BOOKS…BOOKS…BOOKS: STARSTRUCK

It isn’t often that a book hits a cord or in this case many cords with me….and that is exactly what Michael Kutza’s STARSTRUCK does!!!! It’s a memoir, it’s an insight into the birth of an entrepreneur, it’s a 50+ year history of a City plus much much more! It’s a deep dive into the movie industry with lots of intimate inside stories told with humor, honesty and a bit of sass, okay, a lot of sass!

It all started in 1964 when Chicago columnist, Irv Kupcinent introduced the 22 year old Kutza to the retired film star, Colleen Moore. Moore was a mega star in the 1920’s, was the first to bob her hair (which became her trademark) was the original “flapper“ and appeared in over 60 silent films. And by the way, you can see her magical fairy castle at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. It is amazing…perhaps I do a nenasnotes blog post on the unique artifact in the near future!

COLLEEN MOORE In the 1920’s
The Fairy Castle

Let me let Michael tell you the story of their meeting….

”So I met this wonderful lady named Colleen Moore. She was a silent film comedian just like Mary Pickford but she retired here and married a man named [Homer] Hargrave, who was the president of Merrill Lynch. He had just died so suddenly I’ve got this film star widow with nothing to do and when Irv Kupcinet introduced me to her it was like magic. It was very much like a mother and son relationship, she helped me to do the whole thing. She knew all the movie stars in the old days so she got them all together to come to the first film festival.”

COLLEEN MOORE In 1964
The first Chicago International Film Festival 1965


Kutza a totally hands on entrepreneur! Photo from STARSTRUCK.

Michael, a native Chicagoan, gives us a history lesson on the birth of the film industry in which, Chicago played a major part. I particularly like his telling of the Chaplin story from the beginnings of the mega genius Charlie Chaplin to his daughter, the actress Geraldine Chaplin, to Robert Downey, Jr. brilliantly playing Chaplin in the movie Chaplin!

From the book’s Press Release…”As described in vivid detail in Starstruck, Kutza presided over an annual gathering that would over the next half-century host a veritable Who’s Who of the film world – from Harold Lloyd to Clint Eastwood, Bette Davis to Viola Davis, Steven Spielberg to Spike Lee, Guillermo del Toro to Jodie Foster, Lauren Bacall to Al Pacino. At the same time, the festival helped introduce a plethora of new talent that would go on to revolutionize the movie business, including Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Helen Mirren.”

The following photos are found in the book…

With Orson Welles
With Angela Lansbury
With Dustin Hoffman
Roger Ebert a huge supporter of the Festival

You will learn, as I did, the backstories of stars (major actors, directors, producers…many have become Kutza’s close friends) “real” personalities…many very nice…others not so much! Their demand’s, how about a private plane at a huge cost, some a bit more titillating…no detail is left out and I’m sure there are many more stories to fill a volume 2! Plus there is so much to absorb you will want to read it again and again!

Some of the major stars and directors through the years (they, in my opinion. are also stars!!!) Here are more photos from the book…

Jane Fonda
Jack Nicholson
Sidney Poitier
Oliver Stone
Ron Howard

Kutza’s dream as a very young man was to bring the best of film to his City which he describes in great detail…you get the good, the bad and often the ugly…the ups and downs of the process of working against all odds to produce an Internationally recognized and acclaimed Film Festival that predated, Sundance, Tribeca and Toronto. I’m thrilled to do this review for someone I’ve known for decades and you will throughly enjoy his journey…get the book you won’t be sorry!

A crowd hamming it up before a screening!

Kutza has a Podcast, Nose to Nose….here is a YouTube piece he did on the book…take a look it is fascinating! https://youtu.be/4INswIiePBs

I am so excited to tell you that I will be in conversation with Michael, via zoom, on Tuesday, January 24th when nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club joins the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum in a special event. Do join us when two native Chicagoans talk about two Chicago institutions The Chicago International Film Festival and The Costume Collection at the Chicago History Museum guaranteed to be a great time! Invitations will be out soon…to get on the list please contact Nell McKeown at 312.799.2112orMcKeown@ChicagoHistory.org

More images from the book…

Michael’s iconic “eyes” image, a composite of the silent film stars.

Most images are from STARSTRUCK all others found on Pinterest no photo credit available.

AN INVITATION TO SUPREME MODELS THE DOCUMENTARY!!!!

