A week after we learned of the death of the last of the great couturiers I feel everything has been written about this extraordinary creator by those who knew him, wrote about him and treasured his memory. His creativity was unparalleled not only in the world of fashion but also in his homes and his magnificent gardens.
I wanted to briefly talk about my memories of the few times I met him. The first time was at the launch of his first cosmetic collection in 1966. It was always a ”contest” to see which of the major stores, usually the Speciality Stores….Saks Fifth Avenue, Bonwit Teller, I. Magnin (Neiman Marcus wasn’t in Chicago yet) and, of course, Marshall Field’s, would launch the newest, hottest fragrance. I must say Saks saw it’s share of these prestigious events. Obviously a cosmetic collection by one of the worlds most illustrious designers was beyond exciting. We had a huge fashion press in Chicago at the time and they were all vying for exclusives. I didn’t then believe in exclusives if the story doesn’t run you are ”dead in the water”. Instead, we always had a press party for visiting designers in addition to a reception for clients usually to benefit a charity. All was set, caterers in place, champagne chilled and I had the tuxedoed wait staff with their champagne ladened silver trays lined up on either side of the cosmetic aisle ready for the guest of honor, M. Givenchy, his people, the President of Saks, Corporate Cosmetic VP’s and our guests. I ran up to my office to quickly change, I am in ”mid-change” when my walkie-talkie (this is before tech thingies!) is swawking….”M. Givenchy’s car has just pulled up”! My office was on the fourth floor, I finished pulling on my clothes torn down the stairs and made it to the door to escort the entourage into the store and the reception. Whew!! I have worked with many, many wonderful creators through the years and I can say he was one of the most gracious, charming of all. He made you feel like you were the only person he wanted to talk to, if only for a brief moment in time. This cosmetic line was short lived and we had the privilege of a second launch several years later. This photo, now in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, hung on my office wall was from the first launch. Unfortunately, like several other designer photos, the salutation has faded into oblivion over the years.
In M. Givenchy received the Designer of Excellence Award from the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum at a sold-out black-tie gala held in the Museum in 1995 sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The front and inside cover of the evening’s invitation, the evening was planned with the direction of M. Givenchy’s dear friend, Victor Skrebneski (holding my hand) who took the photo on the invitation and is seen here with M. Givenchy and Bonnie Deutsch, the President of the Costume Council at that time. The evening was a roaring success monetarily and prestigiously It was the talk of the town. All the guests were given a small ivory silk pocket square with the Givenchy signature and rolled hem in grey. All three images courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.
A close up of another Skrebneski photo of one of my favorite Givenchy dresses….you by now know my love of lily of the valley…what could be more divine!!!!! Photog found on Pinterest.
We all know of the deep friendship between Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn from the time she chose her garments for Sabrina through most of her many films, as well as her personal wardrobe. One of my most favorite garments are in Charade, loved the film (what’s not to like) and the clothes are to die for…she seems to have a new outfit in every frame…each better than the last.
My favorite Skrebneski photograph of a Givenchy gown. Everything is perfection….the composition, the lighting the incredible staircase, the floor and of course the gown…oh my the gown!!!! Found on Pinterest.
Of course, a few suggestions for your fashion book library….
I have very fortunate to have worked with the creme de la creme of the fashion world….lucky, lucky me!!
I have been looking forward to reading this book, I do like Lauren Willig’s Books. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I don’t think it was what it turned out to be…a mystery, yes…a love story or two, yes…family secrets, definitely yes….a telling of The Golden Age, a bit…but more a story of lost trust, betrayal, upholding tradition. I found it to be more Daphne Du Maurier than I was expecting.
The book opens with a Twelfth Nignt Ball (why is it called the Twelth Night Ball, you will find out) being held at Bay and Annabelle Van Duyvil’s Hudson estate. Bay is found dying, with a jeweled dagger in his chest, by his spinster sister, Janie and divorced cousin, Anne…Annabelle is nowhere to be found, although Janie insists she saw her “under the ice of the river”. The last words Janie thinks she hears from her beloved brother is “George”. Who is George??!! The headlines scream “Knickerbocker Murders Wife and Kills Himself! Murder and Suicide on the Hudson!” Those are the first 10 pages!
