PROFILE: LIZ KLAFETA ENTREPRENEUR EXTRAORDINAIRE

imageLiz Klafeta

In all the Profiles I have done this past year I have either featured my former models, other friends, business associates and new acquaintances all of whom have had fascinating stories to tell.  Today I am featuring a wonderful success story of one of my former Columbia College Chicago students, Liz Klafeta.  I was invited to attend an event at a new West Town apartment building that was a Networking reception and panel discussion about how to use technology to your advantage in advancing your career path, it was fascinating.  Samantha Saifer Berngard, (last week’s Profile!) our hostess, pulled together a perfect mix of speakers and, in turn, has given me the opportunity to feature four of them, including herself in my Monday posts.  I was thrilled to reconnect with Liz, I haven’t seen her since she graduated.  She has an extraordinary story to share…..let’s see what she has been up to (it’s a lot!)

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

Hmm….I definitely obsessed and spent a lot of time contemplating and thinking about things whenever I was or am designing a project.  When other people see what I completed and their mouths would drop open, I thought I might be onto something.  Continual praise from multiple people helped as well. That’s actually when I knew the other person was not just being nice and maybe I was doing something well because everyone just isn’t THAT nice!

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

“Made it” well that is a pretty secure statement and I don’t think anyone should ever get super secure! I still don’t think that I have “made it”, but I do know that I make spaces that people really enjoy staying in.  The letters and notes from countless guests have reassured me of this and having my home featured on HGTV helped solidify this feeling.

We grew 100% the first year, 100% the next year, and now BANGTEL consists of 6 full-time employees and many independent contractors in each city of our locations. Last year, 3 people tried to buy into us.  It was like an episode of Shark Tank.  That’s also when I realized we had something special. BANGTEL is still 100% owned by myself, currently.

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HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

I love transforming things into something completely different.  I was constantly remodeling my mom’s home when I was little to the point where it annoyed her.  I got into Fashion Styling and Prop Styling was less to things to schlep around believe it or not.  You could not bring 5 credenzas to set, but you could bring 5,000 turtlenecks to set.  As I continued to do more Prop Styling, I was also simultaneously rehabbing my townhouse that I purchased when I was 23 years old.  When this was completed and I had officially gotten burned out on the advertising world, I started hitting up landlords to see if I could rehab their homes on my dime.  So silly, but that’s how bad I wanted to design.  Let me pay for your rehab as a bargaining tactic for the landlord to let me Airbnb. I love designing and I love taking care of people so here I am, perfectly content!

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

Singer, but I can’t sing so that was never REALLY an option.  This current career choice was a complete accident, but a happy one!

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER

Favorite Book is probably “Many Minds, Many Masters” because it put my mind at ease early on about what is life all about and why are we here.  I still buy copies and hand it out to my friends.  I think every single one of my friends has gotten a copy from me.

Favorite dish is the greek salad with smoked salmon from 12 Chairs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I don’t eat or smoke crack, but I think there must be crack in it because it’s an addiction.  Please, everyone, go there so it never ever goes out of business!  It also doubles as my office when I am in New York working.

HOBBIES….

Laughing, dancing, coffee, catching up with friends and family, having amazing meals, dancing, reading interior magazines, designing, and, did I say dancing?

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

Well, people live in my real home full time, but it is pretty modern and eclectic.  My future home when I am happy with where BANGTEL is, (not sure if that will happen because I honestly want to be everywhere and pretty much live in the spaces as I design them), will be a lot of glass, tile, and burnt charcoal wood. Cement integrated sinks and countertops, amazing art, and oddball sculptures that make people say, “What the hell?”  That’s what I love to do.  Inspire people to say, “what the hell?!”

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WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

OMG, this is a fun one!  David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Twiggy, Cher, Bob Marley, Dahli Lama, Anne Frank, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Banksy, and Princess Diana.  EEK.  That’s 13 (Nena’s note I added Liz so it is 14…never mind!), but I think that is a great mix.  Kind of sounds like a BANGTEL party where you could find the Dominatrix talking to the Trademark  Lawyer about her favorite vacation spot.  I, of course, would serve Champagne from the South of France and an unlimited Seafood Tower. Dessert would be truffles and my sister’s, Gina Klafeta, vegan ice cream sandwiches, called Nana Creme www.nanacreme.com go buy them!

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FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST

Capetown probably because I said I wanted to buy a place there in a year. I have not made it back yet because there are so many places I want to make it to at least once.

