FASHION FLASHBACK: ANNE KLEIN AND THE EVOLUTION OF A BRAND

imageAnne Klein in her studio with her inspiration board, sketches and fabric swatches. She along with Bonnie Cashin, Anne Fogarty and Claire McCardell  were the creators of “American Designer Sportswear”.  I must admit I have always found that description to be ludicrous, they were spectacular visionaries why tag them with the sportswear title.  Yes, they did separates but so much more…just as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren did all considered Designer Sportswear designers….oh well!  I was fortunate to work with three of the four, McCardell died right after I started my career at Saks Fifth Avenue. This press folder photo is in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageAnne Klein with her first husband, Ben Klein, formed Junior Sophisticates from 1948-1960.  I loved Junior Sophisticates and wore many of the pieces.  This photo typical of the time, could easily be an Anne Fogarty with it’s belted waist and full skirt, I wore her garments in high school and when I started working.  The ad from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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Anne formed Anne Klein and Company in 1968 with her second husband,  Chip Rubenstein, the lion logo was immediately identified with the brand. In 1970 Saks Fifth Avenue, New York launched the Anne Klein Corner, it was the first designer in-store “boutique”. Anne received many awards throughout her career and was recognized as the epitome of designer sportswear. At one point in time Saks Fifth Avenue did a series of needlepoint kits commissioned from designers, I needlepointed (a full post on my needlepoint craze, I have done hundreds of pieces, at some point in time….no pun intended!!!!) the Anne Klein logo as a gift along with one from Emilio Pucci, and if memory serves me, Bill Blass. Photo Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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For the Versailles show in 1973, organized by the public relations genius, Eleanor Lampert,  Anne was the only female American Designer to show alongside Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Halston and Stephen Burrows. The five Americans were showing with five Parisian designers, who showed first in a very formal staged production, while quite beautiful they didn’t compare to the modernity of the Americans who did a very quick presentation complete with jazz, twirling models, many African-American  models who went on to become super stars, and Liza Minelli!  They brought the house down and got a standing ovation and cheers from the jaded crowd.  American fashion came into its own that night and has never looked back!  For more on this show read The Battle of Versailles and see the film, Versailles ’73.  Unfortunately, not much footage is available and what there is is really not top quality, however, the film is fantastically done, you will really enjoy it if you haven’t seen it and if you have give it another look. Photo Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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imageThe Anne Klein medallion on the New York Fashion Walk of Fame.

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Louis Dell’Olio and Donna Karan were classmates at Parson’s School of Design and graduated in 1973 and went to work for Anne Klein.  I have had this press photo for years…so glad to finally share it.  It is in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

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When Anne Klein died from breast cancer in 1974, her assistants, Donna Karan and Louis Dell’Olio became the designers from 1974-1985.  They came to Saks Chicago and we did a formal show in the Store.  What fun that was. Several years later, when Donna had her own collection she was making a personal appearance at I. Magnin, they had a store on Michigan Avenue and Pearson (where TopShop  and Uniqlo are now) and were doing a formal show on the street between Michigan Avenue and Rush Street (what is the name of that Street!!!???) on the west side of The Water Tower.  This one block street was closed and chairs were set up in the street without a tent.  I rarely went to other stores shows, unless invited, I thought they would think I was “spying” on them.  Well, I decided to go to this one and sat in the back row.  Donna commentated the presentation and at the end walked the runway (the street), as is usual for a designer at the finale…she came to the end where I was, glanced at me walked about half way or so back toward the Store, came back to me, gave me a hug and said “I know you, you are with Saks…and your shows are wonderful!”  So much for trying to be incognito!!!  The next time she came to Chicago was to open the Barney’s New York store in it’s original location on Oak Street (Hermes now) and she arrived on a motorcycle which drove her into the Store, it was a blast and so was Donna.  I did not have the pleasure of doing a formal show with a personal appearance with her but did do several formal shows with her collections over the years.

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Donna leaves Anne Klein for her signature line, the rest of that story is fashion history.  The foundation to the Donna Karan brilliant 5 Easy Pieces, the bodysuit!

imageThe orginal “cold shoulder” dress! We see shoulders everywhere now, revolutionary at the time.

imageDonna has always been her own best model.  I so miss her basic 5 Easy Pieces, she had the look down for the professional woman, not only professional but rather sexy and very assured giving the wearer a power that a “power suit” couldn’t.  Her talent is sorely missed but we can still get her brilliance with Urban Zen. Above photos are from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageDonna’s plaque on New York’s Fashion Walk of Fame.

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A very blond Nena with Louis Dell’Olio, Anne Klein desinger from 1985-1993.  Louis, while at Parsons apprenticed with the genius, Norman Norell (as you know one of my idols!) during a summer break and won the Norman Norell Scholarship. Saks did several personal appearances with Louis all at formal fashion shows and, as usual, benefits for local charities.  One I fondly remember was held in Stanley Field Hall at the Field Museum of Natural History.  I love using staircases for fashion shows  (my Corporate Office would always ask me if I only did shows on stiarways, my answer “Whenever possible!”) My production guru, Deb Gohr of Ravenswood Studios, was a genius in fulfilling my staging vision for all our shows.  This one used the double staircase at the South end of the Museum lobby (can you believe I can’t find a photo, in my files or on line!!!) I wanted the runway to come off the stairs and be seamless, and Deb did this perfectly. It was flawless at least up to a point….(I think this was one of the first shows Deb and I did together, we are still staging shows!!!!). I was only using the staircase to begin the show with the models coming down, in tandum, on each side.  That worked well.  The rest of the show they entered from each side of the runway, not a problem and then I wanted several to appear at the top of the staircase and walk down the stairs for the finale.  All good so far, I put those few models in their gowns on the elevator, I waited to cue my assistant who was at the next floor of the Museum next to the Hall of Gems. Nothing happened for what seemed like an eternity, the elevator had gotten stuck, after the brief pause out they came, very dramatically (think Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face in her red gown in front of the Winged Venus on the stairs of the Louvre and you get the picture!)  All was saved and actually made a much more exciting finale…everyone thought it was planned!!!!  I have now revealed a long kept not so secret secret!

In the above photo, I am wearing a signature look of Louis, one color combination in three textures and patterns.  This outfit is chocolate brown and cream, the fitted jacket is a silk tweed, the sweater a silk knit and the pencil skirt, wrapped to one side, in another tweed a combination of silk and wool.  I wore it for many years and adored both the man and his esthetic! Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageA watercolor that Louis did for the cover of an invitation for a benefit show we did at China Club.  The finale was red gowns.  It was stunning and perfect in a club atomsphere (that was when we dressed to go out!!!!)  The night before we dined with Oprah Winfrey, who was beginning her Chicago career, a friend and client of Louis.  The last time I worked with Louis was with his glorious fur collection.  I miss his talent and being able to showcase his expertise.  This watercolor is in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageA typical look by Louis Dell’Olio.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageLouis always liked to do the color head to toe…here you see the hose and shoes, (he often included gloves and fabulous jewelry), all Anne Klein and Company, matching the skirt, the jacket in a contrasting red, a Dell’Olio signature. Pinterest photo credit unknown.

