar passions as myself. Plus I was OVER 50 so The ADVANCED STLE movement enticed me! I thought what ARI SETH COHEN https://www.advanced.style was doing was FANTASTIC. To answer your question about which one was my favorite I would say being a MOTHER and being married to THE ITALIAN in SAN MINIATO AL MONTE in Florence,Italy. Can I have TWO PLEASE? A Nena’s Note….yes, you can!

With THE ITALIAN
Photo by Ari Seth Cohen, Elizabeth with Bansky….more on him later!

As time goes by I get MORE and More ECCENTRIC.For example when the Boys were younger I would wear long skirts with sweatshirts mind you the skirts I found in the consignment shops were usually TAFFETA!
The shoes were always running shoesAs a young woman and still today I get comments like “Where are you going all dressed up?”And I think to myself I am NOT DRESSED UP at all. I get stopped often in the Produce section of the grocery store a lot by older men saying thank you for dressing up……..you remind be of days gone by.

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT? TALENT! I wouldn’t say I have talent, but I do have a good eye whether it be clothing, interiors or gardens. My “talent” for clothing was born from looking at VOQUE and HARPERS BAZAAR and TOWN & COUNTRY at a young age. I did DREAM of being a model or SHOWGIRL like a ROCKETTE as I loved the HEADWEAR. Feathers & Rhinestones were HEAVEN to me! I should have been in theater! I would have adored CECIL BEATON.I really have Never Changed from that young girl. Most of my DREAMS have been fulfilled.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”EXPLAIN…I do not think “I HAVE MADE IT YET” I keep plugging along. Once my sons left I was a LOST SOUL.I have kept doing what I love. The garden the clothing and collecting stuff. I did make it in THE CLOSET DEPARTMENT however! As we had a very small closet we shared. I kept complaining about how I needed more space! My ITALIAN built an addition to the 1940’s house for all my clothes.

THE CLOSET!

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW…AND WHEN DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR UNIQUE STYLE
MY MOTHER! I have always LOVED antiques. I would shop with my MOTHER at a very young age. My first collections were OLD KEYS & BOTTLES. I still have an old milk bottle from those days and a set of old keys that have faces on them. If I remember correctly they were $12.00. I thought about INTERIOR DESIGN but the drawing scared me. I remember when TONY DUQUETTE lived down the street from us in San Francisco. Since then I have met many decorators at Book signings, Anita Campell, Timothy Corrigan, Charlotte Moss, Paul Wiseman Princess Michael of Kent and Hutton Wilkinson. I actually was invited to DAWNRIDGE for lunch with his wife as he was out of town. That was an experience I will never forget! I still love ballet, animals and clothing. I am still SHOPPING when most people are CLEANING out! I have found “MY PEOPLE” on BLOG’s and INSTAGRAM who rock MY WORLD. Who actually “GET ME!” Another Nena’s Note, I profiled Hutton, awhile ago, and also did a review on his book DAWNRIDGE!

One of her new finds….the monogram caftan, details are on her site!

TALK A BIT ABOUT YOUR “MENAGERIE” I LOVE ANIMALS. I always wanted a farm. My mother was from INDIANA and would tell me about the runt of the litter sleeping by the stove in the kitchen when she was growing up. By age ten I had a chicken that turned into a rooster! My Father was not an animal person, however somehow we always had a cat. No dogs. I had rabbits outside and was ALWAYS building a BARN. Today I have a dog and a cat who is missing at the moment and a TEA CUP pig that lives in THE HOUSE! He is THE BEST ANIMAL I have ever owned. They are very clean. They are very smart. He learned the doggie door in ONE DAY! He eats very little to be honest like 1/3 of a cup of piggy pellets with a fruit or vegetable! Twice a day. The vegetables MUST BE COOKED! I also save the old bread and soak it. Of course when he goes OUTSIDE it must be warm enough and NO RAIN he will graze in the garden! He learned the first year NOT TO EAT MAMMA’s ROSES! He understands” NO” very well! He has his second dinner with us at the table at night. A bite of salad or vegetable NO MEAT! He has his own FORK…SILVER ANTIQUE which is placed on a KINFE REST so we do not get it confused with OURS! He comes when I call! He also sprints around the house and has NEVER broken a thing!MY house is PACKED with STUFF! Sometimes the cat and the dog and the pig all dine with us at the table waiting their turn! Somehow he knows when dinner is over as he heads to bed or wants a TUMMY RUB!
As he heads to bed in the living room I ask for a kiss and he turns his head to oblige me! I get the NOSE as the mouth is un-reachable!

With Bansky
At The Louvre
I thought this would be a good place to stop for today, and wouldn’t we love to be dressed up at the Louvre right this very minute…..there is lots more to come…stay tuned for Part 2

MONDAY MUSINGS: ROMANCE NOVELS

BRIDGERTON the new NETFLIX series.

First of all a confession, I have never, to my knowledge, read a Romance Novel. No Barbara Cartland, no Harlequin, and no Julia Quinn. That statement will, probably need some research, to see exactly what a romance novel really is. In my mind’s eye it is the bodice ripping damsels, shirtless rogues gracing the covers of said books, perhaps I’m wrong! For an example in other genres Louise Penny is often listed in Cozy Mystery round ups…I don’t think of her fabulous books as “cozy” but that’s just me!

