In my introductory post I outlined my plan for my daily notes, Monday being personality interviews and model reminiscences, today is the first of my model profiles.

Eleanor Monte Sano Pappas was almost at the beginning of my career at Saks Fifth Avenue (my story will be told in a later post). Eleanor was first class and, as with all the model girls, (yes, we called them girls!) a true professional.  I have asked my models to write their own view of their time in the fashion spotlight and beyond.  Here then are Eleanor’s words, thoughts in parentheses are mine….


“I decided when my first child,  (one of Eleanor has 5 children), was 8 or 9, to save my sanity, I would try part-time modeling.  I auditioned at Marshall Field’s and was hired and then I walked into Nena’s office.  You and Kay (Kay Walsh Dobson, my boss at the time) were lovely to me.


Nena and Kay Dobson at Nena’s desk, early 1960’s.  Kay probably reading a script for a fashion show that I wrote. Notice mood wall, in progress…was I ever that young!!

By the time I got home, you called me with a booking.  Part-time didn’t last long , I got a good woman for the kids and to take care of the house.  She was with us for 18 years!  You were so great to me and generous, I felt like family at Saks, most people thought I was not free-lance but a full-time house model (we had when, I began at the Store, 5 house models, they were on staff not free-lance).  I also did a lot of live TV and TV commercials, as well as some photo work, but runway and designer shows were what I enjoyed most of all.


Eleanor with Bonnie Smith Malito, one of my house models at a Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago fashion show

imageMarianne Ryan and Eleanor in a local fashion editorial

When Dr. Aldo Gucci hired me to put together a fashion show for the pre-opening of their Chicago boutique (it was located in the then Allerton Hotel), I asked you to commentate. I had to ask Howard (Hal) J. Clyne, the manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago  for permission to use you since it would be a conflict of interest.  He readily agreed.  (My payment, a pair of Gucci loafers, at the time THE shoe to own, very exciting!)  When Dr. Gucci was opening that first Chicago Gucci store he called me and hired me to work for him. I loved retail and buying so after 5 years I took an offer from I Magnin.  I retired at age 65 while buying for Henri Bendel.

When the nightclub and restaurant opened on the lower lever of the Astor Towers, Marshall Field’s did a Christian Dior fashion presentation with a personal appearance by the then designer, Marc Bohan. Field’s hired 12 models each wearing one garment. We did one show a night for 7 nights.  Each gown had a woman’s name and that was the only word spoken as we entered the main dining room (an exact replica of Maxim’s in Paris!)  My gown was “Isabella”.  It was green velvet with a heavy jewel encrusted hem and was very narrow.  In the audience was the French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont.  Every night benefited a different Chicago charity.  We walked between the tables at a slow pace then out.  It was a  very exciting week.  I ripped a pair of panty hose every night on the heavily beaded hem.  It was great fun.

imageEleanor with Marc Bohan

imageThe 12 models in Christian Dior at Maxim’s

Favorite designers I worked with:

  1. Bill Blass, very friendly
  2. Adolfo, a sweet dear very creative
  3. Oscar de la Renta, amazing
  4. Aldo Gucci, strong personality.  I went to Florence twice a year to buy new collections, he was a great host!

Favorite fashion ladies, in order, in Chicago for their talent, kindness, and friendship

  1. Nena Ivon, Saks Fifth Avenue
  2. Ardelle Tuma, Carson Pirie Scott and Company
  3. Dorothy Fuller, Dorothy Fuller Productions (they first met when Dorothy  was with Marshall Field’s)
  4. Dori Bell, Chas. A. Stevens

I now spend my time with my 10 grandchildren, 7 girls and 3 boys.  One granddaughter was married this summer, the first one, and another will be getting married next year.”

As you can see Eleanor was and is a glamourous lady who worked in a glamourous world and is still the gracious lovely lady I have known my entire career.  She has been in some of my reunion shows (yet another story).  Here’s to many more years of friendship.

