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.

 

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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.

FASHION FLASHBACK: SAKS FIFTH AVENUE CHICAGO…THE STORE CELEBRATING 90 YEARS ON THE MAGNIFICENT MILE

I first published this in 2017…..I am posting again to celebrate Saks Fifth Avenue’s 90th year in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile.  I am adding a couple new features as I look back on my first day at the Store on May 18, 1956…..a lifetime ago, yet just a blink of an eye….so much has happened to me, the City and the World since then but I guess as the Sondheim song (and my theme song goes )…I’m (we’re) Still Here!!!!!

CB69D379-C038-4923-816C-60F9D8226EDCNena with Kay Walsh Dobson, 1957….Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives Columbia College Chicago.

I asked the current Vice-President/General Manager, Matthew Brown, to give me his observation of today’s SFA….thank you so much Matt.

”Our 90th anniversary in Chicago is a true reflection of this remarkable company that is Saks Fifth Avenue. Our store has been a symbol of stylish shopping on the city’s most elegant avenue, Michigan Avenue, and we’re thrilled to be celebrating such an impressive milestone.”

There is a new restaurant, ALTHEA By Matthew Kenny….fabulous new concept generating lots of press, check it out!!!!

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Then take a trip to the CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM to view the new Costume Collection Exhibition SILVERSCREEN TO MAINSTREAM, where you will see many wondrous garments including this extraordinary gown purchased from the Salon Moderne in the New York flagship Saks Fifth Avenue.  It and a pair of peek toe shoes credit Saks.  My photos.

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And now back to our original story………enjoy!!!!!

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Pine Street and Erie early 1900’s, courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia Collegte Chicago,.

imagePhoto courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

Michigan Avenue looking North from Ohio Street (Lake Shore National Bank now Chase!) after 1924.  The tall building is the Allerton Hotel which was built in 1924 (now the Warwick Allerton Hotel) and was one of the first high-rises in Chicago and built as a Men’s Club.  For more information on this Hotel please go to www.warwickhotels.com/allerton-hotel-chicago/history. In 1923 the City passed its first zoning ordinance and North Michigan Avenue became a commercial use district.  It still maintained brownstones and vacant lots…a Nena’s note, when I started with the Company there were still brownstones and vacant lots…this was in 1956.

imageThe entrance to Saks Fifth Avenue on Fifth Avenue in New York City in the 1920’s the company opened it’s doors on September 15, 1924.  The first out of town store was in Palm Beach, Florida which was a seasonal store opened to accommodate the store’s “carriage trade” clientele when they were vacationing in Florida.  The second “full line” store (out of New York) was opened in Chicago in the Spring of 1929.

imageOh, my goodness, Nena did you put this photo in by accident….you are after all an AT&T gal and you are showing the facade of the Verizon flagship store on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Chestnut Street! No dear readers, this is the first location of  Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  It was a five-story building (it has had many, many different looks over the years) and is now into the technological age we live in.  No one can explain why after occupying this space for about 5-6 years the decision was made to relocate to 669 North Michigan Avenue in 1935 when an addition was added to the original Blackstone Shop Building. In 1929 this building had been leased to Stanley Korshak, the architect was Philip B. Maher who also designed the landmarked Woman’s Athletic Club building on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Ontario Street.

imageCourtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

The image on the left is the original building and its addition.  The image on the right is the building where I started my career.  If you look directly to the east, next to the Saks logo on the top of the 5 story building, you see windows, those two sets of three windows looked South on Michigan Avenue and were at the end of my department, Debutante Sportswear.  The one story building, by Holabird & Root, was erected in 1944.  Since it was built during WWII it couldn’t be a substantial structure and was built using surplus bricks due to the War effort.  When I started in May 1956 that short building housed the children’s departments from Layette to teens both girls and boys, we did a huge children’s business.  Each building opened into the other and several floors in the St. Clair building (the building where the Corner Bakery is now) were part of Saks, housing the general offices including mine when I moved into the fashion office in 1957.  This building was accessed via a bridge over the alley.  The bridge also by Holabird & Root was erected in 1937. The nine-story addition was added in 1966 and was also Holabird & Root.  Each floor, through the fifth floor, was expanded and the Executive Offices etc. moved from the St. Clair building to the top three floors, the ninth floor housed electrical equipment, air conditioning, etc.

