FASHION EXTRA: RALPH LAUREN THE FIRST 50 YEARS!!!!!

1DD690DB-ACD7-45DD-B0F1-AF07759C35BDI have worn, shown, lived with, admired, Ralph Lauren’s creativity for all those 50 years. The excitement of this extraordinary exuberant extraganza was a once in a lifetime “happening”. From the venue, the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, to the pre-show reception (and the people watching), to the staging (perfection), to the presentation (featuring a diverse mix of 150 models and more people watching), to the finale (all models on the staircase with Ralph taking his finale bow-wave), to the formal sit down dinner (further people watching and a toast lead by Oprah!), WOW! For those of us not there in person, we have the modern experience of technology and can watch the evening streaming, via video feeds, still photos, the joyous postings, on all social media platforms, and can absorb this perfect event from beginning to end whenever we choose.  All I can say….I can’t wait to see what is in store for us in the ensuing years. Fashion is not dead, long live fashion…Bravo Ralph Lauren Bravo!!!

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The staging.

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Lets take a look at some of my favorites, I can’t show you every run, would love to, you can find many on line sources to show you the entire collection.  Here, then, in no particular order my likes….

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71F04AD1-6716-4EC7-876F-7AA29DC422331E8B957B-9D94-4674-9F86-ACECF1330CEDNotice Chicago’s own, Chance The Rapper (in baseball cap) in the front row.

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9F17458B-C27D-46F3-8135-BC36C04A5468431E9CE3-DD0F-4B12-8210-A05F7DCBDA8CLove Ralph in a typical outfit, tuxedo jacket with distressed jeans, modernity at its best!!! I think this is one of Jeffrey Banks’ fabulous photos of the evening.  See his Facebook postings for a incredible capture of the evening. An aside, Jeffrey was a sketch artist for Ralph back in the day. Two true American creators, long may they wave!!!!

Photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown

 

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BOOKNOTES: SEPTEMBER TO BE READ LIST

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

This post is underwritten by an anonymous sponsor.  Contact me for sponsorship opportunities. 

PROFILE: JEFFREY BANKS–GENTLEMAN CREATOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

 

1 lb Ground Chuck

1/2 lb Pork Sausage

1 Medium Small Onion (chopped finely)

1/2 Green Pepper  (chopped finely)

2-3 Spines of Celery (chopped finely)

3/4 cup Bread Crumbs

Salt & Pepper to Taste

Celery Salt

2 Cans Hunts Tomato Sauce

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

              JEFFREY BANKS’ HONEY, SHALLOT, DIJON MUSTARD  VINAIGRETTE

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1 large shallot, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

 



 

FASHION NOW: PARIS HAUTE COUTURE 3 GUO PEI

 

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

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

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

 

Pieces from past collections….beyond description..

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

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

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

A book, you bet….

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

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

All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown unless indicated.

PROFILE: STUART DYER MESIRES

E0E5384D-11DA-4FD7-B6D8-E82D6E5E9FFAPhoto by Rachel McGinn taken in Philadelphia

Bringing back my Profile series and I am beyond excited to restart with a friend through the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, Stuart Dyer Mesires.  Her talent for and love of all things vintage has given us a mutual interest as well as great conversations about the history of fashion, a passion we both share.  I know you will enjoy a glimpse into Stuart’s beginnings in the industry as well as a peek into her business Ladybug Vintage

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB
My first job in the fashion industry was working in New York City for a vintage textile swatch library. It was a library filled with swatches of vintage fabrics – prints, jacquards, yarn dyes, knits, etc. Designers would make an appointment to come to the design library at the beginning of each season to buy vintage swatches of fabric which they would then use to help them come up with color palates, design inspiration and actual fabrics that they would develop for their lines that season.
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR MOST RECENT OCCUPATION
In 2009, I decided to turn my passion for collecting vintage into a business and created, Ladybug Vintage – a collection of vintage costume jewelry, clothing and accessories focused primarily on the international glamour and country club chic eras of the 1960’s and 1970’s. I love the whimsy, insouciance, bold prints and statement jewelry from this time period – all of which can be found in the Ladybug Vintage Collection. Inspiration comes from fashion icons such as Lee Radziwell, Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger and Ali McGraw – women with an innate sense of glamour and daring who could take one special piece – a scarf, a lariat, a gorgeous set of cuff bracelets – and create a completely effortless and individual look. I personally select each piece in the collection with this focus in mind. This is what sets Ladybug Vintage apart as it is not just a collection of random vintage pieces but a collection with a focused point of view.