Thank you. Eleanor, for letting us enjoy some of your amazing fashion memories and sharing your modeling life through some extraordinary photos a perfect beginning to Model Mondays …



I am beyond excited to share the news that the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum’s new costume exhibition Making Mainbocher The First American Couturier opens Saturday, October 22, 2016.  The image above is the cover of the catalog of the exhibition, the first monograph on the designer. Main Rousseau Bocher (1890-1976), a Chicagoan, is probably best known, to the general public, for designing the Duchess of Windsor’s wedding dress in 1937 and the iconic corset photographed by Horst and immortalized by Madonna in her Vogue video. Known for understatement his refined  garments were perfect for his Chicago clientele  Everything in the exhibition is from these elegant ladies.  I will be doing a review on the book on Tuesday and the exhibition next Friday..

I was fortunate to visit the Costume Collection wth Hamish Bowles several years ago when he was in Chicago to do a presentation for the Costume Council.  Hamish is a devotee of Mainbocher and asked to see some of his pieces in our Collection. What we saw was amazing and I took some very candid photos.  You will see some of these pieces in the Collection (I’ll feature them unveiled next Friday).  I took some shots of the insides of the garments and the labels as well as some of the sketches that accompany our extensive holdings and that will also be shown in this exceptional exhibition.

imageNena with Hamish Bowles

imageSketch of gown featured in exhibition

I love seeing the inside construction of garments it is always a fascinating way to look at clothing.


True couture detail of the gown in the sketch


Gown displayed for examination (also same as in the sketch)

imageSketch for hand beaded butterfly chiffon gown

imageBeaded detail

imageNotice the hand stitchingimageAnother hand beaded gown on silk faille


The handcrafted lining of the garment


Interactive section of exhibition (we love to include interaction with our exhibitions we are after all in a technological age but thankfully Haute Couture still exists where craftsmanship prevails much as it did in Mainbochers time!)

imageAccessories and wig waiting for their close up

imageExhibition under wrapsimageJoin us for the unveiled mannequins and experience this truly one of a kind exhibition.


All photos taken by Nena Ivon on an iPhone

For more information on this and other exhibitions at the Chicago History Museum, the Costume Collection and The Costume Council visit

Cover image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum 

Catalog available from the Chicago History Museum Store


I love to do vignettes of collections in my home and am quite fond of taking photos of collections in friends homes and, of course, Pinterest has become a mood board and one can make files and not have to house stacks of clippings…oh wait I still do that!  This will be the first in a series of groupings of interesting items. Thursdays are, after all, looking at unusual homes and gardens.


How perfect is this arrangement….all blending in a grey blue tone and topping a radiator cover, simple but elegant, perfect scale and drawing your attention to the space. Notice the gold switch plate simple touches like that make all the difference in a finished room setting. Antique vessals along with a wonderful beautifully framed Pochoir, a French illustraton.  I collect Pochoir illustrations and have many in my home.  This piece was a gift from me to the stylist owners of the rest of this collection featured in their Master bedroom.  It was a treasure that I purchased several years ago at the always fascinating Randolph Street Market (mark your calendars the next Market is on Saturday and Sunday, October 29 and 30


A charming book was published by Thames & Hudson in 2015 on the art of Pochoir, it is a mesmerizing read. (ISBN 978-0-500-23939-1)

I’ll share my Pochoir collection with you as we go through the upcoming weeks.









As we are all indulging ourselves with pumpkin spice some things and get ready to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with our Peanuts friends this evening, let’s conjure up a magnificent tablescape for the fall season that can take us through Thanksgiving.


Photo Courtesy of Linda Heister

Love the tiny ghost pumpkins and look the Giant Pumpkin left exquisite gilded and silvered pumpkins from the patch and added perfect dried hydrangeas in a sterling bowl… all this wonder placed to reflect on a mirrored table. No one asked me but I say the way to do a tabletop!!!



3 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup  whole milk

1/2 teaspoon each…salt, powdered ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon

2 teaspoons gelatin softened in

1/4 cup water

3 egg whites

Baked pie shell, can be your favorite pastry shell or graham cracker shell (I use a prepared graham cracker shell)

1/2 cup heavy cream

Beat egg yokes with 1/2 cup sugar, add pumpkin, milk, and seasonings.  Cook and stir in double boiler until thick. Add gelatin stir until gelatin is dissolved. Cool. When beginning to thicken, fold in egg whites that have been beaten with remaining sugar until stiff. Pour into pie shell. Chill.  Garnish with whipped cream.  Makes a 9-inch pie.  Enjoy!