I am a sucker for amazing beach vacations, though, so Phuket, Thailand, or Maui have been my favorites.

ON this list this year is Iceland and New Zealand.

FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT

Beatnix, which is owned by my favorite place to dance, Disco at Celeste. Get the Tomahawk Steak and the oysters.

FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART

What comes to mind right away is because when I am here I drive down Grand and Damen a lot.  It is the teddy bear mural by JC Rivera www.jcrivera.com  I always smile at Giant teddy bears on a random building. Cool. Haha.

imageimagePhotos from Pinterest credit unknown.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

Kind and fucking hilarious!

imageAll photos of Liz and her BANGTEL properties are courtesy of Liz Klafeta.

LIZ’S FAVORITE RECIPE: THE BEST GUACAMOLE OF YOUR LIFE!

4 avocados

1 tomato

1/2 red onion

2 jalapeño peppers

Cilantro

2 limes

Sea salt

SWEET STUFF

Raw Samoas

The good tortilla chips from the Mexican Grocery Store!

LIZ’S FAVORITE LINKS

BANGTEL.com!   Follow us on social and stay with us in Chicago, MIAMI, New York, Cabo, Michigan and soon to be Palm Springs.

My amazingly talented friends:

http://colleendurkin.com/

https://www.jasonrobinette.com/

http://aleksevaphoto.com/

https://www.natashagornik.com/

http://briansorg.com/

LIZ, A MILLION THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON MY NENASNOTES JOURNEY AND SHARING YOUR EXTRAORDINARY CAREER PATH…CAN’T WAIT TO DO A “STAYCATION” AT ONE OF YOUR PROPERTIES…I WOULD SAY NEXT STEPS A HGTV SHOW AND BOOK!  I’LL LOOK FORWARD TO POSTING CHAPTER 2 ON MY BLOG!!!

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: THE ADDRESS

imageI have been waiting for this book to come out for months, having enjoyed Fiona Davis’ first book The Dollhouse and anticipated a good read, I wasn’t disappointed!  I usually don’t like plots that go from one time to another, this one begins in 1884 and then travels to 1985, this is done in different chapters.  In this case, it works extremely well and brings the story to contemporary times.

We begin at a luxury hotel in England where our protagonist, Sara Smythe, is head housekeeper and sees a little girl balancing on a window ledge, rushes to save her (which she does), the father of the little girl, Theodore Camden, is so grateful he offers Sara a position at the soon to be opened Dakota, in New York where he is one of the architects and project manager.  She thinks the offer is not sincere but because she saved his daughter.  Shortly after Camden, his wife and children return to New York, Sara receives a ticket and travel expenses to join them.  Without much hesitation, she boards her ship and sails for New York and her new life….by the way, all this is in the first few pages of the book!

When she arrives at the Dakota she is stunned by the size, the beauty of the structure and the location, in the middle of nowhere, remember this is 1884.  Sara finds herself as managerette (don’t you love this title!) and totally in charge of basically everything.  She is very much up to the task and the new apartment dwelling opens beautifully.  Naturally, she lives in the building as does Theo and his family.

We then meet our other protagonist, Bailey Camden, a modern young woman who is an interior decorator and has just been released from rehab where she was treated for alcoholism and drug addiction.  Her boss has taken care of her rehab expenses and promptly fires her.  Her “cousin” (are they really cousins!!!!???) and friend Melinda, is rehabbing an apartment in the Dakota with the idea of making it very modern much to Bailey’s chagrin.  As part of their agreement, Melinda allows Bailey to live in the apartment during the renovation along with the promise of her fee when Melinda turns 30 in a few weeks and receives her substantial inheritance. If you have ever been in the building you know it is tradition personified and still considered a prestigious building, it is a stunner.

Both stories have lives of their own but, of course, mesh together as well. We meet many characters along the way, learn about New York as it begins to become the City we all know and love by learning about its architecture, go inside an insane asylum (not my favorite part of the story, I felt it was a bit long), the glamour of the Gilded Age and the excess of the 1980’s New York scene.  My take away was how talented women, in any age, with the drive, the know how, skills and willingness to succeed do so.  A feminist story, perhaps, but more one of human nature, self-worth and lots and lots of intrigue along the way, romance, yes that too!.  Did I like the book, yes, indeed I did!

From the last paragraph on the fly leaf of the book….”A century apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted and struggled against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the nightlife’s free-flowing drinks and cocaine—and take refuge in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress.”

 

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

 

 

 

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.