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Stuart at the Chicago Botanic Garden when she did their Antique and Garden Show

 

Some of Stuart’s extensive collections.

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WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
I started collecting vintage when I was in grade school. My mother is an avid collector of antiques and I would often accompany her to flea markets, thrift shops and antique shows when she was hunting for treasures. I wanted to collect something too so I would look for things that I could afford. Vintage clothing and costume jewelry were items that no one really wanted at the time and the pieces were inexpensive – thus my collection began. I loved the fact that what I collected could be worn not just put on a shelf to be admired. By the time I was in high school I had a closet full of amazing vintage clothing and accessories.

0464EA25-8B9A-4530-BB7F-76AC6A52BE65Looking for vintage pieces at the Madison Bouckville Antique Show in Bouckville, New York.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN
When I was working as a swimsuit designer for Tommy Hilfiger, I felt that I had made it when one of the suits that I had designed was featured in the the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue being worn by Heidi Klum, 2001.

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Another of Stuart’s designers for Hilfiger in Sports Illustrated, 2002.

A piece in the 1998 Japan Marie Claire on Stuart’s favorite beauty products.

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW As I mentioned above, I have had a passion for collecting vintage from a young age. After graduating from a liberal arts college in upstate, New York, I moved to New York City to work for PolyGram Records. My passion, however, was for fashion so I started working for a vintage textile design company and taking night classes at Parson’s School of Design. I then embarked on an over 15 year career in fashion design which included working as a clothing designer for such companies as Tommy Hilfiger and Lilly Pulitzer. While working as a designer, my love of vintage continued and I often used vintage pieces as design inspiration. Nine years ago, I decided to turn my love for collecting vintage into a business.

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WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE An Archeologist.
YOUR FAVORITES:
BOOK: The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
MOVIE:  The Wizard of Oz
THEATER:  Hamilton
TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO: Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Led Zeppelin, Spoon, Cage the Elephant and the Foo Fighters
LOCAL RESTAURANT: I love to try new restaurants but a constant, reliable favorite is Mon Ami Gabi.
HOBBIES: Drawing, painting, antiquing
HOME: Mixture of mid-century modern and antiques
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE: Andy Cohen, Derek Blasberg, Mick Jagger, Virgil Abloh, Pablo Picasso, Kate Spade, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Altchul, Lilly Pulitzer, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Miuccia Prada
I’m not a great cook so I would invite, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) to cater.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST:  I love to discover new places. And wherever I find myself, I love to find places to shop for vintage. I just back from a trip to Grimaud, France – a small town outside of St. Tropez. I had never been to Grimaud before but I went there to stay with a friend.  It is a gorgeous Cote d’Azur hillside town overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the port of St. Tropez. One of the most fun things for me was finding a flea market in Grimaud that was filled with vintage treasures.

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With her son, Xander in St. Tropez in June 2018

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In Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

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Visiting Heyward House, Bluffton, South Carolina.

FAVORITE WORK OF CHICAGO PUBLIC ART:  My favorite work of Chicago Public art is a statue called, The Alarm. I have always been drawn to it. It is the oldest sculpture on Chicago Park District property. It was commissioned in 1880 and dedicated on May 17, 1884. When I did a little research on it, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the artist, John J. Boyle while from New York, had actually studied in Philadelphia (my hometown) at the Franklin Institute and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and married a woman from there. Several of his statues are located throughout Fairmount Park in Philadelphia as well as throughout the city of Philadelphia.

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HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED:As having been kind.