Join the fashionable crowd on Friday, November 4th for an excitingly unique experience, a screening of the new documentary based on Marcellas Reynolds first book SUPREME MODELS. I did a review on the book and a profile on Marcellas several years ago (check the nenasnotes archive), both are worth your viewing. I’m beyond thrilled for the success Marcellas has had with his two books, by the way…another is in the works!!!!! And now this long overdue film on the iconic black models.

Marcellas with his first book and his personal appearance at one of the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club meetings.

The evening will include a panel featuring Chicago’s own icons along with the producer and the incredible super model, Veronica Webb….a not to be missed event!

I asked Marcellas for an exclusive quote, here are his thoughts…

“First, I love Chicago, my hometown. I love museums. So much of my work as a writer and now a documentarian is based on reverence for history. This documentary is a love letter to Black women, Black models, and everyone of every race who come together to create the dream of fashion. It’s also a love letter to the city of Chicago.

The panel is comprised of heavyweights in art, business, and fashion. The screening and discussion are a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of a global conversation about diversity and inclusion. I can not wait to hear from the members of this incredible group.

I ride hard for my hometown, and I’m always looking for a reason to come home and see my friends. And what better excuse than a glamorous fundraiser at the CHM? I’m looking forward to seeing Chicago turn up and turn it out. It’s going to be a party!”

Thank you Marcellas….here is the invitation….I know you will not want to miss this, get your tickets now!!!!!

THE COSTUME COUNCIL of the CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM

presents

SUPREME MODELS the DOCUMENTARY

MIDWEST PREMIERE

FASHION, GLAMOUR & HISTORY!

Friday, November 4th, 2022, 5:30 – 9:30 PM
Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

5:30-6:30 PM: VIP champagne and caviar reception (limited tickets)
6:30-7:00 PM: Doors open for seating
7:00-8:30 PM: Screening and panel discussion start promptly at 7:00 PM
8:30-9:30 PM: Catered reception and viewing of Treasured Ten: Selections from the Costume Collection exhibitionSponsor or Purchase Tickets

You’re invited to the exclusive Midwest Premiere of Supreme Models, the documentary series based on Marcellas Reynolds’ bestselling book, Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion. Join Marcellas Reynolds, Supreme Model Veronica Webb, Chicago Fashion Icon Ikram Goldman, Fashion Fair Cosmetics CEO Desirée Rogers and DuSable Museum Director of Curatorial Services and Community Partnerships Danny Dunson for a screening, panel discussion, and reception. The series features Iman, Zendaya, Precious Lee, Olivier Rousteing, Joan Smalls, Anna Wintour and many more.

Costume Council Co-chairs Pam Capitanini and John Rogers

Thank You to our Sponsors!

Model Sponsors
Lee Blackwell Baur
Richard and Diane Weinberg

Host Committee
Pamella Capitanini
Princess Greenwood
Rosemary Kallas
John Rogers
Noren Ungaretti

Questions? Please contact Nell McKeown at mckeown@chicagohistory.org or (312) 799-2112.

FRIDAY MUSINGS: THE RANDOLPH STREET MARKET IS BACK

And just like that the uber popular and dearly missed RANDOLPH STREET MARKET is back and so are the monthly nenasnotes exclusive posts for their blog, https://www.randolphstreetmarket.com!

What can you expect from my posts, well I’ll give you some hints….I’ll feature some thoughts on fashion and why sustainability is so important..what better way to shop responsibly that by adding vintage to your wardrobe…we all like to look unique, ✔️the wonderful finds…from designer names to logo tees and, of course, every fabulous accessory you can think of can be found at these extraordinary phenomenal events!!!

My first post is on the RSM blog as I write this…what is its theme you might ask….BARBIE!!!!! This photo found on Pinterest photo credit unknown.

Here I am in a fabulous beaded necklace and my exquisite vintage embroidered quilted kimono at a Market!

Always exciting jewelry finds…..

We will explore the return of vinyl….for the nostalgic it never went away for others it’s a new collectible. I’m also thrilled that young people are now craving their grannies china, silver, glassware…it’s about time.

Thinking mid-century modern furniture, objects, ✔️they are there…no need to fret! Many other furniture styles await your perusal….

Textiles…most certainly…I have found so many one of a kind pieces from paisley pieces to needlework to quilts, both old and new…I have dibs on any crazy quilts you spot! A rug, why not, all sizes on display!