Well you might ask why am I doing this post…the answer is I have become addicted to the newseries BRIDGERTON on NETFLIX (FYI this isn’t a sponsored post, I’m not fortunate enough to have sponsors, with the New Year approaching maybe that will change….I live in hope!). I must admit I am totally enjoying it.

Why, for several reasons which I will get into in a minute. Let me begin at the beginning with the first episode. I started watching because I am a major Anglophile and enjoy most English period pieces. The Regency period intrigues me with its manners, clothing, interiors, gardens, etc. again more later. We all know this has been an extremely challenging year and I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas which all of a sudden arrived. I usually go to a new movie on Christmas Day with friends, obviously this wasn’t happening this year but there were lots of choices to watch (read this as what to stream) and I choose BRIDGERTON. Almost immediately I said to myself, “this seems to be a live action romance novel and I seem to be enjoying it!” I needed something pretty to look at, I certainly found that and with “romance” thrown in. Is it a bit silly, sure, does it draw you in, yep, do you want to know how the characters evolve, absolutely. This isn’t WAR AND PEACE, it’s an escapist fantasy.

Now for some of the interiors, not necessary period authentic (think the Kristen Durst Marie Antoinette film, hardly correct but totally delightful).

The costumes identify the characters (that is the point after all!)….the socially established, understatement and soft colors and the nouveau riche, bold color and pattern.

Lots of feathers, fans, fluttering, flirty, fainting…manners, etiquette, duels, balls, court intrigue…marrying well (usually to improve the family’s fortune), gossip, lots of gossip, it has it all. It most certainly isn’t a documentary, just a fun interlude in our current very dismal year. Watch it for the fun of it and perhaps you too might become a Romance Novel convert!

Photos courtesy Pinterest photo credit unknown. Mostly still from NETFLIX.

VICTOR SKREBNESKI AN ODE TO AN ICON PART 1

 

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Victor’s Birthday Dinner Chez Ivon long ago.  One of my favorite photos of us. My photo, published for the first time

Sweetheart, Baby, Angel, Dearest, Darling…..(each comma represents a pause!) how I will miss these words on my phone early on so many mornings….followed by “Its Victor”…my answer, always, who else would it be!  And always notes for reasons or just a hello….he did those for many of his friends, I treasure mine.

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This was our greeting for decades.  Was each and every decade stress free, of course not, no relationship no matter how close you are doesn’t have bumps and, yes, we had bumps, but the “bumpless” times were so very special.  I wanted to share all the good times…and there were many!

E6BACBBC-B29E-4606-98B8-CFB82D78FE2CAt a Fashion Group International Chicago gala honoring the Ferragamos  Photo credit: Robert Carl.

My dear, special friend of so many, many years and so many, many memories, left us this year on April 4th to join his dear family and friends such as Hubert de Givenchy, Estée Lauder, Joan Weinstein, Jovanna Papadakis to name just a few to make Heaven even more glamorous…….you know he is busy organizing the angels into perfect photo shoots…on that you can be sure.

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Shown with Estée Lauder, photo credit unknown.

In retrospect, I can’t remember when we first became friends nor why we were comfortable sharing confidences and champagne, but we were and we did!!  Over many, many dinners at RL and La Scarola (the last time I saw him was at dinner there) or my home, we talked about anything and everything.
0CDCA09B-149B-4FC6-A4B6-085928EECECEAn afternoon benefit at the Chicago Hilton, photo credit unknown.

We often went to events together and he was sure to include me when he was receiving many of his  special honors.

Back in the discotheque days….the 1960’s/1970’s we would meet, along with everyone else, on the weekends at the Disc de Maxim’s, I supplied the dresses for the DJ…it was the place to see and be seen.  Or the evenings spent listening to Bobby Short or Shelley MacArthur at the Gold Sardine Bar.  Great fun times.

Nancy Goldberg’s Maxim’s de Paris at the Astor Towers.  Beyond gorgeous…here the staircase from the main floor into the restaurant and the dance floor.

Photos found on Pinterest credit unknown.

I had the honor of planning the special dinner at the Chicago Cultural Center after he received his Honorary Degree from Columbia College Chicago, one of the only times that a degree was  bestowed outside of Graduation ceremonies making it even more special.

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1995 Columbia College Chicago Honorary Degree evening.  Photographer unknown. From my collection.

Lucky me that I became a friend of one of the major artists of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

When did this friendship begin…I can’t pin point the exact year, Victor was a well known photographer and Major Influencer when I started at Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago.  I think the first time I was invited into his Circle of Friends was at the Chicago premier of the 1969 film The Damed.  I was invited to a private screening at the screening room at The Chicago Theater and to the reception after.  It was a small group at the screening…the movie was eagerly anticipated and I was beyond thrilled to be included.  Well, dear friends, I don’t shock easily but I must tell you, I was beyond shocked by the film, so much so I have never seen it again.  Since it was such a small group I couldn’t get up and leave.  I guess I should like it, I do admire Visconti’s work. Well there is more to this story…the reception was upstairs at Gene & Georgetti’s (I’m so pleased they are back with us after their fire and the “plague” closings).  As you got to the top of the stairs you were immersed in the decadent “Cabaret Scene” from the film, I was beside myself.  Perhaps if I hadn’t been so undone by the film I might have found it less distasteful and across the room was one of the stars, Helmut Berger who kept staring at me….gave me chills!  If you haven’t seen the film do so and you will get what I’m talking about.  I wonder if I’ll find it not as shocking now???!!!