A FAVORITE RECIPE:
I love to make desserts (the best part of a meal!). Below is a simple recipe for one of my favorites:
Fudge Brownies.
INGREDIENTS
5 oz of unsweetened baking chocolate 3/4 cup butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13” x 9” pan.
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in a large microwaveable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until the butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Spread into prepared pan.    BAKE approximately 22 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.

STUART’S FAVORITE LINKS/BLOGS/INSTAGRAM/WEBSITES

http://www.ladybugvintage.com/
https://www.1stdibs.com/dealers/ladybug-vintage/

La Double J, Tory Daily, @suzymenkesvogue, @tinaleung, @amandacbrooks, @ericapelosini, @martinamondadori, @kateschelter

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Above photo taken by Rachel McGinn. All photos from Stuart’s scrapbooks.

 

FASHION NOW: DOLCE & GABBANA ALTA MODA FALL 2018

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Designers who always know how to produce the most extravagant fashion shows… Dolce & Gabbana, didn’t disappoint with their Fall 2018 Alta Moda (high fashion) presentation at Lake Como, Italy. Drama was in abbondanza!  Here are a few of the many looks, filled with the expected floral prints, exquisite accessories and diverse mix of models. Over the top creativity presented in lush surroundings with an operatic soundtrack to create an even more ”Alta Moda” atmosphere!  Designers who don’t shy away from drama in their creations nor controversy in their opinions, lived up to all expectations.

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6982FCBA-BE77-49EF-96B4-C1074C5E1C8CA portion of the finale.

All photos found on Pinterest credits unknown.

FASHION NOW: FALL 2018 HAUTE COUTURE PART 2

Maison Margiela by John Galliano….no, not strange nor laughable…look closely at ALL the detail, the use of accessories, the color mixing, layering. Shoes with tech devices attached.  Are we painting our faces in bold foundation colors, no but to me the statement is color completing a look and we DO paint our faces! One can debate whether Galliano is either a genius or marching to his own inner voice…I am in the genius camp, well maybe both!!!!!

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Perhaps one of the most covered collections, Valentino by Pierpaolo Piccioli, brought a tear to Valentino’s eye as he lead the standing ovation at the finale. Exquisitely crafted gowns in bold solid colors as well as brocades, lames, the perfect black gown, and the “fabric” of the collections, feathers. Head coverings of real flowers in the same bold palettes of the glorious fashions. I am in awe of the extreme bouffant hair, taking us back to Avedon’s “Swans”! A Valentino collection to remember without question.

A refined neutral palette formed the Dior collection as interpreted by Maria Grazia Chiuri.  Saying she wanted to celebrate the House’s heritage, she definitely defined the elegance that is Dior.  The day pieces reflected the essence of the House.  Loved the cape, so useful in Chicago, the sheer tulle in the perfectly constructed youthful  gowns and…feathers. Again may I call your attention to the accessories especially the charming side tilted “beanie”.

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In my opinion, which, after all, is what nenasnotes is all about….my opinion, the resurrection of the House of Schiaparelli just gets better now under the direction of Bertrand Guyon.  The signature Shocking Pink, trompe l’oeil details, a fluff of the obligatory feathers…the excitement that is fashion. Fun, unexpectd twists = a la mode!

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Giambattista Valli one of my favs doesn’t disappoint.  Great day pieces, but he excels with his dramatic gowns, although let’s start rethinking the “high-low” lengths…we’ve seen it, but still….gorgeous! Feathers, you bet, even for shoes.

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What House and Artistic Director could be more in the news than Givenchy and Clare Waight Keller, no one I can think of. All it takes is a major star whether that is M. Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn or Claire Waight Keller and the new Duchess of Sussex. Again a current designer delving into the archives of a master creator….how wrong can you go…..you can’t.

 

Giorgio Armani Prive Couture Fall 2018
Giorgio Armani Prive Couture Fall 2018

Does Giorgio Armani ever go off brand….no, never. Armani Prive has it all.  I really need to find a new word for classic, translates to boring in my current modern minds eye, but until I can replace it let’s use it….perhaps modern classic = always a perfect wardrobe addition. The Fall 2018 Collection is a stunner.  Particularly like the  coat as jacket, I look I have long embraced.

