Early last year I was asked by Sally Schwartz, Founder/Owner of Randolph Street Market  which is celebrating its sixteenth year in 2019, to do two monthly exclusive posts for the RSM newsletter she has given me permission to share some of them with you in 2019, starting with DENIM.  I have added a few more photos to my original piece.  Enjoy!

nenasnotes Fashion Trends Exclusively for The Randolph Street Market reprinted with Sally Schwartz permission.  All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown.


A quote from FIT’s  DENIM: Fashion’s Frontier, the cover is seen in the photo above.

“Denim is one of the world’s favorite fabrics, and today it accounts for the largest segment of the clothing industry. The market for jeans alone is worth over 55 billion dollars. Accompanying a recent exhibition at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, this handsome book explores the history of denim and examines the continually evolving relationship between it and high fashion.

Prized for its durability and strength, denim began as an ideal fabric for workwear, most famously in the clothing produced by Levi Strauss & Co. for fortune hunters during the 19th-century California gold rush. Over the past 160 years, however, film, television, and advertising have helped transform denim into a symbol of youth, rebellion and sex. The fashion industry has also played a large role in the expansion of denim into casual and couture clothing.”





Quite a transition from it’s lowly beginnings as overalls worn by the men and woman seeking their fortunes in the Gold Rush of the latter part of the 19th Century. Levi Strauss saw the need for a sturdy fabric…denim…and sturdy closers to hold the fabric in place…thus “jeans” were born, first in the form of overalls.


Seeking their fortunes….then…


And now….


In my opinion, in my youth, denim was only worn to garden, maybe go grocery shopping but never seen as a fashion item until the “Hippie Movement” of the 1960’s. Everyone, at the time, thought that it was the beginning of everyone wearing “uniforms” that uniform being traditional jeans. This was not the case, think embellishments, think the “flower child” and individuality came to the forefront and quite frankly has never looked back. It might be “uniform” but only the fabric, not the fashion. People want acceptance but with their own twist. For years I would think….denim is dead instead of long live denim!



Obviously the latter is the case and it just gets stronger and more trend worthy. Take for example the entire denim collection Karl Lagerfeld did for Chanel in 1996.
He is quoted as saying Mlle Chanel thought Mini skirts were dreadful as was denim….there you have it…the rest as they say is fashion history (or fashion myth!)



When I worked with Victoria Beckham, in 2008, she was only doing sunglasses and we introduced her jeans which became status symbols so much so that I “paid” our models in the jeans they wore for the personal appearance, I must admit a rather clever marketing ploy on my part…gorgeous young models wearing the product out and about didn’t hurt sales!!!! The jeans all had embroidered stars on the back hip pocket….the item of the season. Her talent has blossomed and I might add, she was a dream to work with, loved her.


8015A753-A7E5-444C-BC06-9EB2615EE1D1Claire McCardell’s popover dress of 1942 featured in the FIT Denim exhibition and book

6B9FF1DB-2B2A-4C5A-A565-63787C589C55“Rosie the Riveter” interpretation 1942-1945 also featured in the FIT Denim exhibition and book.


Junya Wataniabe dress 2002 (detail is on cover of the FIT exhibition book)


From the creativity of the Antwerp designers 2005

Vivianne Westwood’s denim interpretations…


John Galliano for Dior 2002…


And wearing denim 2009…

0FB84D00-8392-46CB-B67C-0A9A15D4FAA4Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen 2016.

Celebrities have always wore denim….

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Then….Marilyn Monroe in the film The Misfits

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Now…Rihanna out and about.

The 2018 Collections featured denim in its many guises…..


Randolph Street Market


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Randolph Street MarketBBBA72AF-3542-4B79-A639-4E9D59C2E535The King of American sportswear, Ralph Lauren, at his beginnings and at the finale of his extraordinary 50th anniversary extravaganza 2018….I’m obsessed with the tuxedo jacket and jeans…what could be more modern….



Or perhaps a patchwork quilt…..the possibilities of working with “blue jeans” is obviously endless…I can hardly wait to see what our designing geniuses will create in future collections with what was considered “workman’s” cloth…..stay tuned….