Flash forward to 1984 when I received a telegraph (remember those) from Town and Country requesting that I report to the Skrebneski Studio on such and such a date at such and such a time to have my photo taken for an upcoming story in the magazine on The Costume Council of the Chicago Historical Society (as the  Museum was called then) .  Victor did exquisite editorial spreads for T&C for years, some of my most favorite images are from those issues.  Well, of course, I thought this was some kind of a joke.  I immediately called Dennis Minkel, Victor’s Assistant and a long time dear friend of mine.  I had been working with him on many shoots when they needed clothing and/or accessories.  He assured me it wasn’t a joke and to wear a favorite dress, preferably a day garment since the other Executive Committee members would be in cocktail and evening gowns.  They would supply the hair and makeup artists and the jewelry.  I was stunned, excited, honored and perplexed being the only “non-socialite” in the group.  I was, at the time serving as Acquisitions Chair.  As I recall I was the last shoot of the day.  I arrived as scheduled in my “uniform” a mock turtleneck black chemise by Adolfo.  My hair was long at the time and it was fashioned into a classic French Twist.  I am photographed in front of period gowns from the Costume Collection in a double page spread.  Let’s talk a minute about how Victor worked, the set ups took time but he knew exactly what shot he wanted and where the fold of the magazine would happen, therefore the two pages always were seamless not so with other photographers nor magazine editors.  Just one example of his brilliance.  And it’s one shot and done.  The photo looks quite simple, it was anything but….to get the angle he wanted, and by the way he loved profiles….so that is how you see me, I don’t love my profile but who am I to say…he had positioned my legs in an awkward position, so much so that I pulled a muscle.  I don’t think I ever told him that!!!!  My hair looks dark due to the dramatic Skrebneski lighting.  Lighting was one of his signatures.  And here is the finished photo

1B7FCB0F-2C91-459A-B330-EE1E24B5AE5EThis framed copy was on my office wall from 1984 until I retired in 2009, it is now part of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.  All of us were taken to Les Nomades for an elegant dinner with the T&C editors and a bottle of Kristal was sent to each of us with a lovely note.  What an extraordinary once in a lifetime experience…..I, of course, thought this was my one and only Skrebneski photo session…..wrong again…..

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Stay tuned for Part 2 and probably Part 3 of this story.

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: HELENA RUBINSTEIN, THE ADVENTURE OF BEAUTY

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Elizabeth Arden, Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown, Trish McEvoy, Jo Malone, The Kardashians, Pat McGrath, Madame C.J. Walker….the list goes on…are all familiar, extremely successful, innovative women in the beauty business.  Make-up, skin care and well being have been with us through the centuries and are multi-billion dollar contributors to the International economy.  That being said if we look back to the early twentieth century we would find a mostly male dominated industry until two women changed all that….Elizabeth Arden and today’s subject, Helena Rubenstein.

Today’s review is HELENA RUBENSTEIN, THE ADVENTURE OF BEAUTY, published by Flammarion.  It is dividend into seven chapters, (each written by a different author, a brilliant concept), has a detailed biography, list of exhibition works and a bibliography along with a magnificent collection of photographs, many published for the first time.  Is it a scholarly book, yes, but it reads like the best of fiction…that being a real life and one that was well lived. I must admit I don’t do negative reviews primarily because I don’t finish a book if it isn’t interesting to me…this one fills all my requirements for a successful book.

It gives us an extraordinary in-depth look at a self made person who believed in the beauty, not only of her clients, but of art, fashion, jewels and most importantly the beauty of wellbeing.

Born in 1872 in Krakow, Poland the cosmetic titan, art patron, fashionista died in 1965 in New York City (she was buried in Yves Saint Laurent Couture).  She immigrated to Australia in 1896 and makes her own beauty cream copying one her mother gave her, she launches the cream in 1901 and it is an instant success.  She follows this success with opening the first of her beauty salons.

I really enjoyed the detailed timelines at the beginning of the book and since my space is limited for this review, my focus is on the chapter Helena Rubenstein and Fashion.

Barely five feet tall she wore Couture, first from Worth, Jacques Doucet and Paul Poiret to Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and, of course, Chanel and Schiaparelli…all of whom she befriended. Her stature belied what we think of as the ideal fashion figure.  Her taste, style and self confidence made her thin and six feet tall. Her feeling for why she dressed to perfection “I have to look good for the business.”

No detail escaped her discerning eye and she collected Couture the same way she collected jewelry, usually large pieces, art and homes, only the best would do.

Included in this chapter is a piece entitled “Why I Love Jewels” a hand written document in her archives…in my opinion, a masterwork and I quote the last line, “Yes, jewels are indeed a girl’s best friend, not, necessarily because of their value — which helps — but because they lend the ‘just right’ note to a woman’s femininity and individuality.”

One has to admire Rubenstein’s joie de vivre and her entrepreneurial ambition.  I highly recommend the book, fascinating, engaging and insightful.

Nena Ivon, nenasnotes, original review, February 2020, exclusively for The Fashion Map  

Please support my Independent Bookseller of choice The Book Stall

My book reviews are funded.  Interested in sponsorship opportunities please contact me at nenasnotes1@gmail.com.  

COLLECTING FASHION TRENDS: THE BLACK LEATHER JACKET

                                                      HAPPY FALL!

            THE BLACK LEATHER JACKET…..ALWAYS CLASSIC ALWAYS NEW

Repost with permission from the Randolph Street Market blog.  A reminder the last outdoor vendor portion of this year round market is Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29, 2019.  Do go it is chocked full of treasures in vintage clothing and everything else under the sun!