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Haute Couture must always push us, bring us new technologies, fabrications, techniques, the FUTURE, why not….who does it best, Iris van Herpen, her innovations stretch us to see clothing in new ways…that is what it is all about.

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Of course, some of our most creative talents continue to make us think, give us fun, beautifully crafted garments with a bit of tongue in cheek, no one does that better than the dynamic duo Viktor & Rolf!

And there you have it….the glory, that is my edited edition, of Paris Haute Couture Fall 2018. Next up the marathon fashion weeks beginning in New York in September. A good time to read your nenasnotes The Fashion Book August 28th selection NORELL: Master of American Fashion so you will be prepared for our discussion….what you say, you haven’t signed up for the monthly meetings….contact me for all the details and join our fascinating group.

                          All photos from Pinterest photo credits not available. 

FASHION NOW: HAUTE COUTURE FALL 2018 PART 1 CHANEL

115327D8-F63D-4583-8891-C3AADFB0AA08By now you know I am obsessed with Haute Couture, especially the Fall collections which are shown the beginning of July.  I’m totally a Fall fashion season gal, always have been so that isn’t a surprise  I have told you I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend the Haute Couture collections in 2006. It was my 50th Anniversary present from Saks Fifth Avenue and an experience I shall always treasure.  At some point in time I will share that trip with you…have to gather all my photos, scan them, dig out the memorabilia, review the diary I kept (the one and only time I have kept a journal), etc.  I promise I will do it.

Now on to Haute Couture Fall 2018.  I usually do trends I see in each seasons collections whether Haute Couture or Ready-To-Wear….Haute Couture, in my opinion, is the Mothership from which all other fashion evolves. I’ll do my thoughts on the rest of the Collections in subsequent posts.  Today is all about Chanel.  Do we look to Chanel for inspiration, of course we do it is inevitable.  And no one stages a show like Karl Lagerfeld.  There are other unbelievable stagings, over the top creations….but we always want to see what Kaiser Karl has in store for us…he didn’t disappoint  What do you think?!  Here a sampling of some of the pieces that caught my eye

“For Fall 2018, Chanel’s production masterminds recreated the banks of the Seine — even though the real deal is fewer than 200m away from the Grand Palais — complete with newsstands and a replica of the Académie Française. One stand, staffed by two young boys wearing “Institut Chanel” sweatshirts, was packed with books, magazines, records and keepsake photographs all featuring Coco Chanel herself.” Quote and all photos from Fashionista.

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Stunningly beautiful. Notice the shoes, hair, lots and lots of black and grey.  What am I seeing that I see in other collections….hot pink and brown…stay tuned….

 

FASHION FLASHBACK, FASHION NOW, FASHION ALWAYS: BOB MACKIE

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Courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, all my inscribed designer photos hung on my office wall and are now house in a the Archives

Cher, Carol Burnett, Barbie all have one thing in common….BOB MACKIE!!!! The king of making every woman glamorous whether they are on stage or wearing something unique for a special night….what a gift he has.  His love for show business, and more importantly, the joy of making all his ladies look beyond amazing is, without a doubt, magnificently on display in the brand new Pre-Broadway production The Cher Show at Chicago’s Oriental Theater through July 15th. A must see!  Saw it loved it, the three Chers are spot on as is Sonny, Greg, et al, and the subject of this post, Bob Mackie, has not only outdone himself with the costumes but, in my opinion, his stage double steals the first act…..just saying… The show brings us back to the beginnings and we realized the talent and the relationship and collaboration between the star performer and the star designer…  bravo.

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A sketch for proposed costumes in The Cher Show.

Bob’s career began in his native California as a sketch artist for Edith Head at
Paramount Studios. His talent for costuming, which began there, is unparalleled
Just think of the excitement, glamour and wit he brought to the weekly live Carol Burnett show. Week after week we would experience his extraordinary costumes
that not only set the tone for the skits but helped create the characters as well.
Can we ever forget the classic “Scarlett O’Hara” skit with the “curtain” gown,
pure Mackie!!! The Carol Burnett Show introduced him to Cher who was appearing as a guest on the show….need I say the rest of that story is show biz and fashion history.

