Let me begin with a confession—I was a collector of Vera scarves in the 1960s. The new book about Vera Neumann’s career by Susan Seid, Vera: The Art and Life on an Icon, is a nostalgic trip into the past. To me, her extremely cheerful color palette evokes my teenage years.
Vera Neumann, born to Russian immigrants in 1907, went into business silk screening scarves and napkins in the 1940s. By the 1960s she had built a fashion and home decorating empire that included dishes, sheets, wallpaper, and clothing. The photographs I have found show her in fairly conservative clothes, like this dark and boxy Chanel-esque suit that looks very tame next to the elaborate Japanese kimono.
However, the clothes that she sold under her label were something different. Her trademark was bold prints, which she designed herself, most often made up in synthetic fibers for “easy care.” The loose tops and tunics were worn over solid colored pants. She traveled all over the world—even to the East Bloc during the Cold War—and reinterpreted global motifs for a domestic audience.
Although her clothes were designed for a youthful crowd in the 1960s, I think that we can find her influence in clothes worn by older women today. The bold top over polyester pants is very popular look at Chico’s, a store favored by the older set.
As an addendum to my original post, let me add that the redesigned banner for my blog is inspired by a Vera scarf.