PROFILE MODEL MONDAY: MAUREEN MUELLER

imageMaureen’s comp when she was modeling in Chicago.

Here we go again with one of my outstanding models….why would I highlight anyone else….Maureen was another of my models with a unique look, a cross between an all American girl and a femme fatale!  She was always playing a part (that is what makes a model a success, in my opinion!) and did that perfectly so much so she has gone on to a successful career in television.  She has defied the years and looks spectacular to this day…I really must know what my models are drinking to keep the years away, I want what they are having!!!  Seriously!  Let’s see what Maureen has to say, in her own words.

“I was a singer based out of Denver when I was approached to be a model.  I was introduced to an agent from Paris Planning soon after and a year or so later, I hung up my singing career, (I was no Shelley MacArthur), and moved to Paris.  I had always wanted to live in Europe and modeling made it possible.  I worked almost every day and spent all my money on restaurants and traveling. Heaven for a girl from a working class background.
One of my favorite behind the scenes stories came when standing around waiting for my first job, the Valentino haute couture show to begin. everyone was racing around and acting very nervous.  I couldn’t understand this because it wasn’t like they had to sing or perform or anything.  They just had to make it to the end of the runway and then come back. I spotted a beautiful woman on the other side of the room who looked calm and she immediately looked familiar to me.  I was convinced we went to high school together but I couldn’t think of her name.  I asked the guy standing next to me if he knew who she was. He said, Do you mean Beverly Johnson?  I wish I could say that this was the last time that has happened to me but I’ve made a career out sticking my feet in my mouth. I also signed with Ford in New York but wasn’t happy there.  This was 1980 so it was still a bit dangerous and loud and dirty and everything that Paris was not. So back I went.  Still playing hooky.
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All this time, I knew I should be trying to find a way to be an actor.  I heard that Chicago had a thriving theatre scene and I figured I would be able to support myself with modeling while I tried to find a way into the business. But Chicago was not buying what I was selling.  Not for quite awhile. The first woman I met, (who shall remain nameless), didn’t believe that I had done the shows in Paris.  I was dumbfounded that she would think I would lie about such a thing.  She said she had been at the Valentino show and she didn’t see me in it.  She carried a lot of weight in town and I was on her Absolutely NOT list.  Once I finally started working, she would still pop up to torture me.  Sometime later, someone hired me for a show and she said, “I have no idea who that is”.  When she was reminded that I was a regular at the Apparel Center and Saks, etc, she said, “Oh yes, that’s the one that never brushes her hair”. Whatever. I learned a valuable lesson from her.  Some people just aren’t going to like you. So just keep moving in the direction you want to go and try not to take things personally.  Easier said than done, but I still try to practice that.
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I had the opposite experience when I met Nena. There was no interrogation. She sized me up, expected professionalism and left me alone.  I always loved a SAKS booking because Nena ran such a well-oiled machine. She expected you to bring your A game and you didn’t want to disappoint her.  It was no easy task, however, standing next to D’arry or Jeanouche.  Still two of the funniest women I’ve ever met.  Through Nena, we met every big designer in the world. I always loved when Pauline Trigere came to town, (such a character).  Also loved Jacqueline de Ribes and Donna Karan.  But my favorite designer, by far, was Mark Heister!  I adored his clothes.  Such attention to detail and so glamorous.  And the man himself was so lovely.  A gentleman full of humility and grace. He is a world class talent.
imageOn the catwalk.
Looking back, I can’t believe how lucky I was to get to make a living playing “how fast can you change clothes and then walk around for a bit”.  And get to live in one of the great cities of America on top of it.  I had the time of my life in Chicago. I met and befriended some of my favorite people on the planet there.  I’ll never forget driving out of town headed to Los Angeles to start a new chapter.  I looked in the rearview and thought it was raining.  But it was tears.  Buckets of them.  I miss it still.
imageMaureen today, always a stunner!
Since then, I’ve pursued acting in earnest.  I was lucky to be able to get some work in LA. When I got older, (back then it was illegal to get beyond a certain age), I moved to New York.  Just because I always wanted to live there.  I had no idea if I would get any acting work but the gods were with me, at least enough to support myself.  A few years later, I met my future husband.  He puts up with me and I adore him. 
I still work now and then and hope springs eternal.  I’m still ready for my big break.  I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful life so far, full of great memories.  The best is yet to come.
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Thank you, Nena, for being such a big part of my time in our beloved Chicago.  Carry on.”
Thanks Maureen for sharing some of your journey with us. Let’s all watch for Maureen’s next TV stint, she is always worth watching, what a thrill to see one of our Chicago runway stars become a star in our homes! Love it! 
 
All photos from Maureen Mueller.

 

FASHION FLASHBACK: JUDITH LEIBER AND MORE FANS…

imageI had the pleasure of working with Judith Leiber on several occasions, each visit was a total joy.  In addition, she always invited me to visit her showroom/workrooms when I was in New York.  They were like a museum truly something to behold.  The pride level of the talented craftsmen quite frankly was something I have only seen duplicated in the Ateliers of Paris Haute Couture.  I think everyone only thinks of her beaded bags, which are exquisite works of art, but she also did skin bags, leathers and suede as well as fabric bags for day in addition to her overwhelmingly prolific collection of minaudière.  She would open a cabinet in her showroom that revealed a wondrous collection of very special pieces and always say, “choose whatever you like!”  If only, it was totally against store policy (Saks Fifth Avenue) to accept gifts from designers or vendors.  Unless the designer asked me to wear something from the collection we were featuring at a show (I was a sample size in those long ago days!!!), I bought what I wore at all times. I do own several Judith Leiber bags both day and evening and treasure each of them.