I have always been enamored with pearls and their association with fashion but there is so much more to them…the history is fascinating…from natural pearls to cultured, from Haute Couture, to Opera, to Royalty, to Art, to Romance, and on and on….whether a single strand or a extravagant bib the pearl has so many interpretations….let’s look at some.

The natural pearl is harvested by mostly female ame pearl divers in Japan






Natural pearls…

”Cultured pearls are real, genuine pearls that are formed inside a living oyster with human intervention. When a nucleus is surgically implanted in the oyster’s flesh, the oyster recognises it as an irritant and begins to coat it with smooth layers of nacre. Over time, the growing pearl gets completely covered with the beautiful iridescent substance we call nacre, or mother-of-pearl. All pearls sold today are cultured pearls, with the exception of vintage estate jewellery and heirloom pieces that are more than 80 years old.“

“Natural pearls, on the other hand, are formed naturally by free-range “wild” oysters living at sea without any encouragement from humans. When a natural irritant such as a fragment of shell, a scale or a parasite becomes lodged inside an oyster or mollusk, it gets coated with layer upon layer of nacre. Contrary to popular belief, grains of sand do not form pearls. If sand were enough of an irritant, our ocean floors would be littered with millions of natural pearls! Natural pearls are actually very rare, mostly because pearl-producing species of mollusks were nearly hunted to extinction with most natural beds of pearl-bearing oysters depleted by over-harvesting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, natural pearls are extremely rare. Only 1 in about 10,000 wild oysters will yield a pearl and of those, only a small percentage achieve the size, shape and colour desirable to the jewellery industry.” Source: Raw Pearls


Kokichi Mikimoto

“Mikimoto learned that Akoya oysters produced the best pearls. He explored methods of introducing a particle into the flesh of the oyster to stimulate secretions of “nacre” that build up in hundreds of thousands of layers, creating a lustrous pearl. He overcame many failed experiments and challenges of nature, from oyster-eating octopi to a disastrous “red tide” of bacteria that threatened the survival of his oyster beds.” Be sure to go the Mikimoto website, linked here, for the extraordinary story of the originator of the cultured pearl. Source: Mikimoto Pearls

Pearls in history….

A mosaic….


Queen Elizabeth I


Whoopi Goldberg hosting the Oscars several years ago…gowned as Queen Elizabeth I

Vermeer’s The Girl With The Pearl Earring


A bejeweled  Maharajah



Georges Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles, The Pearl Fishers….one of my favorite opera’s, of course the highlight, the duet, it is definitely my favorite operatic piece!!

Queen Victoria…


Mata Hari probably wearing Paul Poiret….


A couple of showgirls in costume…..

Of course, Gabrielle Chanel…..always mixing real and faux



Lagerfeld for Chanel….love these!!!


I’m obsessed with this look from the 1930’s


As well as this one…


The iconic Audrey Hepburn in the iconic black dress and pearls in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

First Ladies and their “pearls”….cultured and faux….



Liz with Queen Mary’s beyond exquisite La Peregrina pearl sold at auction for $11.8 million


Liz with more pearls…..

Marie Antoinette’s pear and diamond pendant sold at auction for $32 million



Something in a tiara perhaps from the English Crown Jewels….0371ED77-015F-4DBF-A285-08AA77FBA8DB

Gloria Vanderbilt at home…


The modernity of this classic on Rihanna…


Masses of pearls


The elegant embroidery of Lasage for a Haute Couture piece…


Nena in a treasured Adolfo jacket with wide pearl beading around neck, down the front of the jacket and on the cuffs…the beading,  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago


A few more books, one non-fiction the others fiction.


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





Odette Lake pictured from birth to 5 years old

I wanted to do this post on Odette’s actual Birthday, her fifth to be exact, alas it wasn’t meant to be…so I thought what better way to celebrate the end of one year and welcome a fresh new year than by celebrating the continuing adventures of this fascinating young lady.  I met Odette’s delightful parents, Cory and Stephanie Lake, a couple of years ago when Stephanie came to Chicago to launch her magnificent monograph on Bonnie Cashin, Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It.  We bonded at The Ritz Carlton over champagne (both Stephanie and my drink of choice) and stories of Cashin.  Both Cory (a major player in insurance) and Stephanie (not only THE authority on Cashin, she also owns and maintains the Cashin Archives and is also a superb jeweler of one of a kind pieces) both their CV’s are beyond compare and they are totally involved in their community, with the Arts, multiple philanthropy endeavors, known for their glorious entertaining, and most importantly exposing their daughter to all their interests and letting her find her own charitable causes, artistic pursuits, entertaining, (a Lake passion!) dancing, art, fashion, interior decor, her new passion…singing, and on and on.