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From “Greasers” to high fashion and everything in between, let’s look at where the leather jacket began and see it developed into a fashion wardrobe classic.
Obviously leather has been with us for centuries but the jacket we are featuring today we are tracing back to “modern” history.

The brown leather jacket made its entrance on the scene on the aviators of World War I.

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Then again for the air women and men as the Bomber jacket for WWII.

In 1928 Irving Schott designs the first motorcycle jacket and sells it for $5.50 at the Harley Davidson store in New York. He named it after his favorite cigar, The Perfecto. And perfect it was, on and off motorcycles.

In 1953 The Wild One starred a sexy Marlon Brando in a classic leather motorcycle jacket. Often the jacket became its own character.

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And other stars jumped on the bike, so to speak, definitely defying the norm and defining the person on and off the screen…James Dean

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Steve McQueen…..

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Tom Cruise….

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Elvis, of course…..

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Henry Winkler before he was The Fonz (notice Stallone) in The Lords of Flatbush…

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And as Fonzie….

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And then there was Grease…..(my era!)

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The Beatles before suits and Ringo….

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The English Punks and, of course Sid and Nancy and The Sex Pistols…

 


The one and only Michael Jackson…

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From the outrageous to….David Beckham….


And so many more celebrities….
Three blonds….Madonna, Glenn, Lady Gaga…..who wears it best, I’ll leave it to you…


Haute Couture, why not….a bit of Schiaparelli…


Some embellished jackets…they have come a long way baby, how shall you embellish your Randolph Street Market Finds…..so many options…here are a few suggestions…

 

I must admit my favorite of the bunch, although the feathered piece or hand painted or……

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Let’s look at a few ways to style and update your vintage jacket…..


I’m obsessed with this on Elizabeth Moss…DA30D24B-A3E8-4B8C-BCFF-F57832335FDD

 

Robert Mapplethorpe Self Portrait…a recent Retrospective at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

Self Portrait 1980 by Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989
For your own research some books (you knew I would have some suggestions didn’t you!)

The one and only Ralph Lauren who exemplifies “Always Classic Always New”

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And your blogger in one of four black leather jackets, a motorcycle piece needs to be added if only to embellish!!!!! RSM here I come!!

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All photos with the exception of the one of me, from Pinterest photos credits unknown.

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: MISTRESS OF THE RITZ

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I was reluctant to read another book based on World War II, and there are so many, as well there should be, knowing we must never forget the horrors of war and especially WWII. The reason I didn’t want to read this was I needed something not as heavy but I succumbed to the pull of The Ritz Hotel and how it played a major roll in the Nazi occupation of Paris and actually served as its headquarters in Paris.  Being a historical novel written by the amazing story teller/historian, Melanie Benjamin it was a no brainer as I have enjoyed all her writings….and, a bonus, I was able to obtain an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) from NetGalley.  Having recently read and reviewed on my blog (see the Archives) Ritz and Escoffier, which I really loved, I was interested to learn more about how The Ritz survived this horrific period in history.

The story revolves around the Ritz French General Manager, Claude Auzello and his American wife, Blanche.  Beginning with their whirlwind courtship, and his advancement as a hotelier it then follows them through the intrigues of living with and serving the enemy in their Hotel.  Becoming an important part of the Resistance evolves and using historical facts Benjamin keeps the story moving with intrigue, love affairs, behind the scenes hotel stories as well as how everyday citizens respond to crisis in order to survive.

Obviously, wartime at the Ritz was one of the darker chapters in the hotel’s history. When they arrived in Paris, the Germans used the hotel as a swanky headquarters for high-ranking officers, Hermann Göring among them. The Nazis took over half the hotel, allowing the other half to remain open to guests. Gone were the halcyon days of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Porter and the romantic thoughts of Proust….instead the uniforms and boots of Nazi’s filled the lobby, bar and rooms of the legendary hotel.  The hotel staff ate well from the leftovers of the invaders and, of course Claude and Blanche lived on site.

I felt the story told us more of Blanches role as she became more independent of her husband in trying to find her way in a hostile environment, to help those in need, as well as a more self sufficient woman.

Having done extensive research on Paris Haute Couture, I do know quite a bit about how the French Couturiers survived, some are briefly mentioned, and of Hitler’s desire to move Couture to Berlin, not mentioned in the book but worth your while to research if you are interested, it is a fascinating story.  I did enjoy the encounter, in the book, between Blanche, who is wearing a Schiaparelli dress, and Mademoiselle Chanel’s comments to her.  Chanel and Schiaparelli were arch enemies and this sentence conveys this animosity perfectly.

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Chanel in her Suite at The Ritz

Gabrielle Chanel plays a minor role in this novel but her presence is definitely there and she makes an occasional appearance. It was while she was staying at the Ritz during the war years that she had a romantic liaison with Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German officer and spy. She also took care of him in her home, Villa Pausa on the French Riviera, after the war.  There is much speculation about Chanel and the Nazi’s….was she a collaborator, was she a spy for the British…for more on this story I recommend reading Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War. 

I know you want to know if I recommend reading this book….by now you must know I don’t review books I don’t like so the answer is yes, read it….and guess what Ms. Benjamin will appear at my Independent Bookseller of choice The Book Stall in June, be sure to check it out, I hope to attend.

