REFLECTIONS ONE YEAR LATER: A REINTRODUCTION

Here is what I wrote one year ago today when I launched NENASNOTES, as I begin my second year, my goals remain the same.  I have tweaked the daily themes a bit but the concept hasn’t changed. I will be adding new features and ask that you watch for an upcoming announcement of how you can supoort me and what incentives you can expect.  I hope you are enjoying my thoughts on the variety of lifestyle things that interest me…so I say, Happy Birthday NENASNOTES and I hope you, my followers, will continue to join me on a regular basis and invite your friends to have their morning coffee with us as well.

October 13, 2016

Well, here we go….I have been waiting to start my blog NENASNOTES for what seems like ages, actually, it has been ages!

I, therefore, feel it is necessary to give you my thoughts on what you can expect on what will become daily postings.

It began with the current trend of focusing on people reinventing themselves, through career and/or lifestyle changes.  I realized that there are so many of my friends and acquaintances whose diverse lives now are totally different from how they started.  First up were my many former models who were superstars in the myriad shows I produced during my lengthy career as Fashion and Special Director at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  Most, if not all, have totally changed careers and become successful with their new life choices.  You will learn their stories, reminiscences and photos from then and now.

      imageMY MODEL CREW IN THE 1960’S

I thought why not carry this further to my other friends and people I know who had fascinating stories to tell and was I correct in that assumption!  I began this process with a handful of people, which soon became many more, by doing an in person hour long taped conversational interview and Proust-like questionnaire.  Again, I asked for photos and this time a favorite recipe. I hope you will enjoy these posts as much as I am enjoying gathering them.  They are riveting.

These two groups of conversations will be my Monday posts, here is what I have planned for Tuesday through Friday:

Tuesday….Books, books, books.  I’m afraid I have a book fetish, especially fashion books. It seems to be my goal in life to own every fashion book printed!!! So we will start there.  I do read a lot, particularly historical fiction, I love fiction about “real” people, we will go that route as well.  Nothing like a good English mystery but don’t mind a “Cozy” once in awhile and can never miss Louis Penny’s newest (who doesn’t love Armand!).  So much to read so little time.

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  A SAMPLING OF THE CHANEL LIBRARY

Wednesday….Miscellany day could be a great recipe, restaurant, movie, play….whatever strikes my fancy that week.

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CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM TIFFANY STAINED GLASS

Thursday….Homes and Gardens, again tapping my friends and their eclectic styles, mostly self-decorated homes and brilliant gardens.  A glimpse at my tiny space as well.

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                                                A FRIEND’S EXQUISITE SOLARIUM

Friday….Fashion Flashback.  I’ve worked with over 150 designers and fashion personalities through the years and want to share some of these experiences with you.  I’m sure those of you who know me thought the blog would be all about the “glamorous” fashion shows I produced, yes, there is that but the nitty gritty as well and only one day a week.

Nena, Pauline Trigere, Bill Blass
Nena, Pauline Trigere, Bill Blass

Here we go….I hope you will join me on my on reinvention.

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.

FASHION FLASHBACK: FASHION AND FRAGRANCE

imageI'm actually doing a flash post today….I found that I need to do more extensive research on this vast subject which, I anticipate, will be several posts on fashion and fragrance.  The history of it, the business of it, the beauty of the packaging, etc. The image above found on Pinterest, photo credit unknown, is of Paul Poiret in a collage of some of his fragrances, who was the first Haute Couture designer to create signature fragrances.  He formed Rosine, named for his daughter, and so the designer fragrance was born.

imagePoiret in his Perfumerie.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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Please look for future posts, beginning, Friday, August 25 for the Fashion and Fragrance series.

PROFILE: THE POTTERY BOYS

imageI had the great pleasure of seeing the Pottery Boys in action this week and I wanted to share their story with you.  I will be doing so in several posts this week and invite you to their pottery demonstration and open house on Saturday, August 19th in Blue Island, Illinois (see the bottom of this post for all the deets!)