A91EE46B-4100-4301-BA00-BB7467FAA660The very, very happy family……

And with her best friend her Gaga, Kay (Stephanie’s Mother)


After our initial meeting I did a week of posts on the Lakes (check the nenasnotes Archives), they are still some of my most viewed posts. We have continued to be in touch and refer to each other as “BFF” at all times, in writing and on the phone.  I invited Stephanie to be in conversation at the August nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club which was a great success with my Club Members, only Odette’s 5th Birthday kept her from being with us in person.

6C9D4D34-CF95-4A80-BBA7-3F4AACC50D7A.jpegOne of my favorite photos, absorbing garments from the iconic Bonnie Cashion Archives at age 2.

But I digress…this post is about a very special 5 year old.  I could, indeed do an entire post on Sayings by Odette, I have, in fact, suggested a book, the words/phrases are quite memorable, instead I thought I would tell her story through photos…you know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” so prepare yourself for many thousands of words! I am including just a small portion of the photos shared with me, you can be sure there will be Parts 2, 3, 4 and so on….a fascinating young lady, and her exceptional parents, there needs to be more than one post to totally appreciate the education, excitement and enlightenment of this inquiring young mind.  Enjoy…

You have met Odette in some of my earlier posts, recently when I did my review post on The Joffrey Ballet’s new production of Swan Lake (again please check the nenasnotes Archive for the post).  I asked the Joffrey if they could send a signed toe shoe from her namesake Odette along with other memorabilia.  She was enthralled with her package, it was an early birthday surprise.

Swan Lake inspiration…..Halloween baby “Odette” and Halloween 5 year old “Odelle”

And with the Joffrey gifts, the t-shirt was her first and she slept in it the first night… and amazingly the toe shoe fit her!

One of her many ballet class outfits…very definitely under the spell of Swan Lake.


More dance class….



With animals…..




Odette’s Environment….





E6E5606E-A1C6-4AE7-90F4-1E4AC21FB4BFEntertaining guests…

Closets and collections….7D528275-E4EB-4B16-9E96-C5E51185D40F



Original Warhol shoe painting from Odette’s Cashin Collection…




Christmas 2018….Santa knows a good girl when he sees one….




The caviar connoisseur….


Caviar is not only one of Odette’s favorite foods, I must admit it is one of mine, actually I started enjoying this delicacy as a child as well!  I found this wonderful recipe in a Sunday New York Times article (see info on their food app below) and it will now be my go to treat to be included in my New Year’s Eve celebration to ring in 2019 and every year…and in between….enjoy!!!!

Caviar Sandwich from The New York Times
By Gabrielle Hamilton
INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup crème fraîche
3 scallions, thinly slivered on the bias, about 4 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
8 slices white sandwich bread, preferably Pepperidge Farm “Very Thin”
2 to 3 tablespoons soft butter 2 ounces caviar
2 tablespoons chives, minced
Step 1
In a small bowl, mix the crème fraîche, scallions, black pepper and kosher salt. Stir aggressively with a rubber spatula until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the crème fraîche is smooth and spreadable. Set aside.
Step 1
Bring a small pot of water to boil over medium-high heat. Carefully lower your eggs into the boiling water using a slotted spoon, taking care not to crack the shells. Cook the eggs for 7 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain a gentle boil. Remove eggs to a bowl of ice water, and cool completely. Gently crack eggs all over, peel and roughly chop. Set aside.
Step 1
Toast white bread until light golden brown. Remove from toaster, and butter each slice, as we say, wall to wall.
Step 2
Repeat with the scallion crème fraîche so that both halves of each sandwich have an even schmear.
Step 3
Spread an even layer of chopped egg on 4 slices (of the total of 8 slices) of toast.
Step 4
Evenly dot the caviar on top of the chopped egg.
Step 5
Sprinkle chives on top of the caviar.
Step 6
Place the remaining 4 slices of crème-fraîche toast on top of the egg-caviar side. Press down very gently, and slice in half on the bias. Serve at once.
YIELD 2to4 servings
TIME 30 minutes
Find Caviar Sandwich ( on NYT Cooking.

