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

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FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 REVIEW PART 3 NEW YORK FASHION WEEK

imageI’ve become enamored with fashion quotes and adore this one….it says it all, don’t you agree!

We have come to the end of New York Fashion Weeks and are now on to London, which I will review on Monday.  London has become quite cutting edge (but remember London has given us Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Vivianne Westwood, not to mention Mary Quant, Ossie Clark and, of course, the Father of Haute Couture Charles Frederick Worth and one of the first women Couturiers, Lucile Duff Gordon…..and the list goes one….so it really has been cutting edge forever!

Let’s look at three more of the stalwart New York designers…Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs (he always closes the week) and Marchesa.

imageMichael Kors finale….a bit too tropical for my taste but great color and silhouette.  I like to suggest you add print to your already established wardrobe, the prints change so much season to season.

imageI do like print combinations and am very pleased that we aren’t seeing mix-matched patterns and colors for Spring 2018…I much prefer mixing the same tones…here we see a palm print with one of my trends….stripes.  Note the shoes, we will discuss a bit later in this post.

imageSo very Kors….the casual look of the shirt with ombré sequin pants and in blue, another color we have seen on many runways.

imageI believe this is first time we have seen a grey garment in the Spring 2018 collections, it is a stunner and combined with luggage tan. perfection.  Note the grey wood planks for the runway…new, fresh, clean and a bit beachy!

imageHad to feature a LBD, this one I’m mad for….of course, I would need the top longer or the waist of the skirt higher, probably will ship that way.  Flip flops with sequins…why but then again why not.  I’m not a fan of them but they make an interesting statement here!  Kors was another of the many designers who used diverse sizes in his presentation.

imageAll three of the designers I am featuring today have fragrances, actually each has more than one to keep their brand available to those who can’t afford the ready-to-wear.  I chose these from Kors because I think they represent the Spring 2018 line perfectly, Sport, Sexy, Glam!

imageMarc Jacobs has always pushed the buttons from his days at Perry Ellis (that is when I worked with him) to Paris Couture…he is still doing that.  Here three examples of his interpretation for Spring 2018…bold neon colors, splashy dotted prints, oversize coats, jackets and dresses and fascinating accessories.  Love the gloves and creative shoes.

imageColor combinations and layering.  Head wraps throughout the collection.

imageMore color, I haven’t featured much pink in my reviews, but pink, in all shades, it most certainly a trend.  One bag is good, two even better.  I do like the full pant, perhaps pulled in a bit!

imageA stunner, I would have either put the sash lower or cinch the waist, but then I’m not Marc Jacobs.  I’ve shown you Chrome yellow in all my reviews and like it paired with black, brown or navy….I think a thong shoe here….

imageJust a few from Marc’s fragrance collection….many, many more!

imageThe finale and the end of week two of New York Fashion Spring 2018….don’t go away I’m going to show you a few pieces from Marchesa along with a special event invitation.

imageThe Marchesa fragrance.  The name Marchesa honors the eccentric Marchesa Casati, if you haven’t read the biography on her, Infinite Variety, please do so, her life was beyond belief, a super read!

imageGlamour personified!

imageAdore the floral bodice, the skirt not so much.

imageBeautiful and in a magnificent green crepe combined with petal pink…the entire gown looks like a flower…stunning.

imageWe have seen black and white in most collections, always refreshing in any season.

imageIf I get to choose…this would be the gown, perhaps a bit less décolleté, absolutely adore it!

And now for the exciting invitation.  The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum is hosting a private event with Georgiana Chapman and Keren Craig the Cofounders of Marchesa.  If you are interested in attending please contact ijohnson@chicagohistory.org.

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FASHION NOW: SPRING 2018 REVIEW PART 1 NEW YORK FASHION WEEK

imageMad for this quote….how true….fashion is everywhere and fashion weeks are popping up all over the world.  We still look at the four, what we consider, at least at the moment, major markets….New York, London, Milan, and Paris.  New York began last week and we end in Paris early October.  From what I have seen thus far we are in for a very exciting Spring 2018 season.  What I will be reviewing, probably a couple of times a week, will be the trends that I see happening along with a few of my favorite designers.  Take note that my seeing news and excitement doesn’t necessarily say I “like the garments” I am reporting the excitement of the upcoming season.  And, please, oh please, let’s not discuss age or body image, if you like a look it can be adjusted to your time in life and your figure!

Let’s look at some of my finds….

How convenient that Zac Posen presented his Spring 2018 collection at the same time his documentary, House of Z,  is available.  If you missed my review please check my archives, I posted it on Friday, September 8th.  Zac chose not to do a formal show, actually a show at all, instead he has produced a look book filled with amazing styles.  I have chosen a couple to highlight here.  You can see the amazing embroidery, the incredible detail (the first is an ode to his inspiration designer, Charles James).  The entire collection is timeless and seasonless.  The last piece, a remarkable ball gown is, in my opinion, a masterwork!

