E0E5384D-11DA-4FD7-B6D8-E82D6E5E9FFAPhoto by Rachel McGinn taken in Philadelphia

Bringing back my Profile series and I am beyond excited to restart with a friend through the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, Stuart Dyer Mesires.  Her talent for and love of all things vintage has given us a mutual interest as well as great conversations about the history of fashion, a passion we both share.  I know you will enjoy a glimpse into Stuart’s beginnings in the industry as well as a peek into her business Ladybug Vintage

My first job in the fashion industry was working in New York City for a vintage textile swatch library. It was a library filled with swatches of vintage fabrics – prints, jacquards, yarn dyes, knits, etc. Designers would make an appointment to come to the design library at the beginning of each season to buy vintage swatches of fabric which they would then use to help them come up with color palates, design inspiration and actual fabrics that they would develop for their lines that season.
In 2009, I decided to turn my passion for collecting vintage into a business and created, Ladybug Vintage – a collection of vintage costume jewelry, clothing and accessories focused primarily on the international glamour and country club chic eras of the 1960’s and 1970’s. I love the whimsy, insouciance, bold prints and statement jewelry from this time period – all of which can be found in the Ladybug Vintage Collection. Inspiration comes from fashion icons such as Lee Radziwell, Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger and Ali McGraw – women with an innate sense of glamour and daring who could take one special piece – a scarf, a lariat, a gorgeous set of cuff bracelets – and create a completely effortless and individual look. I personally select each piece in the collection with this focus in mind. This is what sets Ladybug Vintage apart as it is not just a collection of random vintage pieces but a collection with a focused point of view.


Stuart at the Chicago Botanic Garden when she did their Antique and Garden Show


Some of Stuart’s extensive collections.


I started collecting vintage when I was in grade school. My mother is an avid collector of antiques and I would often accompany her to flea markets, thrift shops and antique shows when she was hunting for treasures. I wanted to collect something too so I would look for things that I could afford. Vintage clothing and costume jewelry were items that no one really wanted at the time and the pieces were inexpensive – thus my collection began. I loved the fact that what I collected could be worn not just put on a shelf to be admired. By the time I was in high school I had a closet full of amazing vintage clothing and accessories.

0464EA25-8B9A-4530-BB7F-76AC6A52BE65Looking for vintage pieces at the Madison Bouckville Antique Show in Bouckville, New York.

When I was working as a swimsuit designer for Tommy Hilfiger, I felt that I had made it when one of the suits that I had designed was featured in the the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue being worn by Heidi Klum, 2001.




Another of Stuart’s designers for Hilfiger in Sports Illustrated, 2002.

A piece in the 1998 Japan Marie Claire on Stuart’s favorite beauty products.

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW As I mentioned above, I have had a passion for collecting vintage from a young age. After graduating from a liberal arts college in upstate, New York, I moved to New York City to work for PolyGram Records. My passion, however, was for fashion so I started working for a vintage textile design company and taking night classes at Parson’s School of Design. I then embarked on an over 15 year career in fashion design which included working as a clothing designer for such companies as Tommy Hilfiger and Lilly Pulitzer. While working as a designer, my love of vintage continued and I often used vintage pieces as design inspiration. Nine years ago, I decided to turn my love for collecting vintage into a business.

BOOK: The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
MOVIE:  The Wizard of Oz
THEATER:  Hamilton
TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO: Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Led Zeppelin, Spoon, Cage the Elephant and the Foo Fighters
LOCAL RESTAURANT: I love to try new restaurants but a constant, reliable favorite is Mon Ami Gabi.
HOBBIES: Drawing, painting, antiquing
HOME: Mixture of mid-century modern and antiques
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE: Andy Cohen, Derek Blasberg, Mick Jagger, Virgil Abloh, Pablo Picasso, Kate Spade, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Altchul, Lilly Pulitzer, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Miuccia Prada
I’m not a great cook so I would invite, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) to cater.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST:  I love to discover new places. And wherever I find myself, I love to find places to shop for vintage. I just back from a trip to Grimaud, France – a small town outside of St. Tropez. I had never been to Grimaud before but I went there to stay with a friend.  It is a gorgeous Cote d’Azur hillside town overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the port of St. Tropez. One of the most fun things for me was finding a flea market in Grimaud that was filled with vintage treasures.


With her son, Xander in St. Tropez in June 2018


In Saint Jean Cap Ferrat


Visiting Heyward House, Bluffton, South Carolina.

