6C698FF1-A8C6-44DC-ADDC-E30AD447BB89A 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. AFD15AD3-A8F0-45DC-9E8C-A92419EFF774.jpegThis 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!!


At Preview
Nena in her favorite place in the Met Museum….The American Wing! This peaceful place always welcomes me! This is the location of this year’s fascinating Costume Collection exhibition!

My favorite room in the Exhibition is the Frank Lloyd Room in the America Wing featuring a gathering of the most divine tableau of Charles James creations styled by the master Martin Scorsese! Bringing three American icons together in one knockout display!!

And then there are the Ann Lowe’s garments featured in the Renaissance Revival Room interpreted by Julie Dash. I’m particularly taken by the shadowy seamstresses clad in black tulle. Ann Lowe was a prominent Black designer known as the creator of Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown. I featured her and her fascinating story in one of my nenasnotes The Fashion Master Classes on Black designers!
And Tom Ford’s chaotic feel of the iconic Battle of Versailles when the American Designers were dramatically presented and acknowledged as equals to the French designer establishment!

I think we need a field trip to NYC to take all this in…in person!!!!! The Met always stuns with its Costume Exhibitions and I particularly love them when they take us into the permanent collections, think Dangerous Liaisons, Goddess and one of my most favorite exhibitions ever…Anglomania! Until then read more on


From a Dürer Painting.

In the Victorian Language of Flowers Lily Of The Valley means the return of happiness! They most certainly mean that to me. They top my list of favorite flowers closely followed by roses, especially old fashion roses! Yet another blog post in the future….for this post…let’s look at the many aspects of this stunner and enjoy its brief seasonal appearance….Spring! When I was a little girl there was a huge vacant lot near my Rogers Park home filled curb to curb with Lily Of The Valley and wood violets….each spring I would gather arm loads of these glorious blooms and when we moved to Evanston we planted a bed of LOTV the length of our home in a bed about three feet wide….stunning and I can still remember their intoxicating smell!

From one of my most favorite blogs

“Did you know that in France the First of May is a public holiday, officially known as La Fête du Travail (National Labour Day) but also called La Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley Day)? It is an occasion to present Lily of the Valley flowers to loved ones. The French tradition of giving Lily of the Valley on May Day is supposed to have begun on May 1st, 1561, when King Charles IX of France was presented with a bunch of Lily of the Valley flowers as a token of luck and prosperity for the coming year.”

It is tradition to hang a May basket on your front door as well as your neighbors and other friends. I say let’s bring back that tradition….it is charming!!!!

By now you know my Lily of the Valley obsession….it doesn’t stop with objects, oh no it doesn’t…it continues to art, much of which I have shared with you and…..needlepoint, lots of needlepoint. The photo below is a close up of the center of a small rug 2’ x 3’ that I designed and worked from a chart. I prefer working from charts rather than painted pieces, just my preference. I have done both, having created hundreds of pieces over the yesrs. This particular work was done in 1974 (it is signed and dated) and has been a wall hanging, a small area rug and now rests on the back of one of my loveseats.

My Needlepoint Rug, one of several LOTV needlepoint pieces I made.

A few of my LOTV collections….

My breakfront with textured glass shelves and hand gilded interior (took 6 coats of Ralph Lauren gold leaf paint…but was fun to do!) this is a tiny look at the collection, it houses some of my favorite pieces!
A detail of my father’s small chest of drawers, from Paul McCobb, that held his watercolor paints and brushes, that I decoupaged with Lily Of The Valley vintage postcards collected for years at antique shows, flea markets, etc. First I painted the solid maple chest with green paint then antiqued it with flecks of black and gold paint. A nenasnote…my father and mother loved Mid-Century- Modern furniture and our home was all Paul McCobb! In my early teens I started collecting vintage pieces which I live with to this day. This chest, in its redone form, is the only piece left, I gave away all the McCobb pieces!
A vintage book given to me years ago by dear friends.
One of many of my hand-painted plates.
Another of my treasures, an oil painting commissioned by Ruthy, my mother, from British artist Deborah Jones through the Marshall Field’s Art Gallery. It hangs at the head of my painted antique French daybed.

Of course a couple of Fabergé pieces…

Some fashion…. “From his favorite flower, lily of the valley, Dior would make it an essential part of his couture. First there is this dried strand which he sews at the hem of each of his creations. Then there is the lily of the valley which he wears in a buttonhole and the one he offers, every May 1st, to his “little hands” and his biggest customers.” Quote found on Pinterest and, by the way, check out my nenasnotes Pinterest for my Lily Of The Valley board…lots and lots to look at there!! Now some pieces from Dior…

Diorissino 1956 in Baccarat crystal bottle main note Lily Of The Valley
Not vintage…but stunning nonetheless!
Giselle wearing Dior 2016
Front of Dior in Paris in 2020

And some knockouts from Hubert de Givenchy…

Organza cape…
Close up of a Victor Skrebneski photo of a Givenchy dress.

