COLLECTIONS: FANS

imageToday’s post on fans was suggested by my BFF, Stephanie Lake, those of you who have followed nenasnotes from the beginning remember the week long postings I did on Stephanie and I call upon her when I am doing my Thursday Collection posts to see if she has anything to contribute, this time she turned the tables on me and got my juices flowing and my post on FANS was born.  In the photo above you see a portion of her collection.  Let’s look at a couple more from her collection with her words talking about fans…

“What else is at once as practical and as extravagant as a fan?    

I keep favorites on my vanity and I am never without one, nor is Odette, who has her own collection and is extremely proud that she can operate folded fan.”

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imageTwo from Stephanie Lake’s collection.

imageStephanie holding her patriotic fan….

“My interest in fans started with my graduate work; one of my first research papers was titled “Fashions In Flirtation: Fans in Eighteenth-Century Europe.”   In it, I examined fans as “the most mercurial of accessories,” reaching their provocative apogee as a paralanguage of gestures developed during that century.  Manuals for the meaning of each gesture were sold together with the most expensive fans.  Among my favorite quotes is from Art dans la parure et le vetement: “whatever the heat of the climate may be, the fan is above all things . . . a means or motive of gracious movements, under the pretext of agitating the air for the sake of coolness.” 

When curatorial work brought me to Tokyo and Kyoto I was gifted a number of fans of the type associated with Geisha fan dances, which I use the most frequently.   I also inherited a number from Bonnie Cashin, including one on which a beau wrote a love poem and drew a little portrait, including the lines: “Well her second name is Cashin / nd she really is a dashin’ / for her I have a passion / leading to mashin’ / but that is so old fashion.”  The Romance of the fan lives on!”

imageBonnie Cashin’s fan.

imageA bit of flirtation from Stephanie and her adorable daughter, Odette.  Love them!  Thanks so much Stephanie for sharing some of your collection for nenasnotes.  You can find Stephanie at https://www.stephanielakedesign.com/ and her magnificent monograph on Bonnie Cashin, Chic is Where You Find It here:           https://www.amazon.com/Bonnie-Cashin-Chic-Where-Find/dp/0847848051re

This post is going to be all over the place so please forgive me (but quite franking most of my posts do ramble don’t they!!!!!).  Fans have been a part of many cultures, the subject of Haute Couture collections, Japanese dance and art, Impressionists paintings and on and on….let’s look at some of my favorites with a couple from my tiny collection.  I collected fans as a child and they, along with other items were stolen from our Evanston home many, many years ago.  I’m sure they weren’t valuable to anyone but me but no matter, they are long gone.  The two below (I can’t find the fan that was on all the chairs at the 2006 Fall Christian Lacroix Haute Couture collection when the temperature in Paris was in the high 90’s for the two weeks I was there!)

imageThe lace trimmed one I got in New Orleans while attending a Costume Society of America Symposium several years ago, I fell in love with NOLA and treated myself to several souvenirs, I am especially fond of this one.  The black ostrich fan was a gift. Nena’s photo.

Speaking of ostrich feather fans, the first thing that should pop into our minds would be Sally Rand and her infamous fans and her dance at the Century of Progress Fair in Chicago, which, by the way, my parents worked.  Daddy did artwork for some of the Fair’s posters.  Sally’s dance was quite a scandal and the notorious fans are now housed at The Chicago History Museum www.chicagohistory.org and were featured in an exhibition several years ago entitled What George Wore and Sally Didn’t.

imageSally and her fans.

imageDita Von Teese with her exotic plumage.

imageThe cover of the exhibition catalog from The Met’s Dangerous Liaisons 2004 exhibition mounted in the Wrightsman Galleries of 18th-century furniture, it was an extraordinary exhibit, small but mighty in its drama.  As I recall it was the first of the costume exhibitions that have been mounted in spaces throughout the Museum, www.metmuseum.org brilliant as we now know!!!!

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imageA rather plain fan against an opulent gown.

imageA Japanese print. Check out similiar prints at The Art Institute of Chicago www.artic.edu

imageFan being used in Japanese theater.

A few of the many examples of painting of women with fans…I chose a few of my favorites.imageLa Japonaise by Claude Monet 1876,  Museum of Fine Arts Boston Collection.

imageGirl With Fan 1881 Pierre-Auguste Renoir,  Hermitage Museum.  I saw this when I was in St. Petersberg.  The Impressionists paintings had just started to be exhibited, after decades in storage, and the colors were extraordinary.

imageGustav Klimt Woman with a Fan 1917-1918

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Some of the fans I liked on Pinterest…photo credits unknown.

imageMy most favorite of all, isn’t it a stunner!

imageFrom Kevin Gorsch’s collection the fan was signed to him by Faye Dunaway when he styled her for an event in Chicago early 2000’s  You get a bonus with Kevin’s silhouette in the photo….you can visit Kevin (you can follow him on Instagram at redleopardcrocodilevintage) and his extraordinary handbag and accessories collection, The Red Leopard Crocodile, in the Ballroom at the monthly Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com

imageYou know it is superb if it is by Valerie Steele!  One to add to your “fashion” book collection!

imageA preview of Friday’s Fashon Flashback post….can you guess who I will be featuring?  I will also continue the fan theme a little bit, so much interesting material.