FAVORITE WORK OF CHICAGO PUBLIC ART:  My favorite work of Chicago Public art is a statue called, The Alarm. I have always been drawn to it. It is the oldest sculpture on Chicago Park District property. It was commissioned in 1880 and dedicated on May 17, 1884. When I did a little research on it, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the artist, John J. Boyle while from New York, had actually studied in Philadelphia (my hometown) at the Franklin Institute and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and married a woman from there. Several of his statues are located throughout Fairmount Park in Philadelphia as well as throughout the city of Philadelphia.


I love to make desserts (the best part of a meal!). Below is a simple recipe for one of my favorites:
Fudge Brownies.
5 oz of unsweetened baking chocolate 3/4 cup butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13” x 9” pan.
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in a large microwaveable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until the butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Spread into prepared pan.    BAKE approximately 22 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.


La Double J, Tory Daily, @suzymenkesvogue, @tinaleung, @amandacbrooks, @ericapelosini, @martinamondadori, @kateschelter


Above photo taken by Rachel McGinn. All photos from Stuart’s scrapbooks.





Designers who always know how to produce the most extravagant fashion shows… Dolce & Gabbana, didn’t disappoint with their Fall 2018 Alta Moda (high fashion) presentation at Lake Como, Italy. Drama was in abbondanza!  Here are a few of the many looks, filled with the expected floral prints, exquisite accessories and diverse mix of models. Over the top creativity presented in lush surroundings with an operatic soundtrack to create an even more ”Alta Moda” atmosphere!  Designers who don’t shy away from drama in their creations nor controversy in their opinions, lived up to all expectations.




6982FCBA-BE77-49EF-96B4-C1074C5E1C8CA portion of the finale.

All photos found on Pinterest credits unknown.




Today’s Books Books Books post is generously sponsored by an anonymous donor who is also a voracious reader!

There is nothing I love more than reading, but you already know that…too many books to read and not enough time to do so. And you know what I love to read most of all…books about books and bookstores.  The one I am discussing with you today, is a charmer that I think you will enjoy and if you are involved in a Book Club one you might suggest to your group our author, Stephanie Butland, has a Book Club guide at the back of the book for you. (More about the nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club at the end of this post!)

It has been a very long time since a book has brought me to tears, this one did just that….a good thing or not, perhaps the mood I’m in, perhaps some of the story is hitting too close to home for me (not in a literal sense, well just a bit, just parts of it such as special people leaving one’s life, but that is getting a bit too personal, so let’s get to the story), I’ll leave it up to you how it touches you in your reading of this story, it is a good one.

We meet our narrator, Loveday, in her natural habitat, her home, yes, she does have a flat, but the bookshop Lost For Words where she has worked since she was 18, she is now 22, is her true home.  We meet the owner, her kind, caring protector Archie, who is friends to everyone he meets and has been many things in his day, who allows her to set up the shelves in her very controlled way while sheltering her.  We meet the varied customers, men and women who enter her extremely closed off existence. It isn’t easy for her to interact with others particularly outside her”space”. She meets a poet (who is also a magician!) who talks her into attending a poetry slam, which she finds, much to her surprise, interests her, as does he!

The story switches from Loveday’s present back to her wonderful childhood, her closeness to both her Mum and Dad, until it isn’t idyllic any longer. It is a very touching story and focuses on how a young child can perceive reality and how wrong they can be. She has major problems with letting anyone get close to her, with the exception of Archie with whom she feels secure.

I felt the beginning took awhile to get going, or perhaps I fell into the trap that she thought everyone did, I didn’t like her very much. As I continued reading I found myself wanting to know more about our heroine, (who by the way, has the first sentences of favorite books tattooed all over her body, a nose ring and ombré hair, for someone who wants to live in the shadows???!!!), what made her such a reclusive and see if love, romantic, or just friendship, can win her over….again, I’ll leave that to you dear reader, no spoliers here….oh, and did I mention a bit of poetry thrown into the mix, that is where the tears came to my eyes.  A Nena’s Note to self, when did I stop enjoying poetry, need to rethink!!??

Would I suggest you read it, yes, of course, you know I don’t review anything I don’t think you would enjoy and this one was a bit off my norm, but still set in the U.K., that seems to be a pattern with me.  An intellengently written novel, it’s protganist is most definitely a feminist, another theme in my recent reads or am I more aware because of the “Me Too” Movement, maybe.