From Monique Lhuillier

Or perhaps some food…..this extraordinary cake and fabulous cookies…

Both photos from Pinterest no photo credit available.

From Carolyne Roehm…..

Below from her collaboration with https://www.EnchantedHomecom another of my favorite blogs

Or perhaps some papier-mâché….am mad for these, I do have several pieces in my collections!

Or so there is always a tune…..

I could go on and on and on…..but I’ll stop here and let you enjoy the wonderful tradition of May 1st and the promise of its flower!

All photos, other than my collections or cited websites, were found on Pinterest photo credit unknown.


“These Polish-Ukrainian Easter eggs are painstakingly decorated with a tiny beeswax pen and then dipped in a succession of dyes. The different layers of dye and the wax — which is melted off the final product — create dazzling patterns that are a point of immense regional pride. There is plenty of folklore surrounding the eggs, too, and many people believe they offer protection from evil spirits. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, Pysanky are being newly appreciated as a symbol of Ukrainian resilience.” (Source unknown, photo and drawing taken from Pinterest also sources unknown)

My father and I made these beautiful works of art each year. Some with “real” eggs some wooden. Since Daddy was an artist, we truly had little treasures. Unfortunately the wooden ones have been lost to time. To me tradition is extremely important and this one brings back such happy times with him.

Here are a couple of books….there are many as well as pages and pages of templates to make your own Pysanky.

Perhaps this can be a tradition for you to start to honor the brave Ukrainian people. As we send our deepest thoughts for their peace.



By now you know I’m obsessed with books! Here just a tiny sampling of my fashion books. I’ve been collecting them since high school. Since we are about to start year five of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club lots more have been added…many signed by the authors I’ve had in conversation. I know I’ve done other posts on my fashion books so won’t bore you again, I just wanted to call attention to todays bookseller celebration. It’s SO important to support our local businesses. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere in the world that I have sought out a bookstore and I know I’ve never left with out a purchase or two or……My bookseller of choice, again not a surprise to you is The Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois. They are THE best.

Keep reading and actual hold a book in your hands…it’s a good addition!


By now you know my favorite books are historical fiction and you probably also know I am obsessed with anything New York City so when both things come together you can only imagine my delight!

I have been a huge fan of Fiona Davis since I read her first book The Dollhouse why you might ask, simply because she delves into the total story behind each NYC landmark building she features as the lead character and then, here comes the fun part, weaves a story around that building’s beginnings and characters (some historical others fictional) of that time and then brings us to modern times. I am not usually a fan of going back and forth in time but Davis does it with such transparently that it works to perfection.

I must admit I haven’t had much time recently to read for pleasure, my reading has been relegated to books I am featuring on my monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. I did, however, want to dive into her new book THE MAGNOLIA PALACE, and I’m beyond delighted I did. Pure escapism! I’m not going to spoil the story for you but I do what to give you a brief overview of the landmark she has chosen this time….The Frick Collection! It happens to be one of my favorite places anywhere. At the moment it is being refreshed and renovated and the Collections are on display at The Frick Madison. One of the things that I looked forward to each week, during our COVID lockdown, and hung on every word, was their brilliant virtual series Cocktails With A Curator….You can see it on YouTube, you won’t be sorry.

But I digress, I always seem to do that, sorry! Back to the book, it follows two protagonists, one, Lillian Carter, in 1919 and the other, Veronica Weber, in 1966. Both happen to be models, Lillian an artists model and Veronica a fashion model (those story lines were, of course, right up my alley). But the main character, is The Frick itself! What I like most about Davis’ writing, as I mentioned before is, her deep dive into the history of each of her chosen landmarks, her detailed research is truly, in my opinion, her strength. Sure the characters stories are captivating, but the story of The Frick (or Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library, etc.) is what fascinates me and makes me excited for her next story and makes me want to visit my second favorite city (Chicago will always come first!) as soon as possible.

Just a pretty fountain, in front of The Plaza in NYC, perhaps…read the book to find out more!
The Frick Collection in Spring

Setting the story in two totally different times gives us yet another dimension to consider…obviously everything changes from etiquette, to buildings, to fashion, to food…the list goes on. BUT what doesn’t change is how we appreciate and NEED art in our lives. Henry Clay Frick was a major collector of European art, sculpture, furniture and objects. His daughter, Helen Clay Frick, continued the collecting after her father’s death as well as made it her life’s work to continue his vision. The building, originally their family home, became the museum it is today. It is kept very much like a home, an ultra splendid home, with the art hung in various rooms and you indeed feel as if you are a guest in someone’s masterpiece…the home becoming yet another part of the story!