COLLECTIONS: FERNS

imagePteridomania: the Victorian fern craze probably from 1837 to early 1900’s.  A magnificent solarium in a Victorian home with ferns and palms.

I caught the fern “illness” years ago.  I have always loved the look of them and usually have one in my handpainted rattan fern “basket” which actually sits right behind me as I write my posts.

imageA closeup of the detail on my fern stand.

imageA fern fossil, they have been on Earth for over 300 million years, imagine!!!!!

The only problem is that they shed and the clean up is a full-time job!  Since I’m not a Botanist I won’t try to go into the details of ferns I will leave that to you, my readers, to explore for yourselves if you want more information.  I would, however, recommend the following book for your enjoyment, it is quite wonderful.  I am going to fill this post with wonderful images most of which I got from Pinterest without photo credit others I will credit.  Enjoy….

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imageCovers of two vintage books on ferns. The covers alone are display worthy.  Look for special vintage books at Randolph Street Market this Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27 from 10 to 5.  In addition, the Printer’s Row Lit Fair is Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11.

imageFiddlehead ferns, see the bottom of the post for a fiddlehead fern recipe, no longer in season, but have at the ready for next year or you can substitute asparagus!

imageThe beauty of nature in a fern frond!

imageFerns in the garden photo taken by Tom Mantel this week, glorious.

imageA beautiful closeup from the same garden also a photograph by Tom Mantel.image

imageTwo photos of another variety from the same garden and same photographer.imageThe Chicago Garfield Park Conservatory Fern Room.

imageFrom Carolyne Roehm’s garden, she is a genius with decor and gardens and thankfully shares her expertise with us in her many books…love everything she does!

imageImage from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageAnother photo from Pinterest…love this variety.

imageWallpaper image also from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageAnd a fern botanical fabric also Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

imageI am mad for this image…so much so I am using it as my screen saver on my iPhone!

imageAnother solarium, let’s move in!!!

imageA silver wine caddy, yes, please!

imageOr pearl handle fern engraved flatware.

imageOr perhaps a handpainted piece of Limoges…

imageOr a beautiful Majolica pitcher.

imageA wonderful Philip Tracey hat, yes, I know a bit of a stretch….

imageA Vogue photo of John Galliano Dior Haute Couture Fall 2006 (I saw that Collection in Paris, it was magnificent) next to another fern variety, isn’t it a beauty!

imageNot necessary fern botanicals but a look you can emulate when you collect your prints.

imageFrom my collection of Botanical prints (along with other “paper”) that I collect from the Randolph Street Market vendor, Paper Patty, located on the Third Floor, don’t miss the vendors up there, it is the first place I stop each month!  My photo.

imageMy favorite of all, it looks like lace!  Again from Pinterest credit unknown.

Recipe from The New York Times Cooking App (if you don’t have it get it you can save all your on-line recipes on it as well as see all their recipes, I love it, one of my favorite apps!)

Cassolette Of Morels, Fiddleheads and Asparagus
by Jennifer Lang

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: Six first-course servings
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/8364-cassolette-of-morels-fiddleheads-and-asparagus

www.randolphstreetmarket.com

www.printersrowlitfest.org

www.amerfernsoc.org

www.ebps.org.uk

PROFILE: FLEUR COWLES

imageFleur Cowles, as I remember her, pictured at home.

Today’s Profile is a bit different from my other Monday posts.  The person I am profiling did not fill out my usual questionnaire but rather it will be a reflection of an artist, a unique creator whose vision took us to a wonderful world of her imagination, that incredible person was Fleur Cowles.  I had the extraordinary experience of meeting and working with her many years ago when she visited Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago’s Gift Shop to introduce her book, An Artist’s Journey.

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As usual, as with all our visits, I spent the day (or more) with her and had the opportunity to learn more about her fascinating career so these recollections will have to pull my memory back in time (this was long before the days of instant iPhone technology of photos, videos and recording conversations, more the pity!!!) Why, you might ask, am I doing this post today.  I was reading one of my favorite lifestyle magazines, The World of Interiors current issue and was literally drooling over photos of interiors when I caught my breath I wanted to see whose home it was…it was Fleur Cowles and it was perfection!

I had first become aware of Ms. Cowles many, many years before our encounter in the Store.  It all began at the beginning of the 1950’s when my Father started collecting Flair Magazine. It was a publication like no other then or now and only existed for one year.  It was so expensive to produce that her husband, who was the publisher, pulled the plug, much to the regret of all the followers of the magazine.  Each month was themed and had a cut away cover to allow you to “peek” inside.  As a young girl who as obsessed with fashion and the creative process I was fascinated with each issue, but I think my favorite was the Rose issue which Ms. Cowles insisted be scented (mind you this was long before the scent strip came into being!)  Of course, the painting was by Fleur.

imageIsn’t it glorious….the bouquet is cut away to reveal the charming portrait!

