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Going deep with Vera

jane Fonda

Jane Fonda in a Vera beach towel

As a younger woman, my mother was quite big on collecting: antique scrimshaw objets and tortoiseshell jewelry she’d picked up on annual buying trips to London* cluttered her dressing area, as did enamel deco pendants, chatelaines, and big stacks of bakelite bracelets. And in an upstairs closet was what I’ve come to believe was her most brilliant collection of all: shopping bags from stores in every city she visited throughout of the 60s and 70s (check out the amazing archival shopping bag blog Bagatelle for a sense of why it kills me that Mom offloaded them all before I had any sense of their genius).

I didn’t inherit Mom’s collecting gene—I lack both the sentimental streak and laser-like focus that seems so central to that mindset—but I do have an abiding affection for textiles and good graphic design, which is why I sometimes find myself trolling Etsy’s selection of vintage items by Vera Neumann, collecting for pretend.

tie your scarf

Vera Neumann invented the signature scarf, and went on to design hundreds and possibly thousands of them. She was trained as an artist, and believed her pieces were in their way all small  works of art, reasonably priced and accessible to many.  This is the cover of a mini-booklet that probably came bound in with a fashion magazine back in the 1960s, and I love it unreasonably.

cotton vera

Because Vera scarves were priced for the people, you can still find many of them online, in vintage stores and at fleas, for very decent prices.  I’ve been looking for cotton scarves for Cancer Friend—she started chemo this week and has no interest in a wig—and this seems like it could be good for some laughs.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 10.24.43 PM

Obsessed.

lucky fish

The print on this (alas, no longer available) vintage apron is classic Vera.

vera dress

As is this rather astonishing dress, complete its trademark Vera ladybugs.

vera tea towel

Look how she out-Scandinavians the Scandinavians with this tea towel.

vera book

Vera the book—I’m not sure I can’t.

 

 

*She owned a wonderful boutique for many years, and yes, that explains a lot. 

Tags: , ,
Posted on May 31st, 2013 12 Comments

12 Responses

  1. c.w. says:

    As a child of the sixties (and fifties) I totally understand anything Vera. I remember my muther’s Vera scarf clearly and my guess is she still has it squirreled away somewhere. Hummmm…….

  2. Elise says:

    I was JUST ironing my Vera scarf collection a few nights ago! They’re mostly acrylic or synthetic, but I have a few silk ones.

    I got the Vera bug (heh) from our placemats & glassware growing up. Classic late-1970’s Vera “happy fruit” pattern.

    Guess I’m going to have to do my own Vera blog post now!

  3. Leah Z says:

    Target currently has a reprinted a limited number of Vera scarves…I tried to resist and ended up with three. Here’s the link:

    http://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=vera+scarves&category=0%7CAll%7Cmatchallpartial%7Call+categories&lnk=snav_sbox_vera+scarves

    Enjoy

  4. Trish says:

    Did you know that there’s a Vera for Target scarf collection out right now? Online it’s 50% off the second scarf and free shipping!

  5. Trish says:

    I guess I should have read the post above! Thanks for the direct link Leah 🙂

    I tried to resist as well but ended up with two!

  6. Kate says:

    I have been collecting Vera scarves for about a year now. I have a lot of them and they are all from thrift stores. Most are 100% silk with a few acrylics and 100% cottons here and there. I recently found some plastic placemats and cloth napkins. They are in now in constant use. I bought one of the Vera scarves at Target and I really like it. It is a lot larger than my vintage Vera scarves but it’s a rayon blend. I’m spoiled by all of the 100% silk scarves.

  7. Suz says:

    Always loved Vera but more to frame than wear. I have sold quite a few over the years after having/admiring them a bit. Always something approachable and playful in her work, more charming than many of the bigger names. Must be the ladybugs.

    *That dotted dress needs to be re-released – its perfect.

  8. I have the book and can’t recommend it highly enough. Vera also did some truly awesome needlepoint kits that pop up from time to time on eBay.

  9. Oh I hadn’t thought about Vera for years. I can remember as a teen that my Mom and I both liked Vera scarves and we thought we were in tall cotton when we received one as a gift. Thanks for a sweet remembrance of her. I had no idea about the book. I’m a nut for a fashion read. Thanks you!

  10. Diane says:

    i have so many Vera scarves that i cannot count them, bought mostly at thrift stores for no more than a few dollars. her geometrics and color choices take my breath away, there is always one tied to my purse of the season.

  11. Pam says:

    Heads up Vera Lovers! The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers is currently organizing a Vera exhibition, hopefully for a national tour.