THE shows you always wanted to see in addition to Designer Shows were the Designer Sportswear Shows, Louis Dell’Olio for Anne Klein, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.  Each spectacular and each with its own flair and each standing room only…those were the days, my friends!

imageRichard Tyler 1993-1994 became the designer for Anne Klein after Louis left (!!).  He came from a very structured, almost men’s tailoring background.  His garments were magnificently constructed, the Collection, we featured with his personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago, was all black with a bit of white (you can see the white on my shirt, the black suit is also from the collection, and his t-shirt) totally different from the color of Louis’ era. He came with his wife and new baby and was a joy to work with, very quiet almost shy in nature and a true craftsman. Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageFrom the Richard Tyler for Anne Klein and Company.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageThe Richard Tyler stint at AK was short lived and he was followed by Patrick Robinson, 1994-1996.  I adored working with Patrick a true talent and a total gentleman with great style. Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago. Since I am only discussing the designers I worked with I will only mention the designers who followed in quick succession they were 1998 Ken Kaufman and Isaac Franco, 2007 Isabell Toledo

imageOne of my favorite designers, Charles Nolan, 2001-2003, left to go into politics (you heard that correctly!!!!) and returned with his own charming and very salable signature line.  He died much too young in 2011, a major loss to all of us.  This picture was taken at a Misericordia Heart of Mercy benefit show.  Charles made two personal appearances for the orgaization and showed his delightful signature collections. I’m wearing a piece from his collection and the fabulous pearl necklace is from his accessories collection, I also have a couple pairs of his shoes (where are they!!!???) also fun. Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

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Charles Nolan for Anne Klein, Pinterest photo credits unknown.

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The current creative director, Sharon Lombardo, will she turn the brand back to where it should be….let’s hope so, I for one miss the Anne Klein of yore.  Photo from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

How about a couple of recipes from Donna and Louis….

FROM THE HELEN O’HAGAN SAKS FIFTH AVENUE COOK FOR STYLE BOOK 1983

DONNA KARAN FOR ANNE KLEIN DEVILED CHICKEN

1 2 lb. broiling chicken or 2 chicken breasts with bone in

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

Pre-heat broiler at maximum for 15 minutes.

Lay chicken on a chopping block with the breast facing down and split it open along the entire backbone.  Crack the breast bone from inside. (have your butcher do this!) Spread the chicken as flat as possible.  In other words, flaten the chicken until it looks like a mounted butterfly!

Put the chicken in a deep dish.  Pour the lemon juice over the chicken then add the peppercorns and olive oil.  Cover the dish and let it marinate for 3 hours or overnight  Discard marinade. When ready to cook, sprinkle chicken with salt and broil skin side up about 5″ from the flame.  When skin turns light brown, baste with freshly made marinade.  Turn again after 8 minutes.  Cook briefly on both sides again another 3 minutes or so until meat is tender to the prick of a fork.

If you run out of marinade before chicken is done use a teaspoon more of olive oil.  Before serving use another pinch of crushed pepper.

Serve with rice and almost any vegetable, how about broiled tomatoes.

A dry French wine — white, of course!

Serves 2

All from the book with the exception of discarding the marinade that the chicken has soaked in, I have discarded it and done a fresh batch, add ingredients accordingly.

LOUIS DELL’OLIO FOR ANNE KLEIN FETTUCINE AL SUGO DI VONGOLE

2 dozen littleneck clams (the tinest you can find)

1 tablespoon shallots, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsely, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper, chopped

1/4 cup white wine

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt to taste, but not too much

1 pound fettucine or linguine

Wash clams in cold water, put in a covered saucepan over high flame.  As clams open up, shuck them and put into small bowl.  After shucking all the clams pour the juice from the pan over them.  Set aside.  Put shallots in small saucepan with oil and saute over medium high heat until translucent.  Add the garlic and saute until light gold color appears.  Add parsley and hot pepper, stir a bit, add wine.  Allow wine to boil until it evaporates by half.  Turn off heat. Chop the clams up even smaller than the smallest one.  Filter the clam juice though a seive lined with a paper towel or cheese cloth.  You should have 2/3 cup of liquid.  If there is more, discard it.  Add the liquid to the sauce and boil again until reduced by half.  Add the chopped up clams, they should be turned quickly into the sauce.  Turn off heat.  Add butter and cheese.  Mix thoroughly.  Taste and correct with salt.  Salt many not be required.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to 4 quarts boiling water, then drop in pasta and drain as soon as it it tender, but nutty (al dente) to the bite.  The minute the pasta is drained, put it in a warming serving dish, pour the sauce over it.  Re-heat sauce if no longer hot.  Toss thoroughly and serve immediately.  Grated cheese, although not recommended for clam sauce, can be served on the side. Serves 4.

Serve with a dry white wine, French or Italian, and a simple salade Verde (endive, watercress, lightly dressed)

 

 

 

PROFILE: CATHERINE GRACE O’CONNELL

imageCatherine Grace O’Connell in Bhanuni dress at Anthropologie, Michael Stars hat

I want you to meet a new friend of mine, Catherine Grace O’Connell.  We were introduced by Annette Findling, http://www.womenwhorock.com whose profile I posted on March 6, 2017.  I was asked to join a group that was being formed by Catherine, The Fierce 50.  A group of women over 50 who have commen interests, fashion, decorating, books, self esteem…etc. this sounded right up my alley and, obviously, probably because of nena’snotes as well as a trend to featured “older” models in editorials and ads (Carmen, Lauren Hutton, etc.), books and movies…think IRIS and Advanced Style, I was interested in joining.  Shortly after that introduction and being accepted into the fledgling group (hardly that now!!!!) I met Catherine at a coffee get together along with Annette and Kendra Chaplin, Publisher of Chicago Woman magazine  http://www.chicago-woman.com and we all enjoyed a converstion that could have gone on for days not just a cup of coffee.  Plans are being made to take The Fierce 50 Revolution much further than I think even Catherine thought of when she began this new venture.  Now sit back enjoy your drink of choice and hear about Catherine’s journey, I know you will enjoy the ride, her story is impactful and for her, and others, inspirational….she is filled with compassion and a love for life that is infectious!

imageBlue and white stripe StyleKeepers blouse from Aros, Paige Denim jeans, Sam Edelman shoes and Clare V clutch