The Book Stall  is supplying the books for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, please support Independant Booksellers. If you want more information on my monthly The Fashion Book please let me know in the comment section, I’d love to have you join us. Next up, in August, NORELL by Jeffrey Banks, lively conversation, goodie bags, bubbles to drink and goodies to nibble and perhaps, just perhaps some surprises!


NG Apple_NetGalley Health Rev 3


I can’t remember a period of time when so many documentaries on fashion icons have happened at the same time…WOW, how very exciting. In Chicago, all the above are showing this month at the Gene Siskel Film Center,  also this month at AMC, the much anticipated, McQueen….and at The Music Box,the punk goddess herself Vivenne Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist. For my non-Chicago area readers, please check your local theaters to see when these films are showing in your area.

Let’s take a look at what to expect, so you can plan your schedule, and then I will do my review when I have seen each of them….beyond exciting….I’m going to need lots of wine with my popcorn!!!!!

0D3FC20B-94EA-48A2-9070-E480D49DE362You will have to move quickly, Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story, is playing through July 5.  THE genius creator of make-up is brought back to life in this documentary. He was the first “celebrity” make-up artist to earn a CFDA award and deservingly so.  He died much too young (1962-2002) but fortunately left a legacy through his work, his books, YouTube pieces, a documentary “Kevyn Aucoin Beauty and the Beast, shown on Logo cable September 2017, and now this new documentary. Aucoin is the only personality I worked with, in this super star group, when he launched two of his books, Art of Makeup in 1996 and Making Faces in 1999.  While we had done many, many mega beauty stars throughout my tenure at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago, we didn’t have any idea what to expect with his book signings….all I can say is BLOCKBUSTER is an understatement!  Lines literally around the block, several people wide, very orderly and all wanting his books, of course, his autograph and just to be able to say hello. Pity it was long before selfies!  I can’t even imagine what it would be like today with all our Social Media technology.  He was very humble, (I can say that about many of the talented fashion personalities I had the pleasure of working with through the years), beyond talented…a true one of a kind artist who adored enhancing his clients and to help them become the best they could be. I’m hurrying in before July 5th, hope you will as well.

2DB30844-D661-43F1-836B-A7554C2DDFDDI can say, without hesitation, there is no one I am more obsessed with than Cecil Beaton (1904-1980)!  Could there be anyone who had a fuller life in the 20th Century, iconic photographer, (of his decades), of people, the Royals, the stars of the time, fashion, war, gardens, interiors and on and on and on…diarist, author, scrapbook keeper, brilliant raconteur, chronicler of everything and anything that caught his mind’s eye and always with uniqueness and panache!  In a word, unsurpassed!  I have taken it upon myself to collect as many (read…all!) of his books as possible, both written and edited by him as well as the huge amount written about him, don’t forget Greta and Cecil, about his relationship with Greta Garbo. I reviewed a glorious book on nenasnotes on November 1, 2016 Cecil Beaton At Home: An Intimate Life by Andrew Ginger, a truly extraordinary look at Beaton.  Of course, we all think of his glorious costumes and design for the movies (and stage productions) for My Fair Lady and Gigi….,in my opinion, two of the best!  A quote from Beaton “The truly fashionable are unfashionable”!  Gene Siskel Film Center, July 6 through July 12.

047D40F2-A692-4E13-A663-7EF10A971D19The Queen of Punk. I was totally overwhelmed by the fashion exhibition, Punk,  New Romantic & Beyond mounted by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2014.   Showcased exquisitely in many rooms, some only holding one gown, due to size.  Every plaque I read, at least it seemed that way, read from “the Vivienne Westwood Archives”. Amazing. The first room one entered was wall to wall, floor to ceiling museum archival glass cases filled with her beginning successes, VERY suggestive t-shirts. I had never seen one in person, up close and personal only in books or video. Another woman, about my age, British, was standing next to me in the gallery, we were the only two studying the items. I turned to her and said “In their day they (the t-shirts) were quite shocking!”  Her reply, “My dear, they still are”!  I have read that Dame Vivianne does not approve of the Documentary, let’s see for ourselves…opens at The Music Box on July 13th for a limited run.