How you might ask, did I hear about this talented duo…my dear friends (family), Tom Mantel and Tom Hawley have been collecting their pieces for several years and I have admired their pieces in their Mid-Century home (a post in the future!).

imageThree pieces from The Toms collection…aren’t they stunners!  The detail and shading are amazing let alone the size of the center piece.  I do love them against the brick wall in the living room, modern pottery coming from the earth against brick also coming from the earth and tracing Blue Island’s roots as the “Brick Capital of the World”!

Over the years I have admired the pieces and have said I wanted to meet Glenn Woods and Keith Herbrand, I had that opportunity this week and was totally enamored with the process.  It was quite the experience to see Glenn in action and learn more about the art of potting (I’ll share that story later this week).

imageWhat Glenn was working on when I arrived at the workshop.

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Finishing the piece in very short order! Ready for decorating and then firing.

imageOne of the three kilns.

imageA portion of my workroom tour.

imageA selection of leaves waiting for their color to be applied.

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Heart shaped leaves (I will think they are inspired by my beloved redbud trees see the glorious weeping redbud, below, in The Toms garden!).

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As is usual I ask my “Profiles” to answer a questionnaire…this one has been tailored especially for The Pottery Boys and Glenn graciously answered my questions, you will read much more on his technique later in the week, and Keith gave me a tour of some of the finished product.

imageSome of the finished pieces.

imagePieces of Keith’s creativity.

When did you start doing your art and why pottery?  (I am the daughter of an artist so perhaps I view art differently, I hope so!) 
I have always loved making things and as a child would sew dresses for my friend’s dolls, or style their hair, or crochet something – I also had a learning disability – reading and grasping abstract concepts was difficult for me so I would often seek art as a way to feel productive. I was in special education from 3rd grade to 6th grade and I remember hearing that if you couldn’t do math, science, or read well, they would put you in art class – Thank God for art classes, that is where I found myself and was able to grow.
It was my high school teacher – Judy Wenig (who I am still friends with today) who introduced me to clay as well as a host of other art mediums but I fell in love with clay the moment I sat down at the potters wheel. My first piece was dated 1974 – I still remember that piece and how it gave me hope for my future as a potter.
 Has your aesthetic changed over the years, if so how? Has it just evolved or has your style changed completely?
I tell people all the time that my style has changed dramatically over the years – and it has. However, recently I met up with a college friend who was also an art major – he found me at an art fair in Indianapolis. My work has gone through so many changes as I explore different techniques and ceramic materials, so I was excited to show him my new work – but he said “I recognized your work instantly” I was shocked. At first I took it as a disappointing suggestion that I have not grown at all but the more I think about it, I guess it is a complement. No matter how many changes and transformations my work takes, there is still something there, a common thread that is evident despite the changes – to an artist this is a great compliment.
 
Where do you get your inspiration for your pieces?
I sketch a lot – I dream a lot – I admire other artists’ work a lot. You can see influence from nature in most of my work – some people see suggestions of gourd shapes, flowers, twisting branches, and even patterns found in snowflakes. The truth is, I never look at a flower and say – “I am going to incorporate that in my work” it just seems to surface as a desire to design, decorate, or create patterns. The general public tend to find the influence by asking if I was influenced by something specific – wow, I can see your influence from Asian potters, or lotus blooms, or . . . I often discover my influence through other peoples observations.
 
Do you do commissions?  How do they affect your creativity?
I will do commissions but only on rare occasions – when I feel the commision will take me down a path I would like to explore, I go for it. However, I NEVER take a deposit and I ALWAYS say, I will give it a shot and then move on from there. I do not like to spend time chasing after another person’s dream – If I can’t capture what they are looking for in the first series, I suggest they find an artist whose style is more closely aligned with what they are looking for. I work in small series – 6 to 10 pieces, if they cannot find one piece in that series that meets their needs, we both go our own way and I have a few new pieces to show. Chasing after commissions tends to disrupt the creative process.
 