We switch years and locations throughout the book and find ourselves in London where Bay and Annabelle meet, we learn both their back stories and how their “friendship” progresses and how they come to the States (no spoilers from me). We also learn about Janie, her domineering mother and her cousin Anne (what is her relationship with her cousin, Bay?!). Is Annabelle who she says she is…you will find out. Why is she terrified of Giles Lacey. Who is Georgie?
Janie can not bring herself to believe Bay is a murderer nor that Annabelle is having an affair with the architect of their new home and sets out to find the truth and enlists the help of a reporter, Burke, and so the adventure begins. Secrets are uncovered, Mother Van Duyvil’s domination of the household tightens, the Coroner’s Inquest brings many of the loose ends together but there is much more to be discovered. Families are torn apart, unspoken liaisons are exposed, and the murderer revealed (again, no spoilers, but a surprise to me).
Okay, did I like the book….let’s say I didn’t dislike it. You, by now, know I don’t do negative reviews. The writing is tight, as mentioned, I am a fan of Lauren Willig, it held my interest, the story interesting (I usually don’t like different time periods but these were tight enough not to bother me…we aren’t doing “time travel” here!) I guess I just didn’t care about the characters. I expected more about the people of The Golden Age, yes, of course, they are discussed…the class differences both in England and the States, the manners, etc. I would like to have had more. I wondered about the several different directions the plot took…but think, in the end, all was resolved. In the near future I’m participating in an on-line book club discussion and I’ll let you know if I learn anything new. Would I recommend you read it, yes if you like a book with interesting plot twists, a protagonist who doggedly pursues her goals and ends up being the strong woman we know she will become, some predictable events others not so much. Will it hold your interest I think so. Let me know your thoughts.
I have been waiting forever for someone to write a monograph on Norman Norell, well it is finally here and the book is beyond brilliant!!!! Jeffrey Banks, who obviously, is not only in awe of this extraordinary designer and individual, but also recognizes the important contributions Norell made to the world of fashion, has written the perfect salute to one of the best fashion designers ever!
Jeffrey Banks at the opening of the Norell retrospective exhibition at FIT which he guest curated
The cover, pretty much says it all (not quite you need to read every word and look at each photo and drawing….many by the extraordinarily talented Michael Vollbracht, (lucky me, I worked with Michael on several occasions as well as having had the privilege of doing many shows with Mr. Norell, huge regret that I did not have the experience of working with Jeffrey Banks but we have become friends on Facebook and I have many of his other books in my fashion library.) Putting red on a redhead, the incomparable Suzy Parker in a 1952 photograph by Milton Greene, was very forward for the time, and here she is in one of Norell signature all over sequin gowns and enveloped in a cage of red tulle….glorious glamour.
One of Vollbracht’s immaculate drawings of an iconic mermaid gown
NORELL Master of American Fashion opens with an outstanding forward by Ralph Rucci and then broken down into brilliant chapters such as The Clothes, The History, The Leading Ladies and The Legacy, etc. The Afterword, Collecting Norell is by Kenneth Pool the renowned collector of Norell. The end papers are closeups of the handsewn sequins. So many incredible photos, one of my favorites is on page 26 which is described as “Norell’s smart theater suit” (don’t we wish everyone dressed up when going to dinner, the theater or at all!!!) it is a camel hair jacket lined in gold pailettes over a gold pailetted dress….stunningly beautiful. You have to hold your breath as you turn each page when you discover yet another miracle of design.
The sailor dress a look you saw in some form or another in most of Norell’s collections.
The iconic Life Magazine photo of Mr. Norell with his four models in mermaid gowns
Pass go and go directly to your nearest independent bookseller and get this book it is one of THE best ever…I’m afraid mine will become tattered from all the use it will get, we won’t even discuss the drolling over the images and tears of remembrance of days gone by but that can be relived in Jeffrey’s perfect book and also know that if we have a Norell in our wardrobe (I still live in hope all these years later…..) that it will never go out of style NORMAN NORELL lives on!
