COLLECTIONS: INSECTS PART 1……IN FASHION

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I’ve been seriously thinking about bees and how their demise will effect our beloved Earth, we MUST protect them and see that they continue to exist!!!  It got me to thinking about how insects, in general, are always with us and how they turn up in fashion, beauty, interiors, art, books…etc., etc!  I have gathered so much “stuff” that this will be a two-part post this week and next week.

As I was preparing to do this post I was drawn again to A. S. Byatt’s book, Angels & Insects.  I actually saw the film before I read the book.  I found both beautifully detailed, the 1995 film, in particular, was visually stunning, (I love Kristen Scott Thomas in anything!) but also disturbing.  If you haven’t seen it here is the trailer https://youtu.be/bdqnz-FtIog to wet your appetite.

imageFrom the film Angels & Insects, one of the main characters in costume.  No, it isn’t for a costume party it is a day dress but why, one would ask, would you want to look like a bumble bee???!!!

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imageA Lasage gold embroidered bee that was created for an Haute Couture garment. Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageA truly magnificent gown and hat from the genius of Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.  I am obsessed with the faux tortoise shell detail scattered with gold and tortoise bees. The gold honeycomb and bees are all embroidered by hand.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageThe Lesage embroidered, on net, sleeve of a Chanel Spring 2016 Haute Couture gown.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageA jeweled honeycomb minaudière from Judith Leiber, I mean seriously…what a work of art!!! Pinterest photo credit unknown.  I’ll do a Fashion Flashback story on Judith Leiber in a future post.

imageA needlepoint chair seat on an antique chair at a private club in Chicago.

imageNapoleon adored bees and used them in many forms.  Here is a woven piece.  Perhaps I should adapt it for my logo!!!???  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageBee hives on the top of a downtown Chicago building.  All new commercial roof tops must have green space.  Many older buildings such as City Hall have gone green as well. Bravo Chicago.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

The following is taken from the absolutely fascinating website The Honeybee Conservancy http://www.thehoneybeeconversancy.org  You can sponsor bee hives and learn so much about bees and their place in history as well as today.

“Although he was never a beekeeper, Napoleon used the honey bee as one of the most important symbols of the power and prestige of his empire.

There seems to be two schools of thought of why Napoleon’s government chose the honey bee as part of its iconography.

One school of thought says the honey bee is representational of the Merovingian kings, the founders of France, with whom Napoleon sought to align himself.

Or...

“When Napoleon moved into the Royal Palace at Tuileries he refused to spend money on new decor. However, he could not allow the drapery – with its embroidered fleur-de-lis (the French Royal emblem) – to continue to hang in the windows of the palace. His solution was to have the rich and elegant drapes turned upside down. The inverted symbol of the overthrown monarchy looked like a bee.  From then on, the tenacious bee became the emblem of Napoleon Bonaparte.

imageI took this photo at last month’s Randolph Street Market at Carrie Homann’s booth, on the Second Floor in the Ballroom, from a collection of insect pins. Isn’t the golden bee especially fabulous!  Carrie always has some insect jewelry at the Shows, but she has so many other collections I would suggest you check her out each month (I’ll be posting more from her especially her Bakelite pieces) and remember if you see something you like, at any of the booths, buy it, it many not be there later that day nor the next month.  When you find something you like be sure to ask the dealer if they have any other treasures you might be collecting, they will be happy to let you know what else they might not have brought that month. http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com

imageA close up of a silver bee pin from Carrie Homann’s jewelry collection.

imageA magnificent necklace (I may need to make this my own, love it!) from the unbelievably talented Stephanie Lake (you remember the week of posts, the week of December 12, 2016, I did on Stephanie, her book on Bonnie Cashin and how she and her husband entertain) http://www.stephanielakedesign.com  Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lake Design.

Let’s switch from bees to beetles….a fascinating story about beetle wing embroidery this amazing phenomenon was brought, along with the site infomation, to my attention by my friend and Columbia College Chicago Faculty member, Virginia Heaven (you have seen some pieces from her vast collections of objects in past posts).  I, of course, needed to do some research on this and found a couple of photos on Pinterest photo credits unknown, that I am sharing with you.,

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The following excerpt is from the scolarly journal,  Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org  It is an absolutely fascinating site.

The earliest form of insect-adorned Western dress derived its inspiration from beetle-embridroidered fabric from India imported by England in the 1840’s and 1850’s.”

