When I was asked by a dear friend to read and review a book by one of her close friends I, of course, said it would be my pleasure. It put me in an awkward situation…what if I didn’t like it! You, dear followers, know I don’t do negative reviews and I only read what I like…rarely non-fiction…unless the subject is fashion or lifestyle for all my nenasnotes research and events. For pleasure I prefer historical fiction. Well, guess what…I loved this book! And it fits into my lifestyle genre perfectly. You see the author is a renowned interior decorator…the stars were now aligned! There is SO much information included (I’ll get to that shortly!) that I read it twice, I don’t remember doing that before. Its a story about a creator…a lesson in self awareness and self preservation….a travelogue….anything but your usual memoir, it’s a very powerful story.
I want to share the joie de vivre John has for survival…for life! Sharing his incredible story is a journey more fiction than fact but guess what…it is the story of his life and one we can all learn from. It’s inspirational….it’s inspiring…it should be depressing it is anything but…it’s a MUST read!!!!
Okay let’s get to the unbelievable story John tells us. The song, “I’m Still Here” from Follies should be the subtitle of this amazing life. John begins at the beginning…his childhood, filled with adventure which continues to this day. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 8 a fact he managed to keep hidden much of his life. As a child and a teenager he was quite rebellious, in a fun way, he started working while in high school at a paint company where he rose to an executive positions, still in his teens, he never told anyone his age…the writing was on the wall for his future career. Loved reading about his time at Ray Vogue College of Design, I worked with the students for many years and Mrs. Ray was a very unique personality! He lived in a Chicago suburb and, as an under age teen, loved disco dancing and would come to Chicago with his close friends to frequent the major discos such as FACES (I spent many an evening there!). He and his friends would practice for hours in his basement apartment in his parents home. They were so good they became the dance floor stars…in my minds eye I picture John Travolta!
The book doesn’t sugar coat (sorry, I shouldn’t mention sugar but it seemed appropriate!) when John describes his ongoing battle with the unbelievable complications of Type 1 Diabetes. He has had so many that it could read like a horror story, instead it is done in such a straightforward positive way that you know he hasn’t and won’t let anything stop him from living life fully! He presents his many, many, many challenges along side his interests, cars for an example, travel, the arts and his love for them, his philanthropic endeavors, his love for family and friends and, of course, his extraordinary interior design business. Here are a couple photos of his glorious designs…I could just do a post on photos from his extensive career. One of my favorite sections in the book and I do have many favorites is his time in Nigeria working with the King!
Speaking of family…how many can say that all members of their family would be a match if you needed a kidney and your mother said, no, I’m donating mine…talk about a mother’s love! John’s support team through the years has sustained him along with his feeling of what’s next in life and always seeking a cure and an end to this life threatening disease. He not only takes his mother to Venice but also to The Academy Awards and many other special once in a lifetime events through the years.
Along the way he has designed for celebrity clients, done show houses, model rooms….again the list goes on….and won zillions of awards not only for his designs but also for his philanthropy.
In conclusion what are my take aways from this beautifully written story of a survivor…..so many things but let me narrow it down. John tackles each challenge in his fight against this dreadful disease…one day at a time, one horrific devastating outcome…one day at a time with grit, determination and, yes, humor. What should be a depressing book is anything but because of the author’s joie de vivre and positive attitude. You will learn so much about Type 1 Diabetes and be inspired to join the fight to find a cure as well as how to handle your own day to day issues. My last words….get the book, it will be published on June 22nd, you won’t be disappointed and by reading it you will be delighted to welcome John as a new fascinating multi-layered friend.
A quote from the book “Type 1 diabetes and I tackled one disaster after another. It can be a harsh lifestyle causing both physical and emotional devastation. Out of desperation, I embraced every new treatment hoping for even a shred of relief.”
I can’t quite believe that we are already half way through 2022…Happy June! Nor can I believe that this month we begin year five of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. In many ways it has changed from its concept, yet it remains the same in purpose! Once a month a fashion or lifestyle book is featured. Usually a new publication and usually I’m in conversation with the author. Until March 2020….a month none of us will forget, you may recall the pandemic descended upon us….we met as a group at an elegant private club in Chicago for Bubbles and Bites. The first half hour was a get together and then an hour of conversation followed by discussion and a Q & A. I always had that evenings and the next month’s book available for purchase thanks to my Independent Bookseller of choice The Book Stall in Winnetka https://www.thebookstall.com Beginning in March 2020 we went virtual and have continued virtually via zoom. We began with local attendees and now have guests from all over the States! I must admit the group has changed as some of the attendees miss the in person socialization of the events, but many have been with me since the beginning!
Rana Lee, a very dear friend and one of my regular supporters, suggested I begin year five by sharing the list of our books and guest authors with you. Along with that I thought it would be fun to share a few photos of some of in person programs, again my apologies for repeat photos along with some covers.