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Two bags from her fan collection (I included these at the end of yesterday’s post as a teaser, did you guess who I would be featuring today, of course, you did!) Each season there were animal bags, a themed collection, and her classics, always something extraordinary to add to your collection or start a new one.  She would also do special orders, perhaps just a color change.  You will see her bags on every red carpet as well as in the hands of royalty and our own First Ladies.  She was a major star with no star ego, a true icon in the industry.

image Judith Leiber in her workrooms in the early years.  The following is an excerpt from the Museum of Arts and Design and the Leiber exhibition that is closing this weekend.

“Judith Leiber spent sixty-five years in the handbag industry, from an apprentice in Budapest to the owner of an internationally renowned handbag company based in New York City. As the only female pattern-maker, and with the unusual ability to make a handbag from start to finish, Leiber brought a distinctly European training and skill set to the United States, where handbags were made with assembly-line skill division. This allowed her not only to succeed as a designer but also to revolutionize the meaning of handbag craftsmanship for the American consumer.

Leiber’s handbags run the gamut from finely crafted leather pieces and textile-based bags to the fantastical Swarovski crystal–encrusted creations for which she is most well known. Inspired by a life-long admiration of art, travel, and opera, Leiber’s bags include Art Deco–influenced hardware; materials such as Lucite and seashells; references to the artwork of Piet Mondrian, Georges Braque, and Sonia Delaunay; and collaboration with Faith Ringgold on a collection of handbags inspired by her quilts.

As Leiber’s reputation flourished, designers and suppliers sought her out, offering interesting materials, particularly textiles. Thus, many of her handbags are constructed with obis from Japan, Parsi ribbons from India, and fabrics from Iran and Africa. From the earliest days of her company, Leiber pushed the boundaries of handbag design—innovation that is epitomized by her famed sparkling minaudières, a technique that began as a solution to a damaged metal frame, and was then catalyzed by the design of her imaginative animal and food clutches to become fashion staples for First Ladies and celebrities alike.”

imageI love this photo of Mrs. Leiber surrounded by a few of her creations.  On one of her visits she was invited to attend a dinner in her honor at the home of one of our very good clients who collected Leiber bags…did I just say the Leiber showroom was like a museum, well I stand corrected, this client’s home was Leiber everywhere in specially designed museum quality cases, it was something out a movie and by the way quite tasteful.  Mrs. Leiber was overwhelmed.  The client, I might add, supplemented her collection, after that dinner, with Mrs. Leiber’s guidance.

imageAnother book to add to your fashion library, lucky me, mine is autographed by the wonderful creator herself!

 

One of my favorite designer stories came from James Galanos.  We were discussing selling many pieces to a single client and he told me that one of the California boutiques that sold his garments, actually bought most of the Collection each season, and that is saying something, had a client who had purchased multiple gowns that particular season and also ordered a Judith Leiber bag to go with each.  He was aghast at the expense.  My comment was “was the client involved with charities” answer, yes, very much so.  “did the client employ staff at her many homes, entertain there, have flowers, chefs, etc.” again, the answer, yes. “did the couple travel”…yes, yes, yes!  My answer to Mr. Galanos “the client is supporting the economy, we are just a small portion of that”.  His answer, “I never thought of it that way, but Nena, you are right!”  Wow, coming from one of the major fashion icons, oh my…  In other words, the people who can afford expensive items, clothes, cars, property, etc. make our economy, I guess that is what capitalism is all about.  Needless to say, I’m not in that category (one can live in hope) but I was lucky to be surrounded by beautiful things in my years in retail and can appreciate quality.

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Gerson and Judith Leiber in front of the wonderfully talented Gerson’s  paintings.

Information on the Leiber Museum….www.leibermuseum.org

“In 2005, Gerson and Judith Leiber built a gallery to house their works of art and to chronicle their careers, offering an unparalleled retrospective of their creations over the past many decades.

The Leiber Collection, a magnificent Renaissance styled Palladian edifice, sits majestically in a sublime sculpture garden that borders six additional gardens, each designed by Gerson Leiber, in a style befitting the local geography. Considered by many to be the best-kept secret of the Hamptons, you are in for a real treat as you peruse the exquisite jewel of a museum and explore the charming gardens.

Come visit us on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 – 4 pm”.

A YouTube video one of several, this a very dramatic life story of a major influencer and unique talent. Mrs. Leiber retired in 1998 having designed over 3,500 handbags!  The company’s current creative director and co-owner is Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger.

For further reading here is a link to the incredible Judith Leiber story in Harper’s Bazaar.

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a17293/judith-leiber-from-holocaust-to-handbag-icon/

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There are other Judith Leiber fragrances, I chose to feature this one because of its name, love it!imageKarl Lagerfeld with his ever present fan with his then friend Yves Saint Laurent (whose 81st birthday we would have celebrated this week)

imageAnother photo of Karl Lagerfeld with his fan

imageSo much a part of his aesthetic that his fragrance bottle is fan shaped.

imageimageTwo looks from a John Galliano Dior Haute Couture collection.  As you can see fans are every where in every culture and in every era.

All photos from Pinterest credits unknown.

COLLECTIONS: FANS

imageToday’s post on fans was suggested by my BFF, Stephanie Lake, those of you who have followed nenasnotes from the beginning remember the week long postings I did on Stephanie and I call upon her when I am doing my Thursday Collection posts to see if she has anything to contribute, this time she turned the tables on me and got my juices flowing and my post on FANS was born.  In the photo above you see a portion of her collection.  Let’s look at a couple more from her collection with her words talking about fans…

“What else is at once as practical and as extravagant as a fan?    