Download The New York Times Cooking App ( on the App Store.

A brief glimpse at the first five years…..can’t wait to see and share the next chapters….stay tuned…


Perhaps she an she see into her future, it can only be filled with continued wonder, excitement and enlightenment..






22B49155-B5B5-4790-9198-0F4848E9F178.jpegThis will be a combination post….a book review, an overview of my conversation with the erudite, Valerie Steele for my monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, and additional thoughts on PINK. The book edited by Steele is the companion to the current exhibition, ending January 5th, at The Museum at FITwhere she is the Director and major guiding influencer.


The FIT exhibitions are always brilliantly mounted and worthy of your visit. There will be two exhibitions in 2019 that will be accompanied by books, more opportunities for us to hear from this unique fashion scholar (she is so much more…as you will learn in an upcoming nenasnotes Profile!)



Book Review and other thoughts on pink in fashion and our lives: The book is brilliantly written, edited and illustrated. Giving us insights into a color that has been in fashion for centuries.  I particularly like the layout of the book (not all the pictures accompanying this post are in the book or exhibition but are being used to illustrate my take on pink!) taking us from the courts of Europe when pink was worn by as many men (see above illustration) as women through Haute Couture Collections to Punk to Red Carpets to Pussy Hats to Real Men Wear Pink to pink ribbons fighting  breast cancer.  We learn about the introduction of Shocking Pink by Elsa Schiaparelli to the iconic Yves Saint Laurent black gown with wide shocking pink bow, a garment, that Steele shared with us in conversation, that was a major exhibition coup and one she was especially excited to include.  It is a MUST for your fashion library, but then all of Valerie Steele’s books are meant to be included there.

I have had the fabulous good fortune to have many brilliant authors join me in conversation for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and I must admit Valerie wasn’t an exception, we all learned so much!  I hope she enjoyed the hour as much as I did and the attendees were in rapt attention, I might even say in awe with her at ease conversation in sharing her expertise which, in my opinion, knows no bounds.  Bravo Valerie and thank you….here’s to the next book!

The reinvention of Schiaparelli, Christian Lacroix with the first collection (which I thought was brilliant, but then I am a huge fan of Lacroix!) and a more recent interpretation, love the color combination!



Two photos from the exhibition……notice the Comme des Garçons (pale pink on the far right) is inspired by court gowns of the 18th century.  The book and exhibition pushes our knowledge of color, silhouette, influence and on and on…I suggest when you either read an accompany exhibition book or are fortunate enough to visit one that you look beyond the obvious, leave behind what you think you know and absorb the detail of the garments and text…clothing is history which oftens recreates itself but always defines a place in time.


A masterwork by a master craftsman Charles James from the Costume Collections of the Chicago History Museum

Pink in major works of art as well as the fabulous scene in Funny Face with the extraordinary Kay Thompson et al singing “Think Pink” an ode to the classic Diana Vreeland proclamation “Pink is the navy blue of India!”

1754938F-4234-400F-A0D7-8D18B01B783A3AA2B026-7F64-4A04-974D-17F19230978DBarbie Pink is Red Carpet ready….and from the Valentino Haute Couture catwalk to Tracee Ellis Ross on the real runway, the Emmy’s Red Carpet, gorgeous!!!!

9768E5DE-929A-4B35-AB47-9E4EA80E5BB6Exquisite pink entryway

7C9D38C5-35C1-40BE-9D02-B07BF0641E69                                       Pink Cadillacs and Grease’s Pink Ladies



E2FF171D-BA38-4984-868E-DD407BE2B28CReal Men Wear Pink supporting  Chicago fundraising for Breast Cancer

Carolyne Roehm in one of her designs from her new book Carolyne Roehm: Design & Style: A Common Thread


Catherine Grace O’Connell Founder of Forever Fierce Revolution and a nenasnotes Profile, please check Archives.  839D3BE2-7469-4238-9312-8528641C568C


Shades of pink for an interior space

Some pieces courtesy of the Costume Collection of the Chicago History Museum  gathered for me by Jessica Pushor, Costume Collections Manager. You can research on their digital platform.


