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The Art of Making Chintz


Evening ensemble

Vera Maxwell (American, 1903–1995)

ca. 1957
silk, wool, fur, leather
Length at CB (a): 16 in. (40.6 cm) Length at CB (b): 41 in. (104.1 cm) (c): 46 in. (116.8 cm) Length at CB (d): 59 in. (149.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Vera Maxwell, 1967
Accession Number:
  • Description

    With a dream of being a dancer, Vera Maxwell arrived in the fashion world through the back door. Working first as a showroom model, she then became interested in the actual construction of the clothes. Not always agreeing with what was being offered, she began to make as well as mix and match her own clothes, which department store buyers from Lord & Taylor and Best Co. began to notice. Maxwell states that her first "real" design job was with Adler & Adler, where she worked from 1936-1937 and afterwards, found contract work to be very advantageous. Her classic, comfortable and timeless designs continued to garner praise and in 1947she opened a business under her own name, Vera Maxwell Originals. Her career outlasted that of her contemporaries, as she did not stop designing until 1985.

    The choice of using floral fabric for the dress and red wool for the coat of this evening ensemble are hallmarks of Maxwell's work. To complete the piece and add a touch of elegance, she has lined the coat with the dress fabric, another of her characteristics. Color was also important to the designer, as she used vibrant, vivid color schemes. The combination of these design elements, make this a stunning piece for the period.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Marking: Skirt loops: "Vera Maxwell"

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History