imageArchitects rendering of the final 669 North Michigan Avenue building.  Courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

You may have heard an Urban Myth about apartments hidden away behind the Store (the building that Cole Haan occupied until recently)…guess what it isn’t a myth, they do exist!  They are now in total disrepair.  Malabry Court consists of 6 apartments or pied à terre surrounding a courtyard.

imageTaken from Lynn Becker’s article from November 2009 you are looking down on the elegant courtyard.  Ms. Becker’s article is absolutely fascinating  I advise you to read the entire piece, please GOOGLE…Michigan Avenue’s forgotten secret: What’s lies behind this innocuous facade?

Let me tell you a little about them since I saw the apartments through the years. When I was in my early teens a couple of the apartments became available.  My parents had friends who lived in one of the apartments and told my Father about the upcoming openings…there was usually a waiting list of about 5 years.  We had visited their friends and had fallen in love with the European charm of them.  They were very French, very small and each had wood burning fireplaces.  Needless to say we all fell in love with the idea but quickly realized that three adults wouldn’t work in what really added up to a studio apartment in square feet.  When I started at the Store they were still occupied and I really longed to live in one, alas it wasn’t to be.  In the mid-1980’s we came up with a plan to cover the courtyard with a glass skylight and do the indiviual apartments as shops to feature our gift assortments and use the courtyard as a restaurant.  They had a separate entrance on Michigan Avenue with an elevator so we could have done dinner as well.  Obviously, this didn’t happen.

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Time moves on, space is no longer available for expansion so what do you do, you move.  The idea of another vertical mall was appealing and so that was the decision to work with a developer and create Chicago Place.  If you stand across from the building you will see three different facades, the center arched building houses the main mall with glass elevators, escalators, elegant columns and at least 20 types of marble for the main floor and other areas.  The stylized motif is based on the Native American word for wild or smelly onion and was used throughout the Mall in the railings etc.  The food court at its beginning was quite wonderful huge live trees, interesting colorful birds (real) flying around and appealing food vendors…this unfortunately didn’t last long and it became a run of the mill food court, oh well.  In addition you would find unique stores but unless you were going to the food court you probably didn’t even know the rest of the Mall was outside the Saks door.

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The architects rendering of the building courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageA good look at the main floor of Chicago Place Mall with the mezzanine.  You can clearly see the different marbles use in the interior.  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageThe free standing Men’s Store across the street from Chicago Place.  The Men’s Store is once again housed in the main building.

The fashion industry is built on obsolescence and MUST always reinvent itself, retail is no different…it is where fashion is shown.  Saying that it is very important not to lose your idenity, your brand.  What is the Saks Fifth Avenue brand, it is service without peer, it is giving it’s clients the best the world has to offer and the newest most exciting brands available without losing its panache!  Has the Store changed over the years, of course it has…you can see that the company believed in the strength of Chicago…just another Nena’s note, Saks Fifth Avenue is the only retailer (other than Sears!) who has been in Chicago since its beginning here in 1929.  It isn’t going any where.  Do stop by and see all the news and you can now even have a bite to eat, and I must add a delicious bite to eat at Sophie’s the 7th floor restaurant with a view like no other in the City. (By the way this, as always, is my opinion and not a paid indorsement, just saying!!!!)

imageSophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago with Executive Chef Ron Aleman.  You will often find me there enjoying Chef Ron’s ever changing menu, he is fantastic!  It is one of my top 10 restaurants in the City.

imageThe view from Sophie’s window looking North…what was there when I began in 1956, in view only “Palmolive Building” and the iconic Water Tower, I think a hint of The Drake Hotel, no Hancock, no Water Tower Place, etc. etc. etc. amazing, isn’t it!!!  Photo Courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: NATIONAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY

 

65F5FA3A-A0DD-4A39-B7D5-75E9AA4FD24AEvery day is Independent Bookstore Day to me, at least every day is “Book Day”! The above photo is almost my to be read stack….and I think it is short!  I thought I would just do a short post of what is on my list.  I never do negative reviews, so you may see a title that doesn’t get space on my blog or in reviews.  Being a Pollyanna, perhaps, but too many to read, to read books I don’t enjoy.  With a minimum (and yes, it is a minimum) of 12 fashion/lifestyle books per year for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club plus everything else I want to share…it becomes a bit overwhelming and I’m not a full time book reviewer….well here goes!

I’ve written about my life long book obsession and now I have the privilege of doing book reviews and recommendations on nenasnotes.  And nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club will celebrate its first anniversary in May!  Where do the years go…I can’t answer that for you.

I have been so fortunate to have The Book Stall as my partner for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club.  They are fabulous with their cooperation and the staff is extraordinary in their knowledge and helpfulness, (they are not a sponsor of this blog!)  I want to start taping my conversations with the authors to share with all of you in some format, probably a nenasnotes podcast….stay tuned for further details, a great way to begin year two!  If you are interested in learning more about nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club you can leave your email in the comment section of this blog or email me at nenasnotes1@gmail.com.

The April book selection was the just released Yves Saint Laurent: The Biography by Laurence Benaim, the first originally written in English.  A very long and minutely detailed accounting of Saint Laurent’s life…filled with quotes from those who knew this iconic designer.  It chronicles his life from birth to death and was sanctioned by Saint Laurent’s late partner, Pierre Bergé.  My group loved Saint Laurent’s life timeline as well as notations at the back of the book.  It isn’t a one day or one weekend read, extremely through and one that will enhance your growing fashion library.  The only negative from my group is that it isn’t illustrated…they do like “pictures” to emphasize the text…I can’t disagree since we are dealing with visual items….clothing and interiors.  I hadn’t planned on ending my first year with a Saint Laurent biography having begun the journey last May with Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de la Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent by Christopher Petkanas, who discussed his wonderful book in conversation with me.  I profiled the book on the blog last May.  I would highly recommend you read both being the fashion savvy readers you are!

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Next month’s selection is the newly published POINT OF VIEW: Forty Years in Fashion by Tonne Goodman and yes, it has “pictures”!  I haven’t read it as yet…looks fabulous. The cover alone makes it a must have, stunning!

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What am I reading right now and will review in detail…Ruth Reichl’s new Memoir Save Me the Plums…so far I am absolutely loving it and highly recommend you put it on you To Be Read list, I know you will love it too.  Reichl is an engaging, brilliant and beautiful writer.  Do you miss GOURMET as much as I do?!

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Here are some my upcoming books in no particular order…full disclosure, I purchase many (all my fashion/lifestyle books), am given Advance Readers Copies (ARC) to review, and also use the Chicago Public Library…I’ve been a Library hound since birth!!!!  I, of course, prefer to have a book in my hands but often my ARC’s are ebooks.

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Yes, I do read a “cozy” now and again….clears the mind and I like a series when doing them, often I turn to Laura Childs.

I’ll post reviews on each….obviously it will take a bit of time to do them all and this is just the tip of the TBR pile…I obviously need to take a deep breath and jump in….bear with me!

This Books Books Books post, like all my book posts, is underwritten by an anonymous sponsor.  If you are interesting in supporting nenasnotes please contact me for detailed information.