A glorious ethereal fantasy.


Of course, an exquisite rose to inspire us….


And from the uber talented artist, Rosemary Fanti, her interpretation of me in her pink creation….a surprise gift at The Fashion Book Club.  Thrilled to include it in my Rt collection.



All photos unless otherwise noted from Pinterest photo credits unknown.





Ralph Lauren Bears

I’m sure, by now, you are aware that Ralph Lauren is celebrating 50 years of trendsetting fashion and a total way of living. The name is synonymous with the word “lifestyle” and, in my opinion, no one does it better! The theme of the Michigan Avenue, Chicago windows this season is a glorious bear family and they are truly Holiday magic.

A few more from the Ralph Lauren Collection…



This is not, however, a Ralph Lauren sponsored post but a story about teddy bears which really started with founder Margarete Steiff in 1880 who was making plush toys in Giengen, Germany.  The company is best known for its teddy bears which were invented in 1902 some of which command thousands of dollars on the secondary market  According to the Steiff website “Manufacturing is still done by hand in our factory in Germany. Steiff products are often considered family heirlooms and are passed from generation to generation. Steiff animals are made from mohair, alpaca, cashmere, 100 percent cotton velvet, 100 percent wool felt, and valuable woven plush – a material usually reserved for the high fashion industry.”

I’m sure we all have had or still have our childhood Teddy’s.  Just a little story about my kitty, Noel (guess when she arrived, yet another story for another time) her favorite “companions” were her miniature Steiff animals, in particular her teddy bear, that she would carry around in her mouth and talk to, adorable and treasured memories!

Margarete Steiff and her favorite nephew, Richard Steiff “father” of the teddy bear in 1902.  Do read the story of how “teddy” got his name on The National Park Service website, it has “something” to do with Teddy Roosevelt, but you knew that!!


While I was recently visiting friends I was invited to another friend’s home that is filled with many treasures (they will fill several posts in the near future) but one bedroom is the teddy bear tree and then some…the following photos I took of Earl Summers delightful teddy bear guest room….28E18148-5A55-40A2-AD70-43C6BABE7CA3




F52D855B-5283-4883-ACC4-734572CD16F6Aren’t they all too adorable for words….what a collection.

A precious little lady whose portrait I found on Pinterest, love her…


Of course, Pagebear, The Peninsula Chicago’s iconic bear….


And then there are our Chicago Bears….go Bears….


For your Holiday entertaining a perfect recipe for your drinks party….

I saved this recipe to (I don’t remember where I originally found it!) the New York Times Cooking App (one of my favorite Apps), subscribe for fabulous recipes and you can save any recipes you find on line, give yourself a gift of the App, you will thank you!!!!!  Tommy and I have added this nut recipe to our tried and true collection for gift giving, Holiday entertaining and, of course, your own snacking  really, really delicious, it is my favorite this year!

Rosemary Spiced Nuts

Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1 pound unsalted mixed nuts
1 tablespoon melted butter
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Mix nuts and butter together on a baking sheet for 10 minutes at 350.  Mix the rest of the ingredients and toss with nuts and let cool.

Nena’s Note….you will want to make more than one batch, trust me!!!!!!

All photos,  unless wisenoted found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.

This is an unsponsored post, as always, unless quoted, the copy is mine for sponsorship opportunities please contact me at








I have had the pleasure of working with Hutton Wilkinson when he launched his first book written with Wendy Goodman, TONY DUQUETTE, followed by MORE IS MORE and TONY DUQUETTE AND HUTTON WILKINSON JEWELRY and when he presented his extraordinary fine jewelry collection at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago on several occasions…just gorgeous. “Discovered” by the legendary Elsie de Wolfe, Tony brought his distinctive dramatic style to the world of theater and modern interiors. (An aside, Hutton has also written a book, in two volumes, on these two totally different personalities, THE WALK TO ELSIE’S, and a children’s book,  GASPER BROWN AND THE MYSTERY OF THE GASPARILLA  SUCESSION.) The Duquette books have brought the genius of Tony Duquette to the public many of whom really only knew of his unique creativity through his stage and screen sets and costumes, as well as ballets and operas.  I fell for his sketches (aspire to own one!) years and years ago (Hutton, a book of Tony’s Sketches please!!!!!!)