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

My first impression was only recently. I came from a family that never gave any positive messages about myself. It took most of my life to undo the original programming and low self esteem that I suffered with for most of my life. I always knew that I had a flair and passion for fashion yet I was told that it was superficial and definitely not a career path. I had no idea that I had any talent when it came to writing and I never saw myself as creative in any way until recently. The launch of my blog http://www.CatherineGraceO.com was a real turning point in my life. I was coming back from having spent an entire year bedridden with seizures and I went down to 100 pounds. My organs began shutting down and on 11/11/14, I went through a Near Death Experience. The creation of the blog is what saved my life. Channeling my energy in a positive way and focusing on living rather than surviving made all the difference in the world. I found an internal confidence that I never knew existed. I had been on a deeply spiritual path and that was an enormous part of my recovery as well. Healing from the inside out, finding passion and purpose and reconnecting with the world and helping others was the key to saving my life.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

I’m not sure I have “made it” as of yet. What I am certain of is that for the first time in my life, my beliefs about myself have changed. I like who I am and I love what I am doing with my life. Even while a young child, I felt different from others. I always knew that I had a bigger purpose and I was here to make a difference in the world and to try and leave this world a better place. Founding The Fierce 50 was life changing for me. My heart feels such empathy for others. I have never understood why people discount people due to age. To me, age is just a number and our attitude toward life is everything. The Fierce 50 brings a new vibrance, energy and hope to women at midlife and beyond.

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Beth Briggs Illustration http://www.bethbriggs.com (Nena’s note, I think she is a brilliant illustrator and the images constantly change looks, fashion and more importantly, body shapes!)

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

I was passionate about fashion as a young girl. Believe it or not, I was raised as a tomboy and never had pretty clothes. I had 4 brothers and the house was a very male household with gocarts and motorcycles. I never had a Barbie doll.  When I was old enough to begin working at 13, I spent all my money on clothing. When I was 16, I took a bus to the mall and went to work at Charles A. Stevens. I spent every penny of my paycheck on clothes. It was such a confidence builder. When I would try on something new and beautiful, it would affect the way that I felt about myself. I found fashion to be incredibly empowering and life changing. It’s an amazing way for a woman to use her own creative powers of self expression. Fashion is the way the world views us. It’s kind of like a personal calling card. Let’s be honest, we live in a very image conscious world and people judge us based upon how we look. I don’t believe that you should ever dress for others but it’s a great way to express your personal style. When you look beautiful, you feel beautiful. Beautiful design has a way of shifting our energy and people respond to positive energy.

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

I’m surprised by how much I love to write. When I first began to write many years ago, I was going through a very contentious divorce. I was in a dark place and the writing mirrored where I was at during that time. As I’ve evolved and healed, I’ve found that my writing is coming from a place of pure inspiration. It’s really easy for me. The words just flow very easily. I don’t “think” about it. I just write and allow the inspiration to come through. Great writing always takes teamwork. My business manager is also my editor and he’s brilliant at it. We make a fabulous team. He’s actually my ex-boyfriend who saved my life when I was bedridden with Lyme. That’s a whole story that hasn’t been told. We have a great partnership and work very well together. When you write, it’s difficult to see certain things clearly. It’s always helpful to have a second set of eyes on the creative process.

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Cleobella dress, Michael Stars Hat

I’ve also recently launched a radio show with Kathy Kaehler who was on The Today Show for 14 years. She’s a brilliant radio host and we make a great team. We launched Cat & Kaehler: Fiercely Empowering Women of All Ages Through the Lens of Midlife. It’s really a show about the art of reinvention at midlife. We have both been through a great deal of adversity and we share very openly and authentically. We are also the voice of The Fierce 50 and we can’t wait to share the stories of the amazing women, including yours, Nena! If I were to do it all over again, I would have gone to school for journalism and broadcasting. I didn’t any self confidence and never dreamed that I could be doing what I’m doing today. I went to Vanderbilt University and double majored in Economics and French. I was planning to study International Finance so that I could go to Third World Countries and save the world. The studies weren’t my passion. Serving others definitely was and that’s what I’m doing today in a very different capacity.

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY),TYPE OF MUSIC, LOCAL RESTAURANT

Oh, that’s hard. I have lots of favorite books. I’m a voracious reader. I grew up in the library surrounded by books.  I was drawn to biographies and autobiographies as a child. I went through some very dark times in my marriage and I found the spiritual path which lit a fire inside of me. I’m a huge fan of Wayne Dyer. I love his “A Spiritual Solution to Every Problem” and “I can See Clearly Now.” I also love David Hawkens, “Power V. Force” and Danielle LaPorte, “White Hot Truth.” I recently interviewed her over the phone and she’s the real deal.

As far as movies, I rarely get to the movie theatre but I did see LaLa Land and though it was brilliant. I needed to see it as I wanted the inspiration for a Chico’s video and it was very inspiring. Tom Shadyac made a fabulous and eye opening movie called “I  Am” that I found very inspiring. Right now, I’m watching “American Playboy” as I’m studying for an interview with Christie Hefner. She’s coming into the radio studio to do a live show in July and I’m thrilled. I have to admit that I was a bit closed minded about Playboy as I had certain ideas that have changed since watching the series. People may have preconceived notions about Hugh Hefner and Playboy. I’ve absolutely loved the series. Regardless of what you may think about him and Playboy, I’m fairly certain your viewpoint may change upon seeing the miniseries. He was a visionary and a brilliant businessman. I do believe that many women have a secret, sensual side that they may not know they have inside of them. He seemed to tap into this during a time period that was very conservative.

When it comes to theatre, I’ll take Musical Theatre any day. My favorite musical of all time remains RENT. I can sign along to that musical soundtrack any day. Although, you may not want to hear me sing. I belt ut songs at the top of my lungs and lets just say, I’ve never been trained!

I went to school in the South and Country Music and Southern Rock will always be my favorites. I put on the song, “The Fighter” which is a duet with Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban almost daily. I’m an energy worker and this song shifts my energy in an instant!

I grew up in Chicago and moved to LA 7 years ago. I’ve always been a seafood lover. My favorite restaurant is in the Northern Suburbs of Ravinia. It’s called Michaels. It’s run by Michael Paulsen who is also the chef and its’ truly the most divine food I have ever tasted. He starts with these homemade rolls fresh out of the oven covered in the most delicious cheese. It’s heaven! In LA, I live in the South Bay. My favorite restaurant is very casual. It’s the Fish House in Manhattan Beach. I would be great on a desert island. Give me fish and coconuts, and I’m a happy camper.

HOBBIES….