I understand that you spend your winters in Florida how does that inspire you?
I became a full time potter in 2001 and moved from Evanston, IL to Palm Harbor, FL because Florida has so many outside art fairs, an artist has shows to pick from year ’round. I have never liked the heat and I am not into beach life so the influence one might think I would get from living in Florida is very limited. The greatest change to my work is color – when we lived in the midwest, my colors tended to be more neutral – browns, tans, rust, deep blue, and dark greens. These colors do not do well in Florida so we now use lots of lighter colors, teals, emerald greens, deep blues – very water borne colors. I am color blind – not totally but I never know what color I can’t see until we are talking color variations and then I am in big trouble – in mixing glazes, my thought process is more focused on the chemistry rather than the value or depth of color – when glazing I am looking for a color blend from light to dark to create weight and a sense of depth so it is less about color and more about how the colors interact, blend, and work to create that sense of depth – even if you were viewing the piece in black and white.
 
Why do you create in Blue Island?
I often say, Blue Island found us, we did not seek out Blue Island intentionally. After moving to Florida, we decided to establish a home base back here in the midwest – especially after deciding to participate in summer art fairs for 4 months out of the year – traveling back and forth was not an effective way for us to live and we needed a place to work and live for the summer months while participating in the art fairs (without relying on staying with family or friends). We met Bridget Scales at the Bucktown Art Fair – she told us of a building in Blue Island that might just fit our needs – a year later, we moved in and love the building, the town, and especially the Blue Islanders – Blue Island has a rich history and those who live here love it’s history and work hard to keep the city alive.
 
What would you do if you weren’t artists?
I would be a philanthropist or a counselor/psychologist – I have always wanted to help people – especially where people feel tormented by the contrast of who they are and who society wants them to be. Growing up gay in a small farming community where my best friends were Amish kind of set the tone for my life. Needless to say, I was surrounded by very conservative people whose thoughts and advice was not real supportive – not only of my sexual identity but also my desire to create. I remember my mom telling me “little boys DO NOT sew dresses” or crochet or play with hair. She caught me sewing in my bedroom one day – the others were outside playing. She was so appalled at what i was doing, she wrapped a towel around me and paraded me around the others while singing here she is, Miss America. It was great fun for her but I was totally humiliated (too much information, I know but artists do struggle to find ways to express themselves that are socially acceptable, a lesson I learned at an early age)
 
What are your passions outside of your talent?
I am a total clay geek, so I do not have many interests outside of my clay work – I do like to write – especially about my work in clay. I recently have had 5 articles published in “Pottery Making Illustrated” I also have a passion for helping people, looking for ways to build self worth. While I enjoy music, theater, I would not say I am passionate about those things. I love to invent, I love to talk to total strangers, I love to express my love and gratitude, I also can’t contain my distaste for something – like a political figure that seems to be misguided (in my own opinion, of course).
Informaion on the Pottery Demonstratons from noon to 5 and the Open House from 6 to 9

Saturday, August 19 – noon to 9pm
13201 Olde Western Ave. / Blue Island, IL 60406  /  727-504-6200

Glenn Woods and Keith Herbrand will be hosting an open house in their Blue Island Gallery on Saturday, August 19th. Glenn will be conducting pottery demonstrations from noon to 5pm while Keith tends to the gallery. The formal Open House will be from 6pm to 9pm with light snacks and refreshments. Several local artists will also be participating offering: Original Paintings; Mosaics; Jewelry; Ceramic Arts; and Pottery.

The gallery is located in Blue Island on the north side of the Cal-sag Canal, just under the Western bridge.

Glenn and Keith are full time potters who reside in Palm Harbor, Florida but have been summer residents of Blue Island since 2004. They have a formal open house once each summer due to their hectic summer art fair schedule. You can see their work at many local art fairs including: Chicago’s Old Town Art Fair; Chicago’s 57th Street Art Fair; Downtown Geneva Art Fair; Lake Forest’s Art Fair on the Square; Naperville’s Riverwalk Art Fair; Park Forest’s Tall Grass Art Fair. If you are unable to make it to those art fairs, this is a great opportunity to see their work AND to watch Glenn as he creates pottery on the potters’ wheel from noon to 5pm.

There will be several local and regional artists represented – all will be present to chat a bit about their work.