All photos, unless otherwise noted, are from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: I’M IN LOVE!!

imageHow I envision myself back in the day……painting by Tamara De Lempicka, I have always loved her work.

Yes, it is true, I am in love and who would have thought it would be with a car!!!!  I don’t drive (actually, I know how to drive, just have chosen not to do so although it would be nice to be able to get myself around when I am visiting in Indiana and Michigan, oh well!!!) and have never owned a car (not even as a child, my Father preferred public transportation!), but I have fallen hard for a vintage car that my dear friend, Tom Mantel, owns for his new business Chicago Classic Limo www.ChicagoClassicLimo.com

I realized that I know more about cars than I thought I did but learned so much more from Tom on this fantastic 1940 Packard.

imageWhy don’t they make cars like this anymore!!!!  Such a pity! Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

Last weekend we took the car to the Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com and had a blast talking with all the people who stopped by to admire the car.

imageAt Randolph Street Market.  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

What was, even more, fun was riding in it to and from RSM, people were literally hanging out their car windows with cell phones at the ready, smiling and giving us thumbs up…I must admit most of the admirers were men…come on ladies, it is a beauty!!!! Thankfully we made it both ways without incident and made a lot of peoples day!

imageimageThe front seat with its original mohair upholstery.  Nena’s photo.

imageThe original steering wheel and dashboard, of course, it has been updated for modern times and is air-conditioned.  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageimageThe back seat with its jump seats, I loved jump seats when I was a little girl, I thought they were there just for me!  Also notice the shaped windows, all of which open.  Photos courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageThe front grill.  Nena’s photo.imageThe luggage rack, it pulls down, at the back of the car. Nena’s photo.

imagePhoto courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageI am particularly fond of this photo. I think it looks like a watercolor if I do say so myself.  Nena’s photo.

imageWhitewall tires….I love seeing Tom’s reflection, it looks like he is driving, doesn’t it!  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageI am crazy for this hood ornament. why don’t we have them anymore, what happened to the glamour of cars…and I must admit that I am very happy with my photo of it!  Your thoughts!?  Nena’s photo.

imageHere is the sketch for the piece, I found it on Pinterest photo credit unknown. Needs more research on the artist. imageHere are some more hood ornaments including the 1940 Super 8 in the upper right-hand corner.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: MY TO BE READ PILE

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I have a stack of TBR books and thought it might be amusing to list them for you.  I, as I write this, don’t have any reading order in mind, although I might start with Cooking for Picasso.  I should tell you that I don’t do reviews on books I don’t enjoy, in fact, if I find I don’t like the book at the onset I don’t go any further.  Yes, I know, I really KNOW, that isn’t the way to read, but at this stage in my life there are too many books and articles that I want to read why spend time with anything I don’t enjoy…life is full of things we have to do, reading a book that I don’t enjoy isn’t one of them! The point is this, everything on today’s list might not get reviewed, although each sounds like something I would enjoy and want to pass that information on to you.  So here goes, I am giving you the covers and a bit of an overview, courtesy of the publishers, on each title.  Let’s explore together, shall we, this could be our little nenasnotes book club!

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“The French Riviera, spring 1936: It’s off-season in the lovely seaside village of Juan-les-Pins, where seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family-owned Café Paradis. A mysterious new patron who’s slipped out of Paris and is traveling under a different name has made an unusual request—to have his lunch served to him at the nearby villa he’s secretly rented, where he wishes to remain incognito.

Pablo Picasso is at a momentous crossroads in his personal and professional life—and for him, art and women are always entwined. The spirited Ondine, chafing under her family’s authority and nursing a broken heart, is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites. Her encounter with Picasso will continue to affect her life for many decades onward, as the great artist and the talented young chef each pursue their own passions and destiny.

New York, present day: Céline, a Hollywood makeup artist who’s come home for the holidays, learns from her mother, Julie, that Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso. Prompted by her mother’s enigmatic stories and the hint of more family secrets yet to be uncovered, Céline carries out Julie’s wishes and embarks on a voyage to the very town where Ondine and Picasso first met. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, Céline discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine, and love that enable her to embrace her own future.

Featuring an array of both fictional characters and the French Riviera’s most famous historical residents, set against the breathtaking scenery of the South of France,Cooking for Picasso is a touching, delectable, and wise story, illuminating the powers of trust, money, art, and creativity in the choices that men and women make as they seek a path toward love, success, and joie de vivre.”   Nena’s note, why wouldn’t we love this book…might need to be the first one I read!!!! www.randomhousebooks.com

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“From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The House at Riverton, a novel that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through generations and across continents as two women try to uncover their family’s secret past.

A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, “Nell” sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.”  Nena’s note, I loved The House at Riverton, so this sounds appealing to me, what do you think!? www.simonandschuster.com

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“Discover the real-life mystery centered on the queen of crime herself: Agatha Christie. In this tantalizing new novel, Christie’s mysterious ten-day disappearance serves as the starting point for a gripping novel, in which Christie herself is pulled into a case of blackmail and murder.

“I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.”

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, is boarding a train, preoccupied with the devastating knowledge that her husband is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events—for her rescuer is no guardian angel, rather he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind.

“You, Mrs. Christie, are going to commit a murder. But, before then, you are going to disappear.”

Writing about murder is a far cry from committing a crime, and Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her expertise and knowledge about the act of murder to kill on his behalf.

