Sandra Stillwell Presents: Bellissima Italian Style!!Heightening the excitement, our "home" for this first class event, to be held August 20 - 23, is the Read House Historic Inn and Suites, a stately Grande Dame in the heart of downtown Chattanooga!Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in America, this Southern landmark has had the honor of being host to many celebrities over its lifetime, including Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, Bob Hope, Al Capone, Winston Churchill, Andrew Johnson, and Ronald Reagan -- as well as other legendary "spirited" guests who have been rumored to visit on occasion!Rich with exquisite architectural details, the crowing jewel of this vintage beauty is the majestic Silver Ballroom. Lined with sparkling mirrors and adorned with gorgeous original 1926 silver leaf moldings and glittering Waterford Crystal chandeliers, this stunning ballroom has been the backdrop of illustrious social gatherings for over eight decades.And now it will have the distinction of hosting the most glamorous, beautiful "dolls" imaginable!A magical scene such as this is the tableau of which dreams are made…So, take a deep breath to soak in the grandeur… dream on… and let your fantasies sweep you far away, to another spectacular setting in a more graceful space and time….Our Theme --July, 1951, Florence Italy...Imagine the magnificent setting of a grand Italian Palace...with elaborately carved molding adorning surfaces in every direction, and shimmering hand crafted crystal chandeliers which beautifully illuminate the opulent backdrop of pure white.Statuesque models, costumed in elegant Italian couture strut down a catwalk carpeted in white. Surrounding chairs are occupied by influential reporters and magazine editors, buyers from elite American department stores, and chic socialites...This is the legendary Sala Bianca fashion show -- pure luxury, the hottest ticket in town --and you have a front row seat! Bravissima!!Bellissima Italian Style!! will celebrate the distinct essence of impeccable Italian style, with a special focus on vintage Italian designers, their creations from 1945 through the early 60's -- and their lasting legacies in the glamorous world of fashion.You’ll hear new revelations about iconic Italian masters of couture, and discover the work of less known, but equally fabulous couturiers.We will explore the essential role played by the United States in establishing Italy as a fashion industry powerhouse, resulting from a special bond and cooperative effort that continued between these allied nations after the end of the Second World War.We'll learn about one dedicated, tenacious visionary -- Giovanni Battista Giorgini -- who, in his passion for promoting Italian craftsmanship, is solely responsible for the "birth" of it all...And we’ll pay tribute to the direct link between fashion and films…Strong relationships developed between Italian fashion and Hollywood -- so much so, that Rome became known as "Hollywood on the Tiber" when it became many American movie directors' favorite city to make a film in.Italian movie sirens, such as Sophia Loren, became American sensations – and American movie stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, became a paparazzi dream.Several Italian fashion ateliers also designed film costumes. Close friendships were made between Hollywood stars, such as Ava Gardner and Linda Christian, and these Italian designers, who often also designed a major part of the stars' personal wardrobes.Rome's Cinecitta Studios became synonymous with extreme glamour in the post war years, with lavish sets and scandalous affairs...We delve into all these fascinating tidbits and more… with Bellissima, Italian Style!Chattanooga attractions --Nestled between the mountains of Southwest Tennessee, along the beautiful Tennessee River, Chattanooga is one America's most breathtaking cities!Rich in Civil War history, "The Scenic City" has the distinction of being named by the NY Times as one of the "Top 45 places to go" in the world.Interestingly, this picturesque Tennessee town and the legendary cities of Italy share several parallels that will be intriguing to explore -- such as sister and "twinning" cities, bustling railways and beautiful waterways, magnificent vistas and scenic mountain backdrops, colorful culture and awe-inspiring architecture, a rich heritage and legendary "ghost stories", historical battlefields and the pride of having risen from the ravishes of war!Only a few steps away from the Read House is the Tivoli Theatre, a Beaux Arts style "picture palace" which opened in 1921 after over two years of construction -- and $1 million price tag -- a lavish sum in those days! It was reported that Italian artisans traveled to Chattanooga to do the ornate plaster work for the historical theatre, which was named for the Italian hill town of Tivoli. Known as "The Jewel of the South", the Tivoli hosted live shows throughout the 30's, including the Ziegfeld Follies and performances by Fanny Brice, Helen Hayes, Ginger