I took up yoga late in life. I started in Chicago in my early 40’s and I never quite found my spot. Moving to Manhattan Beach, I discovered the YogaLoft. If I had more time, I would become an instructor and train there. They have the most fabulous instructors. It’s very laid back with no pressure and I love that. To me, yoga is all about you. It’s not meant to be competitive. It’s designed to create space inside of you and to reconnect you to your mind and body. I also love meditation. I can’t say I’m great at it as it’s hard to stay focused but that’s the point. I went to a meditation retreat in Whistler with Deepak Chopra and Davidji. It was life changing. I remember coming back and people thought I had snuck away and had work done! I had to laugh. Truly. We had a week of 12 hour meditation and it was hard but brilliant. I try and do it every single day. I also do breathwork and energy work.

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I also love to do artwork. I can’t say I’m great at it but I do enjoy simple meditative coloring books and mandalas.

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

I had an interior design business in Chicago. I wasn’t formally trained but I’ve always had an “eye” for beautiful design and aesthetics. To me, it’s no different than fashion. It’s all about creative self expression. I’m very eclectic and non-traditional. I did my home in Chicago and did the entire renovation. I lived in Winnetka and made it a very beachy home with soft whites, pale blues and seashell scones and chandeliers. I guess I have always been a California girl at heart! A California couple bought the home. I’m not a big antique collector but I do love the Asian philosophy. I collect things like Buddhas and Quanyin figurines. I love things that have deep, spiritual devotional meanings. My daughter told me if I brought home one more Buddha she was going to kill me. You have to laugh!

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

Oh, that’s a hard one. I have so many people I’m dying to interview. I absolutely love people’s stories. I’m one of those people that are very open and people love to ask me for advice. I was supposed to go on a cruise with Wayne Dyer right before he passed away. He would be at the top of the list. So would Mother Theresa, Jesus, Mother Mary, and David Hawkins.

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND WHERE DO YOU WANT TO VISIT

I haven’t traveled a lot but have a deep desire to see the world. My favorite place would be either the beach or the mountains. I’ve never forgotten my first visit to Estes Park, Colorado or the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. I also love the beach. Maui is absolutely breathtaking and magical. I have a huge bucket list for travel. I would start with the Maldives and Bali. I’ve also never been to Italy and Greece. Those are high on my list.

imageAdidas Dress, Asos by Public Desire shoes

YOUR FAVORITE CHICAGO PUBLIC ART PIECE

I love the sculpture at Millennial Park. I can’t recall what they call the sculpture but it’s breathtaking. (Nena’s note, I presume she means Cloud Gate!)

HOW DO YOU  WANT TO BE REMEMBERED

I want to leave this world a better place. I’m a total empath and I feel people’s pain as though it were my own. Quite honestly, that’s why I started The Fierce 50. It was painful to me to see how women over 50 were treated. I’ve not had that difficult of an experience myself. I believe it’s because people have always thought I was younger than my age. I’ve never ever lied about my age except to get into a bar when I was under age. Other than that, I have always believed that we should be proud of our age and celebrate every moment. I love being a crusader for women over 50. I intend to be on the forefront of ushering in a new paradigm where we are revered for our age and our wisdom, much like they are in the Far East. Every single year is a triumph and a blessing. Plus, we are sending the wrong message to younger generations. They fear getting older when they should embrace it.

WOULD YOU SHARE A FAVORITE RECIPE OR TWO WITH US

I have an incredible homemade spaghetti that I make. It’s to die for and it’s one of my most requested recipes. It’s called Sensational Spaghetti  http://www.food.com/recipe/sensational-spaghetti-sauce-109761 and I also make a homemade pot roast that’s killer. It cooks for hours so the meat falls apart. I was a vegetarian for awhile and I was sick all the time. I had to add meat back into my diet. I work for a nutrition company that’s on the cutting edge of superfood nutrition. I’m a big believer in healing from the inside out and also finding balance in your life. I don’t believe in diets or restriction. I believe in moderation in everything! I used to have a sweet tooth and was an addict. It’s completely gone now finding superfood nutrition. I start every day with a vegan dairy free chai meal replacement shake. It’s my greatest health secret.

CATHERINE’S BEEF POT ROAST

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs Beef Stew
2 to 3 cups red wine
3 tablespoons condensed beef broth(glass jar in grocery store-not liquid or powder)
2 cans organic tomatoes, 1 crushed and 1 puree
2 bay leaves
2 large carrots
1 large onion cut into wedges
2 green peppers
1 to 1 1/2 packages lipton onion soup mix depending on flavor preference
Wide butter noodles
Homemade Biscuits
In a dutch oven, brown a pound and a half of beef stew meat in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil that you have lightly coated in flour.
Cut up carrots, celery, onion and green pepper. Add to meat when half way browned and saute together until meat is fully browned and veggies are soft.
Boil wine with beef broth and pour over. Add tomatoes and all spices and bay leaf. Cover and simmer on the lowest temperature possible. Keep checking as it has to cook very slowly. Sometimes, I move it halfway off the burner to make sure it doesn’t boil too quickly. Cook until meat is fork tender and melts in your mouth. Serve over the widest butter noodles you can find with homemade biscuits. Enjoy.

imageUrban Outfitters black and white check crop top and pants, Cult Gaia bag, Zara shoes and sunglasses, French Kande necklaces
All photos courtesy of Catherine Grace O’Connell

CATHERINE’S SOCIAL MEDIA INFORMATION

Blog: http://www.CatherineGraceO.com

Radio: Cat & Kaehler

Cat & Kaehler Show Page: http://www.latalkradio.com/content/cat-kaehler

Archives on are this page as well

iTunes: search Cat & Kaehler

Instagram and Twitter: @catherinegraceo

Facebook: CatherineGraceO

Facebook: Fierce 50 Revolution Group Public Group

Newsletter: http://catherinegraceo.com/newsletter-sign-up/

BLOGS CATHERINE FOLLOWS

http://www.GirlMeetsGlam.com

http://www.TheMiddlePageBlog.com

http://www.Chicover50.com

http://www.Agei.st.com

http://www.IntotheFrow.com

FASHION FLASHBACK: PAULINE TRIGERE

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It’s a Sunday afternoon and the phone rings, a deep throaty voice with a magnificent French accent “Nena, Pauline….” it could not be anyone else!  Most every Sunday for many years I would get this call and the same introduction.  Always just a short hello and touch base for the week.

Sit back, pour yourself another cup of coffee or a glass of champagne this is a long one….

imageA treasured photo that hung on the “designer wall of fame” in my office.  The criteria was that you had at least made a personal appearance in the Store.  It is now part of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago and I am using it with their permission.

I was a very, very lucky gal to be able to work with the best of the best during my career at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  I have done several posts of some of the designers I have worked with, I’m trying to do them in some order, not always working, I’m sorry to say, but that is my intent.  Having done shows, personal appearances, etc,. with well over 150 fashion personalities we will have lots of time to explore their importance on fashion and, for the purpose of nena’snotes, on my life and career.  Of course, there are those who impacted me more than others, Adolfo, Bill Blass, Bob Mackie, Oscar de la Renta, Norman Norell, Mark Heister, to highlight several that I worked with and admired most, and who became friends (sorry all others….loved almost all of you…those are other stories to be told!!)  And for this post, Pauline Trigère.