Next Thursday we will continue to explore the world of insects in fashion, beauty and home…don’t freak out, we will look at some more beetles and the sheer beauty of the webs spiders spin.  I think you will be interested, and perhaps educated, I know I have been, in how they are used in ways you wouldn’t consider, and no, I’m not doing any recipes using them!!!!!

I leave you with a man and his suit……image

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: WATER FEATURES

imageIt’s Summer People and what better way to cool down than by being by or looking at water…you might have noticed we sit on the edge of a body of water, Lake Michigan, actually, I do sit on a body of water, my home is on lake fill!!!!  Oh, my!  Let’s look at some of our wonderful water features.

imageThe two images above grace the Penthouse terrace of a dear friend who adores anything Art Deco and fills his home and terrace with treasures from the period.  By looking at these wonderful small pools of water you can see why.  I am obsessed with them and I will share more photos of the terrace later this summer.  The photos were taken several years ago and it has evolved but the silver lady is still the focal point.

imageA granite pillar fountain in the backyard of  Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel’s Mid-Century modern home.  I love the tranquility of it.

imageAnd in their front yard, an ode to Frank Lloyd Wright on his 150th year.  Isn’t this a stunner!!!  I love to sit in the living room and look out the window at this piece of sculpture.

image You might prefer wonderous ponds on an estate’s grounds, also relaxing and divine scenery to capture your interest.

imageOr perhaps you would like a small waterfall in your garden.  I took this photo at the Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier earlier this year, http://www.chicagoflower.com. Next year’s show is March 14-18, 2018.  I’m mad for the look of it and it seems to be a fairly easy feature to achieve in a small space, did I say easy….I guess I am watching too much HGTV, however, I did (all by myself!!!) dig out all the sod, 12 inches deep, and laid 8 ton of flagstone then built a raised Japanese garden in one corner, in my Evanston garden many, many years ago…Mom was the gardener, green arms, she cultivated over 200 rose bushes, mostly old fashioned English roses…but that is yet another post!

imageA waterfall in the City, why not, the John Handcock Center thought it would be a good idea…I agree and now that there is a Starbucks on that level as well as the Cheesecake Factory, to satisfy your cravings, it has great sitting spaces…what a perfect place to relax and watch the world go by!  Pinterest photo, credit unknown,

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At the North end of Millennium Park is the Wrigley Square Fountain.

imageI think this image is the most iconic with the Crown Fountain perfectly silhouetted againist our truly extraordinary skyline!  Exquisite!!!! Pinterest photo credit unknown.

From the City of Chicago website some Crown Fountain facts:

“Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park is a major addition to the city’s world-renowned public art collection.

The fountain consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out.

Plensa adapted this practice by having faces of Chicago citizens projected on LED screens and having water flow through an outlet in the screen to give the illusion of water spouting from their mouths. The collection of faces, Plensa’s tribute to Chicagoans, was taken from a cross-section of 1,000 residents.

The fountain’s water features operate during the year between mid-spring and mid-fall, while the images remain on view year-round.”

imageI always love sitting in this hidden gem at The Art Institute of Chicago’s McKinlock Court.  You can enjoy Jazz on Thursday evenings.  I’ve gone there my entire life….a very long time and still find it a peaceful oasis in the middle of my city!

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Moving further South on Michigan Avenue is this serene scene at the South end of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Not only is  this an extraordinary fountain display but a divine allèe that is truly glorious no matter the season. Designed and constructed between 1962 and 1967, the garden is one of Dan Kiley’s best-preserved commissions from the period.

imageAs you walk into the park you find this Fountain of the Great Lakes, a sculptural fountain by Lorado Taft created in 1913.  An aside, I did a Jhane Barnes men’s wear fashion show in this space, it was quite a fun and unique event and featured the talented Midnight Circus http://www.midnightcircus.net as entertainment, they are amazing and I used their performers many times when I was at Saks.  I see that they are performing in Chicago’s parks this summer, check them out you won’t be disappointed!

imageI don’t have this fountain’s provenance but as you walk South from the Art Institute and a bit off Michigan Avenue (the railway tracks are just to the East) you will come upon this charmer.

imageOf course, my favorite of all our Chicago water features is Buckingham Fountain.  As a little girl, Mom and I would often meet Daddy for dinner and a stroll down Michigan Avenue, I would run (much to Daddy’s chagrin) from Michigan Avenue to the Fountain to watch the lights change, I knew in my heart that it was all Daddy’s magic and he made it happen!  He did you know!!!  When I am teaching at Columbia College Chicago I can look out my classroom window and see the Fountain in all seasons.  It is a joyful occasion when it is turned on in May!  A Nena’s Note, yet another fashion show venue for Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago…we did an Emanuel Ungaro personal appearance and fashion show in a tent by the Fountain.  It was a benefit for the Woman’s Board of the Alliance Française de Chicago http://www.af-chicago.org.  May I brag and say it was a phenomenal evening and a very successful event.