Melanie Benjamin, Author

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nenasnotes THE FASHION BOOK CLUB

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A portion of my fashion library.

I am almost giddy with excitement, why you ask….I am celebrating a year of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and what a year it has been. Meeting each month with bubbles and bites, door prizes, goodie bags and give away books with a great group of regular members, their guests and new attendees it has been something I look forward to.  Meeting in an elegant Private Club, in my opinion, just adds to this special series.  We spend a half hour mixing and mingling with each other, then an hour of discussion.  I’m working on taping the conversations so I can share them with all of you….stay tuned.

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Our signature bubbles…..

I thought it would be a bit of fun to review what we have read so far and what is on the calendar for the rest of this year, I’ve left some dates open to slot in new releases.  I have, so far, only done new releases as close to publication as possible and most months I am in conversation, via conference call, with the authors, leaving time, of course, for Q & A.  In addition, I always have the current book and the next month’s selection on site for purchase and work closely with my Independent Bookseller,  The Book Stall

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Some of us at one of the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club meetings.

Let’s take a look at what we read and a peek into the upcoming books that will be featured this year….

MAY 2018

A book I highly recommended…I recommend all of the books we have studied.  This is a highly researched, detailed account of Loulou de la Falaise and Yves Saint Laurent….great conversation with Christopher Petkanas and here is my Amazon review…

“The book is extraordinary in so many ways, it is a MUST for anyone interested in the complicated intense world of fashion and the people who inhabit the ateliers, wear the exquisite garments they create and move in the social circles of the time. It is unique in that it is an oral biography told chronologically and includes Loulou ‘s family tree at the beginning of the book. I must admit it will take another reading to really appreciate the depth of research Petkanas has evoked. We hear from, I think, everyone who ever knew Loulou (over 200 people are quoted, some often, many are names we all recognize others less familiar, all have fascinating stories to tell), and the detailed family tree, her grandparents, her parents (especially her mother, Maxine “Maxime”), her two husbands, her many lovers, her friends, admirers, and, of course, Yves Saint Laurent. Controversial, most certainly, a fascinating read, without doubt.
Petkanas gives us thumbnail sketches of each contributing source, a bibliography, notes, permissions and an index. He has left nothing out if we want to continue our research. It is written for all fashionistas as well as fashion scholars. A stunning major work on a family, a world renowned fashion house and the times they inhabited, a definite add to your library. If you are looking for fluff…look elsewhere, this is a serious piece while remaining a totally entertaining read.”

JUNE 2018
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Not a new release, in fact out of print, I thought a fun tie-in to the out-of-town preview of The Cher Show and I could talk a bit about my experiences working with the amazing Bob Mackie (fingers crossed that he wins the Tony award for best costumes….how could that not happened!!). A stunning book loaded with very glam photos and I love the typesetting…totally unique just like the designer.
AUGUST 2018
It is unimaginable that this is the first monograph on the quintessential designer, Norman Norell and it is glorious. Written by Jeffrey Banks, a designer himself and extraordinary author with many illustrations by the amazing Michael Vollbracht.  A must for your fashion library.  Jeffrey is a brilliant interview and gave us so many insights into Mr. Norell, I was so fortunate to have fine many shows with him.  And the cover of the book with the iconic Suzy Parker, probably my favorite of the first group of super models.  A profile of Jeffrey can be found in the nenasnotes Archives.
My Amazon review…
“I have approximately 1000 books on fashion. I must say this extraordinary first monograph on one of the most important fashion designers, Norman Norell, by the talented designer/author, Jeffrey Banks, now tops my list. Each page MUST be devoured slowly, each iconic photograph and each brilliant Michael Vollbracht drawing only add to the beauty of the book. I had the great pleasure of working with Mr. Norell and his exquisite 4 models, Claudia, Claire, Denise and Yvonne (along with four local, Chicago, look alike models) on several fashion shows. The book took me back to the days when everyone dressed magnificently and everyone (me included) coveted a Norell specially a sequin mermaid gown. His talent, his creativity, his humble personality are all emphasized in NORELL. I am beyond thrilled that two of my favorite world class designers have now been immortalized in their long over due books…first, a couple of years ago, Bonnie Cashin:Chic Is Where You Find It by Stephanie Lake and now Norell: Master Of American Fashion, both iconic designers who led the emergence of what we now know as American Fashion. Bravo Jeffrey Banks. I encourage all interested in design, beauty and the history of fashion to hit the buy button immediately!!”

SEPTEMBER 2018

Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It yet another long over due monograph written by the keeper of the Cashin Archives, Stephanie Lake (I have written several nenasnotes post on Stephanie check the archives to sample her lifestyle and that of her husband,  Cory and daughter Odette).  Stephanie sent charming take always and book plates for the attendees.  A fabulous in depth conversation that could have gone on for more that the allotted hour but that is true with all my authors.

OCTOBER 2018

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A brilliant book part Dior biography and part the story of his homes in collaboration with just as talented interior designers.  Loved this book unfortunately I could make the schedule work with author, Maureen Footer…she has promised to talk with us with her next book….let’s look forward to that in the near future.