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Jason Wu’s youthful but ageless collection featured stripes which showed up in several collections….let’s keep our eyes open for that as a trend.  imageimageI am so excited to share the news that the Jason Wu fragrance is exclusive at Saks Fifth Avenue and I was given a bottle to add to the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.  The bottle is based on his iconic handbag…see image below of both the bag and the fragrance….that is my fragrance and it’s box in my photo.  Not only sleek stunning packaging and bottle but a delicious scent!

imageimage From the sublime to the whimsical….an around the world fashion adventure with the creativity of Desigual.  Reminds me a bit of the Kenzo of years ago.  Lots of color, pattern and ethnic touches.  A case in point, that Fashion doesn’t need to be classic all the time!

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Speaking of whimsey….there is always Jeremy Scott who is celebrating 20 years in fashion, his collection is always tongue in cheek and this one continues that tradition with a new twist on his old favorites.  He is the darling of Katy Perry, Madonna, Riannah and other celebrities.

imageWatch for very bright almost neon colors in many of the collections.  Love the Doc Martens with this look.

imageWill denim always be with us….yes, yes and yes, in one form or another.  Before you go crazy, you don’t have to do a mini skirt the look can be adapted.

imagePhilipp Plein began his show with a performance by Dita Von Teese, the stage had “strippers” gyrating throughout the presentation….interesting to say the least. He showed both women’s and men’s garments some including leather as details.  These two pictures are showing two of the trends in the early collections, pastels, and denim.image

At the same time this show was going on Alexander Wang was doing not one but two shows with his models on as party bus they first appeared on a street in Manhatten then in Brooklyn, the shows were all over the place.

imageDoes she look famiiar….it is Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford’s daughter…she opened the show.  Her first catwalk was in Raf Simons Calvin Klein show.

imageNo need to introduce this young lady to you.  A fabulous little black dress.

A big surprise for me was the Calvin Klein collection by Raf Simons….the two photos below are very against what we think of as the Brand….but I feel very refreshing and very new….lots and lots of color and interesting silhouettes. Love the color combinations of the gloves, shoes, and bags….thoughts of how to update your established wardrobe.

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Tom Ford back in the game as the sexy designer guru….a dynamite collection.  Before you come after me….lose the shorts and look at the sensational hot pink power jacket and the color combination…perfection!

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Two of his evening pieces with beaded sleeves one in neon yellow and the other in pastel dusty pink…the way to look at any special black tie event.

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And, of course, the color he is known for, black, this, to me, is the essence of the little black dress.  One of my favorite looks so far.

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Victoria Beckham just gets better each season (when I worked with her she couldn’t have been more professional nor delightful, a total joy!) A bright red statement.

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imageShades of lilac but with depth in the color.

imageGreat layering and color combining.

imageAnd another LBD, fabulous with lilac pumps.  By the way, she has gone back into the jean scene.  Her first foray was when I worked with her.

The king of the special occasion dress and one of the first designers to use all size models in his shows, Christian Siarino….can we all remember him and his “fierce” attitude on Project Runway….he is an extraordinarily talented young man and I adore his high-end garments always shown with his Payless shoe collection.  Really the way women dress, combining high and low and old and new….imageContinuing my theory of stripes as a trend.

And four of my favorites from the collection….with pastels, brights, black and prints… all part of his progression.  Just gets better and better.

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Can’t wait to see what the next week brings…..stay tuned!

 

FASHION FLASHBACK: FASHION AND FRAGRANCE PART 1

HURRAH, I’M BACK UP AND RUNNING…..SORRY FOR THE ABSENCE…ENJOY THE POST

 

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The Paris Exhibition of 1900 brought us Art Nouveau and a new woman was born.  A woman who wanted to be liberated (it did take a bit longer for that to happen, but the dye, so to speak was cast!)  Perfume, up to this point (fragrance has been with us almost since the beginning of time) was mostly floral, the established perfumer, Guerlain introduced a perfume which broke ground with an unusual name and innovative presentation,  It was called Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine (That’s Why I Love Rosine).  It was the first artistic perfume bottle and resembled a vase with silk flowers concealing a stopper.