In A Talent for Murder, Andrew Wilson ingeniously explores Agatha Christie’s odd ten-day disappearance in 1926 and weaves an utterly compelling and convincing story around this still unsolved mystery involving the world’s bestselling novelist.”  Nena’s note, I really can’t wait to get started on this one….love the premise….anything that has Ms. Christie in it has to be a fun read! www.simonandschuster.com

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“For readers of Kate Atkinson and Tana French comes a page-turning literary mystery that brings to life the complex and wholly relatable Manon Bradshaw, a strong-willed detective assigned to a high-risk missing persons case.

At thirty-nine, Manon Bradshaw is a devoted and respected member of the Cambridgeshire police force, and though she loves her job, what she longs for is a personal life. Single and distant from her family, she wants a husband and children of her own. One night, after yet another disastrous Internet date, she turns on her police radio to help herself fall asleep—and receives an alert that sends her to a puzzling crime scene.

Edith Hind—a beautiful graduate student at Cambridge University and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family—has been missing for nearly twenty-four hours. Her home offers few clues: a smattering of blood in the kitchen, her keys and phone left behind, the front door ajar but showing no signs of forced entry. Manon instantly knows that this case will be big—and that every second is crucial to finding Edith alive.

The investigation starts with Edith’s loved ones: her attentive boyfriend, her reserved best friend, her patrician parents. As the search widens and press coverage reaches a frenzied pitch, secrets begin to emerge about Edith’s tangled love life and her erratic behavior leading up to her disappearance. With no clear leads, Manon summons every last bit of her skill and intuition to close the case, and what she discovers will have shocking consequences not just for Edith’s family but for Manon herself.

Suspenseful and keenly observed, Missing, Presumed is a brilliantly twisting novel of how we seek connection, grant forgiveness, and reveal the truth about who we are.” Nena’s note, sounds like another good one with a strong female detective who isn’t a twenty-something…sort of a Tennison don’t you think!  www.penquinrandomhouse.com

 

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From the author’s website: “In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it’s an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby’s new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship – and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

Goodnight from London, inspired in part by the wartime experiences of the author’s own grandmother, is a captivating, heartfelt, and historically immersive story that readers are sure to embrace”.  Nena’s note….again soumds like a good one, I do like a story about a woman who can conjure the odds and it is set in London, and you know I love a good English story…..  www.jennifer-robson.com

image“A collection of all-new Paris-themed essays written by some of the biggest names in women’s fiction, including Paula McLain, Therese Anne Fowler, Maggie Shipstead, and Lauren Willig—edited by Eleanor Brown, the New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters and The Light of Paris.

“My time in Paris,” says New York Times–bestselling author Paula McLain (The Paris Wife), “was like no one else’s ever.” For each of the eighteen bestselling authors in this warm, inspiring, and charming collection of personal essays on the City of Light, nothing could be more true.

While all of the women writers featured here have written books connected to Paris, their personal stories of the city are wildly different. Meg Waite Clayton (The Race for Paris) and M. J. Rose (The Book of Lost Fragrances) share the romantic secrets that have made Paris the destination for lovers for hundreds of years. Susan Vreeland (The Girl in Hyacinth Blue) and J. Courtney Sullivan (The Engagements) peek behind the stereotype of snobbish Parisians to show us the genuine kindness of real people.

From book club favorites Paula McLain, Therese Anne Fowler (Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald), and anthology editor Eleanor Brown (The Light of Paris) to mystery writer Cara Black (Murder in the Marais), historical author Lauren Willig (The Secret History of the Pink Carnation), and memoirist Julie Powell (Julie and Julia), these Parisian memoirs range from laugh-out-loud funny to wistfully romantic to thoughtfully somber and reflective.

Perfect for armchair travelers and veterans of Parisian pilgrimages alike, readers will delight in these brand-new tales from their most beloved authors..”  Nena’s note, can’t wait to read this one…I love travel stories by authors I admire, how do you feel about that?  Let’s explore together. www.penguinrandomhouse.com

And there you have it….at least six weeks of reviews, others might pop up on my radar and, as always, do make your suggestions and comments.

MODEL MONDAY PROFILE: KAREN RYAN

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As with all my profiles, I give my “subjects” a questionnaire to answer and the models questions, are, of course, different from my other profiles.  Karen, along with the other models I have “interviewed” for nenasnotes, was a total joy to work with, taking professionalism at its true meaning…always on time and show ready, glamorous when the garment called for that, sporty if need be, turning into a businesswoman for our Working Women Seminars, etc. Modeling is really acting and letting your audience think what you have on is the most fabulous garment they have ever seen and they must want to add it to their wardrobe!  It is all about “selling” that is, after all, the end result.  She always listened to instruction, and most importantly respected the designers (again, all my models did this, if they didn’t why book them again!!!!) Karen had a girl next door quality, relatable but with an edginess.

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imageKaren Ryan’s first composite.

Let’s see what Karen has to say about her modeling career and what she is up to now….

When did you start your modeling career, was this something you always wanted to do?