Yet another of my Amazon reviews….I seem to dwell on my collection….ah well…

“I own over 1000 fashion books (my goal to own all published!), did I need to add another on Christian Dior, the answer is YES, when it is this extraordinarily researched and elegantly presented book by Maureen Footer. It is perfection and gives the reader a different slant of one of the most original and iconic of all fashion designers. Dior’s love for creativity in his fashion extends to his homes and salons and love of his gardens. Given the background of the elegant creators he worked with and Dior’s vision it becomes an intriguing story and the accompanying photographs are the icing on the cake. Adding to that icing an exquisite forward by another iconic influencer, Hamish Bowles. I do a monthly Fashion Book Club and this was a highlight of the series. Get this for yourself and for gifts, you will not be disappointed.”

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Door prize box of Dior goodies and a goodie bag for each attendees

NOVEMBER 2018

Another designer I had the pleasure of working with, Carolyne Roehm, who reinvented herself as a brilliant writer, I am obsessed with each of her books, they are glorious as is this one.  Look at this stunning cover, the photographer non other than our own uber talented, Victor Skrebneski!  You will find more of this geniuses work between the covers.  So much to say about this look at creativity at its very best.  Loved her designs, love her homes, love her floral talent and adore her books.

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DECEMBER 2018

i have admired Valerie Steele forever and have heard her speak on many occasions.  Her work as Director of the FIT Museum is exemplary and her books must reads and have in your library.  I was beyond excited that she immediately agreed to be in conversation, and, by the way, will be back with us later this year with yet another exhibition companion book.  We had a fabulous chat and the group was so enthralled that they didn’t make a sound, I had to ask them to say hi so she would know there were others in the room not just me!

Yes, another Amazon review….

“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 taking us from the courts of Europe when pink was worn by as many men 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!”

FEBRUARY 2019

Another author who immediately agreed to be with us and sent me an autographed copy of her book right away….what a joy to talk with the brilliant yet very down to earth, Caroline Weber, who is working on a sequel and will join us again upon its publication.  While some might find M. Proust a bit of a challenge Caroline’s wit and wisdom and beyond extraordinary research discussing the women who influence his writings made all of us rethink delving into his works yet again.

MARCH 2019

I had to reschedule our January meeting due to inclement weather but was very anxious to talk with the amazing Hutton Wilkinson, I have worked with Hutton when he did his first book Tony Duquette as well as when he visited with his fine jewelry collection, also documented in a book…Dawnridge is as unique as both Duquette and Wilkinson are….nothing remotely like either gentleman nor their creativity exists to my mind’s eye….believe me when I say this conversation took on its own life….great fun.  You can find his profile in the nenasnotes archive.

A book review…here you go….

“The beginning of the book gives us a detailed understanding of Tony’s life, and, of course how Hutton became his creative partner. The book is then organized by the three main houses and the elaborate grounds. Hutton takes us through the painstaking process of repurchasing many of the “lost” treasures of the home, the detailed drama of “reinventing” the original concept and not only enhancing it but bringing the dream into the reality of the 21st Century with its modern technology while keeping the essence and tradition of the original rooms, buildings and grounds in their transformations. The photos of the original rooms and new ones of the reinvented spaces are masterworks. I would go so far as to say an exquisite Phoenix has risen from the “ashes”. I could live in any of the spaces since my motto is definitely more is more and my most favorite color is green, let alone all the Malachite, and the chandeliers, and the layering, and…………totally dreamy!”

APRIL 2019

It seemed fitting to end the first year of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club as we began with a book on Yves Saint Laurent…another scholarly tome, heavy both in content and heft of the book and one not to be read casually (I do have two novels scheduled for this year, both with designers as their subjects!). It is the first on YSL written in English and not translated from French.  The research is extraordinary.  Yet another for your collection.

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MAY 2019

When we think of Vogue Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington immediately come to mind, well there was a third critical eye with Tonne Goodman whose vision complimented and completed the iconic magazine’s editorial content.  Balancing Coddington’s whimsy with more straight forward, yet visionary, photographs….and photography is what this book is all about.  And the photography is just beyond….I particularly loved the pages of Vogue covers.  Very little text but lots and lots and lots of fabulous photos by all the well known and not so well known photographers of our era….fabulous book!

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JUNE 2019

Another monograph, this time Dawn Mallo, the genius behind Bergdorf Goodman’s revamp and the discoverer of many designers…think Michael Kors and the force who brought Tom Ford to Gucci during her tenure there. John Tiffany brings his investigative reporting to this sensational book with much the same vigor he did with his book on the doyenne of fashion Eleanor Lambert…can’t wait to have John in conversation….it will be awesome.

 

JULY 2019

Our first novel and it’s about Gabrielle Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli….wow, should be  fabulous.  Can’t wait to hear what author, Jeanne Mackin has to tell us about her research.  It is my favorite type of novel, one based on fact…yes, historical fiction..love it!

 

OCTOBER 2019

Who knew one of my favorite male models (actually mad for all my male and for that matter female models….but) Marcellas Reynolds has written his first book and what a book it looks to be…and I’m hoping he will actually be with us in person, he is a Chicago guy…fingers crossed.

 

It’s been quite a year and lots more to come….I’ll, of course, keep you updated and let you know when I can share the nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club conversations with you…we just have to figure out logistics and get the author’s permission to tape them….stay tuned!!  In the meantime you can read along with us, I post here and on Instagram upcoming selections.

More of my fashion library….