Rogers, and Ray Bolger, among others.When fans of 40's era music and movies hear "Chattanooga", perhaps the first image that springs to mind is the Chattanooga Choo Choo, made famous by The Glenn Miller Orchestra's #1 hit of the same name, performed in the 1941 movie "Sun Valley Serenade. The certified gold hit, "Chattanooga Choo Choo", told the story of a train trip from Track 29 in New York City to Chattanooga's historic Terminal Station, where the steam engine is on display today!And, speaking of fabulous music...Chattanooga’s own "Empress of the Blues", Bessie Smith, is honored in a special collection of memorabilia related to her life and career, on display at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center. The center is also home to the Chattanooga African American Museum, which tells the story of other well-known Chattanoogans, and the contributions the African American community made to the development of Chattanooga and to our nation.Chattanooga is also a city of art and culture...Housed in a grand Southern Mansion, the Hunter Museum of American Art is home to one of the country's finest collection of American Art, focusing on the Colonial period to today. Perched on an 80-ft bluff on the edge of the Tennessee River, the Hunter Museum of American Art offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding mountains.On view during August will be the special exhibition, Monet and American Impressionism, which will feature several Monet paintings and highlight twenty-five American artists who paint in the Impressionism style. Roughly fifty paintings and twenty prints dating from 1880 - 1920 will be on display.Nearby Houston Museum of Decorative Arts, housed in a Victorian Mansion, is also home to a beautiful antique glassware and decorative arts collection.Convention Package –
Your "Bellissima Italian Style!!" souvenir package will be an exclusive collection of chic "Italian Styled" fashions -- with just the perfect twist of elegance, glamour and fun you've come to expect from "Sandra Stillwell Presents”.Also included with your registration will be:Thursday evening opening dessert receptionOne LunchTwo DinnersInteresting Programs and SpeakersRoom ShoppingMovie breaks, surprises, raffles, and lots of fabulously fashionable fun!A group tour of beautiful, scenic Chattanooga and key historical sites(More details to be announced later)And there will be celebrations!This is a very special year, with much to celebrate -- not only is it a milestone anniversary year for Gene, the doll responsible for bringing so many of us together in years of fun and friendship -- but it’s also a huge milestone anniversary for our friends at Horsman Doll Company, who will be joining us once again to celebrate their big year!
But there’s still more!You’ll have the opportunity to purchase or pre-order extremely limited fashions from the Sandra Stillwell Presents: “Bellissima Italian Style!!” convention collection, many of which will be made of the finest Italian fabrics, direct from Italy!(Designed to fit our favorite 16” star, some fashions will fit other doll bodies – please be sure to ask if you have specific doll needs).However… Though we make every attempt to have the souvenir fashions available at convention, we are dependent on not only shipping, but also on factories meeting deadlines and customs passing deliveries through. In the event that any of the souvenirs are not delivered in time so that we can present them at convention, they will be mailed as soon as possible. I very much appreciate your understanding where this is concerned!Registration Information –More great news!!!Registration is now open for Sandra Stillwell Presents: “Bellissima Italian Style!!”Limited to only 50 attendees, this intimate soiree is the not to be missed event of the summer!Last year’s Sandra Stillwell Presents convention sold out in record time, and we expect our 2015 convention to follow suit!So don’t delay….Buy your ticket, grab your dolly, and get aboard the ""Choo Choo” for a weekend packed with phenomenal fun, glamorous fashions, incomparable elegance, unforgettable memories, super surprises, and ... "Bellissima Italian Style!!”If booked within our “Sandra Stillwell Presents” group room block, and paid in full by cash, check or money order by July 1st, the registration fee is $490. After July 1st, the fee is $525.An additional $100 will be added to registrations booked outside of the “Sandra Stillwell Presents” group room block.A $20 service fee will be added to payments other than cash, check, or money order.A nonrefundable deposit of $100 will reserve your spot. Payment plans can be arranged on request.It is important that you RSVP by email if you are planning to join us.Once you have RSVP’d, your space will be held for 1 week.For anyone who has not RSVP’d, registrations will be accepted according to postmark.A $100 cancellation fee applies to all cancellations prior to July 1stth. After that date, no cancellations can be accepted.Checks or Money Orders for registration should be made