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Sometime in the 1960s, the Vera Company decided to expand into clothing.  Using a Vera scarf as the springboard, designs were adapted into a piece of cloth from which the clothing was cut.

Here is a sample of this  cloth.  Look carefully and you can see the various pieces of a blouse: front and back bodice and two sleeves.   Other designs would include collars and sleeves cuffs, and possibly, pockets.

Fabrics that are designed in this way are engineered fabrics.  Emilio Pucci was another designer who engineered the fabric, rather than just cut the garment pieces from an all-over print.



Each piece of clothing started out as a 36" square scarf which was painted by Vera herself.  Then her assistant designers took the original design and adapted it to fit the potential pieces of the planned garment.

In addition, there were color specialists who translated the design into different color combinations.  It's possible that this design exists in other colorways.

To the left is the front bodice of a tunic.  The original scarf was probably very similar to this piece.

The fabrics were printed with large flat screens at Printex, in Ossining, New York. They were then sent to the sewing plant, the Grafton Apparel Manufacturing Company in Grafton, West Virginia.

Here is a close-up of the neck area.  The marks show the cutters where to place the pattern pieces.  There are also registration marks on the edges of the design.  These marks were made to ensure that the different colors were aligned properly.



In addition to the engineered print blouses and dresses, Vera also manufactured matching slacks to go with every blouse.  Sometimes there would be several choices of slack colors for each blouse.   And each pair of slacks  would match a variety of Vera blouses.  In keeping with her philosophy that dressing should be easy and east care, the slacks were made from polyester knit. 

After about 1975, Vera clothing was more often made from all-over prints, and they added other print items, such as skirts.  These are often made from polyester or nylon, in contrast to the earlier cotton and silk garments of the 1960s and early 1970s.

This cotton twill fabric came from the estate of a Vera collector in Missouri.  How she obtained it is unknown, but according to Fred Salaff, pieces like this were quite common around the Printex factory.  It could have been an end piece, or a piece with flaws, or even a sample which never made it into production. 

Samples were were always produced in order to make mock ups for potential garments. They were made first for mannequins, and then were  tried on live models.

My thanks to Vera's nephew, Fred Salaff, for helping with this article.

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