When I began at Saks, Pauline was showing her collections at Millie B. Oppenheimer (located at 1300 North State Parkway in the old Ambassador Hotels) and worked with the dynamic Ellie Pope, one of the Chicago fashion icons.  Since I was totally into knowing as much as I could about all the “name” designers, the name Pauline Trigère was totally familiar to me.  We did carry her line in Chicago and, of course, in New York.  I got to see her garments up close and personal when doing the annual St. Luke’s Fashion Show (now the annual Rush Medical Center Fashion Show) in which Oppenheimer always featured her garments.  When Oppenheimer closed we were fortunate to have Pauline join us for personal appearances and formal fashion shows.

I have talked about going to the New York Fashion Weeks for many years and when I began the shows were primarily in the designer’s showrooms, Pauline never varied from this practice.  Her shows were intimate (usually done over two days, two per day) and at the beginning of my attending the shows she commentated them, then she became a back of the house last minute check while a number or name of the garment was read.  When she did shows for us in Chicago she always commentated the shows and her audiences loved her insightful comments…we sold her clothes like popcorn!!!

imageMaybe if we look very closely we can find me in the audience….this coat was very typical of the Trigère look (I remember having many conversations with her about her major regret of not “licensing” her coats.  She wanted to keep complete control over her garments, rightly so.)  You could always identify a Trigère garment it had her creativity all over it.

imageHer signature coat, it spells PAULINE TRIGÈRE!  Two of my coats are in the Columbia College Chicago Fashion Study Collection, one in a royal purple mohair and the other in a cranberry wool with wide notched collar.

Let’s go back to the beginning of her story.  Pauline was born in Paris, France in 1908 (some references say 1912) to Russian émigrés, Alexander, a tailor and Cecile, a dressmaker.  She wanted to become a surgeon but instead at age 15 apprenticed with a Paris Couture house and afer a few days she was told that they couldn’t teach her any more than she already knew, she stayed a year when she returned to work for her parents where she had begun as a young girl picking up pins and scraps from the floor.  Her first design was a party dress when she was in school it was made because there wasn’t money to buy one.  .

At age 19 she married a another Russian immigrant and tailor, Lazar Radley with whom she had two sons, Jean-Pierre and Philippe. In 1937 she, her two sons, her brother and mother fled France with the intention of going to Chile.  Instead, after having a layover in New York for 6 weeks and a trip to Detroit to visit an uncle, she decided to stay in New York (she has stated that she wouldn’t live anywhere but New York!).  She knew no English and learned to speak by watching movies.  She became a design assistant at Ben Gershel & Co. and then an assistant to Travis Banton at Hattie Carnetie (FYI Carnegie never had a woman designer, didn’t believe in them) from 1937 until 1941, leaving just after Pearl Harbor.  She separated from her husband and opened her own company, the House of Trigère with her brother Robert in 1942, by 1945 she had a respected label and shall we say the rest is history!!!! Throughout her career she made clothes for a woman with an active lifestyle.  She designed for herself and was always her best model.  She planned her clothes to move with the wearer, using fluid jerseys, chiffon.  Her forte was wool, and she loved working on the bias, using sheer wools for afternoon and evening gowns.  She usually added a jacket, a full length coat or a cape to go with each dress, and as I mentioned, always cut her garments into the cloth rather than making a pattern or muslin. Pauline won every fashion award, the Coty 3 times and in 1982 the highest decoration of the City of Paris, La Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris.

imageIn her workroom working on a garment draping and cutting into the fabric which she then turned over to her pattern maker…you are looking at a genius at work.  Image from Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

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The finale of one of her shows in her New York showroom.  From Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

imageThe finale of her 50th Anniversary Show 1992.  The finale was a retrospective of her collections.  It was a huge hit with the audience at a private club in Chicago.  We did a show for the Club for many years.  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, http://www.colum.edu.

She was 5’4″ tall but gave the impression of being 8′ tall with her wonderful personality and unmatched talent.  She draped and cut directly into the fabric, didn’t  do a model she just DID IT!!!  On one occasion I flew into New York to surprise her, she was doing a lecture/demonstration at FIT, I stayed at the back of the room and listened along with the students and guests to her explaining how to design while working on a dress, which she completed at the end of her talk.  She looked up and saw me and the smile I got was worth the entire trip!  She was thrilled that I thought enough of her to surprise her.  I also attended her 50 Anniversary Gala, it was some party!!!!

She adored her home in Connectcut, La Tortue, so named because when she was looking at the property a giant turtle was basking in the sun on a big rock in the pond on the property.  I once asked her about her love of turtles, she replied “I didn’t really love them but since the country home is named for them everyone gives me turtles…pins, boxes, paintings, etc.” so now I love them!”  Her signature scarf is an abstract turtle print.

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At home at La Tortue.  Image from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

She adored entertaining at her New York apartment, which had a wonderous red room (think Diana Vreeland!!) and she often did the cooking (I’ve included one of her recipes at the end of this post). When I was in New York, which was at least twice a year sometimes more and I often spent my summer vacations there we would go to dinner in small neighborhood restaurants, always French and always delightful and beyond delicious.

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Some stills from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Givenchy did all of Audrey Hepburn’s costumeas and Pauline Trigère did Patricia Neals!  Neal’s character was the Trigère woman, elegant, self assured and moneyed, a perfect collaboration.  Pinterest photos credit unknown.

She adored men and, in my opinion was quite the flirt in a totally charming way.  When she was in Chicago for events I would oftens take her to dinner with some of my gentlemen friends and she found them delightful, so much so that they were invited to join me at her shows in New York on several occasions (on these trips we all stayed in a three bedroom suite at The Mark and would cross the street to the Cafe Carlyle to hear Bobby Short with much champagne and caviar…those were definitely the days). And did I mention the foyer of our suite was always filled with dozens of Cassablanca lillies…glorious! The guys loved going to the shows and were always treated royally by my designer friends…a totally different world from their businesses.  She closed her ready-to-wear business in 1994 but continued to design her scarves and jewelry as well as produce her incredibly delicious fragrance.  She also designed a collection for Gold Violin a line of accessories for seniors.

