Vera Neumann's design career lasted from her label's emergence in 1942 until her death in 1993. She is most famous for designing scarves, although her products ranged from wallpaper to tablecloths to clothing. Each of her scarves was based on an original artwork that she created and most scarves are signed with a cursive "Vera." May of her works also were signed with a ladybug to represent good luck.
Last year, GMD was given over 400 Vera scarves, which I went through in order to write more detailed descriptions. Vera found inspiration everywhere and there is a huge range of designs, but there are certain characteristics that tend to be seen in Vera scarves, such as vibrant colors and a painterly quality. She also liked to repeat certain themes. For example, she was a Leo, which is represented by the sun, and every collection she produced included a sun design.
Vera felt that art should not be limited to hanging on walls, which may explain why some of her scarves look like works of art, with a central design that does not repeat. Vera refused to color within the lines, and her designs often feature ink drawings with a wash of color that overlapped the edges.
Vera also created many abstract designs. Some appeared somewhat naive, with uneven, wavy lines, while others were very crisp and geometric. She used op-art inspired designs before many other designers.
Many of her designs were inspired by nature, whether they were more literal interpretations or abstractions. She painted large and small scale flowers, leaf designs, cherry blossoms based on trips to Japan and intricate India-inspired Paisley designs.
By Caitlin Cohn, Collections Assistant at GMD, and graduate student in the College of Design pursuing a PhD in Dress, History, and Culture