This film has been playing in Chicagoland for awhile will be opening at the Gene Siskel Film Center on July 20 through 26.  Talley began his rise to fame working with Diana Vreeland at the world renowned Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, became a contributing editor at Vogue and the rest, as they say, is fashion history.  He has curated many exhibitions including the recent Oscar de la Renta retrospectives. His outspoken views have delighted audiences worldwide.  His autobiographies,  A.L.T and A.L.T. 365+  are must reads. If you have seen the film here is your opportunity to see it again or you can enjoy it for the first. Promises to be superb.

64F27656-4392-4A81-AA1B-2661A1F9CE6CLast and most certanly not least…I can hardly wait to see McQueen, the Lee Alexander McQueen documentary. Long awaited, long overdue. All the books about McQueen as well as the, never to be matched, Metropolitan Museum exhibition Savage Beauty and its companion book give a brief glimpse into the mind of a creative genius no matter how fragile that genius was. A once in a generation talent. I must add Sarah Burton has carried the House on to new heights and we also must think of the extraordinary brilliance of John Galliano along with his fall from grace and resurrection, as a totally unique talent. There are many more, of course, but those two contemporaries definitely stand out from the crowd!  Talk about a once in a lifetime exhibit, but then every collection McQueen produced was an exhibition to be worn and the garments were  provocative, stunning, groundbreaking, totally unlike anything else.  His suiside in 2010 (1969-2010) was as stunning as his life and creativity. How fortunate we are that this once in a lifetime genius shared his brilliant talent with the world and now we can see his story unfold even more on film. AMC Theaters beginning July 20th.

Be sure to check the theaters to confirm dates and showctimes as well as the AMC for locations.



6EC57E71-393B-4ED8-8EE5-D19609A201AFHeavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at the Met through October 8, 2018  John Galliano for The House of Dior 2005  Photo courtesy of Michael Anderson.

I have always loved angels and cherubs, in fact I collect Christmas angels, I did a post on them, as well as cherubs.  I have a stunning hand-colored photograph of a cemetery angel, one of my favorite fashion show make-up artists gave me when she moved from Chicago (unfortunately too high on my wall to get a good photo to share). Somehow I don’t think of them as religious symbols but rather beautiful uplifting forms.

i was visiting my friend, Barbara Varro, for Memorial Day weekend. She wanted to place flowers on the resting places of her family and I, of course, went with her. Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City dates from the late 1890’s and has many amazing monuments.  I have wanted to do a post on Angel Monuments for a long time actually since my trips to Russia and Paris, where I stupidly didn’t take any photos in their renowned cemeteries.  We went to the oldest section of Holy Cross and I found several that caught my interest. Here are a few of them all, as usual, taken with my iPhone.

D463102D-E88E-44C9-B714-F86CAF02B9293793439E-F4F5-41F7-A923-6F519DD5BD723FFFF886-48C0-465C-9F33-F223DF274148In addition, I found many images in my Pinterest search that I wanted to include. Photo credits unknown.

DE6A3CAD-4267-4D4A-BEA0-A0765719C996C695A1D5-E24F-4EA6-953A-DD32593CA8C052C1F52D-BFB7-4988-A2C8-02C96172202DDD687C13-13A9-4BBB-A552-FC5FD1B896AEAC8D512B-A16E-444B-9408-FAE34E755281E0A24807-05CC-4118-8975-E6EA1809EBD358F7D370-C0B9-401B-AB51-B09D5F0A1999The carving is exquisite on each. I could fill pages with these beauties, but let’s explore more.


You knew I’d find a book on the subject here you go, this looks interesting.

31555D42-C136-44D7-8244-E88466880392An Art Deco figure on the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.


4EEA09B2-08CA-4C1E-A1F2-659615441E7BAn Art Deco Cadillac hood ornament…why don’t the cars of today have style!!!!!an E3410E7C-2549-4161-AE41-4B88156DCC39An Erte piece an Art Deco angel

63158610-7867-4A1F-AAE1-38773C9F18C7529B7438-D0DD-4892-AC63-F97AF42865C2Even angel wings on buildings which are showing up on a zillion Instagram selfies. Charming!!!!

ED959416-8509-4E95-8D7E-E7353712C74AI just found this artist on Pinterest and I am obsessed with her work, the detail, the color, the technique….love it all. The artist is Olga Suvorova.