From Kismet, the film, I recently saw this, hadn’t seen it in years (I’ve always adored Howard Keel’s voice), a fun campy film, but totally worth a viewing for the sets and costumes, oh my!!!!

From the film, Lovely To Look At….8800395E-2E4E-4095-8FFA-9EE86BAE393E

And a sketch for the Broadway production of Camelot….another piece of heaven…1F4ADCF4-12D5-4932-A256-14EBEEC43C37

To see this iconic man’s vision through the eyes of the man who worked with him, is maintaining his legacy and continues to honor the Duquette culture by restoring and “modernizing” his home DAWNRIDGE.  We must applaud Hutton for continuing the mystic of this unique creator. NEWS FLASH, HUTTON WILL BE WITH US, IN CONVERSATION, EARLY 2019, FOR nenasnotes THE FASHION BOOK CLUB TO DISCUSS DAWRIDGE AND WILL DO THE PROFILE QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THIS BLOG….I AM BEYOND, JUST BEYOND THRILLED!!!!!  You will immediately love his stories and enjoy sharing his brilliance!  You can tell I’m a HUGE fan!


Tony Duquette with Hutton Wilkinson, his protégé, collaborator and now the keeper of the Tony Duquette legacy.

Now on to the book….in my opinion it is the most intimate and personal of the three “lifestyle” books, it features photos from the original homes and new photography by Tim Street-Porter of the restored/redone breathtakingly beautiful house(s) and grounds.  Hamish Bowles does the brilliant forward (himself, a busy Icon, (my favorite fashion/lifestyle guru), with all the book “forwards” he has done along with his position as International Editor-At-Large for Vogue and his own publications, does he sleep?  I wonder, would he do mine, when my book comes to fruition….just saying!!!)

Here is a quote of  part of a paragraph from Hamish (I had the joy of being “in conversation” with him for the Costume Council of The Chicago History Museum several years ago, a major thrill and true honor!) From the forward a quote talking about another idol of mine the superb designer Gilbert Adrian, in my opinion, the best of the Golden Age of Hollywood designers, Adrian also brought his talents to department stores across the country as well as his own salon…

“‘Amaze me!’ was Adrian’s injunction to Duquette, and the young artist obliged with decors for the designer’s salon and fashion shows of eclipsing fantasy and charm. Duquette was made for Tinseltown, the land of illusion, and for the director Vincente Minnelli he created movie decors as fanciful as the homes he invented for himself and his wife, the ethereal artist Elizabeth Johnstone.”

Imsges of the Duquette interiors for Adrian’s Salon (not from the book found on Pinterest credit unknown).

And from Hutton these two quotes from page 13 (by coincidence, my lucky number!)

“Before he died, (in 1999) I promised Tony that I’d try to save Dawnridge.”

“It has been our pleasure (Hutton and his wife, Ruth) to save the life of this fabled house and to continue the tradition of creative hospitality that Dawnridge is known for.  As Tony would say ‘We do these things for our pleasure, and hopefully, to inspire individuality and creativity in others through the art of living and the living arts’.  Dawnridge is a living house, constantly changing and evolving.  It is the dearest hope of mine and my wife Ruth’s—and hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul—that Dawnridge will continue to inspire, enchant, and inform for generations to come.”  Hutton, exquisitely stated!

The beginning of the book gives us a detailed understanding of Tony’s life, and, of course how Hutton became his creative partner.  The book is then organized by the three main houses and the elaborate grounds. Hutton takes us through the painstaking process of repurchasing many of the “lost” treasures of the home, the detailed drama of “reinventing” the original concept and not only enhancing it but bringing the dream into the reality of the 21st Century with its modern technology while keeping the essence and tradition of the original rooms, buildings and grounds in their transformations. I would go so far as to say an exquisite Phoenix has risen from the “ashes”.

