I’ve been MIA lately on my blog and I know you enjoy my book reviews…so here come two (actually three!) I recently featured, with the authors, on my monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. And, in my opinion, are MUST reads and adds to your library.

First a memoir, one of the most impactful books I’ve had the pleasure to read and share with my TFBC attendees in recent memory! The added attraction was not only having the author, Christine Barker, joined me in conversation but she also read the first chapter of her extraordinary story giving it so much more depth! How do I get advance notice of the books I feature on TFBC, actually several ways, sometimes the publisher notifies me (think RIZZOLI for an example), sometimes the author, sometimes I reach out to authors or publishers, or sometimes one of my TFBC supporters such as Jeffrey Banks, he recommended Third Girl From The Left…here is his quote for Christine’s book…”Christine Barker has written a beautifully crafted book about a life in the theater and the world of fashion set in the vibrant, yet turbulent time of AIDS, that I simply could not put down. Filled with many people I also knew, and who will also be familiar to the reader, this is not only a wonderful piece of history, but also a heart-rending memoir that simply begs to be read.” — Jeffrey Banks, two-time Coty Award and CFDA Award winning designer and author of Perry Ellis: An American Original Another nenasnote….and who I am privileged to call a dear friend…I said I was doing two books….make that three, I’ll talk a bit about Jeffrey’s monograph on Perry Ellis!)

Christine Barker with her incredible book, Third Girl From The Left!

We learn of her career in the theater, most specifically in A CHORUS LINE, where she joined the London cast and later went to the Broadway production, along with the ups and downs of day to day life of a dancer in a blockbuster, landmark show. It is the story of a military family, a large close knit one, most specifically her brother, Laughlin Parker, partner to Perry Ellis in life and business….a quote from publisher Delphinium “…Laughlin, divorced, a father, ex-military and a corporate lawyer—also makes his way to New York City, where he meets, and begins to build a life, with rising fashion star Perry Ellis. The two men enjoy a partnership and a financial success that Christine both admires. and envies.” As we progress through the years we learn so many details of both Christine and Laughlin’s life…a nenasnotes aside….I asked Christine if she had a photographic memory there is SO much detail in the book…her answer “I keep journals!”…I must admit it is one of the few regrets I have of my career, I did not! Since we are talking about the 1980’s and the world of theater, art and fashion we find ourselves in a health “issue” that no one understood and one that was killing many…too many, almost overnight…one with a name filled with dread…AIDS! This hideous plaque took Laughlin’s life first at the young age of 37. Perry followed shortly after. At that time obituaries did not mention AIDS. We, of course, now know there are treatments and it isn’t the hateful plaque it was and we still must fight for a cure. She not only lost a cherished brother and Perry but so many more colleagues and close friends in the theater.

Perry Ellis and Laughlin Barker

The memoir is heartwarming, heartbreaking and most certainly heart wrenching. It is an honest telling of family both real and acquired and told in minute detail. I was in tears remembering all the people in my life that succumbed to AIDS who could be here today if there had been more understanding of the illness and more aggressive treatments…I thank God that we didn’t lose more…it devastated so much creativity in the Arts and Fashion. I really need you to read this book…you will not only be deeply touched but will learn so much from a person who lived the story and was destined to tell it! Thank you Christine, I applaud you and your brilliant writing!

At our June nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club we began our 6th year and it has become a tradition that Jeffrey Banks joins us to discuss one of his brilliant books…in 2018 it was NORELL: MASTER OF AMERICAN FASHION…this year it was PERRY ELLIS: AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL.

Here I am with Jeffrey Banks and the first book we discussed, NORELL: MASTER OF AMERICAN FASHION!

PERRY ELLIS: AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL isn’t a new publication but is, most certainly, the best book on this amazing creator written with first hand knowledge by another unique creative talent the book has an extraordinary collection of photographs and sketches, a MUST for your fashion library. Again, I quote from the publisher’s notes (RIZZOLI) the book “….providing an insightful look at each season of his career, from 1976 to 1986, offering readers unique access to editorial and ad campaign photographs from the archives of brilliant photographer Erica Lennard, with whom Ellis worked almost exclusively. Included here are ephemera, a treasure trove of drawings, and never-before-published photos from the personal collections of the designer’s friends and family, adding insight to Ellis’s unique aesthetic while solidifying his place as one of the key contemporary designers of American fashion.” Jeffrey is not only an original voice with his fashion publications but a fabulous raconteur…the stories he can tell are FABULOUS! Talk about a photographic memory…need I say more. Another nenasnote…I did not personally work with Perry Ellis, more the pity, but greatly admired his versatility, while maintaining his own perfect interpretation of the fashion of the 70’s and 80’s, I did wear his designs and we devoted a huge department to his collections in the Saks Fifth Avenue Oak Brook store when it opened in 1982.