More pieces in the Met exhibition taken by Michael Anderson. The exhibit is in the Met proper, in many galleries, it is the largest Fashion exhibition they have mounted, and at The Clositers.  I hate to say brilliant marketing but I must do so.  To drive the visitor through parts of the Museum they might otherwise neglect is an act of genius and the Met has been doing this with the annual Costume Collection exhibition in various galleries for years.  This is the first time it has taken pieces to The Cloisters…if you haven’t  been there it is a must see with or without fashion….the views are extraordinary and, of course, the perfect setting for the exhibition’s theme.

0491410A-0C93-48DC-8E0F-D3D1D0C1735BThierry Mugler 1984.

Tom + Lorenzo

532A024F-E558-4FDA-B72B-74027250FF82A digitized scan of the Galliano for Dior gown, the cover of the slip case for the exhibition catalog set.

Katy Perry in Versace at the Met Gala 2018.


Angel fragrance by Thierry Mugler launched in 1992.

One of my all time favorite films the 1996 Michael  with John Travolta, charming and a tear jerker.

Of course, I have to mention Angels in America, the powerful Tony Kushner landmark play first performed in 1991, became a HBO event in 2003 and just won several Tony awards this year for the revival.  Always relevant and particularly so  during Pride Month.  It is an extremely important part of our theater history and when presented during two totally different eras, I think even more thought provoking  I saw the original, devastating, the HBO film, well done but, in my opinion, you need to see the play live, and now the revival with its stellar cast, it has to be amazing.  Times have changed, AIDS no longer the stigma it was….I, like everyone, long for the day when it will be eradicated!

65A358CE-8C21-4F21-B542-564FB2932E00I leave you with The Winged Victory at the Louvre.  Breathtakingly beautiful…..


33A06E6A-8F85-42A9-9052-591FB077485AMichael Vollbracht at the beginning of his career when we first met, late 1970’s. Inscribed photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

When the news reached me last week that Michael Vollbracht had died, after total disbelief, I immediately wanted to do a post on my wonderful times with him. I didn’t want to do an obit, His dear friend, Jeffrey Banks, did one so eloquently for the CFDA and it was followed by an brilliant piece in the New York Times and Woman’s Wear Daily. All detailed the life of a unique, brilliant talent. But rather, I wanted to honor him with personal reflections.

I first encountered Michael’s talent when Saks Fifth Avenue bought his collection and I featured his extraordinary garments, all of which were amazingly beautiful prints that he had created, in many of the charity fashion shows we did at the time.


They were great hits so much so that SFA Chicago invited him to bring his collection to the store and do a formal fashion at The Hilton Chicago, the first of several formal shows with him, (home to many, many of our shows!) In those days, I met all the designers (and often their representatives if the designers weren’t making a personal appearance) at the airport, actually at their gate, we could do that until 9/11, and escorted them to their hotel. This allowed us to get to know each other and, in my opinion, set the stage for a comfortable, successful event. In addition, I was on the selling floor throughout their visit and usually was included in the dinners we hosted for the designers.




We got to The Hilton on the day of the show, it was a luncheon in the Grand Ballroom, a magnificent room to this day, I can’t remember a time when I checked the room before I would arrive at any venue. Of course, I would do a walk through of the space prior to any event.  The charity usually did the decor, centerpieces, etc. We opened the doors to the room and were met with at least 20 American flags on flag poles placed on the balcony hanging over the stage (they had been there for some political event and left!)  I love my flag but it was a bit much, to say the least, for a fashion show.  There was nothing to be done but work with them. Michael’s reaction, “How charming, a salute to a born and bred American designer….love it!”  This gives you an idea of his sense of humor, his ability to adjust to the situation and deal with it.


The twinkle in his eyes…..

Michael had a special relationship with Bill Blass (Michael later designed the Blass collection, I thought the perfect fit!) who asked him to design his retrospective exhibition at Indiana University the fall of 2002.  The opening night was attended by many of Bill’s New York designer pals such as Adolfo and Carolyne Roehm as well as the ladies Blass dressed all of whom, after viewing the exhibition, sat down to Bill’s famous meatloaf.  The only thing missing was Bill who had died shortly before the opening.