payable to Sandra Stillwell, and mailed to:Bellissima Italian Style!!c/o Sandra Stillwell8305 Blue Lick RdLouisville, KY 40219(Please contact me if you need to make special arrangements.)Companion registrations will be available if purchased with a full registration. Please contact me for details.At this time, there are no absentee registrations -- however, we will have a wait list for those interested. If absentee registrations become available, they will be offered to those on RSVP list before being made available to the general public. Please contact me as soon as possible if you’d like to be included.Hotel Information –I will email our group reservation code to attendees once it is established. Please do not contact the hotel before then, as reservations will not be accepted without the code. If you have any questions about the hotel or your reservation before receiving the code, please contact me directly.As mentioned earlier, our 2015 convention hotel is:The Read House Historic Inn and Suites827 Broad StChattanooga, Tennessee, 37402.For a preview of our beautiful spaces, visit here…(Be sure to scroll through to the Silver Ballroom!)http://www.starwoodhotels.com/gx/property/photos/index.html?propertyID=1474&localeCode=en_US&language=en_USI’m happy to report that we’ve secured the following special group rates:Single: $139Double: $155Please contact me directly for information on Triple or Quad rates.The above rates include breakfast served in Porter’s Steak House on days other than Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when we will have breakfast programs in the Silver Ballroom. The breakfasts on our event days may include souvenirs and/or table gifts, for which you must to be present to receive, unless previous arrangements are made.In order for you to experience everything Chattanooga has to offer, this special rate has been extended 3 days before and after convention, based on availability. If you need to book outside these dates, please contact me directly.The Read House offers complimentary Wi-Fi.
There is a full service Starbucks in the hotel lobby, as well as Porter’s Steakhouse for breakfast (as stated above), lunch and dinner. Several other dining options are very nearby.
The complimentary electric trolley to many tourist sites can be picked up in front of the hotel.Valet parking is $15 per night. There is also a self parking lot in front of the hotel for $11 daily, and other parking options nearby. Free on street parking is available outside the hotel from 4:30 Friday – 8AM Monday (please double check with the hotel to confirm these times).Our room block is very limited, so I highly recommend you make hotel reservations as soon as possible after I send out the group code.If you have any problems making your reservation or have questions, I’m happy to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.If you are planning to join us at convention but are not yet ready to make your room reservation, it would be a big help if you could please let me know what days you are planning to be there.The cutoff date to make room reservations in our group block is July 21stI will be monitoring our room block carefully until then to make additions as needed.Please remember that it is VERY important to book within our group block, as our room and food rates are based on meeting a guaranteed minimum. Your room booking helps defray meeting space rental fees and other costs. It’s crucial that I have your cooperation with this…Airport Information –Yes! Chattanooga has an airport!Chattanooga airport is a small convenient airport that offers lots of amenities available at airports of larger size.The following airlines offer flights to Chattanooga – some are direct.(For more information, see the links below)American EagleAllegiantDeltaU S Airways ExpressFor those who prefer to fly into a larger airport, both Atlanta and Nashville airports are approximately 130 miles away.Groome Transportation is offering our group a special rate of only $42 each way, with drop off or pick up at the Read House.Return trips must be made at least 24 hrs in advance, and pickups are made at the hotel 45 minutes prior to the normal shuttle departure times listed on the schedule.Atlanta schedule:Nashville schedule:Book Groome Transportation online at:https://t9.surfnsecure.com/GroomeChattanooga/web-reserve.cgi
or call 423-954-1400, 800-896-9928