I keep favorites on my vanity and I am never without one, nor is Odette, who has her own collection and is extremely proud that she can operate folded fan.”

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imageTwo from Stephanie Lake’s collection.

imageStephanie holding her patriotic fan….

“My interest in fans started with my graduate work; one of my first research papers was titled “Fashions In Flirtation: Fans in Eighteenth-Century Europe.”   In it, I examined fans as “the most mercurial of accessories,” reaching their provocative apogee as a paralanguage of gestures developed during that century.  Manuals for the meaning of each gesture were sold together with the most expensive fans.  Among my favorite quotes is from Art dans la parure et le vetement: “whatever the heat of the climate may be, the fan is above all things . . . a means or motive of gracious movements, under the pretext of agitating the air for the sake of coolness.” 

When curatorial work brought me to Tokyo and Kyoto I was gifted a number of fans of the type associated with Geisha fan dances, which I use the most frequently.   I also inherited a number from Bonnie Cashin, including one on which a beau wrote a love poem and drew a little portrait, including the lines: “Well her second name is Cashin / nd she really is a dashin’ / for her I have a passion / leading to mashin’ / but that is so old fashion.”  The Romance of the fan lives on!”

imageBonnie Cashin’s fan.

imageA bit of flirtation from Stephanie and her adorable daughter, Odette.  Love them!  Thanks so much Stephanie for sharing some of your collection for nenasnotes.  You can find Stephanie at https://www.stephanielakedesign.com/ and her magnificent monograph on Bonnie Cashin, Chic is Where You Find It here:           https://www.amazon.com/Bonnie-Cashin-Chic-Where-Find/dp/0847848051re

This post is going to be all over the place so please forgive me (but quite franking most of my posts do ramble don’t they!!!!!).  Fans have been a part of many cultures, the subject of Haute Couture collections, Japanese dance and art, Impressionists paintings and on and on….let’s look at some of my favorites with a couple from my tiny collection.  I collected fans as a child and they, along with other items were stolen from our Evanston home many, many years ago.  I’m sure they weren’t valuable to anyone but me but no matter, they are long gone.  The two below (I can’t find the fan that was on all the chairs at the 2006 Fall Christian Lacroix Haute Couture collection when the temperature in Paris was in the high 90’s for the two weeks I was there!)

imageThe lace trimmed one I got in New Orleans while attending a Costume Society of America Symposium several years ago, I fell in love with NOLA and treated myself to several souvenirs, I am especially fond of this one.  The black ostrich fan was a gift. Nena’s photo.

Speaking of ostrich feather fans, the first thing that should pop into our minds would be Sally Rand and her infamous fans and her dance at the Century of Progress Fair in Chicago, which, by the way, my parents worked.  Daddy did artwork for some of the Fair’s posters.  Sally’s dance was quite a scandal and the notorious fans are now housed at The Chicago History Museum www.chicagohistory.org and were featured in an exhibition several years ago entitled What George Wore and Sally Didn’t.

imageSally and her fans.

imageDita Von Teese with her exotic plumage.

imageThe cover of the exhibition catalog from The Met’s Dangerous Liaisons 2004 exhibition mounted in the Wrightsman Galleries of 18th-century furniture, it was an extraordinary exhibit, small but mighty in its drama.  As I recall it was the first of the costume exhibitions that have been mounted in spaces throughout the Museum, www.metmuseum.org brilliant as we now know!!!!

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imageA rather plain fan against an opulent gown.

imageA Japanese print. Check out similiar prints at The Art Institute of Chicago www.artic.edu

imageFan being used in Japanese theater.

A few of the many examples of painting of women with fans…I chose a few of my favorites.imageLa Japonaise by Claude Monet 1876,  Museum of Fine Arts Boston Collection.

imageGirl With Fan 1881 Pierre-Auguste Renoir,  Hermitage Museum.  I saw this when I was in St. Petersberg.  The Impressionists paintings had just started to be exhibited, after decades in storage, and the colors were extraordinary.

imageGustav Klimt Woman with a Fan 1917-1918

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Some of the fans I liked on Pinterest…photo credits unknown.

imageMy most favorite of all, isn’t it a stunner!

imageFrom Kevin Gorsch’s collection the fan was signed to him by Faye Dunaway when he styled her for an event in Chicago early 2000’s  You get a bonus with Kevin’s silhouette in the photo….you can visit Kevin (you can follow him on Instagram at redleopardcrocodilevintage) and his extraordinary handbag and accessories collection, The Red Leopard Crocodile, in the Ballroom at the monthly Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com

imageYou know it is superb if it is by Valerie Steele!  One to add to your “fashion” book collection!

imageA preview of Friday’s Fashon Flashback post….can you guess who I will be featuring?  I will also continue the fan theme a little bit, so much interesting material.

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

 

 

 

 

MODEL MONDAY PROFILE: KAREN RYAN

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As with all my profiles, I give my “subjects” a questionnaire to answer and the models questions, are, of course, different from my other profiles.  Karen, along with the other models I have “interviewed” for nenasnotes, was a total joy to work with, taking professionalism at its true meaning…always on time and show ready, glamorous when the garment called for that, sporty if need be, turning into a businesswoman for our Working Women Seminars, etc. Modeling is really acting and letting your audience think what you have on is the most fabulous garment they have ever seen and they must want to add it to their wardrobe!  It is all about “selling” that is, after all, the end result.  She always listened to instruction, and most importantly respected the designers (again, all my models did this, if they didn’t why book them again!!!!) Karen had a girl next door quality, relatable but with an edginess.