Her sketchbooks are housed at Kent State University in her dear friends, Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rogers Collection. Pauline Trigère gave the KSU Museum more than thirty dresses and ensembles, as well as sketchbooks spanning her entire career, from 1944 through 1994. The Trigère sketchbooks are currently housed in the June F. Mohler Fashion Library, located in Rockwell Hall, where they can be viewed by appointment. I visited the archives serveral years ago, they are amazing.  In addition, the Pauline Trigère’s papers are held by Brandeis University Archives & Special Collections.  And, of course, her work is part of every major costume collection in the world including our own Chicago History Museum Costume Collection, http://www.chicagohistory.org.

imageIn her red room surrounded by items she created for Gold Violin. Pinterest photo credit unknown.

Pauline was always beautifully dressed, of course she was, coiffed and always, always, always wore a wonderful red lipstick and shaded glasses.  She came to all our special shows, such as SFA/USA, our 50th anniversary Party in 1979 and the opening of the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Chicago Place in 1990.  Also in 1990 she was an honored guest at the Fashion Group International of Chicago gala held in my honor at the Chicago Hilton…needness to say she was the life of the party!

imageFrom New York’s Designer Walk of Fame.

imagePauline and Nena at the Mayfair Regent in the main floor lounge.  I did many events coordinating with the then PR guru of the Hotel, Biba Roesch as well as many dinners in the Hotel’s Ciel Bleu restaurant, still miss it!  This photo was taken at one of the breakfasts with designers we did.  Informal get togethers with personalities who would share their stories….always fascinating.  I think it’s time to do this again, any takers!!!!????  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

Pauline remained active, with her great personal charm, French style and joie de vivre, into her 9th decade, she passed away in her sleep on Valentine’s Day 2002.  Oh, how I miss those Sunday “Nena…Pauline” calls!!!!

FROM HELEN O’HAGAN’S COOKING IN STYLE COOKBOOK

PAULINE TRIGÈRE’S CRAB SOUP

2 cans celery soup (PT’s note any brand will do, NI’s note, I use Campbell’s)

1/2 can water or chicken bouillon

1 large onion, grated

Salt and white pepper to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 pint heavy cream

1 pound crabmeat (preferrably fresh can be frozen not canned!!!)

1 cup light sherry

Chopped parsley for garnish

Put celery soup, water or bouillon and the very finely grated onion to heat in a saucepan.  Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg.  When warm, add the cream and crab, and the cup of sherry.  Do not allow to boil, correct seasoning. Top with chopped fresh parsley.  Serves 6.

COLLECTIONS: SHELL ART

By now you know I love all sorts of collectibles, some I have in my own collections others I enjoy looking at in friends homes and gardens and online on Instagram and Pinterest. In addition, I find it exciting to learn more about objects that peak my interest, in this instance, shell art.  When I found the group below I knew I wanted to do a post about the many ways shells can be incorporated into our decorations both in our homes and on our bodies.  Let’s explore some of these possibilities.

imageWhat got me thinking about shell art was this group of shell-encrusted boxes found outside at the May Randolph Street Market, http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com in Melissa Parks booth Megillicutti. megillicutti@gmail.com, follow on Instagram at Megillicutti. Melissa’s booth has all manner of extraordinary objects and she will be back at RSM for the June Show on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25. My photo on my iPhone.  Just a note…always buy what you like when you see it, most, if not all, the vendors are at RSM each month but they usually bring different and new pieces, that is what makes it exciting and why we keep coming back for more! In addition, ask the vendors if they have any other pieces of what you are admiring, they may have them with them or they can bring the next time they are at the Market.  Get to know them, ask questions and educate yourself with pieces you are unfamiliar with….they do like to talk about their treasures and want you to like them as much as they do!

imageThe top of a box from my friend,  Virginia Heaven’s, collection.  Virginia’s collections are very eclectic and inspired.  I have shared some in past posts and will share more as we continue my journey.  Photo courtesy of Virginia Heaven.

imageimageTwo boxes I found on Pinterest, photo credit unknown.  Aren’t they stunning!!!

imageA Sailors’ Valentine, exquisite, I particularly love the shading and the softness of the pastel shells.  Sailors’ Valentines could be an entire post, there are so many and so many different stories about their origins, I would suggest the two books below if you wish to investigate this subject.

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imageOne of my favorite images…it is truly a work of art.

One of my Saks Fifth Avenue Store Managers and dear friend, Bob Pike, collected carved cameo shells.  I found a couple for him at antique shows (long before Randolph Street Market was a glimmer in Sally Schwartz’ eye).  Here are a couple of exquisite examples of this art….

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And my favorite…

imageIsn’t she a beauty!!   Many, many more images on Pinterest.

imageAnd when you Google this is what you can find…just a taste of what goes into cameo shells and cameos.  Taken from a Google search.

imageA faux shell from the collection of Kevin G, whose booth The Red Leopard Crocodile, (found each month at RSM in the Ballroom) is always filled with magical objects concentrating on vintage handbags and jewelry. Photo taken by me with my iPhone.

I asked a couple of my friends if they collected anything with shells…Sally Schwartz, http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com, the guru behind the incredible Randolph Street Market (remember I did a profile on Sally and have featured some of her collections in previous posts) and Stephanie Lake, http://www.StephanieLakeDesign.com, the author of the magnificent, and only, book on Bonnie Cashin, Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It, and creator of fascinating jewelry.  I did an entire week on Stephanie, beginning with an in-depth profile, followed by a book review and then posts on some of her collections and how she and her husband entertain.  Neither have huge shell collections but each shared a nautilus shell piece for me to share with you.

imageSally shared a watercolor of a nautilus shell that hangs in her home, stunning! Photo courtesy of Sally Schwartz.

imageStephanie’s nautilus shells on brass branches, one of a pair.

imageThe piece surrounded by Stephanie’s unique necklaces in her showroom. Both photos courtesy of Stephanie Lake.

I then asked Candace Jordon, http://www.candidcandace.com and http://www.chicagonow.com/Candid-Candace, about her thoughts on shells…she sent me three photos of her collection…again I did Candace’s profile weeks ago along with separate posts on her collections and have included her collections in other posts such as the one on paperweights. You can be sure I will include more in weeks to come.  She and Chuck are avid collectors of a wonderful Cabinet of Curiosities!!!  Her influence for her shell pieces, Tony Duquette, my design guru along with his successor and collaborator, Hutton Wilkenson…but that is another post, for sure.  The pieces were purchased in Paris several years ago and are by a French artist, Thomas Boog, http://www.thomasboog.com,  Candace said she thought they would all arrive in pieces but only the mirror had minor damage.  She shared “I’ve always been in love with shells and coral after discovering and falling in love with the style of the late designer, Tony Duquette.”

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imageOh my, one can, most certainly, see the Tony Duquette influence in these elegantly created pieces.  Photos courtesy of Candace Jordan.

imageOne of the most beautiful books you can own if you don’t be sure to add it to your collection.

imageFrom the Hutton Wilkenson Collection.  We haven’t even touched on Coral…that can be another time.

imageA chair from the genius of Tony Duquette.

imageAnd from the genius of Alexander McQueen, there are no words!!!!

imageUsing shells like fabric petals.

imageAnother Alexander McQueen creation.

imageAnd the back of the garment.