VINTAGE FASHION: RETROSPECT 2019

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I’m so excited to share the following information with you and hope you can attend the first RETROSPECT Vintage Modern Fashion Chicago events.
I have written many posts on Randolph Street Market and have featured it’s brilliant founder, Sally Schwartz, in a nenasnotes Profile. Her home and personal collections are beyond fabulous, go to the archives if you haven’t read it.  Sally and I have been friends for more years than we can remember and when I retired she asked me to join her in various capacities at  RSM .  I now write two monthly posts for the RSM blog , one on fashion and one on collecting…please check it out, they are exclusive to that blog (once in awhile I repeat here but always there first!!!).  nenasnotes is not sponsored by Randolph Street Market…just to be clear. I happen to be a fan and find lots of information to share here and on Instagram and Facebook at the monthly Markets and now I will share my finds at RETROSPECT as well!
As you can see, there are lots of activities during RETROSPECT, including Tom Mantel’s extraordinary 1940 Packard always a show stopper….the Vintage Fashion Show with our fashion influencers wearing their own vintage pieces, an unbelievable line up of  International vintage clothing and accessory dealers many of whom have never shown in Chicago…..enough to make you join us?  I hope so.
Oh wait, there’s more…we begin the celebrations with a stop at the iconic The Music Box with THE fashion film we all adore…FUNNY FACE featuring the beyond gorgeous designs of Hubert de Givenchy worn to perfection by his muse, Audrey Hepburn while Fred Astaire photographs her every move and emotion….”Think Pink”, my friends and bring all your fashion savvy chums, be prepared for amazing fashion a bit of frolicking and spend the weekend with RETROSPECT….I guarantee you won’t regret it!  Here are all the details…..

Retrospect Vintage Modern Fashion Chicago

Retrospect vintage modern fashion chicago

RETROSPECT VINTAGE FASHION MARKET, Friday May 3 from 3pm-10pm and Saturday May 4 from 10am-6pm will be held at 2260 South Grove Street on the Chicago River, just west of Chinatown. Sponsored by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers with their Director of Luxury Accessories and Couture, Timothy Long, Media partners Modern Luxury/CS and Michigan Avenue Magazine and Luxe Bloom.

The evening event will benefit The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum and will feature a fashion show, produced by RETROSPECT’S Ambassador Historian and MC, Nena Ivon, with Chicago’s vintage loving Influencers wearing their own vintage looks augmented with picks from the unique participating vendors…

A quote from Nena, “Our local fashionable set, on the whole, are more intellectual than most any other place and more discerning. Chicago fashion hunters are well heeled and well hatted, creative, unique, and deadly serious about adorning themselves. Chicago is a different realm altogether and RETROSPECT reflects this.”

***HELD AT A NEW VENUE JUST WEST OF CHINATOWN, MUSEUM CAMPUS & LAKE SHORE DRIVE***
2260 S. Grove at the foot of I90/94/290/55
**COMPLIMENTARY ONSITE PARKING**

For further information and to purchase tickets visit us at www.RETROSPECTchicago.com and our Instagram @RETROSPECTchicago And mark your calendars for the Fall RETROSPECT event November 1 and 2.

Retrospect weekend events and ticket information

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Thurs May 2 – 7pm-10pm

RETROSPECT WEEKEND PRESENTS FUNNY FACE AT THE MUSIC BOX

Come dressed in your vintage best to Chicago’s oldest movie house the MUSIC BOX THEATREfor an exclusive showing of the 1957 Stanley Donnen directed movie “Funny Face”! A night at the movies with your friends from the Randolph Street Market and RETROSPECTvintage modern fashion will be just what the style doctor ordered! The evening will open with a brief panel discussion led by noted and witty Chicago fashion historian Nena Ivon and friends. “Funny Face” features Fred Astaire as fashion photographer Dick Avery, who is sent out by his female boss Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) to find a “new face”. It doesn’t take Dick long to discover Jo (Audrey Hepburn), an owlish Greenwich Village bookstore clerk. Dick whisks the wide-eyed girl off to Paris and with the help of an extensive wardrobe by Hubert de Givenchy transforms Jo from waif to supermodel.  A classic for all lovers of movies and fashion! And following the movie, join us in the cafe for further discussion, drinks and coffee available for purchase. Hope you can join your new and old friends at this raucus and fun evening!!