Be sure to mention either "Stillwell' or "Sandra Stillwell Presents" to receive the special rate.Raffle Donations:A little known fact about conventions is that registration fees never fully cover expenses -- so we'll be having a raffle to help offset extra costs! Dolls, fashions, accessories, repaints, dolly “spa” days or gift certificates... donations of all types and sizes are welcomed and greatly appreciated!!We had such a phenomenal raffle table last year – and SO much fun drawing for all the “loot” -- let’s make it our goal to have a repeat performance this year!If you would like to contribute to the fun – and help convention at the same time -- please email me!Optional Tours... Pricing and more details forthcoming soon.Thursday, August 20th All Day Bus trip to Nashville – price and time to be determinedOur convention theme, “Bellissima Italian Style!!” was chosen to coincide with the phenomenal “Italian Style: Fashion since 1945” exhibition at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, in Nashville.A traveling exhibit from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this not to be missed show has earned rave reviews in both Minneapolis and Portland, its only other two stops in the USA. ( I can personally vouch for this, after having had the wonderful opportunity to see it in Portland!)http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-the-glamour-of-italian-fashion-1945-2014/inside-the-exhibition/http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-the-glamour-of-italian-fashion-1945-2014/about-the-exhibition/Our Thursday visit to view “Italian Style” was chosen to set the scene for our “Bellisima Italian Style!!” weekend -- the ideal way to pique your interest and introduce you to some of the designers we’ll be featuring in our programs!Our day will be begin bright and early (time TBD) for the beautiful, scenic drive to the “Music City”.We have some fun things and entertainment planned for our ride to and from Nashville – or you can take the time to catch some ZZZZZ’s!I’m still planning our day in Nashville, but besides our time dedicated to the exhibit (and any related activities I may be able to arrange), our time in the Music City is fairly flexible -- as long as we leave in time to return to the hotel by about 6:30 (we can adjust this a little if necessary).Nashville is a compact city -- there are SO many fun things to do in close proximity!For some of you, this will be your first visit to “Music City”. For others, it may be an opportunity to see things you may have missed before – or there may be favorite places you’d like to see again!We can organize group activities, or be on our own…if you have a preference about this, please do let me know.Please also take a bit of time to think about what YOU would like to do on this “Nashville day out” – and let me know if there is anything you’d particularly enjoy!So…for now…what is definite is that we will have a day full of FUN, a FABULOUS Fashion exhibit, lots of great memories, and a BEAUTIFUL souvenir fashion to commemorate a wonderful day! What could be more perfect?Sunday – TBDOur Sunday tour has traditionally been sort of a laid back, informal activity for those who want to stay over another night for even more fun with friends!I’m still researching options for our Sunday outing – but I can promise you our activity will be worth the stay!Some suggestions are:Things in and around Chattanooga (train excursions, a visit to civil war mansions, etc)A day trip to Atlanta –The Margaret Mitchell Museum and/or other Gone With the Wind related activities. http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/mmh(I am also researching fashion museums, etc)Another trip back to Nashville –The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson’s home) http://thehermitage.com/Or an opportunity to do something in Music City that we missed on Thursday!I welcome suggestions…Please let me know what you would like to do!It’s REALLY important to let me know if you are interested in joining us on Sunday, so I can plan activities and transportation accordingly…What we do may very well be dependent on how many participate.As always, if there is enough interest, I am happy to plan something on Wed, August 19th, or Monday August 24th.In closing, I want to thank you all again for your ongoing support and interest in Sandra Stillwell Presents: Bellissima Italian Style!!”I know there are many other fun events planned throughout the year, and that dolly dollars and time must be spent very carefully! It means the world to me that you would consider spending yours to be with us!The English translation for “Bellissima” means “most beautiful”…I feel truly blessed that our shared love of dolls and fashion has brought much beauty – in so many forms – into my life!And, no matter what our vision of “beauty” may be, time with friends is always something “most beautiful” to be celebrated!I hope you can join us in Chattanooga for our celebration of beautiful spaces, beautiful fashion, beautiful dolls, beautiful friendships, beautiful memories, and…”Bellissima Italian Style!!”Sincerely,Sandra
If you've never been the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, in Nashville you are in for a treat. The building itself is a work of art. I wrote about it in a prior blog post as we visited it during Sandra's Nashville Convention.
The Thursday trip from Chattanooga to Nashville is about 135 miles. That's a loooong time to spend on a bus, more than 2 hours each way. There is so much to see in Nashville and there may not be enough time. But it's an optional trip so make your decisions accordingly.
Suggested Chattanooga Itineraries
Chattanooga Events on August 22, 2015