You will find ANYTHING you are looking for or had no idea you wanted. I’ll hopefully inspire you to find new collectibles, items to spice up your wardrobe, furniture, art, even vintage tools….the possibilities are endless. Here we go…..enjoy the ride!!!!

Sally Schwartz, the incredible entrepreneur and founder of RSM, et Moi together again and always!!!!!! This photo taken by the late, great Steve Starr at our first RSM together.

All photos taken by me for nenasnotes at past Randolph Street Markets, unless otherwise noted.

BOOKS…BOOKS…BOOKS: THE CANDY IN MY POCKET

When I was asked by a dear friend to read and review a book by one of her close friends I, of course, said it would be my pleasure. It put me in an awkward situation…what if I didn’t like it! You, dear followers, know I don’t do negative reviews and I only read what I like…rarely non-fiction…unless the subject is fashion or lifestyle for all my nenasnotes research and events. For pleasure I prefer historical fiction. Well, guess what…I loved this book! And it fits into my lifestyle genre perfectly. You see the author is a renowned interior decorator…the stars were now aligned! There is SO much information included (I’ll get to that shortly!) that I read it twice, I don’t remember doing that before. Its a story about a creator…a lesson in self awareness and self preservation….a travelogue….anything but your usual memoir, it’s a very powerful story.

I want to share the joie de vivre John has for survival…for life! Sharing his incredible story is a journey more fiction than fact but guess what…it is the story of his life and one we can all learn from. It’s inspirational….it’s inspiring…it should be depressing it is anything but…it’s a MUST read!!!!

The author, John Robert Wiltgen

Okay let’s get to the unbelievable story John tells us. The song, “I’m Still Here” from Follies should be the subtitle of this amazing life. John begins at the beginning…his childhood, filled with adventure which continues to this day. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 8 a fact he managed to keep hidden much of his life. As a child and a teenager he was quite rebellious, in a fun way, he started working while in high school at a paint company where he rose to an executive positions, still in his teens, he never told anyone his age…the writing was on the wall for his future career. Loved reading about his time at Ray Vogue College of Design, I worked with the students for many years and Mrs. Ray was a very unique personality! He lived in a Chicago suburb and, as an under age teen, loved disco dancing and would come to Chicago with his close friends to frequent the major discos such as FACES (I spent many an evening there!). He and his friends would practice for hours in his basement apartment in his parents home. They were so good they became the dance floor stars…in my minds eye I picture John Travolta!

Much later with friends and John Travolta!

The book doesn’t sugar coat (sorry, I shouldn’t mention sugar but it seemed appropriate!) when John describes his ongoing battle with the unbelievable complications of Type 1 Diabetes. He has had so many that it could read like a horror story, instead it is done in such a straightforward positive way that you know he hasn’t and won’t let anything stop him from living life fully! He presents his many, many, many challenges along side his interests, cars for an example, travel, the arts and his love for them, his philanthropic endeavors, his love for family and friends and, of course, his extraordinary interior design business. Here are a couple photos of his glorious designs…I could just do a post on photos from his extensive career. One of my favorite sections in the book and I do have many favorites is his time in Nigeria working with the King!

John’s worldwide interiors have been featured in many shelter magazines and numerous TV programs…awards were inevitable and more than well deserved.
He has always loved anything Egyptian…here the foyer from one of his own homes.
Known for his imaginative bathrooms and kitchens, this is one of my favorites.

Speaking of family…how many can say that all members of their family would be a match if you needed a kidney and your mother said, no, I’m donating mine…talk about a mother’s love! John’s support team through the years has sustained him along with his feeling of what’s next in life and always seeking a cure and an end to this life threatening disease. He not only takes his mother to Venice but also to The Academy Awards and many other special once in a lifetime events through the years.

John takes his Mother to one of the balls in Venice, one of his most favorite cities ….(John is in the gold mask)!

Along the way he has designed for celebrity clients, done show houses, model rooms….again the list goes on….and won zillions of awards not only for his designs but also for his philanthropy.

With Jane Seymour at a showing of her art which John hosted in Chicago..

In conclusion what are my take aways from this beautifully written story of a survivor…..so many things but let me narrow it down. John tackles each challenge in his fight against this dreadful disease…one day at a time, one horrific devastating outcome…one day at a time with grit, determination and, yes, humor. What should be a depressing book is anything but because of the author’s joie de vivre and positive attitude. You will learn so much about Type 1 Diabetes and be inspired to join the fight to find a cure as well as how to handle your own day to day issues. My last words….get the book, it will be published on June 22nd, you won’t be disappointed and by reading it you will be delighted to welcome John as a new fascinating multi-layered friend.