Crystalline Glazed Pottery – Glenn’s pottery is made out of fine porcelain and glazed with a specialty glaze called Crystalline Glaze. These glazes are noted for their ability to grow crystals in the glaze layer during a complex cooling process during the glaze firing. By altering the firing temperatures and the duration of the firing, special effects and wonderful visual texture can be achieved.

We are inviting you to come out for the day or evening to see our work, meet the artists and enjoy the company of art lovers. You can come out for the demonstrations – visit one of the many wonderful local restaurants in Blue Island, Midlothian, or Crestwood and then come back for the Opening to wrap up the day.

All photos were taken on site by Nena.

FASHION FLASHBACK: JUDITH LEIBER AND MORE FANS…

imageI had the pleasure of working with Judith Leiber on several occasions, each visit was a total joy.  In addition, she always invited me to visit her showroom/workrooms when I was in New York.  They were like a museum truly something to behold.  The pride level of the talented craftsmen quite frankly was something I have only seen duplicated in the Ateliers of Paris Haute Couture.  I think everyone only thinks of her beaded bags, which are exquisite works of art, but she also did skin bags, leathers and suede as well as fabric bags for day in addition to her overwhelmingly prolific collection of minaudière.  She would open a cabinet in her showroom that revealed a wondrous collection of very special pieces and always say, “choose whatever you like!”  If only, it was totally against store policy (Saks Fifth Avenue) to accept gifts from designers or vendors.  Unless the designer asked me to wear something from the collection we were featuring at a show (I was a sample size in those long ago days!!!), I bought what I wore at all times. I do own several Judith Leiber bags both day and evening and treasure each of them.

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Two bags from her fan collection (I included these at the end of yesterday’s post as a teaser, did you guess who I would be featuring today, of course, you did!) Each season there were animal bags, a themed collection, and her classics, always something extraordinary to add to your collection or start a new one.  She would also do special orders, perhaps just a color change.  You will see her bags on every red carpet as well as in the hands of royalty and our own First Ladies.  She was a major star with no star ego, a true icon in the industry.

image Judith Leiber in her workrooms in the early years.  The following is an excerpt from the Museum of Arts and Design and the Leiber exhibition that is closing this weekend.

“Judith Leiber spent sixty-five years in the handbag industry, from an apprentice in Budapest to the owner of an internationally renowned handbag company based in New York City. As the only female pattern-maker, and with the unusual ability to make a handbag from start to finish, Leiber brought a distinctly European training and skill set to the United States, where handbags were made with assembly-line skill division. This allowed her not only to succeed as a designer but also to revolutionize the meaning of handbag craftsmanship for the American consumer.

Leiber’s handbags run the gamut from finely crafted leather pieces and textile-based bags to the fantastical Swarovski crystal–encrusted creations for which she is most well known. Inspired by a life-long admiration of art, travel, and opera, Leiber’s bags include Art Deco–influenced hardware; materials such as Lucite and seashells; references to the artwork of Piet Mondrian, Georges Braque, and Sonia Delaunay; and collaboration with Faith Ringgold on a collection of handbags inspired by her quilts.

As Leiber’s reputation flourished, designers and suppliers sought her out, offering interesting materials, particularly textiles. Thus, many of her handbags are constructed with obis from Japan, Parsi ribbons from India, and fabrics from Iran and Africa. From the earliest days of her company, Leiber pushed the boundaries of handbag design—innovation that is epitomized by her famed sparkling minaudières, a technique that began as a solution to a damaged metal frame, and was then catalyzed by the design of her imaginative animal and food clutches to become fashion staples for First Ladies and celebrities alike.”

imageI love this photo of Mrs. Leiber surrounded by a few of her creations.  On one of her visits she was invited to attend a dinner in her honor at the home of one of our very good clients who collected Leiber bags…did I just say the Leiber showroom was like a museum, well I stand corrected, this client’s home was Leiber everywhere in specially designed museum quality cases, it was something out a movie and by the way quite tasteful.  Mrs. Leiber was overwhelmed.  The client, I might add, supplemented her collection, after that dinner, with Mrs. Leiber’s guidance.

imageAnother book to add to your fashion library, lucky me, mine is autographed by the wonderful creator herself!

