Maxwell [née von Huppé], Vera
- Kirsta Willis
(b New York, April 22, 1901; d Rincón, Jan 15, 1995).
American fashion designer. One of the pioneers of American women’s sportswear, Maxwell tailored her timelessly tasteful clothes to the average woman. Influenced by Coco Chanel, Maxwell rose to fame in the 1950s with effortless suits and dresses that merged style with practicality (see fig.).
When leading Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova toured America in 1910, she inspired a young Vera von Huppé, who attended a New York performance with her Austrian parents, to take up dancing. By the age of 15 she was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, where she stayed until her marriage to Raymond Maxwell in 1924. Her dance training taught her how to carry herself and a few years later Maxwell found herself in the centre of New York City’s Garment District modelling ski clothes and riding habits. However, Maxwell decided she would rather join the rank of Seventh Avenue’s anonymous patternmakers and designers. This was the era before designer-driven labels, when wholesale manufacturers dominated the market. For the next 18 years, Maxwell designed for Adler & Adler, Max Milstein, Glenhurst and Linker & Klein. However, through such innovations as the cotton jumpsuit for the women workers of Sperry Gyroscope Corporation, Maxwell was able to transcend obscurity. Subsequently, she independently established Vera Maxwell Originals in ...