A quote from the book “Type 1 diabetes and I tackled one disaster after another. It can be a harsh lifestyle causing both physical and emotional devastation. Out of desperation, I embraced every new treatment hoping for even a shred of relief.”

From the book jacket.

BOOKS…BOOKS…BOOKS: nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club Begins Year Five!

A portion of my fashion book collection in my Book Nook…forgive me if I’ve posted this on my blog before!

I can’t quite believe that we are already half way through 2022…Happy June! Nor can I believe that this month we begin year five of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. In many ways it has changed from its concept, yet it remains the same in purpose! Once a month a fashion or lifestyle book is featured. Usually a new publication and usually I’m in conversation with the author. Until March 2020….a month none of us will forget, you may recall the pandemic descended upon us….we met as a group at an elegant private club in Chicago for Bubbles and Bites. The first half hour was a get together and then an hour of conversation followed by discussion and a Q & A. I always had that evenings and the next month’s book available for purchase thanks to my Independent Bookseller of choice The Book Stall in Winnetka https://www.thebookstall.com Beginning in March 2020 we went virtual and have continued virtually via zoom. We began with local attendees and now have guests from all over the States! I must admit the group has changed as some of the attendees miss the in person socialization of the events, but many have been with me since the beginning!

Some of the original group

Rana Lee, a very dear friend and one of my regular supporters, suggested I begin year five by sharing the list of our books and guest authors with you. Along with that I thought it would be fun to share a few photos of some of in person programs, again my apologies for repeat photos along with some covers.

With my dear friend, Annette Findling holding the brilliant Adrian Monograph.

The list…….*indicates conversation with the author

*LOU LOU AND YVES MAY 2018 WITH AUTHOR CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS

UNMISTAKABLY MACKIE JUNE 2018 (OUT OF PRINT)

*NORELL AUGUST 2018 WITH AUTHOR JEFFREY BANKS

*BONNIE CASHIN SEPTEMBER 2018 WITH AUTHOR STEPHANIE LAKE

DIOR AND HIS DECORATORS OCTOBER 2018

CAROLYNE ROEHM NOVEMBER 2018

*PINK DECEMBER 2018 WITH AUTHOR VALERIE STEELE

*PROUST’S DUCHESS FEBRUARY 2019 WITH AUTHOR CAROLINE WEBER

*DAWNRIDGE MARCH 2019 WITH AUTHOR HUTTON WILKINSON

YVES SAINT LAURENT BIO APRIL 2019

TONNE (GOODMAN) MAY 2019

*DAWN (MELLO) JUNE 2019 WITH AUTHOR JOHN TIFFANY

THE LAST COLLECTION JULY 2019 (NOVEL)

CAMP AUGUST 2019 METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

*SKREBNESKI IN PERSON SEPTEMBER 2019 MOST SALES…AND MOST ATTENDEES A TRIBUTE TO THE BRILLIANT CREATOR AND DEAR FRIEND

*SUPREME MODELS MARCELLAS REYNOLDS IN PERSON OCTOBER 2019

With Marcellas with his first blockbuster book!

*SCRIPT FOR SCANDAL NOVEMBER 2019 WITH AUTHORS RENÉE PATRICK (NOVEL)

ADRIAN DECEMBER 2019

*RALPH LAUREN JANUARY 2020 ALAN FLUSSER ON PHONE

KAISER KARL FEBRUARY 2020

BALLERINA MARCH 2020 CANCELLED CORONA VIRUS

BILL CUNNINGHAM APRIL 2020 CANCELLED CORONA VIRUS RESCHEDULED

*THE WOMEN WHO REVOLUTIONIZED FASHION WITH PETRA SLINKARD MAY 2020 STARTED OUR VIRTUAL CONVERSATIONS

CHANEL’S RIVIERA JUNE 2020

BILL CUNNINGHAM BOOK AND DOC JULY 2020 WITH CO-HOST JEFFREY BANKS

ANDRÉ LEON TALLEY AUGUST 2020 WITH CO-HOST MARCELLAS REYNOLDS

ABOUT TIME ANDREW BOLTON MET PUBLICATION SEPTEMBER 2020

*HIGHJACKING THE RUNWAY WITH TERI AGINS OCTOBER 2020

*KENNETH WITH GUISEPPI LONGO NOVEMBER 2020

* THE WORLD OF FEDERICO FORQUET WITH HAMISH BOWLES DECEMBER 2020

LESAGE JANUARY 2021 THAMES & HUDSON RESCHEDULED DUE TO TECH ISSUES

CECIL BEATON BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS FEBRUARY 2021