Not only was the art enticing (from Ms. Cowles but also Dali, Dubuffet, etc. etc……) but the stories were written by all the authors and critics of the day, all personal friends of the Cowles.  Not to carry this story too far, several years after my Father had passed away we had a flood, our hot water heater exploded, no one was hurt but the water damage destroyed all my yearbooks, all my childhood dolls, all manner of memorabilia and ALL of Daddy’s art magazine collections and on and on.  All the Flairs were gone!  I have since started collecting them again.  I have four of the thirteen published as well as the yearbook.  But that is the fun of collecting and why I always adore my monthly Randolph Street Market, www.randolphstreetmarket.com, visits (Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28 from 10 to 5, the first outdoor Market of the season, yay!!!!) I may come across one or two treasures that might be a Flair I don’t have!

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imageOne of my favorite covers.

Don’t always just look at book vendors at RSM, I think the Flairs I have found there have been with vendors who have multiple collections (remember the Printer’s Row Lit Fest is approaching as well as the annual Newberry Library Book Fair, you can fill in your magazine and book collections there as well!!!!)

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My copy of the Flair Annual, I have also found this at Randolph Street Market and given it to a couple of my friends who appreciate the unique!

My next experience with her was with the publication of her book Tiger Flower, which I fell in love with.  My assistant at the time was a superb artist, actually trained in the Fashion Design Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and she copied the cover for me to needlepoint.  The rendering is exactly the same as the Cowles painting and I think my needlework did it justice.  It is hidden away in storage so I couldn’t get it out to show you, you will have to take my word for it, sorry!

imageIt is a charming story and the art, amazing!

My most recent acquisition was given to me last Christmas by a dear friend….who knows my love for flowers and for Fleur Cowles (mad for her artwork)…a perfect present!

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Now for the story of our meeting….I had just gotten back from a trip to London, by now you know I am a major Anglophile, and Ms. Cowles was intrigued by my love of England.  We were discussing the places I had visited, I adore all Museums so that became our main topic.  She told me that the BBC had asked her to be filmed for a series they were doing on British notables favorite places (as I recall in London) and she chose The British Museum.  The hairs went up on the back of my neck and I told her my story of my first visit to the museum.  I have long been an admirer of Egyptology, Chicago, as you know, has a long history with Egypt excavations and has many artifacts at The Field Museum as well as one of my favorite museums, The Oriental Institute.  I have visited them countless times and also was fortunate to see the Tutankhamun Exhibit when it visited Chicago, exquisite! Now back to the British Museum….on my visit I took myself directly to the Egypt wing and went from room to room, when I entered one of the very large galleries that housed many mummies, I sensed something very uncomfortable, I really couldn’t then nor now explain the feeling but it was one of extreme sadness, a feeling of trespass, if you will.  I immediately left the room and the Museum and it took me many years to return on one of my visits to the UK.  So what you say…well as I was relating this to Ms. Cowles, she looked at me in a very strange way and told me that was wing she wanted to be filmed in and when they got to that exact room, she felt the same sensation I had had.  She asked the guards if there was anything strange about that gallery and they said they felt it as well and the guard dogs would never cross the threshold!  I guess I do believe in the problem of disturbed spirits at least I did in that room and actually felt a bit better knowing I wasn’t alone!

Ms. Cowles lived a very long life, she died at 101 years of age, after creating beauty that we can treasure to this day…lucky us and very lucky me that I had the opportunity to visit with one of my Father’s and my idols.

imageFleur Cowles in her Studio.

imageAnother view of the Studio now that is what inspiration should look like!  All photos from Pinterest, photo credits unknown.

www.randolphsteetmarket.com

www.printersrowlitfest.org

www.newberry.org/newberry-book-fair

COLLECTIONS: OPALINE

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One of my treasures given to me by Mark and Linda Heister a vintage gilded green opaline piece with lusters. I sometimes put a pillar candle inside. It is one of a pair and they flank the mantle of the “malachite” fireplace Mark created for me.