Talking about Bill Blass

Michael asked to describe the exhibition said it would “be a mixture of museum and theatrics.”  The exhibit had dramatic lighting, the walls were what Michael called “cafe latte”, music of another Indiana native, Blass was from Indiana, Cole Porter, was piped throughout the space.  I was devasted not to be able to attend this once in a lifetime event, work prevented it  I did however go to see it at the invitation of Kate Rowland, curator of the University’s Sage Historical Costume Collection.  I was able to see it several times the day I was there…fortunately the first visit was early in the morning when I walked through it by myself…fortunately I say because I burst into tears at the first thing I encountered, Bill’s office, totally reassembled, again the only thing missing was Bill!  Bravo Michael…you totally did it and Bill would have totally approved.  I adore fashion exhibitions and this was done to perfection in a very small space, luckily we have a book co-authored by Michael, Kate, and my first SFA boss/mentor/supporter, the incredible, Helen O’Hagan.


I wanted to share some of the portraits Michael did of his designer friends, they are fabulous and capture the personalities perfectly.

9C4D8C18-42A4-4BE5-8C3F-8A8B30CED252                                                                      Bill Blass


Love this of Pauline Trigere, it captures her perfectly


James Galanos, exquisite



Donald Brooks (sorry for the poor quality, the only copy I could find)


Diane Von Furstenberg, gorgeous


Norman Norell, another designer who passed away prior to the opening of their exhibition from the Nena Ivon Archives of Columbia College Chicago.


Two illustrations from the divine monograph NORELL by the brilliant Jeffrey Banks….if you don’t already have it purchased it immediately, it is glorious and a MUST have for your library along with the Blass book


Lucky me, I worked with all the designers, above, who were captured by the insightful eye of Michael Vollbracht.


The famous Bloomingdale’s shopping bag, Michael’s Book, and…….no words needed!

My last in person encounter with Michael was at a Costume Society of America Symposium in Kansas City, (Michael was a hometown guy!) in 2010 when he was the Keynote Speaker.  A bit of background, at the 2009 CSA Symposium I was seated with the cochairs of the Kansas City event and they were discussing how excited and a bit intimated that Michael Vollbracht was coming for their event, I spoke up and said, “what a coup, he is the Renaissance Man and you will love him.”  Their response, and I think in unison, “do you know him!”  “Yes, yes, I do” I said….well needless to say I became golden and was asked to be his host…yes, please.


I set up the room before his presentation with pieces he had sent and put them on dress forms.  I introduced him and he began by talking about me much to my embarrassment, but I was nonetheless thrilled.  He got a standing ovation, not easy from the group…he was perfect, of course he was!  There is always a Patron Dinner for the keynote and those who wanted to be up close and personal with the guest…again he charmed the group with his “unfiltered” stories.  He and I went to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the Edward Steichen photography exhibition, who better to go with and spent another evening with Dennis Brozynski, my Columbia College Chicago Fashion Studies colleague and long term CSA supporter (the other member of our group, my dear friend and CSA roomie, Dianne Erpenbach, also a CCC Fashion Studies colleague, was tied up with CSA meetings and couldn’t join us) getting Kansas City barbecue….Michael knew all THE joints to go too.  We roamed around, stuffed full of some of the best barbecue ever.  Ah memories…all good ones


My little black dress sketch, hangs on one of the shelves of my fashion library.  It is visible from the foot of my bed, so we can say I wake up with Michael every day! Photo taken by me

So much has been said of his talent, his art, his fashion, his newly found voice on Facebook with wonderful in-depth stories of his career, his relationship with mega stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor, his frustration with the fashion industry, to say his death is a huge loss is a major understatement.  Rest In Peace Michael Vollbracht, your art lives on.

7CBE6DFC-024A-486C-9B24-EDE5A8B7016AAll photos and illustrations unless otherwise noted are from Pinterest credits unknown.



I haven’t done a model profile post for awhile and I have been “pestering” my girls forever, being the persistent gal I am I haven’t given up hope.  I must admit I’ve had D’Arry’s reminiscences for awhile, but as you know my laptop died and I have been in a learning curve with my iPad…..I think I have conquered it…..yay!

I was (and am) very lucky to have worked with exceptionally professional models through the years, you have had the pleasure of meeting many of them through nenasnotes (hopefully there will be more!).  When I started in the Fashion Office at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago we used 8, maybe 10, models in our shows most of which were commentated and an hour long. I used the same group for each show. Of course, as they left and shows changed I used more, but did like the consistency of the Saks models, I always knew what they could wear and most of the designers, in many cases, allowed me to eliminate fittings (it saved my budget!)  D’Arry was always the consummate pro…always show ready, on time (I do have a thing about promptness, I admit it!) I loved her look and, of course her red hair….