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“…fashion does reflect the whim of the moment.  Perfume, meanwhile, seems to withstand the test of time.  Nowadays all the great fashion houses possess one or several perfumes.  Not only because they project the image of the make abroad (perfumes represent 50% of all luxury goods exports) but also because the foreign currency they bring into France covers the colossal financial demands of the couture industry.  If in the 1920’s Haute Couture made possible the advent of the fashion designer’s perfume, today it is perfume which ensures the survival of Haute Couture” From The Book of Perfume by Elizabeth Barille

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The first Haute Couture Designer to feature fragrance was Paul Poiret who introduced his fragrance Rosine, named for his daughter, in 1912.  I wonder was she named for the Guerlain fragrance? Les Parfumes de Rosine was the first perfume and cosmetics company founded by a French couturier.  While traveling to Vienna Poiret met Gustav Klimt and the company of artists of the Vienna Secession Movement. This artistic community produced textile designs, fabrics, fashion, accessories and jewelry as well as painting, furniture, etc.  Poiret was inspired by them to create his own way of bringing art into everyday life.  In my opinion, he was the Ralph Lauren of his time, a lifestyle creator.  He felt by creating fragrances not only his established clientele but women who could not afford his clothes could have something “Poiret”.  Another part of his company was named for his son Atelier Coin and produced the boxes and packaging materials.  The over all company was named after his other daughter, Martine.

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imageI counted 58 fragrances from Parfums de Rosine!

 

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imageDenise Poiret with Rosine Poiret

imageThe Perfumery

imagePaul Poiret in his perfumery

In 1913 along with a new assistant, Ertè, he created costumes for Le Minaret and created a fragrance with its name and the bottle was entirely covered in tulle and gold thread.  Later in 1913 Nuit de Chine resembled a snuff bottle with Chinese characters on one side and French on the other.  It featured a molded glass ring with dark blue bakelite rings, the first time Bakelite had been used with glass.  When I saw the Poiret exhibition at The Met in New York several years ago, they featured some of the items from the Martine workrooms, furniture, rugs, etc. and several examples of the Rosine fragrances, I noticed on the information plaques that most were on loan from Karl Lagerfeld!

imageThe Perfume Salon

All the Rosine fragrances were innovative.  All were avant-garde and completely different from each other.  From The Book of Perfume: “Not only was he the first to produce his own perfumes but he also changed dramatically the creative potential for the presentation of perfume.  His innovations would be a source of inspiration for other designers for years to come.  The Rosine perfume presentations may prove to be the most enduring examples of Paul Poiret’s genius.”

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imageFour of my favorite Rosine fragrances.  All the above photos from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imagePaul Poiret fitting a client.

I was given further information about who was first with a designer fragrance, Lucile, by the consummate authority on Lady Duff Gordon, Randy Bryan Bigham, who introduced her fragrances in London in 1907.  I explained that I was featuring Haute Couture designers (French) he totally understood and agreed with me.

imageRandy Bryan Bigham’s magnificent book on Lucile.

imageLucile, Lady Duff Gordon  Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.

imageLucile’s London branch label (FYI she had a salon in Chicago…more about that in another post!!!!)

imageA Lucile ad from 1919 the French Novelties was “code” for the fragrance and cosmetics.

Here is Randy’s information on Lucile’s fragrance:

“Poiret may well have been the first Paris couturier to have his own perfume, but he’s not the first famous designer to launch a line of fragrances. The British designer Lucile – in private life Lady Duff Gordon – featured a signature scent as early as 1907 in her exclusive London salon in Hanover Square. At that time, Lucile was known for what she called the “emotional gown,” a dress of varying tones of layered chiffon that was supposed to express the personality of each client. She gave each frock a romantic name, sometimes whimsical, sometimes sultry, and they appeared in the program for her fashion shows. One that received perhaps the most publicity was a pastel tea-gown called “The Sighing Sound of Lips Unsatisfied.” To go along with these dresses, she offered perfumes that were specially blended to complement each woman’s personality. Clients selected from a range of scents while ordering lingerie in a private showroom called “The Rose Room,” a delicately feminine oasis decorated like a boudoir. Not only were fragrances available there in bottles but they were sold as sachets to put among one’s lingerie; some were sewed into the gowns themselves. Orrisroot and heather were popular fragrances she used. Another scent Lucile sold at her New York branch in 1916 was called “Lilac Blossoms.” The New York house of Lucile also provided a French perfume called “Shamrock.” In addition to Lucile’s own line of perfume, by the 1920s she sold several scents made for her by Coty, Djer-Kiss, and Ciel which created its “La Rose Lucile” scent in homage to her. She advertised these fragrances as “French novelties” which included cosmetics, bath oils, and powders. She was especially known for a lavender shade of powder, available to all Lucile clients in the house’s fitting rooms. Vogue magazine recommended this for use not only on the face but on the neck, shoulders, and arms.”

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The Rose Room in Lucile’s London Salon where her fragrances and lingerie were sold

imageThe Rose Room in Lucile’s Chicago Salon where lingerie was modeled and fragrances were sold.

All above photos courtesy of Randy Byran Bigham

My deepest appreciation to Randy for sharing his expertise with me to include in this post.  Randy and I “met” on Facebook and have become lovely FB friends.  You will, most definitely, hear more from Randy in upcoming posts, count on it! I am most excited to tell you Randy has agreed to answer my nenasnotes questionnaire, look for his profile in upcoming weeks!

 
From Randy’s website, PastFashion.