I had never even thought about being a model, even though people had always said to me, “with your height (5’8 ½”), you should model”. I had gotten an MA in journalism at the University of Kentucky in 1974, shortly before marrying my husband, Bill, and moving to Chicago.  In Kentucky, I worked for one of the original educational television stations, Kentucky Educational Television (KET).  I got to watch PBS and its wonderful programming years before most of my friends and family.  When we moved to Chicago, I eventually worked for Pioneer Press, the local suburban newspaper chain, and by the mid-’70s, had worked my way up to Promotion Manager.  As such, my staff was responsible for special sections.  We did a fashion section every Fall, and in 1977, it was my responsibility to publish the fashion section with the help of writers and a budget for a photographer we had used in the past.  Ann Taylor was loaning us the clothes, but we had no budget for a model.  My staff and the photographer, Paul McCall said, “what about you, Karen”? I was not really interested in doing it, but I was overruled.

imageFrom another shoot very space age, very of the period!

I went to a makeup shop on Oak Street, learned how to do makeup for black & white photography, and we did it!  I wish I had kept that fashion section, but my first comp has pics from the photo shoot (see comp at top of profile).  I think I looked silly in a couple of them, but that was 40 years ago!  I found out that the camera didn’t love me (my jaw is too square) (Nena’s note, I so don’t agree!!!!), so I didn’t do much print work.  I started auditioning for fashion shows and was very surprised to feel comfortable and natural walking the runway. To use an old expression, the rest is history…I was lucky enough to meet Nena Ivon and work for Saks Fifth Avenue!

imageThis isn’t Karen’s favorite comp but I love it so I am including it…apologies, Karen!

imageFrom Karen’s scrapbook.

What was your favorite Saks Fifth Avenue Show(s)?

My favorite Saks shows were the Misericordia benefit shows.  Backstage we were usually so rushed that we didn’t pay attention to the happenings outside the dressing area curtains.

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But I remember the first time I heard the voice of an angel, Sister Rosemary Connelly.  She spoke from the heart and to our hearts about the special people who live and work at Misericordia www.misericordia.com.  I should backtrack here and tell you that before we married, my husband taught special needs adults. We’ve been avid supporters of Misericordia for many years, and I joined the Women’s Auxiliary over 25 years ago. The Auxiliary does many things, but my favorite event is the annual fashion show.  I always get a couple of tables at the show and get to catch up with all my besties from our runway days, including Nena of course. (Nena’s note, I will profile Misericordia in a future post.)

imageSome of the “gang” at this year’s Misericordia Fashion Show, all profiled in nenasnotes with the exception of Debra Balchen (Candace Jordan wasn’t one of my models but did model and was a room mate of Jeaounche).  The gentleman is Avron Fagel, a dear friend to all of us and the “music guru” for all my shows!

Who was your favorite designer and why?

Adolfo, hands down!  He was so nice to the models…before we walked out onto the runway, he would say, “You look so pretty”!  Other favorites were Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, Bob Mackie, Alexander Julian, Halston, Bill Blass (also very nice to the models) I especially remember the elegance of Saks’ Jacqueline, Comtesse de Ribes’ show at The Casino. I never actually worked with Diane von Furstenberg, but she is one of my favorites and I wear her wrap dresses today!

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imageNewspaper clipping with Terri D’

What was your most favorite “behind the scenes” story?

Of all the people who assisted backstage at Saks Fifth Avenue, my favorite was Ruth Ivon, who we affectionately called Ruthy.  In 1981 we were doing a series of shows and I wore a full-length strapless gown just one week before this incident. The next week I was to wear the same gown and Ruthy could not get the top of the zipper to go up, even with me pushing it together with both hands. I was 3+ months pregnant at the time, which of course both you and Ruthy knew. She called Nena backstage, and sweet person that you are, you said: “skip it”! Who knew the body could change that much in just one week. (Nena’s note…this doesn’t only happen when we are pregnant but as we age our rib cage settles….its called gravity! and our bodies change and I would have to adjust what I pulled for my models!)

What are you up to now and how did you begin your new career/passion?

My career now is grandmother!  And it’s been my favorite stage of life…the joy and love that my grandchildren bring me are unbelievable.  As I mentioned before, another passion is volunteer work, especially with Misericordia. I also volunteer at a soup kitchen once a month along with hubby Bill.  Another passion is gardening!  We have a summer home in Wisconsin which I have landscaped with very little help from professionals.  The only landscaping I kept from the original plan when we built the house in 2003 were trees and shrubs. I have planted hundreds of flowers and shrubs on my own.

imageWith Ruby when she was a baby.

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With the gorgeous grandchildren, Ryan and Ruby.

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Karen in her Wisconsin garden with Ryan this Fourth of July.

What did your modeling years teach you that you are using now?

Humility, sometimes I simply didn’t get the gig.  I never asked why, and when one door closed, another usually opened.  Some of my best fashion shows were last minute replacements. This was before the days of cell phones. Early in the business, we worked directly with the fashion director at the store. If a friend could not get in touch with the director, and could not make a show,  she would call me and ask how fast I could get to Saks or wherever.  The models were very supportive of each other, hard to believe for those who don’t know the business, and maybe it’s different in 2017, but we had each other’s back.  Some of my best friends to this day are the people I worked with back then:  Nena, Jeanouche, (I am her son’s godmother and she is mine) Shelley, Shauna, Terri, D’Arry, Dori, Elsa, Diane, Debra … I know I’m forgetting many, please forgive!

imageKaren and Jeanouche in a photo shoot back in the day have no idea what this was for?????? Interesting composition! (Definitely a Nena’s note!)

imageThe best friends having lunch at Jeanouche’s home a couple decades later, from Nena’s photo album.

imageA Nena’s note…..at a “reunion” show when I was doing a “Hooray for Hollywood” lecture and had my model girls in garments from Saks Fifth Avenue to illustrate the garments in the films I was discussing, a fun show.  They still all can, most definitely, walk the catwalk.  Karen leads the parade on the left ombre blue chiffon one shoulder gown.  Of the ten pictured,  I have profiled six in nenasnotes….I hope I can persuade the rest to come on board!!!!  This is from Nena’s photo album.