I thought you might like a brief history of the Fountain, the following is taken from the Chicago Park District website http://www.chicagoparkdistict.com/…buckingham-memorial-fountain

“The Fountain officially opened to the public on May 26, 1927, and was dedicated on August 26, 1927.  As the centerpiece of Grant Park—“Chicago’s Front Yard”, architect Edward H. Bennett (1874–1954) designed the Fountain to serve as the park’s formal focal point without obstructing the views of the Lake Michigan. Kate Sturges Buckingham (1858-1937) dedicated the structure to the people of Chicago in 1927 in memory of her late brother, Clarence, donating one million dollars for the Fountain. 
 
Edward H. Bennett designed the monument in collaboration with French sculptor Marcel Loyau and engineer Jacques H. Lambert. Inspired by the Latona Fountain at Versailles, the structure is composed of four basins clad in elaborately carved granite and pink Georgia marble.  Buckingham Fountain, however, is twice the size and re-circulates approximately three times more water than its French counterpart. Chicago’s fountain is also unique as it symbolizes Lake Michigan. Conveying the enormity of the lake, its major display uses as much as 15,000 gallons of water per minute and sprays water to a height of 150 feet from the ground. The massive lower basin features four sets of Art Deco style sea horses representing the four states that border Lake Michigan.
 
To create the sea-related bronze elements, sculptor Marcel Loyau studied the sea horse collection at a zoological institution in Paris. The fountain’s sculptural elements garnered Loyau the Prix National at the 1927 Paris Salon. The monument’s original design included colored lighting to emulate soft moonlight. During the dedication in August of 1927, John Philip Sousa conducted while his band played “Pomp and Circumstance” before an audience of 50,000 people. 
 
For years, the fountain was entirely manually operated by two engineers who each worked a twelve-hour daily shift. Although the evening light show was first automated in 1968, the water continued to be manually operated until 1980, when the operations were fully computerized. From 1983 to 1994, the fountain’s computer was located in Atlanta. Today, however, it is on site and with a monitoring system in Arlington Heights, IL.  
 
The Fountain has remained intact except for a brief theft of two carved fish heads from the fountain, weighing several pounds each. The fish heads were recovered when a salvage place was offered the pieces and the buyer thought they looked very familiar and reported them.”
I would love to hear your comments on your favorite water features in and around Chicago.
ALL PHOTOS WERE TAKEN BY NENA IVON UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: I’LL EAT WHEN I’M DEAD

imageWhen I first read this title I thought what……….then I read it was part of a quote from the Fashion Icon, Daphne Guinness, “If I eat, I can’t work. I’ll eat when I’m Dead.”

The story begins with the death of one of the fashion magazine RAGE stylists, Hillary Whitney, who is found dead in a locked conference room of the magazine’s headquarters in New York.  It is ruled that she died as a side effect of the pressure of being thin (not the case!)  Our protagonist, Catherine (Cat) Ono, Hillary’s best friend and co-worker at RAGE, doesn’t believe this to be true.  Like any good mystery in the States or the UK, our heroine becomes “involved” with a detective, in this cases NYPD Detective Mark Hutton.  Along with her colleague, Bess Bonner, Cat sets out to find the truth to Hillary’s death.  We are taken through the often told tale of the seedy side of the fashion business (I’ll give my opinion on that in a bit), party girls (and guys), sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Nothing new here.  It gets interesting when we start hearing about drug induced creams and lotions and the billion dollar cosmetic industry and how all this ties together.  Of course, as in The Devil Wears Prada, everyone is stunning, tiny, ambitious and extremely well dressed, accessorized, coiffed and made-up in the latest whatevers!!! I’m not going to go into the plot as it does a few turns, nothing terribly mysterious but a fun ride none the less.