 

One of my favorite designer stories came from James Galanos.  We were discussing selling many pieces to a single client and he told me that one of the California boutiques that sold his garments, actually bought most of the Collection each season, and that is saying something, had a client who had purchased multiple gowns that particular season and also ordered a Judith Leiber bag to go with each.  He was aghast at the expense.  My comment was “was the client involved with charities” answer, yes, very much so.  “did the client employ staff at her many homes, entertain there, have flowers, chefs, etc.” again, the answer, yes. “did the couple travel”…yes, yes, yes!  My answer to Mr. Galanos “the client is supporting the economy, we are just a small portion of that”.  His answer, “I never thought of it that way, but Nena, you are right!”  Wow, coming from one of the major fashion icons, oh my…  In other words, the people who can afford expensive items, clothes, cars, property, etc. make our economy, I guess that is what capitalism is all about.  Needless to say, I’m not in that category (one can live in hope) but I was lucky to be surrounded by beautiful things in my years in retail and can appreciate quality.

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Gerson and Judith Leiber in front of the wonderfully talented Gerson’s  paintings.

Information on the Leiber Museum….www.leibermuseum.org

“In 2005, Gerson and Judith Leiber built a gallery to house their works of art and to chronicle their careers, offering an unparalleled retrospective of their creations over the past many decades.

The Leiber Collection, a magnificent Renaissance styled Palladian edifice, sits majestically in a sublime sculpture garden that borders six additional gardens, each designed by Gerson Leiber, in a style befitting the local geography. Considered by many to be the best-kept secret of the Hamptons, you are in for a real treat as you peruse the exquisite jewel of a museum and explore the charming gardens.

Come visit us on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 – 4 pm”.

A YouTube video one of several, this a very dramatic life story of a major influencer and unique talent. Mrs. Leiber retired in 1998 having designed over 3,500 handbags!  The company’s current creative director and co-owner is Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger.

For further reading here is a link to the incredible Judith Leiber story in Harper’s Bazaar.

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a17293/judith-leiber-from-holocaust-to-handbag-icon/

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There are other Judith Leiber fragrances, I chose to feature this one because of its name, love it!imageKarl Lagerfeld with his ever present fan with his then friend Yves Saint Laurent (whose 81st birthday we would have celebrated this week)

imageAnother photo of Karl Lagerfeld with his fan

imageSo much a part of his aesthetic that his fragrance bottle is fan shaped.

imageimageTwo looks from a John Galliano Dior Haute Couture collection.  As you can see fans are every where in every culture and in every era.

All photos from Pinterest credits unknown.

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: I’M IN LOVE!!

imageHow I envision myself back in the day……painting by Tamara De Lempicka, I have always loved her work.

Yes, it is true, I am in love and who would have thought it would be with a car!!!!  I don’t drive (actually, I know how to drive, just have chosen not to do so although it would be nice to be able to get myself around when I am visiting in Indiana and Michigan, oh well!!!) and have never owned a car (not even as a child, my Father preferred public transportation!), but I have fallen hard for a vintage car that my dear friend, Tom Mantel, owns for his new business Chicago Classic Limo www.ChicagoClassicLimo.com

I realized that I know more about cars than I thought I did but learned so much more from Tom on this fantastic 1940 Packard.

imageWhy don’t they make cars like this anymore!!!!  Such a pity! Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

Last weekend we took the car to the Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com and had a blast talking with all the people who stopped by to admire the car.

imageAt Randolph Street Market.  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

What was, even more, fun was riding in it to and from RSM, people were literally hanging out their car windows with cell phones at the ready, smiling and giving us thumbs up…I must admit most of the admirers were men…come on ladies, it is a beauty!!!! Thankfully we made it both ways without incident and made a lot of peoples day!

imageimageThe front seat with its original mohair upholstery.  Nena’s photo.