Perhaps the influence for the garments, a shell “painting” in the form of flower petals.

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imageI think from Tony Duquette but am not sure of the source, just know I love the look.

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And my shell piece, a mirror framed in shells that I painted in one of the shades of white I used in my all white bathroom.

Since Summer is here shall we all start our shell collections again and relive our childhoods and create our own masterworks, let’s!!!!

All photos unless otherwise credited are from Pinterest and photo credits are unknown.

FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX

INDIVIDUAL LOBSTER POT PIES
(Get the connection….shells and shellfish!!!!)

I use frozen puff pastry for the “crust”

Filling-

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

18-20 pearl onions (I use frozen no need to peel! Defrosted)

1 cup diced celery root

3/4 cup diced fennel (use the outer stalks)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 teaspoon curry powder (I always use Spice Islands spices and dried herbs)

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

3/4 cup sherry (use either dry or sweet wherever your taste, I often use Bristol Cream Sherry, just be sure it is good and one you would drink)

2 1/2 cups cooked lobster meat (I always use the meat from broiled lobster tails, if your fishmonger has lobster meat use that, saves a step)

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup crème fraîche

1 egg beaten

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat add onions, celery root, and fennel, cooking 5 minutes.  Reduce heat and brown until lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes more.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Add curry powder and mustard, lightly frying the spices for a minute.  Deglaze pan with sherry and reduce until almost dry, about 1 minute.  Fold in lobster, peas, and crème fraîche, heat until just warmed through.  Divide among six 12-ounce souffle cups or ramekins (filling should be about 3/4 full)  I usually do 4 ramekins.

Oven should be at 450º.

Cut puff pastry into rounds to cover and drape over sides of ramekins press to seal, make an X in the center of each piece of dough and brush with the beaten egg.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 17 to 19 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

I serve with a lightly dressed mixed green salad (I am loving the four lettuces in a container that you can find at Mariano’s) and either champagne, of course, or a dry fruity white wine.  Dessert should be light perhaps a poached fruit such as pears or peaches and more champagne followed by a glass of sherry and homemade madeleines (I have a great recipe for them that I will post at another time).

The pot pies are VERY rich and everyone I have served them to literally scrape the bottom of the ramekins! I have served this many times and everyone adores it.

Adapted from a Chicago Tribune recipe.

COLLECTIONS: FERNS

imagePteridomania: the Victorian fern craze probably from 1837 to early 1900’s.  A magnificent solarium in a Victorian home with ferns and palms.

I caught the fern “illness” years ago.  I have always loved the look of them and usually have one in my handpainted rattan fern “basket” which actually sits right behind me as I write my posts.

imageA closeup of the detail on my fern stand.

imageA fern fossil, they have been on Earth for over 300 million years, imagine!!!!!

The only problem is that they shed and the clean up is a full-time job!  Since I’m not a Botanist I won’t try to go into the details of ferns I will leave that to you, my readers, to explore for yourselves if you want more information.  I would, however, recommend the following book for your enjoyment, it is quite wonderful.  I am going to fill this post with wonderful images most of which I got from Pinterest without photo credit others I will credit.  Enjoy….

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imageCovers of two vintage books on ferns. The covers alone are display worthy.  Look for special vintage books at Randolph Street Market this Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27 from 10 to 5.  In addition, the Printer’s Row Lit Fair is Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11.

imageFiddlehead ferns, see the bottom of the post for a fiddlehead fern recipe, no longer in season, but have at the ready for next year or you can substitute asparagus!

imageThe beauty of nature in a fern frond!

imageFerns in the garden photo taken by Tom Mantel this week, glorious.

imageA beautiful closeup from the same garden also a photograph by Tom Mantel.image

imageTwo photos of another variety from the same garden and same photographer.imageThe Chicago Garfield Park Conservatory Fern Room.

imageFrom Carolyne Roehm’s garden, she is a genius with decor and gardens and thankfully shares her expertise with us in her many books…love everything she does!

imageImage from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageAnother photo from Pinterest…love this variety.

imageWallpaper image also from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageAnd a fern botanical fabric also Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

imageI am mad for this image…so much so I am using it as my screen saver on my iPhone!

imageAnother solarium, let’s move in!!!

imageA silver wine caddy, yes, please!

imageOr pearl handle fern engraved flatware.

imageOr perhaps a handpainted piece of Limoges…

imageOr a beautiful Majolica pitcher.

imageA wonderful Philip Tracey hat, yes, I know a bit of a stretch….

imageA Vogue photo of John Galliano Dior Haute Couture Fall 2006 (I saw that Collection in Paris, it was magnificent) next to another fern variety, isn’t it a beauty!

imageNot necessary fern botanicals but a look you can emulate when you collect your prints.

imageFrom my collection of Botanical prints (along with other “paper”) that I collect from the Randolph Street Market vendor, Paper Patty, located on the Third Floor, don’t miss the vendors up there, it is the first place I stop each month!  My photo.

imageMy favorite of all, it looks like lace!  Again from Pinterest credit unknown.

Recipe from The New York Times Cooking App (if you don’t have it get it you can save all your on-line recipes on it as well as see all their recipes, I love it, one of my favorite apps!)

Cassolette Of Morels, Fiddleheads and Asparagus
by Jennifer Lang

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: Six first-course servings
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/8364-cassolette-of-morels-fiddleheads-and-asparagus

http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com

http://www.printersrowlitfest.org

http://www.amerfernsoc.org

http://www.ebps.org.uk

COLLECTIONS: RANDOLPH STREET MARKET — BICYCLES AND PICNICS

imageA vintage card (you can find lots at Randolph Street Market) with old fashion bicycles.

I am so excited to share the information on this season’s first outside/inside Randolph Street Market http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com that will occur on Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28 from 10 to 5 and I thought it was the perfect time to think about all the wonderful picnics we can have this summer and what better way to get to them or travel around when we find the perfect location than on a restored Schwinn bicycle!  Well, lucky us we have just the thing at RSM (of course, we do!!!!) Mike’s Bikes returns for the 11th season.

imageLooks like a perfect day for a picnic.  Not only can you find the right bicycle but you can find all the “fixings” for your picnic as well at RSM.  All you need is a beautiful setting, some yummy food (yes, you can also get some goodies at the Market!) and good friends.  Chicago and all the suburbs have wonderful spots to picnic, or go to Ravinia for one of the fabulous concerts, Harbor Country or neighboring Wisconsin for all their summer events…you can picnic every weekend through October.

