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Entries in Museum (6)


El-Yes: First Lady Fabulous

Michelle, my belle. These are words that go together well, my Michelle. 

The Beatles had it right. Michelle Obama is quite belle and has become an American fashion and health icon. Politics aside, we can all agree that she’s got it going on. Mixing high (Azzedine Alaia) and low (J.Crew), Michelle is effortlessly chic and the personification of American style.

During our recent trip to Washington DC, I dragged my husband to go see the exhibition of the first ladies’ gowns. Looking at historic gowns was totally how he wanted to spend a Friday morning on vacation. The collection, ranging from Martha Washington’s 18th century frock to Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown, was displayed along with personal care items, housewares, and jewelry.

As we walked through the exhibition, it dawned on me that several of our first ladies were quite the fashionistas. Jackie Kennedy’s classic white gown was sweet, youthful, and a perfect embodiment of the early 1960s. She worked with department Bergdorf Goodman to create the popular chiffon and beaded gown. Nancy Regan’s sexy red James Galanos one shoulder gown was groundbreaking and glamorous. While it was deemed too “Hollywood” for Washington, I believe that it foreshadowed the opulent Regan years. Nancy looked seriously foxy.

Obama’s dress was displayed in the middle of the gallery in a large glass case. The beaded, white, one shoulder Jason Wu gown demanded all of the attention in the room. I spent several minutes with my face pressed up against the glass. It’s not often that you see something so stunning in person- I practically hugged the display case.

Jason Wu + Insane First Lady Arms = Fab

Fortunately for us, we can achieve this look by just hanging out in Bucktown. Looking for a crazy arm-toning workout? You should head on over to the Dailey Method on Damen Ave. Yay for biceps! 


El- Yes: Vive la France

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. – Coco Chanel

Darn tootin’ Coco! You may speak in run-on sentences, but you know your stuff.  Fashion is everywhere.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting some friends in Washington D.C. We did some sightseeing (and some El-No tourist tracking) during our long weekend vacation. But, one of the most enjoyable parts of our trip was our visit to the American History Museum at the Smithsonian.

Over the course of the morning, we saw the original Star Spangled Banner, Jim Henson’s Kermit the Frog, and a Civil War ambulance. However, the true pop culture highlight of the day was the replica of Julia Child’s kitchen.

Acclaimed cookbook author and French food television personality, Julia Child published her first book in 1961 (the era of the chic sheath dress). Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a two-volume French food bible. Stepping into Julia’s kitchen made me want to take out one of her cookbooks, throw some Edith Piaf on my iTunes, and host a "Frenchified" cocktail party.

Naturally, El-No Chicago needs something fabulous and feminine to wear to this fete. I love this festive Lilly Pulitzer white strapless number- tres chic! Shield your dress in style with this graphic black and white apron from Anthropologie (don’t forget the matching potholder). Cheers!

El-No Royale:


4 tablespoons Chambord

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

1 bottle Champagne, chilled (Don't be a hero. The moderate priced bubbly works just fine)


Chill your champagne flutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the Chambord to each flute and a few raspberries. Fill each flute to the top with Champagne and serve immediately. 



El-Yes: Arty Party

It’s freaking HOT outside!!!

Due to my spinning class absence, wearing a bathing suit is not in the cards for El-No Chicago right now. Instead of baring it all at the beach, I plan to cool off in the air-conditioning at the MCA’s Alexander Calder exhibit.

Grab your beret and your paint palette- let’s get artsy!

The exhibit features work by Calder, a kinetic sculptor, and several contemporary artists to whom he served as inspiration. This mixed media face sculpture is just the tip of the iceberg of the impressive Calder compilation. (Side note... you are not allowed to take pictures of the work. This illegal photo was taken on the sly. Not too sly though because I got in trouble by a guard. Oops!)

My favorite of the contemporary whimsical artists was Nathan Carter. He embraced the color and materials that were used by Calder.

Planning to channel this colorful artwork like Miss El-Yes? 