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imageKaren Ryan’s first composite.

Let’s see what Karen has to say about her modeling career and what she is up to now….

When did you start your modeling career, was this something you always wanted to do?

I had never even thought about being a model, even though people had always said to me, “with your height (5’8 ½”), you should model”. I had gotten an MA in journalism at the University of Kentucky in 1974, shortly before marrying my husband, Bill, and moving to Chicago.  In Kentucky, I worked for one of the original educational television stations, Kentucky Educational Television (KET).  I got to watch PBS and its wonderful programming years before most of my friends and family.  When we moved to Chicago, I eventually worked for Pioneer Press, the local suburban newspaper chain, and by the mid-’70s, had worked my way up to Promotion Manager.  As such, my staff was responsible for special sections.  We did a fashion section every Fall, and in 1977, it was my responsibility to publish the fashion section with the help of writers and a budget for a photographer we had used in the past.  Ann Taylor was loaning us the clothes, but we had no budget for a model.  My staff and the photographer, Paul McCall said, “what about you, Karen”? I was not really interested in doing it, but I was overruled.

imageFrom another shoot very space age, very of the period!

I went to a makeup shop on Oak Street, learned how to do makeup for black & white photography, and we did it!  I wish I had kept that fashion section, but my first comp has pics from the photo shoot (see comp at top of profile).  I think I looked silly in a couple of them, but that was 40 years ago!  I found out that the camera didn’t love me (my jaw is too square) (Nena’s note, I so don’t agree!!!!), so I didn’t do much print work.  I started auditioning for fashion shows and was very surprised to feel comfortable and natural walking the runway. To use an old expression, the rest is history…I was lucky enough to meet Nena Ivon and work for Saks Fifth Avenue!

imageThis isn’t Karen’s favorite comp but I love it so I am including it…apologies, Karen!

imageFrom Karen’s scrapbook.

What was your favorite Saks Fifth Avenue Show(s)?

My favorite Saks shows were the Misericordia benefit shows.  Backstage we were usually so rushed that we didn’t pay attention to the happenings outside the dressing area curtains.

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But I remember the first time I heard the voice of an angel, Sister Rosemary Connelly.  She spoke from the heart and to our hearts about the special people who live and work at Misericordia www.misericordia.com.  I should backtrack here and tell you that before we married, my husband taught special needs adults. We’ve been avid supporters of Misericordia for many years, and I joined the Women’s Auxiliary over 25 years ago. The Auxiliary does many things, but my favorite event is the annual fashion show.  I always get a couple of tables at the show and get to catch up with all my besties from our runway days, including Nena of course. (Nena’s note, I will profile Misericordia in a future post.)

imageSome of the “gang” at this year’s Misericordia Fashion Show, all profiled in nenasnotes with the exception of Debra Balchen (Candace Jordan wasn’t one of my models but did model and was a room mate of Jeaounche).  The gentleman is Avron Fagel, a dear friend to all of us and the “music guru” for all my shows!

Who was your favorite designer and why?

Adolfo, hands down!  He was so nice to the models…before we walked out onto the runway, he would say, “You look so pretty”!  Other favorites were Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, Bob Mackie, Alexander Julian, Halston, Bill Blass (also very nice to the models) I especially remember the elegance of Saks’ Jacqueline, Comtesse de Ribes’ show at The Casino. I never actually worked with Diane von Furstenberg, but she is one of my favorites and I wear her wrap dresses today!

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imageNewspaper clipping with Terri D’

What was your most favorite “behind the scenes” story?

Of all the people who assisted backstage at Saks Fifth Avenue, my favorite was Ruth Ivon, who we affectionately called Ruthy.  In 1981 we were doing a series of shows and I wore a full-length strapless gown just one week before this incident. The next week I was to wear the same gown and Ruthy could not get the top of the zipper to go up, even with me pushing it together with both hands. I was 3+ months pregnant at the time, which of course both you and Ruthy knew. She called Nena backstage, and sweet person that you are, you said: “skip it”! Who knew the body could change that much in just one week. (Nena’s note…this doesn’t only happen when we are pregnant but as we age our rib cage settles….its called gravity! and our bodies change and I would have to adjust what I pulled for my models!)

What are you up to now and how did you begin your new career/passion?

My career now is grandmother!  And it’s been my favorite stage of life…the joy and love that my grandchildren bring me are unbelievable.  As I mentioned before, another passion is volunteer work, especially with Misericordia. I also volunteer at a soup kitchen once a month along with hubby Bill.  Another passion is gardening!  We have a summer home in Wisconsin which I have landscaped with very little help from professionals.  The only landscaping I kept from the original plan when we built the house in 2003 were trees and shrubs. I have planted hundreds of flowers and shrubs on my own.

imageWith Ruby when she was a baby.

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With the gorgeous grandchildren, Ryan and Ruby.

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Karen in her Wisconsin garden with Ryan this Fourth of July.

What did your modeling years teach you that you are using now?