May I direct you to my blog post on Norman Norell from November 11, 2016 Norman Norell
Sorry I’ve been gone for a bit…having major tech problems (once again), this time everything failed me…my laptop browser, where I do nenasnotes, no longer wishes to accept my program (no I’m not going to tell you how old it is, you would faint!!!!!). Obviously means a new one, I am now deciding between a lap top or a desk top. Stunned at the prices!!! Then my email wasn’t working on my phone nor my iPad for three days…tried everything then magically it returned….email grinches for sure. But more importantly, my dears, I couldn’t upload, download,”side load”, whatever load ANY photos onto my posts, (and you know I am obsessed with photos) they went directly to “publish” and wouldn’t appear in the body of my posts…okay, bored yet, well there is more!!!! I really, really, really love working with WordPress and the Happiness Engineers (don’t you love it!!!!) have always helped me when I can’t figure something out on my own. The same three wasted days with email, computer, etc. were further wasted with back and forth questions and answers (I was told how to post, I’ve been posting for a year and a half, I know how to post)….finally I was told the feature I have always used isn’t “at the moment” available…by now I was more than frustrated and decided to take a “timeout” from WP. Not great since I had just posted the first in my Fall 2018 Fashion Trend reports, I will get back to them shortly, I promise! I was visiting My Toms in Blue Island and mentioned, well more than mentioned, my dilemma and in mere minutes the problem was solved. At least I hope so. I’m doing this on my iPad, a first…here we go.
Let’s use this post on a book I have wanted to share with you as a test, shall we!
I thought this would be a perfect book to supplement the upcoming Fall Fashion Season, I wasn’t disappointed, in fact it went way beyond my expectations. I found it to be a perfect addition to my fashion book library as well as give me insight into 50 authors and what they wear and how clothes appear in their writings. There are chapters on items of clothing such as Hats and Suits. These literary icons, most I have read, some I haven’t, were inspirational, funny, dramatic, spot on in the times they lived in and/or wrote about.
There are quotes from the incredible Dorothy Parker, no one better with quips, the wisdom of Maya Angelou, the depth of Zadie Smith, the man before his time Oscar Wilde, the sadness but beauty of Virginia Woolf, the chroniclers of their time F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and on and on. There are those whose personal style defined them, let’s think Tom Wolff and his white suits, Quentin Crisp with his “dressing up skills”, Colette with her fabulous personal style of self and in her writing…..the list goes on and on.
. Oscar Wilde
. Virginia Woolf
. Truman Capote
All photos from Pinterest. Continue reading
The glitz of a Chanel shoe pared with a ombre tweed jacket from Lafayette 148 New York.
This has always been my motto in my wardrobe choices and when I assist others in planning and updating their closets and refreshing their hair and make-up.
It was time for my own refresh…..I’m not changing my signature base of black top and either a black pant or skirt and an occasional dress. I am looking at a new make-up, a shorter hair-cut and new jackets and shoes, ah yes, shoes!!!! I am so tired of hearing all the convesations that one can or can’t wear this or that after a “certain age” whatever that means! Let’s take a look at Iris Arfel, Tziporah Salamon or the ladies (and gentlemen, you can use a refresh as well you know!!!!) in Ari Seth Cohen’s books Advnced Style and Advaned Style: Older and Wiser. Seriously, enjoy the fun, excitement and ease of being yourself. Are there restrictions to what we can and can’t do, perhaps physically, but not our sense of who we are and what we wear. Mini skirts should be left to those who have great legs no matter what the age, leggings never did get them unless worn under a skirt or with a shoe boot or boot or at the gym,. but not as a pant!
Now some pointers on how to shop….
- Get a personal wardrobe stylist (perhaps me!) or a sales associate at your favorite store….Personal shoppers will take care of more than your wardrobe, they become your PA’s
- Nothing wrong with shopping on sale, just be sure what you fall head and heels over works with what you have in your closet…adding items that can’t work, unless you are doing a whole new wardrobe (don’t we wish!!!!) isn’t smart at all
- Think of adding one new trend or color a season
- Adding a new shoe, handbag, piece of jewelry, sunglasses, scarf can make all the diffenence in your established wardrobe
- A top notch alteration person/tailor can make your existing wardrobe look new and be able to make that little adjustment on your skirt or pant length taking it from dowdy (and who wants to look dowdy or dated!) to fab
- A refreshed make-up….go to any store to any make-up counter and find a new look not only fun but empowering, we all love a new color lipstick and often need the new eyes of a trained make-up artist to give us the updated look along with technique tips
- A new hairstyle and perhaps a fresh color, both will make you feel and look a million% better
Are you ready for my journey for a New Year New Nena….well here we go….. First up I made a long overdue (my hair grows very fast and I find it loses it shape quickly, I really need to get it cut every 4-5 weeks, hadn’t been in ages, bad Nena!) appointment with Daniel Paterno at Workshop Daniel Salon
Arrival with DanielPondering the look…..cut it off Daniel!!!!