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Bob’s sketch for the classic Miss Scarlett “curtain” dress, it now lives in the Smithsonian collections, where it should be as a part of American history

The first time I saw Sonny and Cher, at the very beginning of their career, they
were totally dressed in hippie garb and looked like “mountain people”, whatever  that means…when they started their variety TV show Cher became a fashion icon, and remains one to this day, again, totally a Mackie collaboration.  The occasion of my seeing these performers was at a Chicago Tribune College Council event held annually at either the Sherman House Hotel or the Morrison Hotel (both demolished long ago).  The Tribune hosted all the Chicago retailers College Boards which were a group of college women that worked in the “college departments” at their stores. Each store “marched” into the ballroom in their specially selected outfits some stores had huge groups (think Marshall Fields and Carson Pirie Scott) and Saks Fifth Avenue usually had 8, in my humble opinion, we were a small group but our ladies looked amazing in their gear!  When this duo went to the stage the audience was stunned, I don’t think many knew who they were….the minute they began I’ve Got You Babe, everyone not only witnessed stars in action but left the room knowing they wanted to hear more and more we have heard through the years.

I had the great pleasure of working with this designing genius on many formal
fashion productions, most of which were presented in the International Ballroom
at the Hilton Hotel. They were always major choreographed shows that were
themed and featured more beading than any Ziegfeld Show. They were beyond
glamorous and the audience not only loved the shows but adored Bob. Saks Fifth
Avenue always had a huge sales result and many of the pieces we sold are now
housed in the Costume Collection at the Chicago History Museum and the Fashion Study Collection at Columbia College Chicago. Before Saks Fifth Avenue did these shows the trunk shows were presented at Kane’s and the Collection was also carried at Stanley Korshak, both stores long gone from the Chicago retail scene while Saks Fifth Avenue remains strong, since 1929, on Michigan Avenue.

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The above photos are Bob doing his finale walk at one of our formal shows, the second, with me, in the Lobby of the Hilton Chicago Ballroom, prior to another show.

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My piece, yes, there are Mackie day pieces….it now lives in the Fashion Study Collection at Columbia College Chicago as are the above photos (alas, not from my wardrobe) all were taken by Tanner Branson at my request.

Bob, being the gracious gentleman he is, agreed to be my date when I co-chaired my second DIFFA gala in 1991, also at the Hilton Chicago, it was a Venice masquerade event, my co-chair, Michael Hasten, brought a Fortuny mask from a visit to Venice for me and Bob sent me a major ball gown to wear….below you see us at the party (I think we look like we are at our prom…a very glamorous one to be sure!)

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The DIFFA ball in 1990 and the Costume Council event, 2015, same faces a few years later…Dennis Minkel, another dear friend, brought the original photo so we could reinterpret it…fun, yes, indeed!

 

 

 

 

The second book we read for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. (Let me know if you are interested in attending and I’ll send you all the details.) We meet the fourth Tuesday of each month (I’m skipping July, next up Jeffrey Bank’s brilliant monograph NORELL in August). I thought an appropriate selection with all the Mackie excitement in Chicago this month.  We had a lively discussed at our June gathering while sipping Haute Couture Bubbles, delish and mini bites.  The attendees had great questions, obviously a book club is all about discussing the book!

The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum honored Bob with their Designer of Execellence Award at a conversation with Hal Rubenstein and sit-down dinner in April 2015.  Bob, like all our designer guests, viewed some of the treasures in the Costume Collection, and was beyond impressed with the selections he was shown.

I’m with my dear friend, Abra Wilkin, at the Costume Council Award Dinner…both wearing pieces from Abra’s Mackie Collection.  Bob was thrilled to reminisce with Abra about his Chicago visits and the CHM Costume.