I also learned patience and grace under pressure…occasionally we had wardrobe malfunctions backstage, and had to make the most of it, walk out on the runway cool, calm and collected. And most important: posture, posture, posture! When I was in high school (back in the stone age), it was not “in” to be tall.  I slouched, but for some reason, when I walked out on the runway, my shoulders were back, my tummy was in, and I felt a confidence that I had never had as a youth.  The models who worked for Saks Fifth Avenue had the best posture on the runway because we had the best example, Nena Ivon!  Thank you, Nena.

No, thank you, Karen, for being the consummate professional, loving friend, caring individual and perfect wife, mother and best gran ever!

All photos, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of Karen Ryan.

FASHION FLASHBACK: BETH LEVINE SHOES PART 2

imageLong before Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Brian Atwood, Patrick Cox, Prada and Miu Miu (let alone Chanel, Dior, etc.) there was Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier, Andrea Pfister, Maud Frizon, and the list goes on…and, of course, Herbert and Beth Levine. Beth Levine and Beth’s Bootery are the subjects of today’s post.  I have always loved shoes and have worn heels since I was 13 years old, of course, heels then were 3-4 inches, not the stilettos of today (which, by the way, I wore for many, many years!) This post came about when I read about the Michael Kors buy of Jimmy Choo for 1.2 billion dollars!

I had the opportunity, at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago, to work with Fiamma Ferragamo, Roger Vivier and Andrea Pfister (who did a last of my foot to fashion special shoes just for me…do I have any of them, the answer, unfortunately, is no!!!)  All were delightful to work with and extremely talented.  Each with their unique style creating works of art and at different times in my SFA tenure.  Vivier was the first shoe creator that I worked with, he was the hot designer of the time and did an exclusive line for SFA (actually, all those I worked with did exclusives for us, and they were extraordinary). He could not have been more charming, a true French gentleman with the utmost creativity.  I worked with Fiamma and Andrea often and sometimes did fun fashion events with them.  A few times I did vignettes using picture frames and had the model’s feet and legs outside the frames (that is all you saw) showing the most exciting of the shoe collections. The designers, as well as the clients really had fun with those events.

Now on to the Levines….I wore Herbert Levine shoes when I was in high school.  We had the most wonderful shoe stores in Chicago (the Chicago store was next door to Saks on Michigan Avenue) and in Evanston called Joseph’s and they carried all the “of the moment styles”, one new “invention” was the “Springolator”.  The Springolator shoe features an elastic insole that is designed to create tension between the shoe and the bottom of the foot to stay on the foot, without slipping off or go clack-clack when you walk.  It was “invented” by Herbert Levine and his designer wife, Beth.  It is in actuality a mule or slide but stayed on your foot because of the tension. 

imageBeth Levine as I remember her, joyful and beyond talented!

I had several pairs especially for all my dance dresses…we wore a lot of party dresses in the 1950’s and I made most of them myself…I never wanted anything anyone else had.  My prom dress (I was already working at Saks when I graduated high school) was made of unbleached muslin, strapless, of course, and I fashioned rosettes of the muslin to applique on the skirt (with petticoats underneath as was the fashion at the time!) and tied an apricot velvet ribbon at the waist, on my feet, Herbert Levine Springolator shoes in ecru with bows in the same apricot velvet!  Actually, they looked a lot like the pump on the cover of the book at the beginning of the post but they were open toe…you get the idea. Quite chic if I say so myself….

imageimageTwo examples of Herbert Levine Springolators.

imageI had this exact shoe except in pink (me in pink!!??, interesting) the ornament was Dresden china.  I loved those shoes.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Beth’s collection of wooden shoe snuff boxes and the shoe she designed in their honor.  Here are a couple of other “themed” shoes that I found amusing…

imageThe racing car flat.

imageVery Mod and certainly the late 1960’s.

imageBeth’s boot revival “were made for walking” as Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 song tells us https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbyAZQ45uww They started a craze that has survived to current fashion and just get higher and higher up the leg and in heel height.

imageAdore this shoe and it came on many color combinations.

imageI am mad for this shoe the lace embellishment, the shape of the heel, a true masterpiece (could also be a Vivier!)

imageI think this is a particularly beautiful heel….just like the back of our ready-to-wear garments are seen by all so are the back of our shoes.  Wouldn’t you love to see these with a LBD for a fabulous cocktail party….please!!!!!

imagePortrait by Philip Pearlstein, 1980’s which was on loan for the Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes exhibition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2015. Go to their blog at npg.si.edu

All images from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

COLLECTIONS: MINATURE SHOES

imageMy mini collection of miniature shoes.  They sit on my decoupaged chest that held my Father’s paints.  Interesting that the Elfinware shoes have forget me knots on them and are on a postcard of them, who knew!  Not the world’s best photo but a hard one to capture with my handy dandy iPhone 7!