I have read ALL of Renée Rosen’s books, I believe the first one I read was WINDY CITY BLUES, which I loved (I believe I have reviewed several of her historical fiction books), the last being THE SOCIAL GRACES. They just keep getting better.

Renée Rosen

Here is a good example of how I choose my TFBC titles…in the back of THE SOCIAL GRACES (2021) with Reneé’s raison d’être, her next book was mentioned and would be on Estée Lauder along with Renée’s email….I couldn’t write a note quickly enough inviting her to be a guest at my monthly TFBC….she explained it wouldn’t be published for two years…I said great and the confirmation was made…fast forward to May 2023 and there we were in conversation! I actually thought I knew everything there was to know about Mrs Lauder but boy oh boy was I wrong….so many details (that’s why I love historical fiction it blends the “real” with the imagined). Since the Lauder Company and Saks Fifth Avenue were so intertwined I was quite familiar with that connection (and yes, I did meet Mrs. Lauder and was in her divine office which, I understand is still in the Lauder headquarters and I also did many events and launches for Lauder and their brands while I was at SFA!) and the book does definitely uses that as a catalyst for this intriguing story of survival, gumption and an extraordinary entrepreneur who definitely wouldn’t take no for an answer. I loved the story of a budding cosmetic company, the retail scene at the time, and, of course, Renée’s writing. By the way Renée lives in Chicago and I have already invited her to join us in 2025 to be in conversation about her upcoming book on Barbie!!!!!!

I’m sure, by now, you know my Independent Bookseller of choice is in Winnetka, Illinois. All the titles featured in my reviews are available there.

You might also know, I don’t have sponsors, I’m definitely open to that…at the moment, my book reviews are sponsored by an avid reader who wishes to remain anonymous.


Look what I just got…..The Book Stall Newsletter Literary Community Bulletin Board featuring nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club
I’m beyond speechless….so honored and thrilled.

“The Book Stall is pleased to host this Literary Community Bulletin Board. Any news of interest to readers and writers? Send your information to Robert at with “Literary Community Bulletin Board” in the subject line. Note: The Book Stall reserves editorial privilege.cropped-nenas-notes_updated-header1 image

Tuesday, March 28

5:30 – 7 pmcd569db3-a6cc-4f68-8e1e-85330a1a95a1 image

Host Nena Ivon talks with author Alexis Romano about her new book, Prêt-À-Porter, Paris and Women: A Cultural Study of French Readymade Fashion, 1945-1968. Nenasnotes: The Fashion Book Club (TFBC) is a monthly virtual gathering, meeting the fourth Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 7 pm, to discuss all manner of fashion and lifestyle books, and features fascinating authors in conversation with the founder of TFBC, Nena Ivon, and a thoroughly engaged audience. See its website here.

TFBC will celebrate its sixth year in June 2023. Since it’s inception, The Book Stall has been TFBC Independent Bookseller of choice. The monthly fee is $25. For further information please contact Nena at Mention The Book Stall in your email to Nena and you can attend your first program for free!”


A peek at a small sampling of my fashion books.

I have been collecting fashion books since high school so needless to say a very long time! I followed fashion magazines long before that…I come from a family of magazine lovers, as well as major bibliophiles! so no surprise. This is the first fashion book I got, I decided to go downtown after school, actually Michigan Avenue, to my favorite bookseller at the time, Main Street Book Store, mid-1950’s, to get the book. I talked Mom into joining me and we could then meet Daddy for supper at one of our favorite restaurants, A Bit Of Sweden….their smorgasbord was perfection….loved it.

Since that time, both establishments are long gone, my fashion library has grown to around 1000 tomes! I have most of them listed on the fabulous site, LibraryThing they also have an app. I still have many more to add. It’s truly a full time job! As you know I have hosted a monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club since 2018, you do the math as to how many I’ve added in 5 1/2 years! I do add those as I get them and have them all together. Just a note on how I house these books…I have them either by designer…think Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent…or by theme such as Hollywood Costumes, French Designers, American Designers, Monographs, Novels, Biographies, Autobiographies, Anthologies…you get the idea. I have many first editions, many signed and many personalized. One of my treasures is a Godey’s Lady’s Book given to me by a dear friend…I found it in a vintage bookstore in Stratford, Canada.