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FRIDAY MUSINGS: IT’S A VINTAGE GARDEN PARTY

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By now you know I look forward to the end of each month when the Randolph Street Market appears on my calendar and I must admit the May Market, (which begins the outdoor season, though September), is my favorite month of all (please don’t tell the other months they will be jealous!).  It not only gives us the feeling that Summer is almost with us but also dramatically enlarges RSM, of course, the chock a block three floors of Plumbers Hall are with us year round.   Celebrating its Sweet Sixteen year the outdoor season kicks off with a vintage garden party, not only will you find the most amazing vintage one of a kind treasures, but you can eat and drink to your hearts content while listening to music all day (the Market is open from 9 to 5 each day), great people watching and you can shop, shop, shop…that is the point my dears!  This May you can also get gardening tips, plants and supplies whether you are a seasoned gardener or a novice.  As with all the dealers, be sure to engage them in conversation to learn more about collecting, styling yourself and your home and now your garden.  Looking to expand your collections from books to mirrors to paintings, to furniture, to refurbished bikes to artisan crafts to jewelry and clothing for women and men (there is Father’s Day to think about!!) and items you didn’t even know you needed or wanted….look no further it is all at RSM. By the way, do you know I do two monthly posts, totally different from this blog, on the RSM’s blog…one on collectibles and one on fashion…be sure to check them out, this month I featured Lady Head Vases and Trench Coats.  If we are all into sustainability and recycling, and we should be, we need to think VINTAGE!!!  

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Now I wanted to share the dynamic RSM newsletter with you…it will give you many more details and was impossible to replicate so I am giving you the link.  By the way this is not a paid endorsement just information I want to share with you dear readers so you can enjoy the Market as much as I do.  It is there rain or shine and you will enjoy a day out in our wonderful Chicago!  Happy hunting!

Randolph Street Market May Event

BB73D3B5-218F-44A8-9AAA-15DB0B229886Our inspiration, Sally Schwartz, Founder of Randolph Street Market.

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: WATER STREET STUDIOS

F1F5255C-3973-4867-B59D-F6AD84E41B21Nena with Danielle Hollis, Executive Director, Water Street Studios, Andrea Reynders, Designer and Exhibition Curator pictured in exhibition space. Here you can see the natural stone of the building….I am obsessed with art against natural material such as brick, wood and stone in my opinion, it becomes an artwork itself.

I recently had the great pleasure of being invited by my dear friend, Andrea Reynders  who curated the exhibition, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER…Artists Explore The Theme of “Transparency”, to speak at a gathering at WATER STREET STUDIOS in Batavia, Illinois.  My talk was to be in conjunction with their exhibition of mixed media art including extraordinary wearable art.  Keeping with the theme of “transparency”, I did a Power Point presentation featuring some of the designers I have worked with through out my career, beginning with Bonnie Cashin and ending with Christian Siriano, just a small sampling of the over 200 designers and fashion influencers I did shows and events with from the mid-1950’s to today.  Of course, I did a running commentary with some enlightening tidbits.  The guests had great questions and I throughly enjoyed the evening most especially the incredible creativity of the artists work.

Let’s look at some of the work and read Andrea’s statement about the exhibition.

The Baptism…..DAWN ZALKUS
“I am a river, soft, inviting, nourishing, transparent. I cleanse away your demons and invite you to my shores. Drink from my waters. I can grant safe passage, or rise up in rage. I am powerful. Mountains move beneath my current. Whole ships are devoured by my abyss. As I invite you to swim in my pools know you may drown in their depths. Gaze into my pellucid surface. Let me enchant you with the rhythm of my tide. Bathe in my waters, refreshing, renewing, shimmering, mesmerizing. I am a river. Materials: Wax paper, quartz, tulle, canvas.”

Crystal by SUE & KATIE HOLZKOPF
“The experience of being under water physically surrounded by an intimidating clear expanse while simultaneously adopting a calmness and peace of the mind is what inspired our design.”
Materials: Paper quills, paint tarp, iridescent cellophane, plastic baggies, zip ties.    Sue is photograped with the garment that she and her daughter, Katie created.

Curator’s Statement….

“Eye of the Beholder is an exhibition dedicated to the art of clothing as a second skin. With this year’s theme of Transparency we expanded the opportunity for artists working in various media and across scales and dimensions.

Transparency: n., transmission or admission of light –a clarity–crystal clear—sheerness, gauziness. V. to show through. Adv. see-through, revealing, lucid–clear, thin, gossamer, filmy.

Artists were challenged to clarify and translate what Transparency meant to them and to create a work that is either worn or observed. From garments that capture emotions we cannot readily share, moments that capture chrysalis transformation, to paintings that capture light in transparent layers of color, the work included here bridges the divide between poetic reflection and political comment and from dynamic movement to quietude.
The results are both serious and whimsical—an amazing cross section of personal interpretation. From sophisticated couture and hand crafted assemblages to paintings –all as a response to the idea of Transparency.
Come and be transformed.”  Andrea Reynders

Fish Need Clean Water, Citizens Need Transparency by KATHERINE KRATZER
“This rallying cry, after a chemical dumping in the seawaters off the coast of Vietnam, should be a rallying cry for all citizens of the world. Corporate polluters, government ineptitude, business greed, poisoned humans and an unforgivable disregard for aquatic life and environments is threatening us all.”
Materials: Tyvek, assorted papers, watercolor.                                                        Katherine photographed with her imaginative piece.