imageThe original steering wheel and dashboard, of course, it has been updated for modern times and is air-conditioned.  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageimageThe back seat with its jump seats, I loved jump seats when I was a little girl, I thought they were there just for me!  Also notice the shaped windows, all of which open.  Photos courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageThe front grill.  Nena’s photo.imageThe luggage rack, it pulls down, at the back of the car. Nena’s photo.

imagePhoto courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageI am particularly fond of this photo. I think it looks like a watercolor if I do say so myself.  Nena’s photo.

imageWhitewall tires….I love seeing Tom’s reflection, it looks like he is driving, doesn’t it!  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageI am crazy for this hood ornament. why don’t we have them anymore, what happened to the glamour of cars…and I must admit that I am very happy with my photo of it!  Your thoughts!?  Nena’s photo.

imageHere is the sketch for the piece, I found it on Pinterest photo credit unknown. Needs more research on the artist. imageHere are some more hood ornaments including the 1940 Super 8 in the upper right-hand corner.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO

 

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Having read The Little Paris Bookshop (which I haven’t reviewed as yet!) I was looking forward to Nina George’s The Little French Bistro and I wasn’t disappointed.

I must say the beginning of the book was a bit off putting and since it is the beginning I feel safe telling you…our heroine travels to Paris and the Seine with the purpose of drowning herself, huh!!!???  She obviously has her reasons, she is running away from a forty-one year unhappy marriage. Why, you might ask, stay in a marriage that long, I think you will agree people stay in relationships for all sorts of reasons, but mostly, in my opinion, it is familiar, perhaps in some way, comforting normalcy.  Marianne isn’t physically abused but emotional abuse can be as devastating.  So she leaves and jumps into the Seine and by chance, there is a man (who appears to be homeless) on the banks of the River who saves her.  She isn’t happy about this but feels it means she must get on with her life by whatever means.  She doesn’t know what to do or where to go but starts her journey for the French coast and ends up in Brittany, which is known as “the end of the world”!  She is embraced by the population of the small town and finds work at Mor restaurant.  Quoting from the inside flap of the book “Among food, music, and laughter, Marianne finds a forgotten version of herself—passionate, (Nena’s note, yes there is an affair) carefree and powerful.”  Her past does catch up with her, literally, and decisions must be made, we hope she makes the right ones.

I really enjoyed Ms. George’s www.nina-george.com writing and how she brought the power of being oneself (even when you don’t know who that is!) to be life altering.  What I especially liked is the protagonist isn’t a 20 something but an “older” woman who rediscovers herself, obviously telling us it is never too late to be true to who you really are.  Is there a physical make-over, yes, and it is wonderful and, of course, the mental and emotional make-over. The story gives us hope that one can change no matter the circumstances nor the time of your life…live it fully!  Is there freedom to do whatever you want or haven’t tried before, absolutely and it is a delight to watch (read!)

I want to quote directly from the book, page 240 to be exact, it, in my opinion, perfectly describes the book’s meaning….let’s see what you think…

“Marianne loved the feeling of being wanted. As Marianne. As a woman.  ‘In my search for death, I found life.  How many deviations, side roads and senseless detours a woman can take before she finds her own path, and all because she falls into line too early, takes too early the paths of custom and convention, defined by doddering old men and their henchwomen—the mothers who only want the most dutiful outcome for their daughters. And then she wastes an immense amount of time ensuring that she fits the mold! How little time then remains to correct her fate.  And, yet. life as an autonomous woman is not a song.  It’s a scream, a war, it’s a daily struggle against the easy option of obeying.  I could have obeyed, could have lived less dangerously, ventured nothing, failed at nothing.’ ” 

Very profound and, again, in my opinion, spot on.

I  recently joined a Facebook group of women led by Catherine Grace O’Connell www.catherinegraceo.com (you may recall I profiled Catherine in a previous post) The group, The Fierce 50 Revolution (name is changing) exists to empower women from mid-life on by giving each an organization to network with other women.  Do go to the Facebook site for details.  This book should be MUST reading for all the members and I would suggest, for all my readers.  It is a charming eye-opening look into the world of conforming and then becoming an independent person.

You know I like to support Independent Booksellers but in this instance, my book was purchased from www.amazon.com