A disclaimer before I even begin….you by now know I like to take my own photos for my posts and I am usually pleased with them.  Today is an exception…no apologies just fact, they aren’t my best work.  You see, as I have told you many times, I live in a very small space and each and every surface is covered with collections, books, etc. therefore it is often difficult to stage and capture the exact image I want due to lighting or space limitations…please forgive me on this occasion and enjoy my collection of opaline. I appreciate your indulgence.

Actually, it was my Mother who started this collection.  Again, you know blue isn’t my favorite color, I am a green girl (and yes you will see green in this post!) but my Mother, Ruth, adored anything blue and I adored her so it became a part of our home for many years.  The breakfront I have featured in the past was filled (jammed) with her Bristol blue collection which she had acquired over many years.  One night I came home from work and found the cupboard with a totally different look…she had sold the entire (almost) collection!  Needless to say, I was totally startled and asked why…her answer, it was time for a change.  Understand Ruth would constantly rearrange our home on a regular basis, sometimes weekly, so this wasn’t an unusual occurrence. I, on the other hand, loathe change.  We did keep several pieces and I still have them and treasure them.

imageTwo opaline sconces on one of the walls, this wall is on the side of my French daybed.  You can see a little peek of one of my early needlepoint pieces, actually, Ruth drew the violets (her favorite flower) and I needlepointed it and framed in in an antique frame. Needlepoint with be a multi posting in the future.  These sconces can be put together and form a chandelier.  In my mind, I think we purchased these a zillion years ago at a Lake Forest Antique Show.  They are two of my favorite things.

imageA close up of one of the sconces.

imageA companion chandelier hangs over my desk, where I write nenasnotes.  The cord is covered in shirred apricot silk taffeta.  You can see an oil on wood painting in a distressed ornate gilt frame which I look at each time I sit at my desk, and, of course, books that are on a vintage bamboo shelf, one of many, on my window ledge.  The painting and shelf purchased at the Randolph Street Market. The April market is this Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30 from 10 to 5 www.randolphstreetmarket.com.  Perhaps you will find similar treasures, do come and see!

imageThe remains of Mom’s blue collection, some opaline some milk glass most collected many, many years ago others I have recently added, these grouped together on top of one of my Chinoiserie file cabinets.

imageHere a great example of the multitude of shades of blue (not gray!!!) in opaline and milk glass. Both vases are handpainted and again from Randolph Street Market.  The box predates RSM.

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A small lid that is handpainted with forget-me-knots another favorite of the Ivon girls.  The bottom long gone but I thought this was too interesting to trash.

imageAn apricot opaline base for a tiny lamp which sits on top of books, of course, it does! I imagine it was once a vase or candle holder, probably a pair.  It has always been a lamp to me.  The piece to the left is a beaded handpainted fabric and barely visable behind is a portion of a heavily appliqued lace curtain, both from RSM.  My home is mostly green but I have accented it with shades of apricot as well as picking up colors from my paisley shawl collection and the pastels in my vintage Chindia rugs.

imageA vignette of a portion of my green opaline collection. The tussie mussie holder encases an antique lace dollie and silk violets.  Behind it is a collection of candle holders and the water color is from my trip to Russia.  Under all a vintage handmade crazy quilt, another collection.  I have a couple of full quilts as well as many remnants.  All from the Randolph Street Market.  Perhaps this might inspire you to mix and match your collections…as you know Victoriana is a passion of mine and the Victorians always felt more is more!!!!  I most certainly agree. I think my opaline collection is what led me to start collecting Jadeite which I use as my everyday dishes and have posted an image of some of it on my kitchen shelves.  You can find reams and reams of information on Jadeite, (which was cheap as chips when it was first manufactured and now commands very high prices, but you can find all manner of Jadeite at all prices at RSM), but not much on opaline, I couldn’t find a single book on the subject!!!  Do let me know if you know of some.

imageVery unusual color for opaline, a putty, handpainted with my favorite flower, lily of the valley.  The small vase is a celadon green it also handpainted with lily of the valley.  Both are one of a pair.  The larger pair sits on either side on top of my breakfront and the small ones are placed in front of the lusters on top of my fireplace.

imageAnother pair, this time handpainted with beautiful English rose buds, forget me knot and lily of the valley…three of my favorite all on one vase, bonus!  You can barely see the gilt dots at the base and around the top.  They are on either side of the top of the drawer portion of the breakfront and hold dried tree hydrangea.

imageA close up of the painting…I love its three-dimensional effect.  All the above vases I have gotten at the Randolph Street Market and they have been collected over the years.

Please share your comments and what you like to collect, I am thinking of doing a “contest” with the prize being a season pass to the Randolph Street Market….your thoughts!!!???