The Unveiling by CLAUDIA CANON
“In a marriage, both parts need the ability and the willingness to see the true inner self and the responsibility to be transparent before committing to each other. The goal with my wedding dress is to enable the viewer to see the beauty of the exterior and also view the interior where the “truth” often exists.”
Materials: Japanese rice paper, tissue paper, tyvek

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Translucent by MORGAN DONOHUE
“This dress captures the fragile balance between wanting to be understood, while also having a constant fear of failure in the back of your mind. Once we become see-through, we become vulnerable and sometimes invisible. The feathers emphasize how delicate the whole process can be, but also remind us that we have the potential to soar.”
Materials: Fabric, seeds, feathers

Childhood Transparency by PRESTON WILLIAMS.                                                       ”This piece to me is about growing up and defining who I am.  Using my boldness as a strength then growing into a person who can be open and transparent.”                     Materials: Rice, bike tires & tapioca pearls

I asked Danielle Hollis, Water Street Studios Executive Director, to give me detailed information on the Studio and Gallery so I could share it with my readers.  I know you will be as impressed with the concept and the space as I am.

The WATER STREET STUDIOS story…..

“In 2007, a group of interested community members, artists, a property owner and the City of Batavia started developing a plan for artist studio spaces. In the spring of 2008, a group formed Batavia Artists Association (BAA), what we now know as Water Street Studios (WSS)

The Batavia Artists Association at Water Street Studios incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit arts organization in the state of Illinois in 2009. Our mission is to help make the arts accessible to the Fox Valley area and beyond. Our vision is to be a cultural hub in the Midwest. Water Street Studios is committed to maintaining a welcoming and safe environment for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, or disability.

Our Art Education program provides high-quality art classes for all ages in a variety of mediums including drawing, printmaking, painting, ceramics, metal-working, jewelry-making, and more. We serve hundreds of students from 35 surrounding towns through our paid programming including Aurora, DeKalb, Naperville, Joliet, Rockford, and more.

Our Art Outreach program provides free art instruction for under-resourced families and schools in the area to help make the arts more accessible to those in need. Last year we provided over 2,000 free art sessions by partnering with key stakeholders in our community such as public schools, libraries, senior centers, and more.

We are in our third year of providing our Ripple Effect program to the Fox Valley area. Ripple Effect is a free, weekly STEAM class that focuses on integrating science, technology, engineering, and math with art. During this 3-week course, students between the ages of 8-12 learn about dendrites and fractals in nature and in math. This program is generously funded by the Dunham Fund.

We have 26 artist studios for emerging and professional artists to work in a highly creative and collaborative environment. The Artist Studios at Water Street Studios come with a wide variety of benefits to support artists including: subsidized rent, opportunities to exhibit and sell artwork, exposure to thousands of visitors every year, opportunities to be employed as an instructor, connection to a vibrant arts community, and more.

Our Gallery and Events program draws many new visitors to our facility to experience the arts. We provide 24 exhibitions and exhibit over 100 artists annually in our two premiere galleries, The Dempsey Family Gallery located on the first floor and the newly named Chicago Capital Gallery located on the second floor. Every month we host a Gallery Opening Receptions, Live Art Series events, Waterline Writers events, and other community events as scheduled.

Water Street Studios is the only nonprofit community arts center in the area that provides all of these services to the Fox Valley area and beyond through high-quality arts programming. We are able to make the arts accessible to our community through high-quality programming because of the dedicated efforts of our staff, board members, donors, and volunteers.”

For more information about Water Street Studios please visit their  website at www.waterstreetstudios.org

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Mammie’s Window by LISA YOUNGDAHL
“Mammie’s Window” is a colored pencil painting of my great-mother’s house in Kentucky. No one has lived in the house since 1963, and the owner has kept the house just as it was when my great-grandmother lived there. There’s even a filled cookie jar still on the counter. To the viewer, the windows are the eyes of a home. Through those eyes we see inside the tattered remains of a house abandoned over 50 years ago. We can only guess why it has been abandoned, but we see a bit of its history.”                                                                                                                                           A Nena’s note….love this painting….but then I was gobsmacked by the talent, creativity, diversity and materials used by all the uber talented artisans.

I was beyond impressed with WATER STREET STUDIOS…two full floors of exhibition space filled with impressive works of art, artists studios, communal spaces, teaching areas….extraordinary and well worth a day in the country, a quick trip from Chicago and any suburb, make a day of it in Batavia and visit the other charming “sister” cities Geneva and St. Charles, where you will find antiques✔️interesting shops for clothing, home, one of a kind finds✔️restaurants✔️charming places to stay for a weekend or longer✔️seasonal activities✔️and more✔️.

I was lucky to have my BFF, Tom Mantel, with me.  We had been at Lyric Opera for the outstanding production of West Side Story….amazing in all aspects.  My host, the always generous and gracious, Tom Hawley, who kindly includes me in the Lyric’s Musicals as well as the Goodman season…always great to be with Christine, Elenor, Earl and Ralph.  Fortunately the highways weren’t too hectic and we arrived at WSS in time to do a tech check.  I had made reservations at Atwater’s the restaurant at The Harrington Inn in Geneva to have a late supper after my presentation.  I have stayed there on several occasions, love it, need to go back soon…..  We arrived around 9 and found ourselves to be the only guests in the dining room, strange for a Saturday night!  Neither the food nor the service suffered, in fact both exceeded my expectations and were perfection.  Do try both Atwater’s and The Harrington, you are in for a treat.

The Harrington, Atwater’s and our insanely delicious chocolate “yum-yum”!!!!  Photos from Pinterest credit unknown.

All other photos taken by me with my iPhone.