The list…….*indicates conversation with the author
*LOU LOU AND YVES MAY 2018 WITH AUTHOR CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS
UNMISTAKABLY MACKIE JUNE 2018 (OUT OF PRINT)
*NORELL AUGUST 2018 WITH AUTHOR JEFFREY BANKS
*BONNIE CASHIN SEPTEMBER 2018 WITH AUTHOR STEPHANIE LAKE
DIOR AND HIS DECORATORS OCTOBER 2018
CAROLYNE ROEHM NOVEMBER 2018
*PINK DECEMBER 2018 WITH AUTHOR VALERIE STEELE
*PROUST’S DUCHESS FEBRUARY 2019 WITH AUTHOR CAROLINE WEBER
*DAWNRIDGE MARCH 2019 WITH AUTHOR HUTTON WILKINSON
YVES SAINT LAURENT BIO APRIL 2019
TONNE (GOODMAN) MAY 2019
*DAWN (MELLO) JUNE 2019 WITH AUTHOR JOHN TIFFANY
THE LAST COLLECTION JULY 2019 (NOVEL)
CAMP AUGUST 2019 METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
*SKREBNESKI IN PERSON SEPTEMBER 2019 MOST SALES…AND MOST ATTENDEES A TRIBUTE TO THE BRILLIANT CREATOR AND DEAR FRIEND
*SUPREME MODELS MARCELLAS REYNOLDS IN PERSON OCTOBER 2019
*SCRIPT FOR SCANDAL NOVEMBER 2019 WITH AUTHORS RENÉE PATRICK (NOVEL)
ADRIAN DECEMBER 2019
*RALPH LAUREN JANUARY 2020 ALAN FLUSSER ON PHONE
KAISER KARL FEBRUARY 2020
BALLERINA MARCH 2020 CANCELLED CORONA VIRUS
BILL CUNNINGHAM APRIL 2020 CANCELLED CORONA VIRUS RESCHEDULED
*THE WOMEN WHO REVOLUTIONIZED FASHION WITH PETRA SLINKARD MAY 2020 STARTED OUR VIRTUAL CONVERSATIONS
CHANEL’S RIVIERA JUNE 2020
BILL CUNNINGHAM BOOK AND DOC JULY 2020 WITH CO-HOST JEFFREY BANKS
ANDRÉ LEON TALLEY AUGUST 2020 WITH CO-HOST MARCELLAS REYNOLDS
ABOUT TIME ANDREW BOLTON MET PUBLICATION SEPTEMBER 2020
*HIGHJACKING THE RUNWAY WITH TERI AGINS OCTOBER 2020
*KENNETH WITH GUISEPPI LONGO NOVEMBER 2020
* THE WORLD OF FEDERICO FORQUET WITH HAMISH BOWLES DECEMBER 2020
LESAGE JANUARY 2021 THAMES & HUDSON RESCHEDULED DUE TO TECH ISSUES
CECIL BEATON BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS FEBRUARY 2021
*BES-BEN WITH ELIZABETH JACHIMOWICZ MARCH 2021 PARTNERING WITH THE COSTUME COUNCIL OF THE CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM
WHAT BECOMES A LEGEND MOST RICHARD AVEDON BIO APRIL 2021
*FASHION LIVES: FASHION ICONS 1 WITH FERN MALLIS MAY 2021
*NAEEN KHAN EMBELLISHED WITH NAEEN KHAN JUNE 2021
*FILM NOIR STYLE WITH KIMBERLY TUMBLER JULY 2021
*DRESS CODES WITH RICHARD THOMPSON FORD AUGUST 2021
VIVIANNE WESTWOOD: RUNWAY SEPTEMBER 2021
LESAGE OCTOBER 2021
*SUPREME ACTRESSES WITH MARCELLAS REYNOLDS NOVEMBER 2021
MISS DIOR DECEMBER 7, 2021
*CHRISTIAN DIOR DESIGNER OF DREAMS WITH MAUREN FOOTER DECEMBER 14, 2021
*PATRICK KELLY RUNWAY OF LOVE WITH GUEST PETRA SLINKARD JANUARY 25, 2022 EXHIBITION NOW AT THE PEABODY MUSEUM IN SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS
*HER NAME WAS CARRIE WITH JERRIE MARCUS SMITH FEBRUARY 22, 2022
*CHANEL AT THE RITZ (NOVEL) WITH GIOIA DILBERTO MARCH 22, 2022
EMPRESS OF FASHION DIANA VREELAND BIO APRIL 26, 2022
*HALSTON BY LESLEY FROWICK AND HALSTON BY FRED ROTTMAN MAY 25, 2022
I’m very excited for our June selections….I’m featuring two books with their authors….first up the brand new biography ANNA by Amy Odell who will join me in conversation on Tuesday, June 14th. The book is beyond fabulous and Amy’s attention to detail in the interviews and research is very insightful! The book has been getting rave reviews. Our evening has been in the works for months and I couldn’t be more eager to share it with everyone.