Humility, sometimes I simply didn’t get the gig.  I never asked why, and when one door closed, another usually opened.  Some of my best fashion shows were last minute replacements. This was before the days of cell phones. Early in the business, we worked directly with the fashion director at the store. If a friend could not get in touch with the director, and could not make a show,  she would call me and ask how fast I could get to Saks or wherever.  The models were very supportive of each other, hard to believe for those who don’t know the business, and maybe it’s different in 2017, but we had each other’s back.  Some of my best friends to this day are the people I worked with back then:  Nena, Jeanouche, (I am her son’s godmother and she is mine) Shelley, Shauna, Terri, D’Arry, Dori, Elsa, Diane, Debra … I know I’m forgetting many, please forgive!

imageKaren and Jeanouche in a photo shoot back in the day have no idea what this was for?????? Interesting composition! (Definitely a Nena’s note!)

imageThe best friends having lunch at Jeanouche’s home a couple decades later, from Nena’s photo album.

imageA Nena’s note…..at a “reunion” show when I was doing a “Hooray for Hollywood” lecture and had my model girls in garments from Saks Fifth Avenue to illustrate the garments in the films I was discussing, a fun show.  They still all can, most definitely, walk the catwalk.  Karen leads the parade on the left ombre blue chiffon one shoulder gown.  Of the ten pictured,  I have profiled six in nenasnotes….I hope I can persuade the rest to come on board!!!!  This is from Nena’s photo album.

I also learned patience and grace under pressure…occasionally we had wardrobe malfunctions backstage, and had to make the most of it, walk out on the runway cool, calm and collected. And most important: posture, posture, posture! When I was in high school (back in the stone age), it was not “in” to be tall.  I slouched, but for some reason, when I walked out on the runway, my shoulders were back, my tummy was in, and I felt a confidence that I had never had as a youth.  The models who worked for Saks Fifth Avenue had the best posture on the runway because we had the best example, Nena Ivon!  Thank you, Nena.

No, thank you, Karen, for being the consummate professional, loving friend, caring individual and perfect wife, mother and best gran ever!

All photos, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of Karen Ryan.

FASHION FLASHBACK: BETH LEVINE SHOES PART 2

imageLong before Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Brian Atwood, Patrick Cox, Prada and Miu Miu (let alone Chanel, Dior, etc.) there was Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier, Andrea Pfister, Maud Frizon, and the list goes on…and, of course, Herbert and Beth Levine. Beth Levine and Beth’s Bootery are the subjects of today’s post.  I have always loved shoes and have worn heels since I was 13 years old, of course, heels then were 3-4 inches, not the stilettos of today (which, by the way, I wore for many, many years!) This post came about when I read about the Michael Kors buy of Jimmy Choo for 1.2 billion dollars!

I had the opportunity, at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago, to work with Fiamma Ferragamo, Roger Vivier and Andrea Pfister (who did a last of my foot to fashion special shoes just for me…do I have any of them, the answer, unfortunately, is no!!!)  All were delightful to work with and extremely talented.  Each with their unique style creating works of art and at different times in my SFA tenure.  Vivier was the first shoe creator that I worked with, he was the hot designer of the time and did an exclusive line for SFA (actually, all those I worked with did exclusives for us, and they were extraordinary). He could not have been more charming, a true French gentleman with the utmost creativity.  I worked with Fiamma and Andrea often and sometimes did fun fashion events with them.  A few times I did vignettes using picture frames and had the model’s feet and legs outside the frames (that is all you saw) showing the most exciting of the shoe collections. The designers, as well as the clients really had fun with those events.

Now on to the Levines….I wore Herbert Levine shoes when I was in high school.  We had the most wonderful shoe stores in Chicago (the Chicago store was next door to Saks on Michigan Avenue) and in Evanston called Joseph’s and they carried all the “of the moment styles”, one new “invention” was the “Springolator”.  The Springolator shoe features an elastic insole that is designed to create tension between the shoe and the bottom of the foot to stay on the foot, without slipping off or go clack-clack when you walk.  It was “invented” by Herbert Levine and his designer wife, Beth.  It is in actuality a mule or slide but stayed on your foot because of the tension. 

imageBeth Levine as I remember her, joyful and beyond talented!

I had several pairs especially for all my dance dresses…we wore a lot of party dresses in the 1950’s and I made most of them myself…I never wanted anything anyone else had.  My prom dress (I was already working at Saks when I graduated high school) was made of unbleached muslin, strapless, of course, and I fashioned rosettes of the muslin to applique on the skirt (with petticoats underneath as was the fashion at the time!) and tied an apricot velvet ribbon at the waist, on my feet, Herbert Levine Springolator shoes in ecru with bows in the same apricot velvet!  Actually, they looked a lot like the pump on the cover of the book at the beginning of the post but they were open toe…you get the idea. Quite chic if I say so myself….

imageimageTwo examples of Herbert Levine Springolators.

imageI had this exact shoe except in pink (me in pink!!??, interesting) the ornament was Dresden china.  I loved those shoes.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Beth’s collection of wooden shoe snuff boxes and the shoe she designed in their honor.  Here are a couple of other “themed” shoes that I found amusing…

imageThe racing car flat.

imageVery Mod and certainly the late 1960’s.

imageBeth’s boot revival “were made for walking” as Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 song tells us https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbyAZQ45uww They started a craze that has survived to current fashion and just get higher and higher up the leg and in heel height.

imageAdore this shoe and it came on many color combinations.

imageI am mad for this shoe the lace embellishment, the shape of the heel, a true masterpiece (could also be a Vivier!)

imageI think this is a particularly beautiful heel….just like the back of our ready-to-wear garments are seen by all so are the back of our shoes.  Wouldn’t you love to see these with a LBD for a fabulous cocktail party….please!!!!!

imagePortrait by Philip Pearlstein, 1980’s which was on loan for the Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes exhibition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2015. Go to their blog at npg.si.edu

All images from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: FAVORITE PINS THIS WEEK: GREEN

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I became addicted to Pinterest this weekend and found all manner of wondrous images of my all time favorite color…..green!  So why not do a post on all things green. Few words just glorious images like the above collage I prepared for the blog! I will identify my own photos, some may be repeats (sorry!) but mostly they are pins I have saved and don’t have photo credits

imageI adore color samples, here one of Pantone’s green palettes, these are the greens that are the most attractive to me, however, I do love all greens!

