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


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.


ELLEN STIRLING, owner of The Lake Forest Shop

To say it’s unusual for an independent specialty store to celebrate 100 years in business is truly an understatement….but that is exactly what the charming Lake Forest Shop is doing this month! What is their secret, in my minds eye several things, first it’s owner, the granddaughter of the founder of the business and the incredible personal service she and her staff give their clients. Remember I was in retail for my entire career so I definitely have an opinion on retail survival, wouldn’t you agree! She upholds the tradition of “giving the customer what she wants” in spades.

Inside the Store

I had the privilege, upon my retirement, to work with Ellen and her team on several fashion events…they were incredible to work with, true professionals in every regard. Ellen fills her charming store with merchandise selected for her clients all of whom she knows intimately another key to the success of the store. I would suggest you go on line and read the story of the store as well see more photos, I’ve also included the press release information at the bottom of this post.

The purpose of this post is to tell you about a very special event, yet another for the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, on Thursday, September 29th…I don’t know who is busier The Lake Forest Shop with their celebratory events or the CC with theirs!!!! By the way, the CC will be celebrating their own anniversary in 2024, their 50th! Stay tuned for all the special plans for that celebration. The Shop is known for its philanthropy and hosts many events annually. Here is the invitation for the CC event, for more information please contact Nell McKeown at

Meet the Costume Council members who will be modeling that evening…quite the bevy of beauties, I know you agree!


You won’t want to miss this once in every 100 years event…but guess what you have many years to enjoy the personalized service, unique atmosphere, and great selections that are the trademarks of The Lake Forest Shop. Here is more detail information on the centennial

FYI this is not a paid promotion….I don’t do paid pieces, I just like to give my readers information they will enjoy! Be sure to make your reservation now it will be such a delightful evening!



It’s always a treat to be able to get to know a designer better….such is the case with Peter Dundas. Peter is the 2022 recipient of the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum Designer of Excellence Award. More on the event celebrating him below. I wanted to ask Peter to do my usual Profile Questionnaire….instead I sent him special questions which he graciously took time from his Norwegian get away to answer for me.

When you think of the DUNDAS brand you immediately think celebrity dressing….let’s see what he has cooked up for next weeks Met Gala, I’m sure more showstoppers! Most recently, one of this year’s Super Bowl half time stars, Mary J. Blige wowed us not only with her performance but her incredible fashion…Dundas, of course!

His exquisite sketch…
The garment in action!

Let’s hear from the creator….

Your garments are always showstoppers….how did you transition from ready to wear to designing for celebrities with custom pieces?

Thank you. Dressing celebrities came very naturally because they actually chose me. They started wearing pieces from my ready to wear collection and little by little the requests for custom looks started to come in. Custom pieces are not necessarily so different from ready to wear for me really. I want every person who wears my designs to look and feel amazing. I think fashion is about giving confidence and that appeals to everyone.

The Carters at a Met Gala

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer, when did you discover your talent? Which of your time with other brands did you enjoy the most?

I always knew I loved fashion. It was partly a need because my widowed father had no clue how kids dressed and partly because of the pure love of color, the fantasy and later the sex appeal. I had my first manual sewing machine at 6 or 7 but coming from a family of mainly doctors I felt I needed to pursue something more serious for a profession. The decision that the love of this craft could not be ignored came when it was time for college. All of a sudden it appeared as the only path to take. The only path that would make me happy After art school I was incredibly lucky to land a top job in Paris at my then favourite designer; Jean-Paul Gaultier and I haven’t looked back since. I have had many incredible moments in many different places like Pucci in Italy, Lacroix and Ungaro in Paris, and at Cavalli twice, so it might be unfair to choose just one brand. Cavalli however was uniquely incredible because we were riding so high. Pucci was great too and we have had some amazing moments with DUNDAS.

Ready to wear collection

Have you always done your own sketches…they are stunning.