I love the multi-colored stripes on the Julian Wrap Dress from Diane von Furstenberg as well as Anthropologie’s painterly Chromatic Canvas Dress. Embrace shorts with this colorful and cool pair from Tibi. Lastly, mix in some artistic inspiration with this Kate Spade polka dot purse.

C’est Magnifique!


El-No: The Nubian Queen

The Ancient Egyptians built the Temple of Dendur in approximately 15 BC on the Nubian coast of the Nile. The Temple’s carvings portray Egyptian gods and Nubian royalty. The pharaoh that is depicted in this amazing carved work is actually Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus (who ruled Egypt during this time period). Augustus insisted that he be carved to look just like a traditional Egyptian ruler. So, I guess the saying is true- When in Rome (or in this case Egypt)!

In 1965 Egypt gifted this carved sandstone structure to the United States, prompting many of our museums to fight over which one would display the piece. New York’s Met won the contest and built this idyllic reflecting pool and glass pyramid shaped window.

So that brings us to my visit to the Met’s Sackler Wing. There I was, calmly enjoying my day when I saw Mr. El-No and his purse.

Purse? You mean murse? Perhaps a European carryall? Nope, PURSE.

This pink Kate Spade bag, accented with a jaunty scarf, is a purse, plain and simple. The Nubians aren’t the only queens in this room. Mr. El-No, I am getting a serious Cage aux Folles feeling. If you want to be flamboyant, then go big! Ditch the traditional polo and classic Kate Spade bag and embrace your inner flash. Want to stick with the conservative look? Just switch Spades. Put down the Kate and pick up this blue Jack Spade messenger bag


El-Yes: Back in Black and White



















During my New York trip, black and white floral graphics popped up all over the place. I saw this trend on the street, used in window displays, and even in a vintage Jean-Phillipe Worth coat at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Imagine my surprise when I checked the Fall 2010 runway show pictures and discovered this same trend! While this color story appeared in several RTW Fall shows, the D&G black and white ski bunny outfits are my favorites. I can totally see myself wearing this look while drinking fruity drinks after a long day snowplowing down the bunny hill.    

Given the recent hot weather, a fab wool bodysuit might not be the best plan for this time of year. Avoid getting swassy by skipping the heavy knits and opting for a sleeveless summer dress. Unlike Jake and Vienna, this classic combination has staying power so indulge in one of these beautiful options.

Left: Marimekko Tamir Dress (price available upon request), Jonathan Adler Victorian Love Pillow ($165)

Right: Kate Spade Woodblock Callie Shiftdress ($445), Kate Spade Queen Bee Studs ($65)


El-Vacation: Empire State of Mind

El-No Chicago is coming at you from NYC!! Naturally, shopping and people watching are high on the agenda so stay tuned for some great pictures this week.

Over the weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting both the Met and the Brooklyn Museum of Art (home of Judy Chicago's Seventies classic "The Dinner Party"). Both museums are currently hosting amazing American fashion exhibitions that showcase womenswear from the turn of the century through the golden age of couture. 

On Saturday, I explored the Met’s exhibit “American Women: Fashioning a National Identity.” This show is expertly curated with beautiful settings, thematic music, and metallic wigs by Julien d’Ys. It was so inspiring that I just wanted to pitch a tent and move into the museum.

Yesterday, I trekked out to Brooklyn. In addition to seeing some crazy outfits, I also visited the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s American High Style exhibition. AHHMAZING! Ignoring the sexual politics of the time, this exhibit made me wish I lived in the Fifties. Can we all just start wearing dress hats and eating jello molds again? 

For all of you fashionista work procrastinators, meet your new best friend. It’s the Polyvore styling tool. You can virtually style mannequins in the historic garments from the collection. Of course this just doesn't do the pieces justice... so hop on a plane and get to New York before the end of the summer. If your bank account is dry and you have a taste for vintage, stop over at the Chicago History Museum to visit the new fashion exhibit " I Do! Chicago Ties the Knot." 

I also bought books. Lots of fashion books. Guess I will be paying the $23 to check my bag on the way home (Sadly, El-No Chicago does not have United status).