The following quote is attributed to the book,  Green: The History of a Color by Michael Pastoureau published by Princeton University Press (one of his series of books on color, I ordered mine immediately from www.amazon.com!!!!) “The color green is fickle, mutable, variously the color of love, youth, irresponsibility, but also madness, debauchery, and the underworld”.  

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imageFrom Carolyne Roehm www.carolyneroehm.com using an Ikat textile for her table setting, her “eye” is brilliant in all things, whether flowers, gardens or interiors.

imageAnother tablescape from Carolyne Roehm

 

imageI not only love this photo but want everything in it!!!! It is so me!

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I could live in any of these rooms and take inspiration for not only the color and the weathered look of the rooms but all the details large and small.

imageBeautifully detailed tiles.

imageA magnificent garden path leading to a secluded nook.

imageThe entrance to Monet’s home in Giverny

imageA fantastically beautiful solarium….

imageIvy on a brick wall from a weekend in Harbor Country my photo

imageA wood in Indiana my photo

imageI am mad for this capture….an exquisite bird sitting on a fern frond

imageFerns in a Blue Island garden my photo

imageI know I have posted this but it is a beauty with the gold embellished embossed leather binding, you might find something similar at the Newberry Library www.newberry.org Book Sale this week, Thursday through Sunday, July 27 through 30  or at this weekend’s RandolphStreet Market  www.randolphstreetmarket.com Saturday and Sunday.

imageMy all time favorite tree, a weeping redbud in full leaf, also in a Blue Island garden my photo

imageCan you believe this is a cabbage!  It is amazing and HUGE, the shades of an almost metallic green are extraordinary, another shot from my Harbor Country weekend.

imageI know I did this in another post but had to feature it again, John Galliano for Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall 2006 (the Collection I was fortunate to witness!!!!) Vogue photograph

imageA truly spectacular conifer in Harbor Country, my photo.

 

www.randolphstreetmarket.com

www.newberry.org

 

 

 

FASHION FLASH: HAUTE COUTURE FALL 2017

imageViktor & Rolf’s whimsical Fall 2017-2018 Haute Couture Collection

imageAnd in reality… I really love the shirred jacket and the patchwork jeans

imageFrom their program notes “the mascots are rooting for a world that is creative, diverse and eco-conscious.”  The collection is all manipulated recycled fabrics.

You by now know I am a huge supporter of Haute Couture, most certainly not as a customer…if only, but for the whole idea of it.  The workmanship, the creativity, the tradition, long may it survive.  It is, of course, the laboratory of fashion and where most of the trends begin.  I have begun this post with the creative genius that is Victor & Rolf but let’s go back in time to the longest established Haute Couture House, at least until Lanvin comes back or someone reinvents Lucile…that House is Chanel.  Karl Lagerfeld never ceases to amaze us with his creativity.  This year’s show had a replica of the Eiffel Tower as the centerpiece of the show and the garments themselves were this seasons version of the traditional looks of the Brand.

imageThe Chanel set

imageThe traditional Chanel tweed suit given modernity

imageA new version of the LBD.  I particularly liked the nod to Chanel’s beginnings as a milliner.

imageSchiaparelli’s up next….I felt these represented the surrealistic feeling of the original designs of this imaginative creator.imageOf course, it is Dior, another collection that is inspired by the original designer in this instance Christian Dior and his Bar suit from the first Dior Collection in 1947. This Collection celebrates the Brand’s 70th anniversary.  Again, an ode to the importance of quality, longevity and pure style and looking perfect for today.

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imageAlmost looks like a Galliano for Dior piece….take note of the red suit in the background, I’ll explain a bit further in the post

imageSpeaking of John Galliano, here is a piece from his collection for Mason Margiela

imageFrom Iris van Herpen’s collection which compares water and air (?) and was accompanied by underwater musicians, Between Music……

imageAnother look from the Dutch designer’s Haute Couture collection.

imageFrom John Paul Gaultier, as alway,s a fun but exciting collection. I usually wear a knit cap with my ball gown, don’t you??!!  But why not it is young, quite tongue in cheek, and very Gaultier.  Please note the long gloves, they were most definitely a trend in many of the Collections as well as the platform shoe and lots and lots of black, gray and white.

imageFrom Valentino, looking a bit like Armani…there were many beads, this gown with beaded fringe,  in the Collections but done with a light hand and quite beautiful.

imageOne of my most favorite pieces from the shows by the master of elegant sophistication and subtlety (perhaps not so subtle here!), Giorgio Armani for Armani Privé

imageAnother from Armani, I’m obsessed with the cocktail hat, if only we dressed like that again, so glamourous!!

imageTwo American Brands showed their Spring 2018 Collections the Sunday before the Haute Couture Collections.  Above three looks from Rodarte.

imageAnother from Rodarte by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy.  Baby’s Breath adds a Spring touch along with the flower garden set.

imageInteresting red lace, the shoe bootie throws me a bit, don’t mind the idea but a bit heavy in the black, tan and white with the delicate lace….Many, if not all Collections had red in them…yet another trend to watch.

imageFrom Proenza Schouler

imageRemember last season the corset over the garment now we are seeing the bra over the dress

imageLove this look from Proenza Schouler need to lose the ruffle on the arm…aren’t the shoes to die for!!!

imageI end today with this exquisite gown from Giambattista Valli…he continues his short/long silhouette and it really works, here just one of his incredibly beautiful gowns from his Haute Couture Collection.