Some reviews I have read thought it was a satire, perhaps, but I found it to be exploitive. As you know, I have worked in the fashion industry my entire life, am I saying these things don’t happen, of course not, but what I must say is that with all the models I have worked with (and I have shared many of their stories with you…) they were naturally thin, still are (I was among them, not thin anymore, nor was I a model!!!) and didn’t starve themselves to death (actually one did have anorexia, many years ago, we didn’t know what it was then, and tragically, she did pass away) and I never had any compliments from visiting designers on having models who could not fit the sample clothes.  Now let’s talk drugs…yes, I had a couple of models who I knew did drugs, did they do this in front of me, no, of course not, but did talk openly about it and never came “stoned” to a show (or was I being naive!!) A lot of drinking goes on in the novel and a lot of late night parties….of course, that was part of the club scene, but again, not to the point of interfering in their work with me. I find it very frustrating that all novels about the world of fashion always makes it out to be a sleazy business…I would say on the contrary. This one has the young women trying to make it in NYC while the older women are fighting to stay in control, again we have heard this before.  Is the industry competitive, yes, is it exciting, yes, is it always looking for the new idea, yes, is it fast paced, yes, do you need ambition, yes…it is all of those things and so much more.  Fashion is a huge industry, employing millions and pumps billions into the economy.  I’m not wearing blinders and am well aware that there are sweatshops that MUST be eliminated, that wages aren’t equal all over the world, or in the US, again this MUST be stopped, that there are unethical people in the business and, unfortunately, most businesses.

Would I suggest you read it, sure, why not….  In the end, I would say, I expected more from the premise, our author, Barbara Bourland, is already working on a sequel, Maniacs, will I read it, you bet I will!

 

PS TODAY  IS THE ANNIVERSARY OF MY BLOG….8 MONTHS AND COUNTING!!!!!

 

PROFILE: CATHERINE GRACE O’CONNELL

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

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

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

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

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

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cleobella dress, Michael Stars Hat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOBBIES….

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND WHERE DO YOU WANT TO VISIT

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

imageAdidas Dress, Asos by Public Desire shoes

YOUR FAVORITE CHICAGO PUBLIC ART PIECE

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

HOW DO YOU  WANT TO BE REMEMBERED

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

WOULD YOU SHARE A FAVORITE RECIPE OR TWO WITH US

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

CATHERINE’S BEEF POT ROAST

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

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

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PROFILE: MICHAEL R. HAWLEY

imageMichael R. Hawley

As I continue my series of profiles of people I have known forever, new acquittances, and people I think you would be interested in learning about…I have found several that have had major impact on my life and career…one such is Michael R. Hawley.  I first met Michael when he came to Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago as Vice President and General Manager.  He had just, extremely successfully, opened the Bloomingdale’s SoHo store.  We had been without a Store Manager for quite some time and, of course, everyone was excited and a bit apprehensive as to who the new “guy” would be.  (Just a Nena’s note, in the 53 years I was with the company I had 8 managers, my first, Howard J. “Hal” Clyne was my boss for 20 of those years.  Some had very long terms, some very brief…before they left for “greener pastures” and most were 3-year stints.  I must admit I can’t even recall all the ownership and Corporate changes.  Let’s say I’m still a Gimbel girl at heart and am thrilled that the company is once again owned by a world-renowned retailer….Hudson Bay!  Yay, Saks Fifth Avenue!) I must tell you Michael’s enthusiam was contagious…he wanted everyone to participate to their best ability as individuals and as a team and a team we continued to be.  I wanted to have all our new Store Managers to feel comfortable not only in the Store but in their new City.  I hope I helped him with his relocation, I do know we became good friends from the beginning.  I always love that he tells everyone since he knew I was retiring in November of 2009, he decided to leave the company in August, it does make a good story, don’t you agree! It is with deep pleasure that I share his journey with you….enjoy his story….

MICHAEL, TELL US WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t fascinated by products and brands.  I grew up in Cincinnati, the headquarters of Proctor & Gamble and Federated Department Stores, at the time.  The stores were wonderlands of excitement.  The sense of theater and showmanship had been key to the growth of the industry.  Proctor & Gamble marketed the consumer brands in everyone’s homes.  I taught myself to read, before starting school, by recognizing brand logos in the Yellow Pages. With that accomplished, I opened my first store at the age of 5 on our front porch.  I don’t recall sales being brisk but I certainly enjoyed merchandising the store.  It would seem that I have always been a retailer.

My first paying job, if one considers $1.90 per hour as being paid, was in a fine linen store, as box boy.  Perhaps they had heard of my front porch success.   I made gift boxes after school.  Throughout high school and college, I continued to work in the store.   Whenever a coworker went on vacation, I offered to learn their job.  Through those years, I was exposed to all aspects of the business and was an eager student.

imageHere not only a great article but Michael’s career timeline.  Chicago Tribune.