My collection began many, many years ago with the wooden snuff box given to me by the amazingly talented Beth Levine when she visited Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago with her Beth’s Bootery Collection, which was exclusive to the Store.  You will read her story in tomorrow’s Fashion Flashback post.  She collected these extraordinary boxes and created a shoe, in brown leather with gold detail I adored them, (wish I had a picture to share with you) that I owned and gave to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Fashion Resource Center, an extraordinary Collection under the supervision of the brilliant Gillion Carrara www.saic.edu

imageA close up of my snuff box.  My photo.

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imageThe two photos found on Pinterest, credit unknown.  The shoe above is what the front of my actual Beth’s Bootery shoe looked like.  A good look at the slide that opens to reveal the container for your snuff.

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imageThe two images above are inlaid with mother of pearl.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageIsn’t this a beauty inlaid with silver and the compartment flips up to reveal your snuff!  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageMy favorite of all the wooden shoe snuff boxes…isn’t is a wonder, so very tiny with all the intricate carving…I want it!  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

My Mother collected Elfinware and we found many, many pieces at various prices, some quite expensive and others unbelievably “cheap”, all special to Mom and to me, do we see a post in the future…probably!  Made between 1920-1940 in Germany to look like Dresden the items were quite inexpensive (much like Jadelite and Depression Glass when they were introduced) and have become collector’s items.  Be sure to check out the Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com this weekend, July 29 and 30 from 10 to 5, you might find a piece of Elfinware or a shoe collectible or whatever strikes your fancy!

imageI have, over the years, given away several of Mom’s pieces to friends who wanted a token from her collections. My photo.

imageOne of my favorites, a Limoges snuff box, again featuring forget me knots,  Interestingly I don’t have any “shoes” with lily of the valley…I’ll have to look for one!  My photo.

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I am partial to this piece, it is English porcelain and the largest of the collection.  It has the look of Imari, don’t you agree….a charming manipulation of clay to form the ruffle on what to me looks like a shoe bootie!  My photo.

imageA similar piece found on Pinterest with handpainted flowers.  Photo credit unknown.

imageAs is my custom, here is a book for you to expand your knowledge, if you are so inclined, of the wonderful collectible world of snuff boxes.  What you say, you don’t do snuff, well just think of them as beautiful objects that you can admire, perhaps put your aspirin in one or two of them!  Enjoy….

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: FAVORITE PINS THIS WEEK: GREEN

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I became addicted to Pinterest this weekend and found all manner of wondrous images of my all time favorite color…..green!  So why not do a post on all things green. Few words just glorious images like the above collage I prepared for the blog! I will identify my own photos, some may be repeats (sorry!) but mostly they are pins I have saved and don’t have photo credits

imageI adore color samples, here one of Pantone’s green palettes, these are the greens that are the most attractive to me, however, I do love all greens!

The following quote is attributed to the book,  Green: The History of a Color by Michael Pastoureau published by Princeton University Press (one of his series of books on color, I ordered mine immediately from www.amazon.com!!!!) “The color green is fickle, mutable, variously the color of love, youth, irresponsibility, but also madness, debauchery, and the underworld”.  

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imageFrom Carolyne Roehm www.carolyneroehm.com using an Ikat textile for her table setting, her “eye” is brilliant in all things, whether flowers, gardens or interiors.

imageAnother tablescape from Carolyne Roehm

 

imageI not only love this photo but want everything in it!!!! It is so me!

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I could live in any of these rooms and take inspiration for not only the color and the weathered look of the rooms but all the details large and small.

imageBeautifully detailed tiles.

imageA magnificent garden path leading to a secluded nook.

imageThe entrance to Monet’s home in Giverny

imageA fantastically beautiful solarium….

imageIvy on a brick wall from a weekend in Harbor Country my photo

imageA wood in Indiana my photo

imageI am mad for this capture….an exquisite bird sitting on a fern frond

imageFerns in a Blue Island garden my photo

imageI know I have posted this but it is a beauty with the gold embellished embossed leather binding, you might find something similar at the Newberry Library www.newberry.org Book Sale this week, Thursday through Sunday, July 27 through 30  or at this weekend’s RandolphStreet Market  www.randolphstreetmarket.com Saturday and Sunday.

imageMy all time favorite tree, a weeping redbud in full leaf, also in a Blue Island garden my photo

imageCan you believe this is a cabbage!  It is amazing and HUGE, the shades of an almost metallic green are extraordinary, another shot from my Harbor Country weekend.

imageI know I did this in another post but had to feature it again, John Galliano for Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall 2006 (the Collection I was fortunate to witness!!!!) Vogue photograph

imageA truly spectacular conifer in Harbor Country, my photo.

 

www.randolphstreetmarket.com

www.newberry.org

 

 

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO

 

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Having read The Little Paris Bookshop (which I haven’t reviewed as yet!) I was looking forward to Nina George’s The Little French Bistro and I wasn’t disappointed.