*BES-BEN WITH ELIZABETH JACHIMOWICZ MARCH 2021 PARTNERING WITH THE COSTUME COUNCIL OF THE CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM

WHAT BECOMES A LEGEND MOST RICHARD AVEDON BIO APRIL 2021

*FASHION LIVES: FASHION ICONS 1 WITH FERN MALLIS MAY 2021

*NAEEN KHAN EMBELLISHED WITH NAEEN KHAN JUNE 2021

*FILM NOIR STYLE WITH KIMBERLY TUMBLER JULY 2021

*DRESS CODES WITH RICHARD THOMPSON FORD AUGUST 2021

VIVIANNE WESTWOOD: RUNWAY SEPTEMBER 2021

LESAGE OCTOBER 2021

*SUPREME ACTRESSES WITH MARCELLAS REYNOLDS NOVEMBER 2021

MISS DIOR DECEMBER 7, 2021

*CHRISTIAN DIOR DESIGNER OF DREAMS WITH MAUREN FOOTER DECEMBER 14, 2021

*PATRICK KELLY RUNWAY OF LOVE WITH GUEST PETRA SLINKARD JANUARY 25, 2022 EXHIBITION NOW AT THE PEABODY MUSEUM IN SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS

*HER NAME WAS CARRIE WITH JERRIE MARCUS SMITH FEBRUARY 22, 2022

*CHANEL AT THE RITZ (NOVEL) WITH GIOIA DILBERTO MARCH 22, 2022

EMPRESS OF FASHION DIANA VREELAND BIO APRIL 26, 2022

*HALSTON BY LESLEY FROWICK AND HALSTON BY FRED ROTTMAN MAY 25, 2022

I’m very excited for our June selections….I’m featuring two books with their authors….first up the brand new biography ANNA by Amy Odell who will join me in conversation on Tuesday, June 14th. The book is beyond fabulous and Amy’s attention to detail in the interviews and research is very insightful! The book has been getting rave reviews. Our evening has been in the works for months and I couldn’t be more eager to share it with everyone.

Fabulous cover!!!!

Then on Tuesday, June 28th Jeffrey Banks who joined us year one with his extraordinary monograph on Norman Norell, returns to talk about another of his books and one of his passions, TARTAN: Romancing The Plaid! Jeffrey has become a HUGE supporter of nenasnotes The Fashion Book and The Fashion Film Clubs not only attending each month but instrumental in suggesting many of our books and inviting the authors to join us…I am forever in his debt! It is a not to be missed evening.

You definitely can judge a book by its cover!
Jeffrey Banks et Moi at a Service Club of Chicago brunch. In the background a photo of the cover of his Norell book!

The upcoming monthly schedule will continue to feature the newest, and, in some instances past books worth exploring, on fashion and lifestyle topics. Some novels, some monographs, some biographies some academic in scope, but I think always thought provoking. I constantly try to get the authors via zoom but even when they aren’t present our discussions become fascinating and, I hope, informative. I very briefly mentioned the nenasnotes The Fashion Film Club. That also meets monthly on the second Tuesday…I try to tie in the film or documentary with that month’s book choice. If you are interested in joining the group please email me at nenasnotes1@gmail.com. I like to keep our group small but there is always room for a few more!!!!

Looking very serious while listing to a call with the author!!

BOOKS…BOOKS…BOOKS: CELEBRATING INDEPENDENT BOOK SELLERS DAY!

A PEEK AT MY BOOK NOOK/OFFICE!

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

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

BOOKS…BOOKS…BOOKS: THE MAGNOLIA PALACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MUSINGS: ALL ABOUT TULIPS!

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

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

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

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

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

A table of compatible prices in the 1630’s, from the book Tulipomaniaby Mike Dash reprinted in the Blog Of An Art Admirer http://www.artistsandart.org

A game…
On Amazon Prime…
.

My Tulip Needlepoint Pillows…

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

And in fashion….