Some photos from the book….taken from Pinterest.  I could live in any of the spaces since my motto is definitely more is more and my most favorite color is green, let alone all the Malachite, and the chandeliers, and the layering, and…………totally dreamy!  B54760E9-19C3-4156-B2EB-64754280B4E1





A perfect choice for your gift giving and for yourself, of course, this Holiday season….remember to patronize your local Independent Bookseller, mine is The Book Stall

This post is underwritten by an unanimous sponsor.  Contact me for details for nenasnotes sponsorship opportunities,



Much like Clara (Marie in this production), in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet, I think I have been fascinated with Nutcrackers since I first saw the ballet as a little girl.  Our own Joffrey Ballet, does a superb new interpretation choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and running through December 30th at our exquisite Auditorium Theater, as seen above in my photograph of the curtain.


My first, and for many years, was the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo which I adored, that was followed by the New York City Ballet choreographed by the incredible George Balanchine at Lincoln Center which I saw in NYC in 1964 and to my mind the best until I saw the Joffrey’s production when they first came to Chicago….pure magic and performed at The Rosemont Theater.  An aside, when I was at Saks Fifth Avenue we did a series of what we called Platinum Events and our Platinum clients could choose from a menu of events (I’ll go into those in another post) one of these was the opening night of the Nutcracker with a catered dinner after the performance in the Theater’s Private Room.  I did red plaid taffeta cloths to the floor, of course, on the dinner tables and along with Gerald Arpino had at least one dancer from the performance, in their costumes, at each table.  The centerpieces were elegant stunning German Nutcrackers which we’re given to each guest as their gift after dinner. The event was very private with only fifteen couples, the Store Manager with their spouse and me.  A huge success.  I have been a huge fan of The Joffrey’s Nutcracker and I must admit I was skeptical of the new version…..silly me it is beyond brilliant….is Wheeldon the new Balanchine, I am beginning to think so.  I have to compliment the genius team of Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director and Greg Cameron, President and CEO for continuing to push our extraordinary company in new directions especially with the Classics (my favorites).  Up next the world premiere of Anna Karenina, February 13th through 24th, Mark your calendars now, I know I will! Better yet get your season tickets….what a perfect Holiday gift for everyone on your list and for yourself, I’d like to find that in the toe of my stocking!

Julian Crouch bringing his incredible Nutcracker to life. Photos by Cheryl Mann.

I  wrote the following on my Instagram account immediately after the performance last week and wanted to share that “review” with you.

“I am never at a lack for words but the Joffrey Ballet Chicago’s production of Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker has rendered me speechless….it is a flawless spectacle. The dancing, the use of modern technology in a traditional beloved ballet, the costumes and the sets…WOW. On this the 200th birthday of our State, it was a perfect celebration of our history to reimagine the setting and place it in Chicago at the spectacular World’s  Columbian Exhibition of 1893.”

Fabrice Calmels as  The Great Impresano of The Fair and ensemble, Cara Marie Gary as Marie, Fabrice, Cara and Yoshihisa Aria as Franz.

Miguel Angel Bianca and Alberto Velazquez E63BDAF5-1F64-4791-86BB-F59BCF1638D1


Dylan Gutierrez as The Rat Catcher.


Fernando Duarte as Mother Nutcracker


Fabrice Calmels and April Daly as The Great Impresario and The Queen of the Fair


The corps de ballet as snowflakes in the Second Act.



Finale…please notice the staging replicating the Auditorium interior pillars, beyond gorgeous. They also lit the ceiling for a bit of glamourous effect. The Louis Sullivan building was completed in 1889 and in addition to the theater the building housed a hotel…I’m sure guests to the World’s Fair stayed there.

The production will be at The Auditorium Theater through December 30th. Do go you will be transfixed, something we all need!!!!

Where can you find vintage collectible Nutcrackers, of course, i would suggest you check out the December Randolph Street Market on December 15 and 16. And if you more history about actual nutcrackers please go to the Randolph Street Market blog for my  November post on them (I do two posts monthly you might enjoy them give, the site a look!)

All the images were shared with me by The Joffrey Ballet and were taken by the talented  Cheryl Mann.

This is not a sponsored post.