Many people in my family were very creative.  I was in awe of the beauty of their art and their ability to create it.  Having produced art projects in school that only a mother could love, I did not self identify as creative.  After college I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco.  I was quite confident that with my all my experience in the linen store that I would quickly be snapped up by one of big stores in need of my assistance.  As you might imagine, it didn’t turn out quite like I expected.  I was hired as holiday sales help in the silver department at Gump’s.  It was a fascinating emporium of incredible merchandise from all over the world.  They were legendary arbiters of good taste.  As part of the interview process we were required to pass a taste test.

After Christmas, I was hired as an assistant buyer in the Crystal department.  I was then promoted to my first job.  I was responsible for the textile department, which meant handwoven Persian rugs and various tribal textiles such as camel trappings.   The moths had plenty to eat. The company was in the process of finalizing plans for a major storewide event.  My predecessor had committed to a “textile shop”.  It was scheduled to open in six weeks…and nothing had been done including a workable concept.

I read everything I could find to learn about the rugs and learned about business conducted in the ways of the Middle East.  I found a resource for the most incredible antique fabrics from a couple who dealt in antique couture.  Although the individual pieces were beautiful as they were, they were not particularly saleable.  I created a London “cushion” shop filled with beautiful one of kind pillows that retailed up to $1500.  This is where I first recognized the creativity in myself.  It became successful leading to four collections a year and having my responsibility extended to the lamp department.  It was almost exclusively product that I designed and had made.  I loved the whole process.

imageMichael gave me this magnificent textile pillow when he was Vice Presiden/General Manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  I treasure this magnificent addition to my pillow collection primarily because he made it and most of all that he thought enough of me to share his creation with me!
MICHAEL, WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”

I am not at all sure that we ever make it.  There is always another mountain to climb and new challenges to conquer.  One time that comes to mind was when I was interviewed by the New York Times.  I had just opened a new store for Bloomingdale’s in SoHo as the General Manager.

imageCover of Women’s Wear Daily for Bloomingdale’s SoHo Opening.

It was a very successful store opening and created a shift in the paradigm for the company.  Reading about oneself in the NYT provided a certain feeling of having arrived  http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/04/nyregion/public-lives-a-merchandise-snob-out-to-exceed-expectations.html  Soon after being pursued by Saks Fifth Avenue for the Michigan Avenue store was also very flattering.

imageChicago Magazine piece 2006

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

I am a passionate guy.   I can’t imagine spending a significant amount of time, let alone a lifetime, doing something for which I lacked passion.   To do so would feel like my own personal hell.

My path has been far from linear.  It does not look at all similar to what a career counselor describes to their soon to be college graduates.  Early in my career, I failed to get whatever position I wanted at the time.  I was open minded towards the opportunities, and trusted that it was in the company’s best interest to place me where they saw the greatest potential for success.  I was willing to learn and one thing led to another.  I just kept saying yes.

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

This is an excellent question.  I was not someone with career angst.  When I was young, I never considered doing anything else.  Not once.  Having any particular talent frankly did not occur to me.   I just loved merchandise and never thought about another path.

There are two distinct roles as a retailer.  Merchandising is one and management is the other.  As my career developed, I found leading large teams very rewarding and I was good at it. The team at Saks Chicago numbered more than 300.  I like to think that leading a store family helped me become a better person.  There was no shortage of opportunities for me to learn the impact of my actions on others.  As a leader, I believe it is my responsibility to understand what my team members need from me to be successful and then provide it.  I want to make it fun and rewarding.  Winning is fun.

imageSkin Dimemsoms Team.

I get to enjoy watching people achieve more than they believed possible and that provides immense satisfaction.  If I had known then, what I know now, I would have studied Clinical Psychology and opened a private practice.

imageCheering on the Bloomingdale’s SoHo team.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY), TYPE OF MUSIC, LOCAL RESTAURANT/AND/OR TYPE OF FOOD

Beyond raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, I have a favorite everything.  Just another aspect of life where my passion comes to play.  I enjoy reading biographies.  It is fascinating to learn about someone whose life may differ greatly from one’s own, yet beneath it all, we all have the same wants and needs.  I just finished WAR PAINT, by Lindy Woodhead.  The beauty industry that we know today was created in large part by two early entrepreneurs, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein.  The book was adapted for Broadway and I can’t wait to see it on my next trip to New York.