Some of the old look on the floor…..Much better, don’t you agree…..
A few days later I arrive at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago to do my make-up with Armenia Vasquez, the Chanel Business Manager, she is a delight to work with, please check with her, the Chanel Beauty boutique has so many wonderful upcoming events for you to enjoy.The Spring Chanel palette Armenia used on me (she had Googled me to plan ahead the look she thought would be best and she was spot on! Smart lady!)The Chanel special blush formed like a Chanel tweed….amazing!
I love make-up charts, this is mine (wish I looked like the sketch…one lives in hope)…she did a green liner on top of a smoky dark grey liner above the lash and in the waterline under the top lash. I usually do a nude on the lower waterline. A blend of a couple of lipsticks for a softer red than I have been using…like it alot. She kept my smoky eye and added a bit of blush, which I usually only do for evening, I also intensify my eye for evening. I liked the addition of the green, having green eyes they change from green to blue to hazel but the green brought out the green perfectly. Luckily I have a lot of lid and it does like color…..my brows are in the process of growing in but must be groomed, they are wild otherwise and one can’t have wild eyebrows…oh my! I find having my make-up done, in fact any personal service, so relaxing and rewarding to take away not only a new and refreshed look but a new tip or two on application and/or color.
Next up wardrobe….I had been in the week before to review my picks for the photo shoot…The initial pull…a couple of the pieces were sold (that is the idea!!!!) so you won’t see them in the actual photos. I also took a couple of photos of the jackets with my shoe selection…one of which is at the top of this post…here is anotherI am obsessed with this Chanel tweed “sneaker” can you even stand the pearl detail, oh my. The 10022 Shoe department at Saks Chicago is beyond amazing I wanted everything I saw but did contain myself with ones I wanted to share with you.
When I got to the Fifth Avenue Club Bryant Keith Von Woodson II was ready for me with the garments pulled (we took a couple of minutes to pull more shoes) and was all set to photograph the “try-on” portion of the refresh. He is always spot on with own trendsetting look as you can see reflected in the mirror. New York City you had better get ready because as soon as he graduates from Columbia College Chicago in May he is planning on taking the Big Apple by storm….just saying!
Let me show you my favorite look of all, this incredible print jacket by Etro…love everything they do, but this mix of color and pattern is superb and would be the one piece to add to my wardrobe. My closet is seasonless (a few hot weather pieces thrown in but mostly year round clothes…drop the turtleneck for a black shell or cammy for those hot summer days). I am wearing my own new gold triple hoop drop earring a bargain found at the last Randolph Street Market, the next one is Satuday and Sunday, February 24 and 25 from 10 to 5. I would wear a black pump with this to complete the outfit.Two of the trends I followed in the Spring 2018 shows I covered in nenasnotes, Crome yellow and a bold abstract print. The jacket is from Lafayette 148 New York and the charming black lace trim print top from Kobi Halperin, one of my new favorite designers. Can’t wait to see what will show us for Fall 2018 in New York Fashion Week shows beginning this week. I’m suggesting a high heel black suede sling from Manolo Blanik. The jewelry featured is from my own collection of jet necklaces, you can be sure there will be a feature on jet in the near future.Love this Lafayette 148 New York jacket in an ombre black and white tweed but perhaps too similar to pieces I already own. But it is a stunning classic that can be worn forever! Hum, I wonder and with that Chanel shoe…….Another trend that I followed through all four major markets for Spring 2018, stripes, here on an Akris jacket accented with stripes that look like a bar code and a triangular detail of metallic. The shoe, picking up another trend polka dots, Chanel’s clear and black patent with pearl dots…love!All shades of pink were on the catwalks for Spring, this classic blazer from Oscar de la Renta, many items in my established wardrobe are OdlR. I’m holding a slide, I don’t usually like them because I tend to walk out of them but found this one a delight in a charming rose print from Gucci.Every designer I ever worked with wanted me to wear red, not my color of choice but this one might be the exception. Again from Oscar de la Renta and I’m showing you two shoe choices, both from GUCCI, the floral applique leather stiletto or the carnation embroidered flat. The pin on the jacket from my Bakelite collectiion also from a visit to the Randolph Street Market.For some unknown reason this looks architectural to me….like a pointilist painting of a skyline, vivid imagination, I know! It is from the Akris Punto spring collection. The shoe I have chosen is from Ferragamo and is black patent with a sculptured gold heel, yum!