When I retired from Saks the models, organized by Elsa Tullos, (I did Elsa’s profile as one of my first model profiles) had the best party ever and D’Arry did the perfect drawings of the models…then and now, as my gift…I’m sharing it with you, they are now housed in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

They are definitely an inside joke but I think you can enjoy them

Now let’s hear from D’Arry and how she started her modeling career and where that took her and her fascinating life today.


“i was 19 when I started to model, a career fallen into by circumstance. I was training horses and restoring vintage Corvettes by day, and going to school at night to study criminology. My goal was to join the police force, but I still had two years before I was old enough to take the test…a boyfriend suggested modeling as a way to make extra money; and my career was born! I started doing print work, and my first job was a 5 hour shoot with Victor Skrebneski for Head and Shoulders shampoo. I had no idea who he was, and I remember my father being mortified; “He shoots NUDES!” he told me. I calmed him down with the latest issue of Vogue magazine and showed him all the fashion shots attributed to Mr. Skrebneski…to this day I feel Victor started me on my print career, and I am thankful.


Victor Skrebneski Marshall Fields ad, one of  D’Arry’s first print jobs

I was lucky enough to work the world, spending time in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Zurich, New York…probably not what would have been in the plans for me had I ever taken that police exam!


F7958600-A824-4654-9D90-150279230100Some of my favourite designers to work with were Gianni Versace, Georgio Armani, Luciano Soprani, and Karl Lagerfeld…On a sidenote: one of my favourite illustration jobs post-modelling was an award winning calendar featuring Jack Russell Terriers. One day I received a call from the publisher, she said she just gotten off the phone from a new customer in Paris. This woman had seen the calendar hanging on the showroom wall at the Maison de Givenchy, and had inquired about buying it. Monsieur Givenchy graciously gave her the phone number of the publisher and told her she could get her own. I’m certain he never knew the illustrator was someone he had offered the job of House model to 15 years earlier! (I declined because I could not, at that time, move to Paris for the year required.) When worlds collide.  


After I cut my teeth on printwork, I added runway…a new learning curve to master! In those days we didn’t go to “modeling school”, we learned from each other and our agents; and the runway girls were a pretty closed group to get to know (I’m glad I persevered, as I’m still great friends with most of them now. A bevy of Nena’s beauties even came to cheer me on my first time competing at the Westminster Dog Show in New York a couple of years ago-a memory that is dear to my heart.).

B86CD00C-B7BF-4F0E-A998-BA6DC61E5C76D’Arry with her model pals at Westminster, Maureen Mueller, Jeanouche Wopinski, Karen Ryan, D’Arry, Shelley MacArthur Farley, all have been profiled in past nenasnotes posts.  Photo from the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.


Working with Nena Ivon was, I think, about the best training you could get to make it in the modeling world. You could not buy that knowledge, and Nena was extremely selective on whom she chose to work with. She also demanded professionalism, and made NO exceptions when her expectations were not met. I remember I had a booking for a Bill Blass show, and the day before I burned my leg on the exhaust pipe of a friend’s motorcycle. I had a circle burn the size of a tennis ball on my calf, a really bad melted-skin burn. I told my agent so she could call Nena and replace me, but to my surprise, Nena kept me in the show. I walked the runway with a 4 inch square of white gauze on my leg…and afterwards Nena cancelled me out of the entire rest of the show season. Devastating for me; although I did end up getting an out of town print booking for one of the days I was originally scheduled for a Nena show, so it turned out okay (you could NEVER cancel a Nena show for another job!).


It took several years, a new short haircut and a completely new “look” to get re-hired for Saks shows. I apparently learned my lesson, as I was a regular in her group of girls after that! And I worked for her right up to the time that I “retired” and moved to a farm down in Southern Illinois. And as far as favourite designers for Nena’s shows-hands down for Adolfo! He always asked for me, and I simply adored him.

It’s now twenty (*ahem*) years later, and I make my living as an artist and a breeder of dogs. In addition to illustration work, I sculpt horses and dogs; I have done design work for the Breyer Molding Company in New Jersey, and design and sculpt for the Peter Stone Company in Indiana. I basically play with toys and puppies! And I get to play Vanna White for all the big model horse auctions…sometimes holding up my own artwork!