Of course, there are other Haute Couture Collections, I have chosen the ones I admired along with the ready-to-wear collections of the two American brands…let’s see if showing in the “fashion capital of the world” works its magic for them!  Stay tuned……

I would like to recommend you read Vanessa Freiedman’s, The New York Times fashion director and chief fashion cretic’s Open Thread post from Friday, July 7, 2017, it is a brilliant critique on the Haute Couture Collections…I can’t, for some unknown reason, pull it up and share it with you, sorry!

All photos from Pinterest credits unknown.

 

 

 

 

FASHION FLASHBACK: SAKS FIFTH AVENUE CHICAGO…THE STORE

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imagePine 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: BAKELITE AT RANDOLPH STREET MARKET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

imageimageA close up of a couple of the pins.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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 Looks interesting.  Pinterest photo credit unknown

All photos were taken by Nena unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

PROFILE: ME!!!

imageThe sketch is for some anniversary and by a dear friend……..

I hope you don’t think I am being very self-centered in profiling myself, I thought it would be a fun exercise to answer my own questionnaire.  You already know so much about me, my likes, my obsessions, highlights of my career, etc. but perhaps, just perhaps, I can give you a bit more insight into Nena!

Here goes….

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT AND HOW DID THAT PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW:

I don’t know that I would call my career talent so let’s say when did I realize what I wanted to do…I always knew I wanted to be in “fashion” I just didn’t know what part of it.  Did I want to model, be a designer, be in public relations, advertising, or what!!!???  I had been on many “high school” boards during school both downtown and in Evanston.  That intensified my interest.  Being the daughter of a commercial artist I was very familiar with advertising.  I had begun sewing as soon as I could hold a needle (Mom gave me a beautiful sterling silver thimble with cloisonne on it, I could never use it, can’t stand the sound of the needle hitting the metal of the thimble!) Evanston Township High School offered a dress design course in the art department, (the head of the department was a dress designer at heart) my Junior Year.  I loved the class and did so well I was asked if I wanted to take it again for my Senior Year and do what ever I liked…I did!  I never modeled, but did teach modeling at a local “charm” school while I was in high school…loved doing that.  One day, when I was a Senior in high school I put on my hat and gloves (yes, you heard that correctly) got on the bus and went downtown.  For some unknown reason I felt one needed to know retail before you could do anything else in the business, after all that is where the product ends.  We usually shopped at Marshall Field’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, the first stop on the bus route downtown was Saks.  I got off at Erie and Michigan and went to the Personnel Office (AKA Human Resources), interviewed (lied about my age) and got the job selling in “Debutante Sportswear”…what I thought would be a summer job became a career!  By the way, during that year I found I was a very good sales person, no magic formula just treat people the way you want to be treated and keep up with the trends.  The working title of the book is “A Hell of a Long Summer Job!”  Luck, being in the right place at the right time, the Personnel Director believing in me….who will ever know.  I have taught in all the local fashion schools and have been at Columbia College Chicago for many years, I love to teach and see my students grow and learn more about an industry that I am passionate about  I am still doing lectures, an occasion fashion show and, my new passion, NENASNOTES.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD MADE IT:

When I got the job in the Fashion Office and each and every day for the 53 years, where did they go….I knew that it was, in my opinion, a perfect fit.  I always thought I had the perfect job with the best retailer in the world, I still feel that way. I wanted to be one of one and not one of thousands in New York or elsewhere.  The job grew through the years and, of course, changed not only with fashion but with technology.  I happen to love to work with figures as well as knowing what garments to show to each audience, and adding technology just enhanced the job.  In retail you must be very, very open to change.

imageFashion Group International Chicago Gala, given in my honor, in the Ballroom at the Chicago Hilton (one of the most glamorous and magnificent rooms anywhere!!!!) My wonderful models and I didn’t have to dress them!!!  I have profiled 8 of them…let’s hope I can get more to participate, they all have such wonderful stories to tell. Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

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

I firmly believe you need to love what you do you or you will be miserable.  Having said that, I have always wanted to have a independent bookstore/tearoom/needlepoint shop or a bed and breakfast, but instead I am a blogger, who knew!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MOVIES, BOOKS, THEATER (IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE) TYPE OF MUSIC

Movies: I am particularly found of Musicals, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films in particular, all the 1940’s musicals and, of course, My Fair Lady and Gigi. love them. Recently found LaLa Land charming. I adore Film Noir and The Thin Man series. My most favorite film is Gone With The Wind, in my opinion, everyone was brilliantly and perfectly cast.  Love all the original Disney films, especially Fantasia.  Of course, any fashion documentary or films based on fashion personalities or fashion in general…what could ever top the original 1939, The Women.  Obviously, I could go on and on and on……I do love a good movie.

Books: I devour books, always have.  I couldn’t take gym in school so I lived in my school library.  The Evanston Public School system has amazing schools not only in their teaching but in their buildings.  My grammar school, Oakton, had incredible mosaic tiles (I’m sure they still do, note to self must do a visit!) and it was not only a place that set all of us on the right track with reading, writing and arithmetic…but also with art….and in my case an even greater love of books.  My home was filled with books and I was read to from birth and then read to myself as soon as I could.  Hard to choose one book…Let me mention these authors rather than one book….not in any order: Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Agatha Christie, Virginia Wolff.  Current authors, Louise Penny, Charles Finch, Charles Todd, Cara Black (a review on her new book next week!).  Genres: most English Mysteries (don’t like thrillers, horror or fantasy), novels based on historical figures (concentrating on artists and authors) and, of course, fashion books….it seems to be my goal to own every fashion book printed (I have around 1000 now!)