I don’t recall a time without music in my life.  As a kid, I loved The Motown Sound.   My taste has expanded and is rather eclectic.  I listen to music everyday and love to sing.   Following a brief stint in the choir at church, I now headline only in the shower or car.  No thanks for this kindness is necessary.

imageHaving fun at a black tie gala.

My favorite restaurant is Parachute on Elston in Avondale http://www.parachuterestaurant.com.  Beverly and John have created a unique space with outstanding food drawing inspiration from Korean American cuisine.    Their passion is apparent and we already know how I feel about that!

WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES

I am a genealogist.  Frustrated about my family’s inability to answer my questions, I decided to do some research myself.   This has developed into a 20 year never ending project that I have found incredibly fascinating and inspiring.   We study history and learn what our culture has determined was so.  Even family histories are biased and frequently revisionist.  It is quite special to have some visibility into who were our ancestors as human beings and having enough knowledge to determine why they made the choices they made.

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

My taste is rather eclectic and has evolved over time.   It is primarily mid-century modern coupled with Asian antiques.  After many years of collecting, I find, like many others, that I am editing, and quite happy doing with less. (Nena’s note, his home is exquisite!!)

MICHAEL’S FANTASY DINNER GUEST LIST

  1. Diana, Princess of Wales
  2. Forrest Trefz, maternal grandfather
  3. Jackie Onassis
  4. Jesus of Nazareth
  5. Joseph Hawley, 1603-1690, 9th GGF
  6. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
  7. Mohammed
  8. Moses
  9. Ray Hawley, paternal GF
  10. The Dalai Llama
  11. Thomas Jefferson
  12. Michael Hawley

I would serve Cincinnati Chili, of course.

imageI am mad for “original” recipes, Michael’s well used orginial copy from Cincinnati newspaper.  Sounds yummy, enjoy!!!

  1. MICHAEL’S FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND WHERE HE WOULD LIKE TO VISIT

    I most enjoyed a trip China several years ago.   My list of destinations is quite long and includes, Antarctica, The Galapagos, and Mars.

    HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED

    Ah, to be remembered at all is very special.  It is important to me to have impact.   I want to be remembered as a person of contribution.   I am one of the founders of BEAUTYKIND, http://www.beautykind.us, an online retailer.  Our mission is to provide a more meaningful way to shop for beauty products.   We donate 5% of the purchase price to a charity of the customer’s choice.    It is an idea whose time has come.

    One of my charities of choice is charity: water.    While I was running Saks, I challenged the team to build a well.   I am very proud to share that we built it in Eritbo, Ethiopia.   It provides 400 people with water everyday that they would not otherwise have. Link to our well  https://vimeo.com/4247997

    imageMichael’s grandparents, his grandfather, the well driller.

    MICHAEL’S FAVORITE CHICAGO PUBLIC ART PIECE

    Chicago Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite places anywhere.   The property is so beautifully designed and executed, I could spend eternity there.
    SOME BLOGS MICHAEL FOLLOWS

    I am obsessed with wellness and self improvement.  I read Well + Good http://www.wellandgood.com, The Fine Line and A Mishfit Life http://www.mishfitlife.com and, of course, http://www.nenasnotes.com.

    https://beautykind.us

    imageMy current most favorite photo of Michael taken in New York.

    All photos courtesy of Michael R. Hawley with the exception of the pillow photo courtesy of it’s proud owner, Nena Ivon!

FASHION FLASHBACK: PAULINE TRIGERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

imageFrom New York’s Designer Walk of Fame.

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

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

FROM HELEN O’HAGAN’S COOKING IN STYLE COOKBOOK

PAULINE TRIGÈRE’S CRAB SOUP

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

1/2 can water or chicken bouillon

1 large onion, grated

Salt and white pepper to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 pint heavy cream

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

1 cup light sherry

Chopped parsley for garnish

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

COLLECTIONS: SHELL ART

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And my favorite…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

imageA chair from the genius of Tony Duquette.

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

imageUsing shells like fabric petals.

imageAnother Alexander McQueen creation.

imageAnd the back of the garment.

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

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

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

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

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

FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX

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

I use frozen puff pastry for the “crust”

Filling-

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

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

1 cup diced celery root

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

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

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

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

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup crème fraîche

1 egg beaten

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

Oven should be at 450º.

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

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

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

Adapted from a Chicago Tribune recipe.