Vera Neumann

 

By the time I was a teenager, my mother had long locked away every last pair of booty shorts she owned and abandoned current fashion for the “sweatshirt with holiday theme and matching earrings” look.  Don’t cry though. The good news was that she gave me all the things she used to wear when she was stylish & sophisticated in the seventies (yes, I include booty shorts in “sophisticated”).  But wait, it is a sad story after all, for my mother is four inches taller than me and two sizes bigger in clothes and shoes — so really everything went to goodwill.

Except the Vera Neumann scarves!

My personal collection will not be pictured, as it is currently cloistered in my former abode where I am momentarily verbotten.  But luckily, I am not the only one obsessed with Vera textiles!  There is an entire Flckr group dedicated to her, where I found all the pictures in this post. Kind of like how Columbus found America and Elvis found the blues.

But anyway, meet Vera:

Her dog is watching her paint! Vera was active from WWII into the 80s, but probably her 60s and 70s stuff is most well known and available in thrift and vintage stores.

green geometric shapes

 

 

 

My favorite Vera scarves are her abstract geometric designs. Sometimes they feature different shades of the same color family, like the greens in this one, or the red/pink tones in the one below.

 

 

 

pink red and white geometric shapes

 

 

I really love how the straight lines and angles are broken up by the curved lines in this one.

 

 

 

 

 

abstract geometric shapes

 

 

Here is one with opposing colors. Uber Mod!

 

 

 

 

 

 

blue white yellow triangles

 

 

 

 

I love how the squiggly lines and natural warping of the fabric over time make the triangles look funky here.

 

 

 

 

 

red white blue and dark blue rectangles and squares

 

 

 

While red-white-and-blue is never my favorite colorway, I’m into the colorblocking and asymetry here.

 

 

 

 

 

ochre gold slate regtangles and parallelagrams in optical illusion

 

 

 

ooh optical illusion! I’m pretty sure Vera was very brainy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The abstract geometric prints are my favorite, but Vera is much more famous for her floral designs. Here are some examples:

I love the way she uses the whole surface of the scarf to compose her image, so that spread out it looks like a regular painting but then when you fold or scrunch it to wear it it becomes more abstract.

Sometimes, she drew things that were not flowers:

Vera also designed textiles and housewares.  Her tea towels make me shudder with domestic bliss:

 

 

 

Doesn’t this assemblage of well organized yet not rigid-looking kitchen utensils make you feel happy? When order meets whimsy ALL THINGS are possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBVIOUSLY I should own this. Sadly I don’t. Vera designed a tea towel calendar for every year, and this is 1970. Really, if there is a church of never sacrificing aesthetics for usefulness or usefulness for aesthetics, Vera Neumann is the high priestess and her housewares are holy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My grandmother always said you should never put anything on the table in the container it came it. And why would anyone want to when you could use a Vera Neumann creamer and lidded sugar bowl instead?

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t tell me these plates wouldn’t make your berry scone taste better than other regular plates. It’s like the fucking sun rising on your kitchen table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See how the slightly square bend in the bottom of the tea pot is reflected in the handle? See how the little oval handle on the lid has a horizontal feeling while the teapot itself is so vertical? And oh yeah, the whimsical fucking helianthus that sort of look like they are falling at high speed with their petals getting blown back?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are Vera for Mikasa, a Japanese dishwear company. They remind me of the sunprints I made at camp as a kid and looking at them makes me smell redwoods and sunshine.

 

 

 

 

Also, there were clothes.  While I clearly am a sucker for dishware featuring fruits and flowers, I find most of Vera’s clothing a bit too precious to wear, but some people are precious, and they should totally wear this stuff:

 

 

 

California Poppies!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, the brown color and this hot girl and her bedroom eyes and booty tooch are doing a lot to lower the precious rating of this blouse, but still…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe after her long hot day of flirtatious modeling she gets out of that sweaty precious polyester and lays her head here…

…on these Vera pillowcases.  Except I don’t think that girl is the type to have a cat-shaped ring valet on her nightstand or awkwardly hung art on her wall, but whatevs.

BONUS:  If you like Vera, you will probably also likes Bates Mill Textiles.  Bates Mill made textiles in Maine from 1850 through the 70s or so. During the 60s they made a ton of bold vibrant floral textiles with this line drawing aesthetic and they are fantastic. Bates stuff doesn’t turn up at the thrift store as often as Vera but every now and then you can find a bedspread or a pillowcase or yardage if you’re really lucky.  I have had like 6 yards of the fabric pictured below for years and still have not been able to bring myself to cut it to make something!

 

 

Love,

Carrie

About Carrie Leilam Love

i love words, babies, and shoes better than everything.

One comment

  1. My partner and I have collected, kept much of, and sold some of Vera housewares…I love the older stuff she designed…and signed with a ladybug. I think her detail and understanding of the natural world is amazing…its sort of like Charley Harper (although sylistically very different) in that crocus or hydrangea or daisies are distilled to their essence and tumbled out in a carefree, unfussy, colorful and happy way. Thanks for highlighting her work!

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