Theater: 1. Musical Theater 2. Legitimate Theater 3. Ballet 4. Opera 5. Symphony

Type of Music: A very long list (basically the only types of music I’m really not into are Hip Hop, Rap and Country) Here goes….Frank Sinatra, Broadway cast albums, Stanley Paul and his Orchestra (or just him playing piano!), old time Rock and Roll, Simply Red, Adele, Bobby Short, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, anything Gershwin, Porter, The American Songbook, Jazz, Chopin, Mozart, Strauss, etc. etc etc.

YOUR HOME:  Very eclectic, a mix of antiques, Randolph Street Market finds, www.randolphtreetmarket.com, lots of art, needlepoint (mine), layers of textiles (in particular, paisley shawls and crazy quilts) and lots and lots of lily of the valley pieces! And, of course, stacks and stacks of books. I guess we could call it Boho!  I have shown you many of my collections more to come.

RESTAURANTS:  Everest would be #1 without question, I have never had anything less than a spectacular meal there and Chef Joho has done many special occasion dinners for me! Les Nomades, RL, Deca at the Ritz Carlton, Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula, Sophie’s at Saks, The Dearborn, Shaw’s, RM Champagne Salon, Kiki’s, Pelago, Uncle Julio’s and Su Casa, RH Three Arts Club Cafe, I’m very fond of Alpana Singh’s restaurants, just about any steakhouse in the City and anywhere I can get a good hamburger and, of course, any Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, Rich Melman is a genius!  I’m a foodie, also am fond of a great glass (or two) of wine and I love the wonderful variety we have, the food is, of course, important but the atmosphere and who you are with are primary.  Love, love, love all the roof “top” terraces we now have, they are amazing.  In addition, all our wonderful private clubs.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES THAT YOU HAVE TRAVELED AND WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO:

I spent many vacations in New York and I adore it to this day…I am an Urbanite and love, love, love big cities, including my home town of Chicago, you do realize that Chicago has CHIC in it! Next would be London and the English Countryside.  Then Paris, I have only been once so can’t really talk about it as much as I would like.  I adore New Orleans, would have, in another life lived there.  Stratford, Ontario Canada, not only for it’s theater but for it’s atmosphere and it’s fabulous restaurants, again I would live there in a minute.  I was fortunate to travel to Russia several years ago and it was a major epiphany…Moscow in particular, magnificent…The Hermitage in Saint Petersburg wasn’t bad either!!!  Where would I like to go…Marrakesh, Cairo, India and China, back to Paris and England.  I do love a cruise, I would sail on the Queen Mary II any day of the week.  A cruise to South America or the Mediterranean would be nice, any offers!!!!???? Oh, I almost forgot, The Orient Express. I had better pack my bags…..

FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART:  Oh my, yet another toughie…I’m going to “cop” out and say our architecture, we are, after all, the birth place of modern architecture.  Aren’t we lucky to have ALL the magnificent pieces not only outside but inside public and private buildings.  I will be doing many posts on our street art.

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER PARTY AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE…

I am going to take “author’s” license and do a dinner party of 20 (not the 10 to 12 I have allotted my other Profiles to have!) at one long “King” table in the Chicago Rooms at the Chicago History Museum www.chicagohistory.org and change seats between the second and third course, not the heads of the table but the two sides…there will be a seating plan, could be fun…and then for after dinner with demi-tasse, cordials and sweets we will all move into another room and be at 5 tables of 4, also seated and again with different people than for dinner, for more intimate conversations.  Stanley Paul and his Orchestra will play only my favorite standards and Frank Sinatra will entertain us with a few songs!  Perhaps we can get Coco, Fred, Cole and Stephen to join in!!!  Heaven.

The Guest List (in alphabetical order):

Fred Astaire

Cecil Beaton

Gabrielle Chanel

Christian Dior

Carl Faberge

Lucile Duff Gordon

Christian Lacroix

Française Lasage

Norman Norell

Irving Penn

Paul Poiret

Cole Porter

Stephen Sondheim

James Tissot

Diana Vreeland

Vita Sackville-West

Else de Wolff

Virginia Wolff

My Father (at one end of the table)

Me (at the other end of the table)

My favorite caterer would supervise the dinner, with Ruthie, my Mother, overseeing all details, I think Flora Danica as the china, why not (both would prefer being “off stage” and they would join us for the “after-party”)…the menu would be :

Cristal champagne before, during and after!!!!!

Cold beef consomme topped with sour cream and chives

Cold poached lobster

(Everyone changes seats here with another glass of champagne)

Choice of Beef Wellington (my recipe) or Salmon en Croute with seasonal vegetables

Micro greens with Tom Mantel’s secret vinaigrette salad dressing

Baked Alaska (my recipe)

HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED:  Wow, that is a very difficult question…to answer and not sound full of oneself…I guess a person who used her career producing fashion shows, special events, chairing galas and being president of many boards, to not only raise substantial funding for many, many organizations, but more importantly to raise awareness of those causes.

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Some of the world renowned designers who came to the benefit of the Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago Place opening September 1990.  The black tie event benefited five charities, Beverly Blettner, seated behind Bob Mackie. was the over-all chair of the event.  Beverly and I worked on numerous events together.  The designers from left to right: Adolfo, Carolina Herrera, Pauline Trigere and Bob Mackie, all of whom I worked with on numerous events.  I have profiled Pauline, I will do in depth Fashion Flashbacks on the others in coming weeks. Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.