CHARLES WORTH, “THE FATHER OF HAUTE COUTURE”, GARMENT FROM THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART COSTUME COLLECTION

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

Tulip prints inspired by the designer’s mother, Nadia Saab – ELIE SAAB Haute Couture Spring Summer 2015
’To this day, I’m still enchanted by a clear vision: my mother in an evening gown. Curved at the waist. Flared like a corolla. Tulips printed on silk. A vision that fuelled my flare as a designer.’ Elie Saab
DIOR HAUTE COUTURE 2010
Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda
Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda 2021

In Art…

From Carolyne Roehm

In Photography

Irving Penn
From Mike Hines
More of Mike Hines creativity
And one more from Mike http://www.epochfloral.com/

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

https://enchantedhome.com/home.php/

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

BOOKS…BOOKS…BOOKS: MORE TO CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH…BLACK AUTHORS ON FASHION…

With my friend and author of two extraordinarily books…SUPREME MODELS and SUPREME ACTRESSES, Marcellas Reynolds. We are pictured at the launch of SUPREME MODELS for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. We launched SUPREME ACTRESSES virtually last fall. We go way back to his modeling days…I’m so very proud of his successes. What’s next, Marcellas??!!

Two superb books on the inner workings of the fashion industry by TERI AGINS, another author I had the pleasure to host for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club with her book, HIJACKING THE RUNWAY.

No list would be complete without including the books by ANDRÉ LEON TALLEY….and I’ll bet there will be more on him by biographers…stay alert for those!

Lots more….here are the covers of a sampling of interesting fashion subjects, not in any particular order…

An amazing ground breaking woman to know….she was the first Black female millionaire and set the stage for others.
Josephine Baker, a major force in so many ways…an American who went to France where she became a huge star, was in the French Resistance, adopted 12 children…and for our fashion theme was the entertainer in the French segment of The Battle of Versailles fashion show…wore and loved Haute Couture! Her story is definitely worth knowing.

I’m doing one more post to celebrate Black History Month…it will feature a true Renaissance Man, JEFFREY BANKS, the talented award winning designer who has become a noted author of some of the most beautiful, informational monographs on fashion…that is what I will present to you. I did a nenasnotes post on Jeffrey in 2018. I am honored to call him a dear friend and look forward to sharing his oeuvre with you!

BOOKS…BOOKS…BOOKS: BLACK FASHION DESIGNER BOOKS PART 1

To celebrate Black History Month….in fact every month, I wanted to share some books by and about Black fashion designers and other Black fashion/beauty/lifestyle influencers. I’m very happy to say it is a long list and I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface. In today’s post I’m going to feature two of the fashion designers. This is a diverse group of creators and they span three centuries. At a time when we seem to be in a “cancel culture” mode I want to upset that notion….I am a FIRM believer that we must know history….the good, the bad, the ugly….to understand our world, how to not make the same mistakes, how to grow and improve…and how to maintain the positive! I can’t even comprehend the absurdity of banning books…talk about going backward, how can we learn without all opinions! Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox…my blog has and will continue to be a safe zone from the politics of the day.

Here we go….I’m going to begin with the first Black designer of note, Elizabeth Keckley, dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln and Washington DC socialites. Her story is beyond fascinating, born into slavery she bought her freedom through her dressmaking…extraordinary. There are several books about her, an autobiography, a biography and several novels, I would suggest all of them. Here is a story that needs to be absorbed and, in my opinion is as important as the beginning of Haute Couture and Charles Worth. What makes that a comparison is the period of time when they were creating. Everyone knows about The House of Worth…in my humble opinion, now is the time, long over due, to shine the spotlight on Elizabeth Keckley! An amazing grouping of books, I’m sure you agree…all worthy of additions to your fashion library.

Next, let’s explore the relatively unknown creator of Jacqueline Bouvier’s gown when she married Jack Kennedy, Ann Cole Lowe! Lowe not only produced an extraordinary bridal gown (under the patronage of Joseph Kennedy!) but the gowns for the entire wedding party. Already a known designer for New York and Washington movers and shakers….Ann Lowe was not credited for these gowns! I am featuring two books, the only two I could find, keep you eyes out for a novel to be published on June 22, 2022, the last image

I featured a book by Petra Slinkard in my monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club….both these designers are highlighted in this extraordinary book…another to add to your library

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Books…Books…Books: Black Fashion Designer Books posts next week. Lots more to explore.