If anyone knows fashion it’s Nena Ivon, longtime director of fashion, special events and publicity for Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago.
“Fifty-three and a half years,” says the ageless Ivon, who has worked with virtually every designer who traversed a runway in the last half-century.
“I call them the good, the bad and the ugly,” she says, a twinkle in her eyes during a late afternoon break at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, walking distance from her home.
Since leaving Saks and in addition to the classes she teaches at Columbia College, Ivon has lectured on style and fashion. Her newest program, debuting at the Wilmette Theatre April 28, is titled “Hurray for Hollywood.” She spotlights designers who dressed movie stars during the 1930s, 40s and beyond and whose clothing powerfully influenced consumer fashion.
Old Hollywood, Timeless Glamour
“Adrian is my favorite designer,” Ivon declares. “He dressed Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn and Norma Shearer.” Adrian also gave Joan Crawford her signature shoulder pads and was costume designer for “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy’s ruby slippers are now in the Smithsonian.
Also on Ivon’s A-list is multiple Oscar winner Edith Head, who dressed Grace Kelly, Kim Novak and other blonde Hitchcock heroines.
“And who can forget the gorgeous gown she made for Elizabeth Taylor in ‘A Place in the Sun?’” asks Ivon. “The stars loved Edith because she played up their good points and minimized their weaknesses.”
None more so than Dorothy Lamour, whom Head draped in a sarong to hid the star’s heavy thighs.
Costumes on the Catwalk
Ivon has always been a part of the North Shore. A graduate of Evanston Township High School, she has spoken numerous times throughout the area and arranged fashion shows for many area charities. “Hurray for Hollywood” will be accompanied by film images and a fashion show of what she calls “film looks today,” with models from Factor Women wearing clothes from Chalk, an upscale boutique in Evanston.
“Hurray for Hollywood” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday April 28 at the Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Ave. Tickets are $18. Visit www.wilmettetheatre.com or call 847-251-7424.