Basically, the first thing you see when you arrive at the Randolph Street entrance to RSM is Mike’s Bikes.  Mike is an encyclopedia on the history of Schwinn bicycles, by the way, the company was founded in Chicago in 1895.  He only restores vintage Schwinn and each is totally unique and Mike wants to pair his bikes with the perfect person and lovingly takes the time to talk to each client and explains every detail of each bicycle. I have seen many a happy smile on the new owner’s faces when they leave with a treasure, either to relive their youth and/or form new memories for themselves or their families, it is wonderful to experience their pure joy!

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Michael Mitchell has shared his passion with me and I now share it with you in his words.

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“I have been selling vintage Chicago manufactured Schwinn bicycles at Randolph (May-Sept.) for ten years and I have enjoyed every moment. Along the way, I have met so many interesting people who share the love for these bikes. The bikes make their eyes light up and they begin by reminiscing and sharing childhood experiences of riding bikes with family and friends.
The complete process of reconditioning the average vintage lightweight Schwinn takes approximately ten hours. The process of reconditioning a bike begins with:
1. All bearings cleaned and greased.
2. Worn parts are replaced ( brake pads, brake and gear cables, and ball bearings.
3. Replacement of tires and inner tubes ( if needed)
4. Paint cleaned, polished and waxed.
5. All chrome polished.
At the end of the reconditioning process, the bike is like brand new. If needed, the spokes are replaced and the wheels are trued. And to top it off, all replacement of parts are made with original Schwinn parts.
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I recondition 1960’s – 70’s Schwinns as well as vintage Raleighs (manufactured in Nottingham, England).
As a result of the reconditioning process, each bike is priced individually because many of them require more parts and labor.
I retired from teaching school ten years ago, but prior to that, I was reconditioning the bikes for fifteen years. I was always fascinated with the Schwinn brand since childhood. Schwinns by far were at the top of the list when it came to quality and price. As a child, my family could not afford to purchase Schwinn bicycles, but whenever I saw one, I could see the quality of the bike in its paint, chrome, constructed welds, and overall styling. At the age of fourteen, I had saved up enough money to purchase a 10-speed Schwinn Varsity; I’ve been loyal to the brand since.
The 1960’s-70’s vintage Schwinn bikes that I sell are steel framed bikes that were manufactured in Chicago. These are comfort styled vintage bicycles that were designed to provide the rider with comfort seats and upright handlebars. The popular Schwinn models being sold are the Breeze, Racer, Speedster, Collegiate and Suburban bikes. Each bike is reasonably priced and ready to ride without any expensive repairs.”

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Looks like heaven to me…you can find similar goodies like everything in these photos, maybe not the flowers, at RSM!  The settings are up to you.
How about a couple of recipes for your picnic….one from me and the other from Tom Mantel’s recipe box….
FROM TOM MANTEL’S RECIPE BOX
SPINACH/MUSHROOM QUICHE
Ingredients:
8 oz mushrooms sliced
10 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup Swiss cheese
1/2 cup fontina cheese
4 eggs
2 cups half and half
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 pastry crust
Method:
Sauté onions and mushrooms until tender.
Add spinach and a couple tsp of water and cover.
Cook stirring frequently until spinach is wilted, let cool a little.
Place pastry crust (can be homemade or store bought) in Quiche plate or a deep dish pie plate.
Distribute cheese over pastry.
Distribute mushroom onion mix over cheese.
Beat eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper until blended but not frothy.
Pour egg mixture over the spinach cheese mixture.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.
Let cooL before cutting
Can be served warm or room temperature.
Nena’s note, I have had this and it is amazingly delicious!
FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX
DEVILED EGGS
This is just a what I put in my deviled eggs and it’s really not a recipe…you have to do it to taste…sorry!
Remove the yolks from the hard boiled eggs mash with Durkee’s Dressing (a little goes a long way, you can find it with mustards in your grocery store), Miracle Whip (my mayo), salt, freshly ground pepper and a dash of sugar until smooth (no lumps allowed!) either spoon into whites or if you want to be fancy, use a pastry bag with a fine tip and pipe into whites.  You can add a herb sprig to the top or if it is a very special picnic a dollop of red caviar, why not!  Obviously, the amounts depend upon how many eggs you are doing.  They go like hot cakes so be sure to make enough.
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All images from Pinterest photo credits not available.
Mike’s contact information:

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: RECIPES

I have been lax in posting recipes and I have heard from you….so here are several that I  like all year but thought they would be good for May.  I might serve the Corn Soup with either of the entrees or another dinner, I often do it as a starter to a poached salmon entree.  It is so good that it always gets rave reviews!

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NENA’S CURRIED CREAM OF CORN SOUP

1 17 ounce can cream style corn

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1-2 teaspoons curry powder (I usually do more, do to your taste!)

1 cup half and half

1/3 cup heavy cream

Fresh basil

Whirl in blender all ingredients, except basil, until combined.  Chill and serve with a leaf of basil on top.

Serves 4.

imageShawnee Corn King pottery soup tureen.  Image from Pinterest, credit unknown.

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NENA’S OVEN-FRIED LEMON CHICKEN

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 cardamom seeds crushed (open whole pods and  crush seeds with a mortar and pestle)

2 boned and skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

Lemon pepper

1/2 carton sour cream

1 cup fine bread crumbs

Lemon slices for garnish

Combine lemon juice, garlic, and cardamom seeds.  Add chicken and marinate a room temperature at least 1 hour, turning frequently.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Remove chicken from marinade.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dip each piece in sour cream and coat with bread crumbs. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.  Put on ungreased baking sheet and cover lightly with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and increase temperature to 450º.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until chicken is golden brown and tender.  Serve hot or cold, garnish with lemon slices.

It is delicious either way.  A perfect picnic food.  I served this many years ago at a press luncheon I hosted for Bill Blass and he loved it!  I would now serve with a green salad and, as usual, a lovely white wine…or champagne, always champagne!  If you wanted to continue the lemon theme, finish with the lemon bars I shared with you several weeks ago!

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BARBARA V’S CHICKEN/WILD RICE/GRAPE SALAD

2/3 cup mayonnaise (my mayonnaise is Miracle Whip, just saying!)

1/3 cup whole milk

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon tarragon (you can use fresh or dried, I prefer fresh which would be a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon)

3 cups chopped chicken (she uses all white meat)

3 cups cooked wild rice

1/3 cup finely sliced green onion (white and green parts)

1 8 ounce can water chestnuts drained

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 pound seedless green grapes halved

1 cup salted cashews

Blend mayo, milk, lemon juice, and tarragon and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, wild rice, onion, water chestnuts, stir in mayo mixture until blended.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Just before serving stir in grapes and cashews.  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread…more white wine or perhaps a lovely rosé!  It is really good and a great buffet party salad.  This recipe serves 4 generously.

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All photos from Pinterest, photo credits unknown.