In my Introductory post, I mentioned my book obsession…that is particularly true of books on fashion.  They can be monographs, anthologies, novels, history of fashion you get the picture.  In addition, I like to collect DVD’s of fashion personalities, whether they be biographies, documentaries or docudramas (whatever that means!) in other words if the subject is fashion I want it!  I try very hard to put like subjects together for research. For example, all my books on Hollywood costume designers are together.  If there are many books about one designer, let’s say Chanel, they are together some take up more than one shelf.  I think you understand my method.  While I will, of course, talk about my fashion library I will not just focus on that one topic. I follow many book blogs and will give you lists as we go along, please share with me as well.


I know I put this image on my introductory post but wanted to include it again for a couple of reasons.  I did not mention that the lovely pink lady is a watercolor that my Father did in the 1930’s.  He was a watercolorist and also worked in other mediums  (I’ll share my thoughts on my exceptional Father in another post)  I particularly love her and she fits my fashion book shelf theme.

Now why have I chosen to readdress the Chanel shelves…simply because there are over 100 books written about her and this isn’t even touching on Karl Lagerfeld!  I don’t have all of them but it is a very good start….by the way, these two shelves are only the tip of my Chanel collection, I have to rearrange so they are in the same area.

Finally what I wanted to mention is a new Chanel book that I am very excited about and wanted to share with you.

This a marvelous book featuring all manner of previously unpublished work such as letters, photos, memories and is presented in a truly exquisite format. The color photos and archival materials are superb. I am a very fast reader but believe me, this is not a book I want to end  I really wanted to share pages, as well as the cover, but do know that is a no no without permission from the publisher! Anyone interested in Chanel, the history of fashion, fragrance, personal correspondence, and more this is THE book for you. The book is CHANEL The Enigma by Isabelle Fiemeyer published by Flammarion, the ISBN number is 978-2-08-020223-9.  I did get my copy through Amazon  but I am a huge advocate of Independent Book Sellers. My friends tease me that I can’t go pass a book store and not go in and, of course, find something to take home, it doesn’t matter where I am, small town or big city in the States or abroad. That list will come as well.  I do love all the Independent’s blogs.

And so the story of the Nena book obsession begins……


I hadn’t planned on doing my posts in alphabetical order but it so happens that my first personality  profile  is just that!  Grab your cup of coffee or beverage of choice this is going to take awhile.


Photo courtesy  of Lisa Spindler

Beginning with MICHAEL ANDERSON seems timely on many levels….the Joffrey Ballet Chicago is in the middle of its current production of Romeo and Juliet (through October 23rd), which has received rave reviews, The Chicago History Museum is opening its next Costume Collection exhibition “Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier” on Saturday, October 22 and most importantly he celebrated his marriage to Andrew Caruso on Saturday, October 15.


The engagement photo

More about the Joffrey Ballet in this post as well as upcoming postings. Lots more on the Costume Collection and it’s exhibitions later as well. But now this post is all about Michael and his diverse career in dance and fund raising. Michael and I met and formed our close friendship when he was at Columbia College Chicago and we worked closely together on the annual student produced-student designed fashion show, Fashion Columbia.

Michael was born in Salt Lale City, Utah.  Around age eight or nine months his family moved to Alaska.  He lived in Juneau until he was 8 and then moved back to rural Salt Lake City where he lived through grade school and high school.  His first impression of his talent was around age 5 or 6 when he would put on his Mother’s records and dance all over the house. He had studied ballet as a young boy and found it fascinating particularly the discipline and choreography. He attended Southern Utah University majoring in Accounting, where he danced as well.   He changed his degree to Marketing and Public Relations with a minor in Ballet, he had a ballet scholarship.  Dancing is definitely in his DNA. While in college, he appeared in A Chorus Line in the role of Chester.  In addition to ballet, he studied jazz and also performed in  legitimate theater. Thinking ahead, he added Administration to his major while in graduate school.