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Saks launched the Mackie fragrance and he created a special edition relaunch for gifts for the dinner guests….each signed by Bob…special indeed.  One of the attendees of The Fashion Book Club, Tanner Branson, found this jacket on Etsy it was done as a promotion piece for the fragrance.  I seem rather animated while leading the discussion and showing my DIFFA gown festured in the book.  Photo courtesy of another standee, David Sanchez.

 

Two Mackie pieces that were in the CHM Exhibition Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.  The gorgeous hot pink feather costume, was in one of  the Mackie formal runway shows I worked on….it was the piece in the exhibition I sponsored.  The other more pure Mackie glam!

It has been my extreme pleasure to have worked with this design genius who really knows how to put the “show” in show business and share his wisdom, talent and joie de vie with his stars and his clients….glamour is most certainly Bob Mackie’s forte.869D7C6B-530D-4270-A573-71F3426E28B4Another iconic genius…Victor Skrebneski, photographer extraordinaire, and my friend of more years than we care to admit, did a brilliant video program for my Fashion Group International Chicago Award in 1990, also at the Hilton Chicago. He asked Bob to send gowns for me to wear for the photo session….a story unto itself…here is one in ink green sequins, an example of Bob Mackie creating a body even if you don’t have one……

Bob, thank you for making my professional life the joy it was and for filling everyone’s lives with glitter, glam and drop dead gorgeous creations all Unmistakably Mackie!

When previewing this post…the photos seem to be off center, can’t seem to be able to correct this problem…..so sorry, I hope you enjoy the copy along with the photos and sketches, any illustrations or photos, not credited, were found on Pinterest and I don’t have photo credits. The two sketches are by Bob Mackie also found on Pinterest

FASHION FLASHBACK: MICHAEL VOLLBRACHT A TRIBUTE

33A06E6A-8F85-42A9-9052-591FB077485AMichael Vollbracht at the beginning of his career when we first met, late 1970’s. Inscribed photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

When the news reached me last week that Michael Vollbracht had died, after total disbelief, I immediately wanted to do a post on my wonderful times with him. I didn’t want to do an obit, His dear friend, Jeffrey Banks, did one so eloquently for the CFDA and it was followed by an brilliant piece in the New York Times and Woman’s Wear Daily. All detailed the life of a unique, brilliant talent. But rather, I wanted to honor him with personal reflections.

I first encountered Michael’s talent when Saks Fifth Avenue bought his collection and I featured his extraordinary garments, all of which were amazingly beautiful prints that he had created, in many of the charity fashion shows we did at the time.

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They were great hits so much so that SFA Chicago invited him to bring his collection to the store and do a formal fashion at The Hilton Chicago, the first of several formal shows with him, (home to many, many of our shows!) In those days, I met all the designers (and often their representatives if the designers weren’t making a personal appearance) at the airport, actually at their gate, we could do that until 9/11, and escorted them to their hotel. This allowed us to get to know each other and, in my opinion, set the stage for a comfortable, successful event. In addition, I was on the selling floor throughout their visit and usually was included in the dinners we hosted for the designers.

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We got to The Hilton on the day of the show, it was a luncheon in the Grand Ballroom, a magnificent room to this day, I can’t remember a time when I checked the room before I would arrive at any venue. Of course, I would do a walk through of the space prior to any event.  The charity usually did the decor, centerpieces, etc. We opened the doors to the room and were met with at least 20 American flags on flag poles placed on the balcony hanging over the stage (they had been there for some political event and left!)  I love my flag but it was a bit much, to say the least, for a fashion show.  There was nothing to be done but work with them. Michael’s reaction, “How charming, a salute to a born and bred American designer….love it!”  This gives you an idea of his sense of humor, his ability to adjust to the situation and deal with it.

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The twinkle in his eyes…..

Michael had a special relationship with Bill Blass (Michael later designed the Blass collection, I thought the perfect fit!) who asked him to design his retrospective exhibition at Indiana University the fall of 2002.  The opening night was attended by many of Bill’s New York designer pals such as Adolfo and Carolyne Roehm as well as the ladies Blass dressed all of whom, after viewing the exhibition, sat down to Bill’s famous meatloaf.  The only thing missing was Bill who had died shortly before the opening.