I must say the beginning of the book was a bit off putting and since it is the beginning I feel safe telling you…our heroine travels to Paris and the Seine with the purpose of drowning herself, huh!!!???  She obviously has her reasons, she is running away from a forty-one year unhappy marriage. Why, you might ask, stay in a marriage that long, I think you will agree people stay in relationships for all sorts of reasons, but mostly, in my opinion, it is familiar, perhaps in some way, comforting normalcy.  Marianne isn’t physically abused but emotional abuse can be as devastating.  So she leaves and jumps into the Seine and by chance, there is a man (who appears to be homeless) on the banks of the River who saves her.  She isn’t happy about this but feels it means she must get on with her life by whatever means.  She doesn’t know what to do or where to go but starts her journey for the French coast and ends up in Brittany, which is known as “the end of the world”!  She is embraced by the population of the small town and finds work at Mor restaurant.  Quoting from the inside flap of the book “Among food, music, and laughter, Marianne finds a forgotten version of herself—passionate, (Nena’s note, yes there is an affair) carefree and powerful.”  Her past does catch up with her, literally, and decisions must be made, we hope she makes the right ones.

I really enjoyed Ms. George’s www.nina-george.com writing and how she brought the power of being oneself (even when you don’t know who that is!) to be life altering.  What I especially liked is the protagonist isn’t a 20 something but an “older” woman who rediscovers herself, obviously telling us it is never too late to be true to who you really are.  Is there a physical make-over, yes, and it is wonderful and, of course, the mental and emotional make-over. The story gives us hope that one can change no matter the circumstances nor the time of your life…live it fully!  Is there freedom to do whatever you want or haven’t tried before, absolutely and it is a delight to watch (read!)

I want to quote directly from the book, page 240 to be exact, it, in my opinion, perfectly describes the book’s meaning….let’s see what you think…

“Marianne loved the feeling of being wanted. As Marianne. As a woman.  ‘In my search for death, I found life.  How many deviations, side roads and senseless detours a woman can take before she finds her own path, and all because she falls into line too early, takes too early the paths of custom and convention, defined by doddering old men and their henchwomen—the mothers who only want the most dutiful outcome for their daughters. And then she wastes an immense amount of time ensuring that she fits the mold! How little time then remains to correct her fate.  And, yet. life as an autonomous woman is not a song.  It’s a scream, a war, it’s a daily struggle against the easy option of obeying.  I could have obeyed, could have lived less dangerously, ventured nothing, failed at nothing.’ ” 

Very profound and, again, in my opinion, spot on.

I  recently joined a Facebook group of women led by Catherine Grace O’Connell www.catherinegraceo.com (you may recall I profiled Catherine in a previous post) The group, The Fierce 50 Revolution (name is changing) exists to empower women from mid-life on by giving each an organization to network with other women.  Do go to the Facebook site for details.  This book should be MUST reading for all the members and I would suggest, for all my readers.  It is a charming eye-opening look into the world of conforming and then becoming an independent person.

You know I like to support Independent Booksellers but in this instance, my book was purchased from www.amazon.com

FASHION IN FOOD: PROXI

 

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Friday, as you know, is all about fashion in flashback, fashion now and future fashion and with a bit of a twist on the theme I am starting to do posts on my favorite restaurants, established, dearly loved and exciting new ventures in one of the greatest food cities anywhere, Chicago. I do not intend to be a food critic but I am, most certainly a foodie. One of the definitions of fashion is “to form something into something else: to make something from something else” isn’t that exactly what we do with food….Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony have “fashioned” an exciting new concept in food with their brand new restaurant PROXI, the new kid on the block (Randolph to be exact) which, along with Fulton one of the hottest, happening places in the City (but you will see in future posts, not the only area in this ever changing food story.)

The evolution of the Randolph Street restaurant saga began many years ago with a single pioneering restaurant, Vivo (no longer with us, and of course, the beloved Ina‘s) and look at the area now, not only restaurant heaven but total gentrification.  I remember taking cabs during the beginning of the Vivo era and the drivers thought I was mad and said: “Lady, there isn’t anything there but warehouses, I can’t leave you there!”  I would explain it was okay and they could wait for me and I would wave to them from inside.  Well, those days are long gone, now the Uber and Lyft drivers and certainly all the cabbies know exactly where to take locals and visitors for the excitement that is now “Restaurant Row”! I’ll address other restaurants throughout the City in future food posts, there are so many but, of course, I do have my favorites and I have added Proxi to that list! 

imageThis was our table and I was facing a wall of wine bottles, how appropriate!

imageThe place setting, my photo.

A few weeks ago I got a call from a long time friend, Emmanuel Nony, we go back to his Park Hyatt days, and, of course, who doesn’t love Sepia!  Always the gracious host, Emmanuel invited me and a guest to come to Proxi for dinner.  I was delighted to accept the invitation and extend my guest invitation to my cooking buddy, Tom Mantel.  Emmanuel greeted us in his usual charming manner escorted us to our table where he explained the extraordinary menu and it’s interesting concept.  I asked what he recommended for the evening and after saying he couldn’t choose proceeded to choose everything! Don’t you love it!  He turned us over to our fabulous server, Jordan, who walked us through the unique menu with suggestions along the way, he was the best.  The menu is divided into three sections (all of which will change on a regular basis), the first page was very interesting starters, which were quite substantial, the middle page was all seafood and the last page all meat.

imageI think this was the Farmer’s Market Bhel Puri my photo, absotutely delicious.

imageTempura Elotes amazing!

imageSalad of Sugar Snap Peas and Carrotss, yuzu kosho, sesame, miso brûlée my photo