Everywhere I go I seek out bookstores or antique shops and have found lots of treasures. I have also found several at our own Randolph Street Market (it’s celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year at its season opening May 27th and 28th).

I’m hoping to house the collection at the Chicago History Museum in their research center. I want to leave it as a collection…if I find they aren’t interested I’ll seek another institution. Perhaps a fashion school. Need to do more research on that.

Now let’s look at what’s ahead for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club…as usual, for most months, I’ll be in conversation with the authors. All via zoom.

APRIL 2023

MAY 2023

JUNE 2023


Met Museum Exhibition Book


All the nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club selections are available at my partner Independent Bookseller I’m always open to book suggestions and be sure to stay tuned for upcoming reviews on these selections….happy fashionable reading!!!!!


“Marylou Luther is the editor and founder of the International Fashion Syndicate and award-winning “Clotheslines” column and is the fashion editor emeritus of newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Cuban-born artist Ruben Toledo has had his work published in The New Yorker, Vogue, Town & Country, and The New York Times.” From Rizzoli.

Ruben Toledo self portrait!

I had the pleasure of working with Marylou when she was with the Chicago Tribune and have enjoyed her trend predictions through the years. Her talented perspective on fashion is enhanced by her relationships with the designers and fashion professionals. This book is a unique, personal journey, through the years, using wonderful quotes from the best of the best of the intriguing creators of the world of fashion. Who hasn’t she interviewed from Christian Dior, the Master himself, to the current Dior Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, everyone who is anyone is here. It is indeed a one of a kind book that will enhance your fashion library. The quotes are a fun insight into the minds of the arbiters of style from Marylou’s seventy years as a fashion journalist, newspaper columnist and trend forecaster. And the Ruben Toledo illustrations are pure magic and enhance the quotes perfectly! Once in awhile a book comes along to give me a totally new perspective on a subject that I know very well…this is such a book…I really love everything about it! I think you will too.

From Rizzoli…”In her early days as a journalist, Luther met with the true legends of fashion—she interviewed Christian Dior in 1957 for the Chicago Tribune and visited Coco Chanel at her Rue Cambon atelier; Chanel proclaimed to Luther that “Only those with no memory insist on their originality. Yves Saint Laurent has excellent taste. The more he copies me, the better taste he displays.” Flash forward to present day, and designer Demna Gvasalia told Luther, “Fashion needs to shut up and look at itself—it needs a minute of silence to adjust after the pandemic.”

Working with this incredible creator on fashion shows were some of my fondest memories…and this quote is one of my favorites in the book.
I met Jeffrey Banks, as did my nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, in 2018, when we discussed his extraordinary monograph on NORELL, also a Rizzoli publication. To celebrate the beginning of year 5 of TFBC we were in conversation with another of his blockbuster books TARTAN: Romancing the Plaid, another stunning Rizzoli book. Jeffrey has become a dear friend and major supporter of the monthly The Fashion Book and The Fashion Film Clubs. I’m obsessed with this great Toledo interpretation of the talented Jeffrey Banks a true Renaissance Man!

Lucky me that I will be in a virtual conversation with Marylou for the February 28th nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. It will be a not to be missed event…contact me at if you need further details. In addition, The Book Stall, my Independent Bookseller of choice, has a supply of the books. I would be most appreciative if you support them for all your book purchases (This isn’t a sponsored post!!!! Just a gentle nudge!!!!).

BE-SPOKE: Revelations from the Worlds Most Important Fashion Designers by Marylou Luther © Rizzoli New York, 2023. Images, credited © RubenToledo.


The Costume Council of The Chicago History Museum and
nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club invite you and your guests to attend a special virtual program featuring:

STARSTRUCK: How I Magically Transformed Chicago into Hollywood for More Than Fifty Years with author Michael Kutza in Conversation with Nena Ivon of nenasnotes, TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m. via Zoom Conference( link to follow), tickets are $45.00 per person.

Please register online by clicking the button below:Purchase Tickets

To order the book, click here:Purchase the Book

Long before there was SUNDANCE, TRIBECA, and TORONTO, there was CHICAGO and a young kid from Chicago’s West Side named Michael Kutza. He decided that his city needed to see what it was missing around the world in international cinema and the glamor of Hollywood. So he founded the Chicago International Film Festival in 1964, with the help of silent screen star Colleen Moore and legendary film director King Vidor.

Join the Costume Council and nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club for a special virtual event featuring Michael Kutza in conversation with Nena Ivon. We’ll hear about a roller-coaster ride that lasted for better than half a century, with Kutza presiding over a gathering that throughout the decades hosted 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.