Upon graduation in 1992 he was offered a position in the Pacific Northwest Ballet School or the Joffrey Ballet School in New York.  He chose the Joffrey (good choice!) He spent a summer there and worked as a temp for Kelly Services.  During this time, 1992, he also performed in three productions for the Tulsa, Oklahoma Ballet. Michael danced with the Joffrey from 1992-2005 and traveled with the company all over the world.


                                              The Nutcracker photo credit Herb Migdoll

When the Company moved it’s home to Chicago Michael  made the transition with the Company when it premiered Billboards, with music by Prince, at the Rosemont Theater.  He is in the Robert Altman 2003 film, The Company.  Michael continues to perform as well as teach ballet.

image                                                      The Nutcracker photo credit Herb Migdoll

In 2005 The Vice President of Development at Columbia College Chicago asked him to come to CCC in the Institutional Development department where he stayed for a year and a half…2005-2007, this is when we first met.  He left to become Associate Artistic Director of the Michigan Ballet Theater from 2007-2008 at which time he returned to Columbia as Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement.  He is currently the Deputy Director of Institutional Advancement at the Chicago History Museum and works directly with donors to secure the advancement of the Museum.  Michael has received many accolades among them being honored by the state of Utah as an outstanding artist in 1996.  Michael wrote and directed the 2014 Telluride AIDS  Benefit in Telluride, Colorado.  He chaired the Dance for Life  benefiting the AIDS Foundation of Chicago in 2014 and 2015 and continues to serve on their Board.  He is currently active on the boards of Chicago Dancers United and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus.

Having a dancer’s discipline Michael turned his thoughts to other “sports” and did his first Triathlon in 2008.


My version of The Proust Questionaire….

Q. When did you know you had made it….

A. When I got the  contract with the Joffrey Union I knew I wouldn’t have to be a bartender on the side.

Q. What would have been your alternative choice as a career…was there one…

A. Arts Administrator or have a yoga studio on an island in the South Pacific

Q. Favorite book, movie….

A. Historical novels, American history, Shakespeare.  I love all movies but would say Musicals such as Music Man, My Fair Lady, Oliver as well as action films such as the Die Hard series and James Bond films.  Love Disney animated films…..

Q. Hobbies….

A. Arts and crafts, knitting is relaxing for me and, of course, the Triathlon.

Q. Your home interior style is….

A. Mid-Century Modern

Q. In order, your cultural preferences….

A. Ballet, Musical Theater, Legitimate Theater such as Shakespeare, Opera, Symphony

Q. Favorite ballet you performed in….

A. Sleeping Beauty and Monotones


Photo credit Herb Migdoll


Q.Favorite Chicago Restaurant….

A. Alinea

Q.  Favorite vacation spot visited and on list….

A.  Most of all I loved Japan. I would like to go back to China

Q. Fantasy dinner party of 10….

A. William Shakespeare, Vaslav Nijinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, Bette Midler, Marie Antoinette, Michael Anderson

Q. Favorite City Art Piece….

A. AGORA by Magdalena Abakanowicz     Located in Grant Park on Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road

imagePhoto by Nena Ivon

Q. How do you want to  be remembered….

A. A true friend and generous spirit

I then asked Michael what was the best advice he has been given that he wanted to share…

“The most profound thing I was told as a young 19-year-old, out on my own for the first time and have learned to apply in my incarnations was what a wise mentor told me the most important thing I can say to you is that you need to remember isthat you need to bloom where you are planted’ and nothing can go wrong.  I have taken these words with me through out all my paths from going to New York to join the Joffrey, to working in development at Columbia College Chicago to Institutal Advancement at the Chicago History Museum, in my teaching, when I am in competitions and in my life.  I feel it is the best advice I have ever been given and I can give”.

Bloom Where You Are Planted,  sounds like perfect advice for life!



Chicago History Museum

Joffrey Ballet

Chicago Dancers United

Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus

Chicago Triathlon