The concept is to share everything and pick at least one item, each, from each page, which we did. Actually three (see above photos)from page one and the whole fish (which, by the way, was probably the best fish I have ever eaten!) the only fish we tried and two from page three.

imageOur whole grilled fish “Pescado Zarandeado”.  My photo.

imageOne of our meat courses, BBQ Lamb Ribs with mango pickle and cashews. Our other choice was Wagnyu Beef Short Ribs with Malyasian curry, sort of a medley of ribs….also my photo

We had interesting wines, I chose a Gamay which I don’t think I have seen on a menu since I was in Paris (this month the wine selections are from the Loire Valley).  Dessert was a dream.  The exciting news was that with all the food and wine I didn’t feel at all stuffed…it was superb!  We then opted to have a lovely after dinner drink in the gorgeous bar.  The place was packed, but not uncomfortably so, and it had only been open a few weeks.  It will be a HUGE success, of that I am sure.  It was fun to see and have a quick chat with my old friends Bill Zwecker, Tom Gorman and Vicki and Bill Hood.  I’m sure they enjoyed their evening as much as we did. The food was interesting, delicious, the wine extraordinary and the service perfection.  Didn’t hurt that I was with a dear friend who loved it all as much as I did.

I asked Emmanuel to send me detailed information on the restaurant.  I have culled it down a bit but wanted to share it with you.  I am hoping to have a recipe or two to share with you later.

imageAndrew Zimmeman and Emmanuel Nony

Proxi (565 W. Randolph St.), the second restaurant from the acclaimed team of Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant, Sepia, opens on Tuesday, June 13. Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony are thrilled for this project to come to fruition after years of searching for the perfect location. Housed in a former print shop right beside Sepia, the restaurant is located at the beginning on Chicago’s renowned Restaurant Row. Proxi takes guests on a ride to the world’s most culinary rich corners. Using elemental cooking techniques and pristine ingredients, the menu celebrates the bold flavors of street foods.

The menu at Proxi takes inspiration from Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s lifelong fascination with the vibrant, emphatic flavors most commonly seen in street foods. Including snacks, small plates, raw selections, entreés, and large-format dishes for the table, the restaurant’s cuisine captures the vivacity of such foods in approachable, Modern American presentations using primary cooking techniques showcased on the restaurant’s wood-fired hearth. Meat, seafood, and vegetables remain balanced throughout the menu, with dishes focusing on bold tastes, including an array of exotic ingredients, wood fire, and worldly spices.

Pastry Chef Sarah Mispagel unleashes her award-winning talent on Proxi’s dessert selection to offer a range of whimsical and nostalgic sweet dishes balancing familiarity with experimentation.

Josh Relkin leads the cocktail program at Proxi, crafting a menu with an emphasis on globally influenced libations to complement the kitchen. Relkin embraces the hearth, incorporating the live fire cooking into the cocktail list, with a goal of blending familiar ingredients in an unconventional way.  Proxi also offers a selection of beers from across the world, with hopes to bring guests unfamiliar brews that they‘ve only sipped during their travels.  

The Wine program, led by Beverage Director and acclaimed Advanced Sommelier Arthur Hon, boasts a succinct, dynamic wine list that converges on a central theme to unique wines from around the world. Hon, who travels often to taste new wines and experience unfamiliar flavors, was thrilled with the challenge of creating a wine list to stand up to the kitchen’s bold, vibrant, and global flavors. Hon’s wine list will have a rotating theme, that will be changed seasonally with the menu. To start, he’s transporting guests to the Loire Valley of France to experience the wines from that region.

imageNotice the original barrel ceiling and the custom fixtures, a great blend of old (read original) and the new, stunning.

Developed by James Beard Award Winning design firm, Meyer Davis, Proxi’s elegant, welcoming aesthetic reveals a mid-century American brasserie.  The space calls out to its worldly influences while preserving existing architectural elements from Werner Printing Company, which formerly occupied the expansive restaurant. Inset with brass-framed mirrors, lightly washed wood covers the walls and rustic wood planks form the floor, though custom designed cement tiles differentiate the bar and lounge space from the dining room. A long, central leather banquette stretches out to anchor the dining room, flanked by additional tables and more leather booths along the walls. The central bar, with its stone top, leather upholstered front, and cerused wood accents, sits opposite a chef’s table donning Noir St. Laurent marble and overlooking an exhibition kitchen. Overhead, eye-catching custom light fixtures hang from the original barrel-vaulted ceiling.

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imageTwo views of the bar, adore all of it, but especially the tile floor!

Through a fresh and innovative American lens, Proxi, a sister restaurant to Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony’s Sepia, scours the most culinary-rich corners of the globe to inspire a menu that celebrates the bold flavors of multicultural street foods through pristine ingredients. Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood along Restaurant Row, Proxi unites an award-winning team to transport its guests around the world, beginning with cuisine and extending to an eclectic beverage program focused on worldly inspirations and diverse, exotic ingredients. Developed by New York City-based design firm Meyer Davis, Proxi’s elegant, welcoming aesthetic reveals a mid-century American brasserie that calls out to its global influences while preserving existing architectural elements.” www.proxichicago.com.

All photos unless otherwise noted provided by Proxi.

Do go you won’t be disappointed, it is not only fabulous food but a wonderfully glorious space! Thanks so much Emmanual and Andrew for brnging this concept to Chicago, I love it, could you tell! Cookbook please!!!!