$12 per person PURCHASED at musicboxtheatre.com


Fri May 3 – 3pm-10pm

RETROSPECT time to paRty shop

Come with your serious shopping party shoes on! The night has just begun and the shopping is the best date you ever had! Meet our superstar dealers, hear their stories and shop the finest, most gorgeous selection of vintage fashion, jewelry and other adornments ever assembled in Chicago! Enjoy bubbles and light snacks, dj, fashion show, photo ops galore and complimentary onsite parking. Ticket good for Fri May 3 + Sat May 4.

$30 per person


Sat May 4 – 10am-6pm

RETROSPECT the gReatest day of vintage shopping eveR

Now the fun can really begin when you shop till you drop and then you plotz with your new wardrobe improvements! Enjoy the view, you’re seeing an ocean of the most exciting vintage fashion, jewelry and adornments ever assembled together in Chicago! Bring friends and make a day of it! Onsite cafe, informal modeling, dj, photo ops galore and complimentary onsite parking and free street parking.

$15 per person or MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL – Mother + 1 Offspring $25


Sun May 5 – 11am-1pm

RETROSPECT: exclusive tour of silveR scReen to mainstReam exhibition / chicago histoRy museum

Exclusive private tour and lunch at the Chicago History Museum with tour of current Costume Collection exhibition Silver Screen to Mainstream! Showcasing fashions from Paris, New York, Chicago, and Hollywood, Silver Screen to Mainstream tracks how Hollywood’s glamourous reach extended to all classes in the 1930’s through the 1940’s. The exhibition tells a tale of making it big, making do, and maintaining appearances during a tumultuous era in American history. Featuring thirty garments by designers such as Chanel, Vionnet, Valentina, Paul du Pont, Howard Greer, and Adrian. You will be introduced to a time when sophisticated design lent a perception of stability as the nation grappled with its reinvention and created the “American Look”.

$35 per person LIMITED TICKETS

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: A WELL BEHAVED WOMAN

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

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

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Alva Vanderbilt

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William Vanderbilt

Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island

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A couple of the interiors …

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

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

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

 

BEEF WELLINGTON

FROM EPICURIOUS.COM

INGREDIENTS

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

PREPARATION

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

Serves 8.

THE nenasnotes BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS POSTS ARE MADE POSSIBLE BY AN ANONYMOUS SPONSOR.  PLEASE CONTACT ME AT nenasnotes1@gmail.com FOR SPONSORSHIP INFORMATION 

Photos are from Pinterest credits unknown. 

FASHION NOW: DENIM ALWAYS CLASSIC ALWAYS NEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seeking their fortunes….then…

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And now….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From the creativity of the Antwerp designers 2005

Vivianne Westwood’s denim interpretations…

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John Galliano for Dior 2002…

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And wearing denim 2009…

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

Celebrities have always wore denim….

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Then….Marilyn Monroe in the film The Misfits

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Randolph Street Market
Now…Rihanna out and about.

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

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

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

 

FASHION FOREVER: THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF PEARLS

 

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I have always been enamored with pearls and their association with fashion but there is so much more to them…the history is fascinating…from natural pearls to cultured, from Haute Couture, to Opera, to Royalty, to Art, to Romance, and on and on….whether a single strand or a extravagant bib the pearl has so many interpretations….let’s look at some.

The natural pearl is harvested by mostly female ame pearl divers in Japan

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Natural pearls…

”Cultured pearls are real, genuine pearls that are formed inside a living oyster with human intervention. When a nucleus is surgically implanted in the oyster’s flesh, the oyster recognises it as an irritant and begins to coat it with smooth layers of nacre. Over time, the growing pearl gets completely covered with the beautiful iridescent substance we call nacre, or mother-of-pearl. All pearls sold today are cultured pearls, with the exception of vintage estate jewellery and heirloom pieces that are more than 80 years old.“