Then on Tuesday, June 28th Jeffrey Banks who joined us year one with his extraordinary monograph on Norman Norell, returns to talk about another of his books and one of his passions, TARTAN: Romancing The Plaid! Jeffrey has become a HUGE supporter of nenasnotes The Fashion Book and The Fashion Film Clubs not only attending each month but instrumental in suggesting many of our books and inviting the authors to join us…I am forever in his debt! It is a not to be missed evening.
The upcoming monthly schedule will continue to feature the newest, and, in some instances past books worth exploring, on fashion and lifestyle topics. Some novels, some monographs, some biographies some academic in scope, but I think always thought provoking. I constantly try to get the authors via zoom but even when they aren’t present our discussions become fascinating and, I hope, informative. I very briefly mentioned the nenasnotes The Fashion Film Club. That also meets monthly on the second Tuesday…I try to tie in the film or documentary with that month’s book choice. If you are interested in joining the group please email me at email@example.com. I like to keep our group small but there is always room for a few more!!!!
My favorite room in the Exhibition is the Frank Lloyd Room in the America Wing featuring a gathering of the most divine tableau of Charles James creations styled by the master Martin Scorsese! Bringing three American icons together in one knockout display!!
I think we need a field trip to NYC to take all this in…in person!!!!! The Met always stuns with its Costume Exhibitions and I particularly love them when they take us into the permanent collections, think Dangerous Liaisons, Goddess and one of my most favorite exhibitions ever…Anglomania! Until then read more on Vogue.com.
In the Victorian Language of Flowers Lily Of The Valley means the return of happiness! They most certainly mean that to me. They top my list of favorite flowers closely followed by roses, especially old fashion roses! Yet another blog post in the future….for this post…let’s look at the many aspects of this stunner and enjoy its brief seasonal appearance….Spring! When I was a little girl there was a huge vacant lot near my Rogers Park home filled curb to curb with Lily Of The Valley and wood violets….each spring I would gather arm loads of these glorious blooms and when we moved to Evanston we planted a bed of LOTV the length of our home in a bed about three feet wide….stunning and I can still remember their intoxicating smell!
From one of my most favorite blogs https://www.theglampad.com
“Did you know that in France the First of May is a public holiday, officially known as La Fête du Travail (National Labour Day) but also called La Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley Day)? It is an occasion to present Lily of the Valley flowers to loved ones. The French tradition of giving Lily of the Valley on May Day is supposed to have begun on May 1st, 1561, when King Charles IX of France was presented with a bunch of Lily of the Valley flowers as a token of luck and prosperity for the coming year.”
It is tradition to hang a May basket on your front door as well as your neighbors and other friends. I say let’s bring back that tradition….it is charming!!!!
By now you know my Lily of the Valley obsession….it doesn’t stop with objects, oh no it doesn’t…it continues to art, much of which I have shared with you and…..needlepoint, lots of needlepoint. The photo below is a close up of the center of a small rug 2’ x 3’ that I designed and worked from a chart. I prefer working from charts rather than painted pieces, just my preference. I have done both, having created hundreds of pieces over the yesrs. This particular work was done in 1974 (it is signed and dated) and has been a wall hanging, a small area rug and now rests on the back of one of my loveseats.
A few of my LOTV collections….
Of course a couple of Fabergé pieces…
Some fashion…. “From his favorite flower, lily of the valley, Dior would make it an essential part of his couture. First there is this dried strand which he sews at the hem of each of his creations. Then there is the lily of the valley which he wears in a buttonhole and the one he offers, every May 1st, to his “little hands” and his biggest customers.” Quote found on Pinterest and, by the way, check out my nenasnotes Pinterest for my Lily Of The Valley board…lots and lots to look at there!! Now some pieces from Dior…
And some knockouts from Hubert de Givenchy…
From Monique Lhuillier
Or perhaps some food…..this extraordinary cake and fabulous cookies…
From Carolyne Roehm…..https://www.carolyneroehm.com
Or perhaps some papier-mâché….am mad for these, I do have several pieces in my collections!
Or so there is always a tune…..
I could go on and on and on…..but I’ll stop here and let you enjoy the wonderful tradition of May 1st and the promise of its flower!
All photos, other than my collections or cited websites, were found on Pinterest photo credit unknown.
As you know I recently did two posts on the incredible The Vintage Contessa….well guess what…she turned right around and did a post on me today…..Here it is….enjoy!! http://thevintagecontessa.net/
It seems that my Book Nook photo didn’t appear with my post so here you go….
Have a beautiful peaceful Easter!