Thank you. I sketch constantly. I always carry a pen. Today most of the sketches I publish are finished electronically mixing photorealism with my own illustration and for this I get a little help. Electronic illustrations facilitate communication, and for custom work it’s especially useful as you understand the garment better. Next is NFT’s which we started doing after the Super Bowl Halftime show with Mary J. Blige. Doing those and creating wearables accessible to anyone creates an even broader outreach that I think is very exciting and important for tomorrow.

Beyoncé 2017

How do you unwind, hard I’m sure with two little ones!

We are busier than ever but sometimes it’s about a change of pace or a change of scenery. My favourite time to unwind are summer breaks at our cottage on the Greek island of Naxos. It’s special because I built it; it has a huge fruit and vegetable garden where we make our own olive oil and can live off the fat of the land literally. It’s a healthy break from the urban existence. On a daily basis giving our son Alexios his evening bath is now probably one of my favourite moments and gets my mind off the business of dresses.

I’m obsessed with your personal style…tell me a little about how you have developed it.

I think I am a frustrated child of the 70’s. The mood-boards for my collections are always filled with images of rockstars from that era. Blondie, Pat Benatar, Keith Richards, Led Zeppelin and of course Cher. It’s my favorite era to be inspired by so naturally it trickles down to how I look and dress.

With Ciara wearing a gown inspired by her husband, Russel Willson’s football jersey at last years Met Gala

Last question…I always ask this question of people I’m profiling….tell me about your dream dinner party, who would be on our your guest list (living or dead) 10 to 12 people and what would you serve (my readers love celebrity recipes!)

Wow that’s a loaded question hmm. My guests would be:

-My partner Evangelo of course


-Yves Saint Laurent, both are my heros

-Melissa McCarthy for laughs

-Oprah because she is Oprah

-Bill Gates because he is an amazing entrepreneur who also cares about doing good

-Audrey Hepburn because she was a fashion icon when I was a kid watching old movies with my Dad

-The Dalai Lama for his wisdom

-Queen Elizabeth, I heard she is fun

-Rihanna as she is one of the most beautiful women I know and love to dress

-My mother because I didn’t really know her growing up

-At last God because she is of course always welcome

I would serve caviar on baked potato & champagne which is what I crave right this minute and then profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream!

With partner, Evangelo Bousis

Peter, thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions. They give all of us a wonderful glimpse into The World of Peter Dundas. May I offer my congratulations on receiving the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum 2022 Designer of Excellence Award.


“The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum is pleased to announce an exciting evening honoring celebrity fashion designer Peter Dundas, as he receives our Designer of Excellence Award. His illustrious fashion career serving as Creative Director for Emmanuel Ungaro, Emilio Pucci, and Roberto Cavalli has shaped a global experience leading top fashion houses.

His eponymous brand, DUNDAS, launched in unconventional style debuting with Beyoncé Knowles at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Created in partnership with Evangelo Bousis, a Chicago native, DUNDAS continuously delivers notable, couture red carpet looks for celebrities: Shakira, Ciara, Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum, Mary J. Blige, H.E.R., Emily Ratajkowski and many more.”

Honorary Co-Chairs: Brian Atwood, Evangelo Bousis, and Nick Cave

Event Co-Chairs: Dusty Stemer, Rebekah Shalit and VP Programs Chair, Pamella Capitanini.

“The Designer of Excellence Awards is a fundraiser to benefit the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum and has a rich history in our organization as an important pillar of designer recognition in Chicago. The Museum has more than 50,000 pieces of fashion in its archives and is one of the largest repositories in the world. Brian Atwood, Evangelo Bousis, and Nick Cave are this year’s honorary co-chairs. Over the years, the Awards have honored James Galanos, Geoffrey Beene, Christian Lacroix, Sonia Rykiel, Hubert de Givenchy, Bill Blass, Ralph Rucci, Bob Mackie, Carolina Herrera, and this year, we are thrilled to honor Peter Dundas. All proceeds benefit the Chicago History Museum for exhibition and curatorial needs to preserve the costume collection.”

For further information and to purchase tickets go to