Starstruck: How I Magically Transformed Chicago into Hollywood for More Than Fifty Years is Kutza’s rollicking, provocative, racy, colorful, irreverent show business memoir culled from his decades rubbing elbows with the giants of film at both the Chicago Festival and numerous other festivals around the globe.

Michael Kutza is a graphic designer, filmmaker, film critic and podcast co-host who founded the Chicago International Film Festival in the mid-1960s. He ran the festival and served as its artistic director until stepping down in 2018.Kutza remains CEO Emeritus of Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival.

Zoom link will be sent prior to program.
If you have already registered through nenasnotes Fashion Book Club,
no need to re-register; you will be sent the Zoom link.

Questions? Please contact Nell McKeown at or (312) 799-2112.

Copyright © Chicago History Museum, All rights reserved.

Chicago History Museum
1601 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614


A portion of my fashion library in my reading nook!!!!

Have you resolved to learn more about subjects that interest you….My resolution is to make the nenasnotes The Fashion Book and Film Clubs as well as nenasnotes The Fashion Master Class open to more attendees. The following is what I have prepared. I know many of you already attend the monthly events but many of you don’t…if not interested, perhaps you know someone who might enjoy our conversations.

Here we go…….As we begin a new year it’s time to learn new things and since the subject of fashion is interesting to so many and has so much diversity why not think about monthly get- togethers to learn more about this fascinating world of FASHION! You can do exactly that by joining nenasnotes fashion series of events.

A bit about me….Nena Ivon, upon retirement from a 50+ year career at Saks Fifth Avenue as Fashion and Public Relations Director in the Chicago store, began a new career as a lifestyle blogger with her nenasnotes blog, and also does freelance writing, and hosts monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club where she is in conversation with the authors of fashion and lifestyle books and The Fashion Film Club as well as a monthly The Fashion Master Class where she discusses the history of the fashion industry. She also writes two monthly posts for the Randolph Street Market blog. (My regular readers know these details!!)

That is a very brief paragraph of my past and what I am doing now….here is more detailed information on the events I host.

nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club…Meets the Fourth Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:00 Central Time via zoom. The fee $25.00 per month payable via PayPal. I’m usually in conversation with the authors of fashion and lifestyle books for the first hour allowing a half an hour for Q & A. YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO READ THE BOOK…IT IS NOT A PREREQUISITE! YOU WILL GATHER INFORMATION FROM THE CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHORS. I ALWAYS RECOMMEND USING MY INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER OF CHOICE THE BOOK STALL.

We will start year six of The Book Club in June and have done over 50 books from fashion monographs, to lifestyle books, to novels, to anthologies….and even a bit of Proust!!

With Stephanie Lake discussing her superb monograph on the extraordinary Bonnie Cashin. This was one of my first Book Club events.
With the brilliant designer and author, Jeffrey Banks, who has not only been in conversation with two of his books, NORELL and TARTAN (he will join me in conversation in June when we chat about his book PERRY ELLIS!) but he is a regular attendee of both Clubs! He is a super raconteur.

nenasnotes The Fashion Film Club meets the second Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:00 Central Time via zoom. Fee $25.00 per month via PayPal. The films coordinate with the month’s book selection. Attendees discuss how the actors costuming is relevant to the storyline of the film AGAIN, NOT A PREREQUISITE TO VIEW THE FILM, ENOUGH DO SO YOU CAN LEARN JUST BY ATTENDING!

One of our first films and one of the best, in my opinion, identifying the characters through their garments ADRIAN is at the top of his form….we start year four in March….lots and lots of documentaries, trend setting fashion films, during the past three years and lots more to discover and uncover!!

nenasnotes The Fashion Master Class Series 6 meets the third Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:00 Central Time via zoom. Fee $50.00 per month payable via PayPal. Each month’s presentation deals with a fashion topic with PowerPoint presentation and offers insight into my personal stories of working in the fashion industry. Topics in 2023 will include: Fashion Editors as Style Arbiters from the 1800’s to today; The Story of Pearls; The History of The Little Black Dress; Late 20th Century and early 21st Century Designers such as Adolfo, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors; Couture Millinery; Bespoke Men’s Wear; Couture in Dance, Opera, Theater; Flowers in Couture Fashion; etc. This is probably my favorite of the presentations….I get to, in many instances, delve into my experiences with some of the over 200 fashion designers and other creators that I have worked with over the years

I hope I’ve stirred your thoughts of fashion and you will consider joining my journey into the fascinating world of style!!!!! For further details please contact me at


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.”

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!

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

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.


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!!!!!






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 or (312) 799-2112.


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,!

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.


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… 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.