Henry Clay Frick and his daughter Helen Clay Frick
The Fragonard Room my favorite.
The mansion turned museum

I’m so eager to have you read this engaging story of the mansion and what is what like at its beginning with a man’s vision and his devoted daughter’s desire to keep his legacy alive for all of us to treasure. I can’t wait to see it when it reopens its splendor to us! I say a field trip is in order, perhaps Fiona will join us on our tour!!! Enjoy the fabulousness of The Frick Collection and what might have happened inside its walls…


From the creative floral genius, Mike Hines of epoch floral, Chicago!

I have been wanting to write this post for what seems like forever! I’d think about it and it would be fall or holidays or winter never spring….so I was determined not to have another year go by and not do the post! How perfect to post this just before Easter. Grab your drink of choice, this is going to be a long one with lots of photos, a bit of a history lesson, book suggestions and even some fashion!

A wonderfully enlightening book….yet another to add to your library!

Let’s first talk about the so called, Tulipmania. Some are comparing it to Bitcoin in 2018….others say it didn’t happen. Here is a brief overview of the “beginnings” of our love for all things tulip. Tulipmania began, as you might suspect, in Holland in the 17th century the so-bubble was from late 1636 to early 1637. The tulip’s journey did not, however, begin in Holland but rather in Turkey. In the 1600s, tulips cost 10 times more than a working man’s average salary in the Netherlands. A single bulb was the price of a house!

From The Smithsonian Magazine “Originally found growing wild in the valleys of the Tien Shan Mountains (at the border where China and Tibet meet Afghanistan and Russia), tulips were cultivated in Istanbul as early as 1055. By the 15th century, Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire had so many flowers in his 12 gardens that he required a staff of 920 gardeners. Tulips were among the most prized flowers, eventually becoming a symbol of the Ottomans, writes gardening correspondent for The Independent Anna Pavord in The Tulip.”

A table of compatible prices in the 1630’s, from the book Tulipomaniaby Mike Dash reprinted in the Blog Of An Art Admirer

A game…
On Amazon Prime…
Needlepoint pieces from

My Tulip Needlepoint Pillows…

  • There are over 150 species of tulips with over 3 000 different varieties
  • Tulips belong to the same family as lilies and onions.
  • The Netherlands exports around three billion tulips each year.
  • Tulips have been cultivated in every colour except for classic blue (blue tulips exist, but they have a tint of purple).
  • Tulip bulbs are best planted in the autumn months and tend to start blooming early in spring carrying on into the late summertime.

And in fashion….


“Worth was constantly interested in supporting the textile industry as evidenced in this cape, which is designed to showcase its textile to the extreme. The textile itself has a repeat which is over three feet long making it stunning but also making it extremely difficult to weave. The dramatic fabric, “Tulipes Hollandaises,” was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris and won a grand prize. The tulips have an aggressive dynamic quality about them with the brilliant, vibrant colors against the deep black background consistent with the seductive femme fatale sensibility of the 1880s and 1890s.” From the Met’s website.

Tulip prints inspired by the designer’s mother, Nadia Saab – ELIE SAAB Haute Couture Spring Summer 2015
’To this day, I’m still enchanted by a clear vision: my mother in an evening gown. Curved at the waist. Flared like a corolla. Tulips printed on silk. A vision that fuelled my flare as a designer.’ Elie Saab
Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda
Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda 2021

In Art…

From Carolyne Roehm

In Photography

Irving Penn
From Mike Hines
More of Mike Hines creativity
And one more from Mike

“Tulipieres peaked during the 17th century era of tulip mania as they offered a way for precious tulip bulbs to be grown indoors and displayed without cutting the stems. They often came in a pair, towering upwards. Flower bricks were used for cut flowers. Far prettier than they sound, these are great fun to arrange flowers in and they’re very easy to use since you just fill them with water and then fill each hole with an individual stem. In both cases the Dutch Delftware originals fetch vast sums but later versions offer a good alternative.” Here are some from the wonderful The Enchanted Home who have given me permission to use their photos! By the way, they recently joined forces with Carolyne Roehm to create a stunning collection of items featuring Lily of the Valley. You will love everything they have on their site do check it out and follow both on Instagram.

From Bridgerton The meaning of tulips was first mentioned in Season 1 when Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) was sitting with Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) while embroidering the flower. “This is for Daphne,” Violet told her eldest son. “Tulips, they symbolize passion. A most appropriate hem for your sister when she decides to marry the Duke. Perhaps your bride would like the same.”
And for your Easter Bonnet