“Natural pearls, on the other hand, are formed naturally by free-range “wild” oysters living at sea without any encouragement from humans. When a natural irritant such as a fragment of shell, a scale or a parasite becomes lodged inside an oyster or mollusk, it gets coated with layer upon layer of nacre. Contrary to popular belief, grains of sand do not form pearls. If sand were enough of an irritant, our ocean floors would be littered with millions of natural pearls! Natural pearls are actually very rare, mostly because pearl-producing species of mollusks were nearly hunted to extinction with most natural beds of pearl-bearing oysters depleted by over-harvesting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, natural pearls are extremely rare. Only 1 in about 10,000 wild oysters will yield a pearl and of those, only a small percentage achieve the size, shape and colour desirable to the jewellery industry.” Source: Raw Pearls

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Kokichi Mikimoto

“Mikimoto learned that Akoya oysters produced the best pearls. He explored methods of introducing a particle into the flesh of the oyster to stimulate secretions of “nacre” that build up in hundreds of thousands of layers, creating a lustrous pearl. He overcame many failed experiments and challenges of nature, from oyster-eating octopi to a disastrous “red tide” of bacteria that threatened the survival of his oyster beds.” Be sure to go the Mikimoto website, linked here, for the extraordinary story of the originator of the cultured pearl. Source: Mikimoto Pearls

Pearls in history….

A mosaic….

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Queen Elizabeth I

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Whoopi Goldberg hosting the Oscars several years ago…gowned as Queen Elizabeth I

Vermeer’s The Girl With The Pearl Earring

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A bejeweled  Maharajah

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Georges Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles, The Pearl Fishers….one of my favorite opera’s, of course the highlight, the duet, it is definitely my favorite operatic piece!! https://operaq.com.au/news/the-pearlfishers-duet/

Queen Victoria…

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Mata Hari probably wearing Paul Poiret….

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A couple of showgirls in costume…..

Of course, Gabrielle Chanel…..always mixing real and faux

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Lagerfeld for Chanel….love these!!!

 

I’m obsessed with this look from the 1930’s

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As well as this one…

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The iconic Audrey Hepburn in the iconic black dress and pearls in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

First Ladies and their “pearls”….cultured and faux….

Diana….

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Liz with Queen Mary’s beyond exquisite La Peregrina pearl sold at auction for $11.8 million

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Liz with more pearls…..

Marie Antoinette’s pear and diamond pendant sold at auction for $32 million

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Something in a tiara perhaps from the English Crown Jewels….0371ED77-015F-4DBF-A285-08AA77FBA8DB

Gloria Vanderbilt at home…

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The modernity of this classic on Rihanna…

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Masses of pearls

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The elegant embroidery of Lasage for a Haute Couture piece…

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Nena in a treasured Adolfo jacket with wide pearl beading around neck, down the front of the jacket and on the cuffs…the beading,  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago

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A few more books, one non-fiction the others fiction.

 

All photos, unless otherwise noted, from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shades of pink for an interior space

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

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A glorious ethereal fantasy.

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Of course, an exquisite rose to inspire us….

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

 

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All photos unless otherwise noted from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

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

 

FASHION FORWARD: NEW YORK SPRING 2019 PART 3

Here we are in week two of NYFW when most of the “big” guns presenting, lots of new designers on board with established houses. Do they continue in the tradition of the brand, bring a freshness or go in a totally different direction and how about those with their originators and those who have come back to New York….let’s see.  Several showed in outside venues and carried on in the rain….

What am I seeing thus far….chrome yellow, black and white alone or together, polka dots, color blocking, splashes of boho, ethnic prints, pattern mixing, feathers, a bit of red, a smattering of all shades of pink and now a splash of ink green.  Pretty much classic silhouettes, seasonless garments and lots of interesting shoes and boots (for Spring!) Shall these trends continue through NYFW, London, Milan and Paris…the next few weeks will give us the answers.

RODARTE

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CAROLINA HERRERA

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Carolina Herrera RTW Spring 2019

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OSCAR DE LA RENTA

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PROENZA SCHOULER

PRABAL GURUNG

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