Well there you have it some of my picks for an updated look for Spring 2018 and beyond. I will be covering the Fall 2018 month of the four major fashion markets starting this Friday…let’s hope I reign myself in this season and not do daily posts…we shall see, Fall Colelctions are my favorites!
Just a note, none of the vendors mentioned, including Saks Fifth Avenue, have compensated me in any way for this post. All are my opinions and my photos via Bryant!
WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
It has to be when I was a member of the Swinging Needles 4-H Club in Huntsburg, Ohio. I received numerous awards for my sewing. I made aprons, potholders, sundresses, etc. My Mother, seamstress extraordinaire, was also the leader of the club.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”
February 11, 2009. My book, Your Personal Style was published and released by Fairchild publications. All the learnings I had received throughout my career was now written down for me to pass on to others. It’s not only educational but a beautiful keepsake. It has been used in over 30 colleges across the United States.
HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW
I began my business, Fine Threads, sewing for professional women. These women believed in me and pushed me to continue their style journey. So, I went inside their closets and took them shopping. At the time, I didn’t know what it was called, but quickly learned it was image consulting. I was introduced to the organization The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) where I honed my craft.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE
I would be a college professor. I really liked teaching others, and so I went back to college to get my Masters Degree in Training & Development. I wanted to not only teach others but to plan the curriculums and organize the training. I became a Program Chair for the Fashion Department at IADT (no longer in existence), yet still, teach and train plenty of individuals and groups.
Nancy working with clients, here a classic trench, one of the Spring 2018 trends.
Appearing on Windy City Live
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK
I have 3 favorite books! 1) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 2) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and 3) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
THEATER AND MUSIC
Alvin Ailey Dancers, the plays Wicked and Hamilton, Music from The East Village Opera Company, Adele, Sam Smith, and John Legend
Reading, writing, Bikram Yoga, bike riding, walking along the Lakefront (or any body of water – ocean perhaps!), Sunday Church-Brunch-Movie, sewing (especially fabric stores), and live music concerts, and hearing great speakers on a variety of topics.
Unique Modern Furniture like West Elm and Anthropologie Home
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Denzel Washington, Sandra Bullock, Diane von Furstenberg, Zac Posen, Byron Lars, Sarah Jessica Parker, Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.
I would serve an Ethiopian, Mediterranean buffet from Chef Marcus Samuelsson
Marcus Samuelsson…. Nena’s note, I visited his restaurant Aquavit many years ago…must do Red Rooster in Harlem, New York on my next visit. Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST
Martha’s Vineyard and would love to visit Paris, France
FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT
BLVD in the Fulton Market area of Chicago. I’m excited to check out the “old Hollywood glamour and glitz” and of course the food.
BLVD, I want to go too….really glam! Photo from Pinterest credit not available.
FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART
Anything from Chicago artist Sam Kirk
Sam Kirk and a portion of a mural. Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED
Kind, creative, and a unique blessing to mankind!
A FAVORITE RECIPE
Arroz Con Pollo from my Mother. Ingredients include white rice, chicken, green olives, tomato sauce, celery, thyme, green peppers, salt, garlic, black pepper, vegetable oil, onion, Add 2 cups of water. Bake at 350 until rice is cooked. Nena’s Note.…there are zillions of recipes online with photos…I went to the Williams Sonoma website for the recipe…..Arroz Con Pollo Williams Sonoma
website: www.finethreadschicago.com,“Let us guide you in developing a style that’s uniquely your own.”
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