I am thankful for the experiences I’ve had in the modeling/acting world, it has helped me tremendously in showing my dogs-a passion of mine. Since most of my competing dogs are out of my own breeding programs, showing them off in the ring as flawlessly as I can is of the upmost importance. Even new dogs to my kennel are brought in as puppies, and I’ve trained them to be the show dogs they become. Since working with an animal can have challenges all on its own, the fact that I am comfortable walking and performing (necessary to showcase your dog in the ring) without getting nervous or flustered, well, that’s just another aspect of showmanship…not much different than walking the catwalk!

I am currently campaigning BrokenRoad Marco Polo of Prestige (Portuguese Podengo Pequeno), Prestige Gothom City Glitch (French Bulldog), And Prestige Exes and Ohs (Border Terrier) in the Owner Handler division of the AKC show circuit, and am proud to say that all three were ranked in the top 5 of their breeds; I am the first person to achieve this. (Final standings for 2017 were Griffy the Border and Marco the Pod #2 in their breeds, and Glitch the Frenchie was #5). This meant an invitation to compete in the National Owner Handler Finals in Orlando, Florida at the prestigious Royal Canin National Show. Very exciting! Marco Polo is currently ranked #3 in the breed of Podengos, if I can hang on to #5 or better, he and I will be invited to compete at Westminster in N.Y. again…

What a life!”5A70D502-A14E-474E-846B-9D7356821728

A reunion show at Wilmette Theater, Karen, Lelar, D’Arry, Gayle, Jeanouche, Nena, Shelley, Lou May, Terri, Dori and Camille. I do love orange on Ms. D’Arry.  Group photo from the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.  D’Arry photo courtesy of Ms. Frank.

D08E7825-AB3F-42DF-89DC-2BD45C5E4797 At the Misericordia Fashion Show on May 11, 2018 at the Chicago Hilton.  Karen always takes two tables and invites the models and me to join her. Pictured standing Dori Wilson, Isabell Bernard, Debra Balchen, Karen Ryan, Elsa Tullos, Diane Narcisse, Shelley MacArthur Farley, seated Loretta Wilger, Eleanor Simon and D’Arry.  I think time for another reunion show!!!!  Photo taken with my iPhone7.

D’Arry, I can tell you it was worth the wait to share your story with my readers.  I’m so pleased we had good times on the “catwalk” together and so very proud of you in your transformation with your precious dogs and your exquisite art.  Thank you so much for joining my blogging adventure….we have both reinvented ourselves.

All photos, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of D’Arry Jone Frank.



One of my favorites and it isn’t filtered, all photos were taken with my iPhone7

What could be nicer than a weekend in the country, well it could be sunny and warm rather than drizzle and cold!!!!  But hey, it was a weekend in the country with lazy days. I, of course, took a book with me to read and post and guess what, I didn’t like it at all, my deal with books…if I don’t like it I don’t read it, too many that interest me to waste time on ones that don’t appeal to me and I don’t do negative reviews.  I believe I’ve mentioned that before (I have been told I repeat things, sorry!) internet was difficult at best, did I mention I was in the country!  Couldn’t pull up my Kindle books…lots there on my TBR list, so I decided to walk around, between raindrops and wearing a borrowed sweater, and take photos for you. I’m posting them without comments. Rather between blooming, daffodils done, redbud trees turning to their wonderful heart shaped leaves, fruit trees getting ready to bear fruit, roses getting ready for their June blooms. And the hard part I was just a few days short of a glorious bed of Lily of the Valley, drat! What I love at this time of year is all the spectacular shades of green (my favorite color). Be sure to go to the end, I have my method for cooking fresh asparagus which we served to our Saturday evening dinner guests. Easy, easy, easy and really good.



72907F74-D23D-4168-BB7C-D5DB2432C44D0A56AAA5-E27F-4958-B7DF-161B5216EAF2Three varieties of asparagus freshly picked from the vegetable patch….what to do with them….lots of things but here is my quick preparation…


Break the stalk where it wants to break, of course wash them,  Peel the stalks if necessary. In a sauce pan, that will hold your bounty, melt a generous amount of butter when melted add asparagus, cover pan and vigorously shake until fork can easily pierce the stalks.  Obviously time varies with size of stalks. To finish sprinkle with sea salt and a generous grind of pepper.  Serve immediately or cool to room temperature.  Great as is or with a hollandaise.  Enjoy!EA38FA7C-2F3C-4856-94D9-AEBFEE99B278I’d buy this for the cover….lots of cookbooks on asparagus, if you do Kindle check Amazon Prime they have several that are free, at least when I Googled asparagus cookbooks.