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Talking about Bill Blass

Michael asked to describe the exhibition said it would “be a mixture of museum and theatrics.”  The exhibit had dramatic lighting, the walls were what Michael called “cafe latte”, music of another Indiana native, Blass was from Indiana, Cole Porter, was piped throughout the space.  I was devasted not to be able to attend this once in a lifetime event, work prevented it  I did however go to see it at the invitation of Kate Rowland, curator of the University’s Sage Historical Costume Collection.  I was able to see it several times the day I was there…fortunately the first visit was early in the morning when I walked through it by myself…fortunately I say because I burst into tears at the first thing I encountered, Bill’s office, totally reassembled, again the only thing missing was Bill!  Bravo Michael…you totally did it and Bill would have totally approved.  I adore fashion exhibitions and this was done to perfection in a very small space, luckily we have a book co-authored by Michael, Kate, and my first SFA boss/mentor/supporter, the incredible, Helen O’Hagan.

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I wanted to share some of the portraits Michael did of his designer friends, they are fabulous and capture the personalities perfectly.

9C4D8C18-42A4-4BE5-8C3F-8A8B30CED252                                                                      Bill Blass

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Love this of Pauline Trigere, it captures her perfectly

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James Galanos, exquisite

 

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Donald Brooks (sorry for the poor quality, the only copy I could find)

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Diane Von Furstenberg, gorgeous

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Norman Norell, another designer who passed away prior to the opening of their exhibition from the Nena Ivon Archives of Columbia College Chicago.

 

Two illustrations from the divine monograph NORELL by the brilliant Jeffrey Banks….if you don’t already have it purchased it immediately, it is glorious and a MUST have for your library along with the Blass book

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Lucky me, I worked with all the designers, above, who were captured by the insightful eye of Michael Vollbracht.

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The famous Bloomingdale’s shopping bag, Michael’s Book, and…….no words needed!

My last in person encounter with Michael was at a Costume Society of America Symposium in Kansas City, (Michael was a hometown guy!) in 2010 when he was the Keynote Speaker.  A bit of background, at the 2009 CSA Symposium I was seated with the cochairs of the Kansas City event and they were discussing how excited and a bit intimated that Michael Vollbracht was coming for their event, I spoke up and said, “what a coup, he is the Renaissance Man and you will love him.”  Their response, and I think in unison, “do you know him!”  “Yes, yes, I do” I said….well needless to say I became golden and was asked to be his host…yes, please.

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I set up the room before his presentation with pieces he had sent and put them on dress forms.  I introduced him and he began by talking about me much to my embarrassment, but I was nonetheless thrilled.  He got a standing ovation, not easy from the group…he was perfect, of course he was!  There is always a Patron Dinner for the keynote and those who wanted to be up close and personal with the guest…again he charmed the group with his “unfiltered” stories.  He and I went to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the Edward Steichen photography exhibition, who better to go with and spent another evening with Dennis Brozynski, my Columbia College Chicago Fashion Studies colleague and long term CSA supporter (the other member of our group, my dear friend and CSA roomie, Dianne Erpenbach, also a CCC Fashion Studies colleague, was tied up with CSA meetings and couldn’t join us) getting Kansas City barbecue….Michael knew all THE joints to go too.  We roamed around, stuffed full of some of the best barbecue ever.  Ah memories…all good ones

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My little black dress sketch, hangs on one of the shelves of my fashion library.  It is visible from the foot of my bed, so we can say I wake up with Michael every day! Photo taken by me

So much has been said of his talent, his art, his fashion, his newly found voice on Facebook with wonderful in-depth stories of his career, his relationship with mega stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor, his frustration with the fashion industry, to say his death is a huge loss is a major understatement.  Rest In Peace Michael Vollbracht, your art lives on.

7CBE6DFC-024A-486C-9B24-EDE5A8B7016AAll photos and illustrations unless otherwise noted are from Pinterest credits unknown.